The Good Friday holiday turned out to be a pretty good one. Among other things, I stopped in to Kisseynew Canoe Company to see what was happening there. Mark was working on his new canoe and it was looking pretty good. When I arrived, he had been shaping a yoke of ash & walnut using a power carving wheel on a disc grinder.
I then headed down to the river for a paddle, my first paddle of 2008. I used the Saskatoon Canoe Club's relatively new Swift Osprey. This solo canoe is one I've been wanting to try for some time now, particularly since it is a canoe I think might be a good one to build someday (although probably I need something with greater capacity for tripping use). The first thing I noticed is that it is light, certainly the lightest canoe I have paddled (my experience in actual solo canoes is limited to 2, and the other one is Royalex). I found that for me it paddled the most comfortably in a heeled over position using my voyageur paddle and a "canadian" paddling style which has the paddle slicing forward through the water. The canoe felt a bit "tender" at first, particularly in the heeled over position which kept it interesting whenever the dog would move around. This instability was quite manageable as the dog & I both became accustomed to it. At first I had Kaya in the stern because there is more room but I realised later that the bow would keep her closer to the centerline and not give her room to roam. The sliding seat made adjusting trim a pretty simple matter. There is a foot brace as well and I did try paddling with my bent shaft paddle but it just did not seem quite right.
The weather was cool and overcast but not bad at -3C with a light north wind (9-13 kph according to Environment Canada). The river was mostly frozen but for a span of 15 - 100 m along the east shore. The current in the open channel of water was swift, making me work for my upriver progress. I first headed upriver with no particular goal in mind. As I warmed up and my muscles got used to the task I kept picking points farther upriver to head to. Eventually I came to the end of the open water at the Queen Elizabeth II power plant. The power plant is the source of thermal pollution which keeps this stretch of river open much of the winter.
After a brief rest I turned back downriver and into the cool wind to return to the boathouse (note to self, don't let you wet gloves cool down to ambient during a rest stop then put them back on and expect warmth any time soon!). The total distance was about 6.6 km according to the Google MapsPedometer. SCC Marathon Division members Trevor & Viki were there and heading out on the water, Trevor for his 11th paddle of 2008.
The Wildlife seen was restricted to birds: mallards that have been there all winter, geese that have recently returned though they may only have come from the Diefenbaker Lake outflow (80 km), some gulls and magpies.