Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Yay, the ice is off of Cree Lake & our plane can land! The above satellite image is from June 21st, the most recent date where the area wasn't completely obscured by cloud. Cree Lake is in the upper right quarter of the image just north of the wispy clouds and the water is coloured black. Wollaston Lake to the NE on the edge of the image is still covered in ice, visible as light blue. Did I mention the image is from June 21st! If you look at the large version of the image, you can see a forest fire burning on the eastern side of Cree Lake, what must be very close to MacIntyre Lake Lodge. By scrolling back through the satellite images, I was able to determine that the ice went off of Cree Lake during the few days up to June 15th.

These images are from the MODIS Rapid Response System -
To quote from the web site:
The MODIS Rapid Response System was developed to provide daily satellite images of the Earth's landmasses in near real time. True-color, photo-like imagery and false-color imagery are available within a few hours of being collected, making the system a valuable resource for organizations like the U.S. Forest Service and the international fire monitoring community, who use the images to track fires; the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, who monitors crops and growing conditions; and the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Air Force Weather Agency, who track dust and ash in the atmosphere.
It's pretty cool stuff actually. As long as the clouds aren't in the way, I can see where fires are burning and what the ice conditions are like. The clouds that have obscured things the last few days have carried rain that has put out the fires in the area (including one that stopped 30m from a colleague's research site near Key Lake!). Here's an edited version of a fire map available from the site from the period of 06/10/09 - 06/19/09:
Thankfully, it shows no fires in the region North of Cree Lake where we'll be.

Four days from now I'll be on Cree Lake about to head down the Cree River. Late ice-out should mean that the Lake Trout are in shallow waters and hopefully they are hungry! After we spend half a day or so on the lake, then we'll be off downriver and into the territory of Grayling, Pike and a few Walleye (this river is not a major walleye destination, but there are couple of good spots reported).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Light & Sound

Tonight I celebrated the summer solstice and the earliest portion of Father's Day with a midnight paddle. My wife was supposed to join me for a paddle a bit earlier, but she never returned from going to lay down with the kids to help them sleep. Ready for bed myself, I decided to take the opportunity for a quiet late night paddle on the longest day of the year. As I paddled, many thoughts went through my head & I want to record a few of those impressions before I head off to bed at last.

A launch under the glaring marina lights, I paddle through a crowded parking lot of boats to the sound of a wedding dance at the golf clubhouse.

Escaping the noise, lights and protection, I emerge onto a lake lit by a northern twilight glow.

Here and there, cabin lights dot the far shoreline.

There is a breeze creating a light chop which noisily slaps the near-empty hull of my heeled-over canoe. I head upwind, northwestward toward the sun that is journeying below the horizon.

As I round a point and paddle along the shore, I learn to listen for the sound of waves slapping rocks just above the surface.

I catch a fleeting glimpse of a light, a firefly perhaps. But I see only a flash and I decide it is likely only a light from a cabin shining briefly through the trees, or perhaps a reflection.

Having come as far as I wish, I stop to drift, listening to the sounds of the waves hitting shore.

Gazing skyward, I take in scene above. Away from the bright marina lights, the northern sky glows and there is plenty of light to paddle by, despite there being no moon. The stars are brilliant points of light, yet only the brightest are visible on this short night.

As I turn to face the east and my return, I notice flashes of lightning many miles in the distance, much too distant to be heard.

Paddling downwind the waves quieten and all sense of speed is lost as I pass farther from shore.

Close again to shore, I see short bursts of light flitting above the rocks. The fireflies are indeed out tonight and I consider myself lucky to see them. The cool brilliant light of the beetles is in sharp contrast to the far off flashes of lightning.

The steady call of frogs is prominent whenever the shoreline is sheltered from the now diminishing waves.

As I approach the marina, the obnoxiously bright lights begin to pierce the trees, finding & blinding me. To the sound of Jumping Jack Flash pumping from the banquet hall, I give the marina a pass.

The sound of reeds brushing the hull tells me I am in a shallow and protected bay. Briefly, I am aware of the strong smell of mint mixed with poplar.

A dark break in the shoreline of the bay suggests the mouth of a creek. I cannot breach the entrance, and the late hour forces me to return to the glare and noise of the marina.

With a canoe overhead, the squelch of a sandal in the mud reveals a puddle in the shadows.

The car lights illuminate three scattering killdeer chicks in the parking lot, explaining the distracting cries of the parents heard earlier.

Back in the dimly lit cabin, I am glad I was able to draw myself away from the enjoyable sounds of Saturday Night Blues on the am radio. It was a beautiful night to be on the water.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Mobies Are Coming! The Mobies Are Coming!

So, "what's a moby" you might ask. A moby (plural, mobies) is a hidden latch mechanism for the purpose of keeping the hatch of a kayak closed. The moby, is a lever attached to the underside of the hatch cover that under the tension of bungie cords presses against the underside of the kayak deck and holds the hatch securely closed. I added mobies to the kayak when I built the kayak 2 years ago, but I built them using 1/8" recycled mahogany plywood. That proved too weak and 2 of 8 of them have broken. So, I am rebuilding the mobies. This time I have made them much beefier. They are being constructed of 1/4" poplar wood, with the grain in the direction of required strength. The poplar was reinforced before cutting out the pieces by adding a layer of fiberglass on each side. They are also larger in every dimension than the older version, which will make them stronger again.

This post was just intended to be a quick update. I have been taking pictures along the way in preparation for a future comprehensive Moby post, perhaps a "how to". So far, I have fiberglass-reinforced 1/4" poplar, drawn a new and enlarged moby template, cut out all the pieces, and cut off the old mobies and cleaned up the hatch lids. This evening, I glued the mobie components together with thickened epoxy and added another layer of glass to the underside of the hatch lids.

In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures from when I made the Mobies, Mark I.

Partially assembled pieces.
A pod of mobies ready for installation.
Mobies on hatches.