Monday, December 19, 2011

Hwy 915 Into Stanley Mission Washed Out

The road to Stanley has washed out in December, Holy Smokes! Too bad none of the articles I have found say anything about what caused the wash-out. I'm not sure if there was some unusual weather or what led to this. Stanley Mission is a favourite paddling (and even snowshoeing destination).

See the brief news article here: Hwy 915 into Stanley Mission washed out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Solo, Vancouver to Alaska and Part Way Back

This is the video diary of a novice paddler that kayaked from Vancouver heading for Alaska. It's about 2 1/4 hours longer than I knew a youtube video could be, but it's well worth it if, like me, you enjoy living vicariously through the grand adventures of others. It's an epic video to document an epic trip. I really enjoyed listening to his reflections and tales of his journey.

Watch it in HD if you can.

p.s. You don't have to watch it all at once!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I stumbled today across a link to the website of Washburne Marine Products.  Washburne Marine Products was, at one time, the "umbrella" under which Randal Washburne operated his cottage industry activities making and selling kayak carts and other accessories.  The company no longer operating, the website now contains some of the stories of Mr. Washburne, an early author in the early days of North American kayaking, boatbuilder, and someone who prefers to be out of the limelight.  I have only read bits and pieces of the paddling-related articles on the website so far, but what I have read has been very interesting and I look forward to reading more.  The retelling of his experiences from 30 years ago offers an interesting insight into the kayaking world.

One year I was invited to appear at a kayak symposium on Lake Michigan.... Brits Derek Hutchinson and Frank Goodman were the main attractions, and I discovered that due to the powerful influence of the primary kayak entrepreneur and guru, British style sea kayaks and style were the only ones allowed. He and his sycophants quickly discovered that I paddled something non-British and rolled infrequently, and they ignored me for the rest of the weekend. I gave one seminar on kayak navigation at which both attendees listened politely and left quickly. Otherwise I spent the weekend watching Derek teach elaborate recovery scenarios in which everybody’s kayak has sunk.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

This email went out to all of the Saskatchewan people on the Paddle Canada email list this morning. I'm a little surprised to see that simply copying and pasting here works.

 Paddle Canada Pagaie Canada Logo
December 1, 2011

An Introduction from Saskatchewan Regional Director, Bryan Sarauer 
I have joined the Paddle Canada Board of Directors as the Saskatchewan Regional Director in the last month, taking over from Jim MacDonald who recently stepped down from the position. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.

APPS Sponsors

I am a canoeist, kayaker, kayak instructor, year-round camper, biologist, father, and husband. I am passionate about paddling and the outdoors, and I try to share that with the people around me, especially my kids. I am also continually learning - learning how to be a better paddler & instructor, learning how to lessen my impact, and learning about the world around me.

As a new Board member, I am beginning to learn what issues are facing PC, what projects it has underway or on the radar, and what concerns Saskatchewan paddlers may have. To that end, I would invite all Saskatchewan paddlers to contact me in the coming months in order to discuss what paddling issues are in mind and what should be on our radar. I want to learn what visions you might have for Paddle Canada and for paddling in general, and how I can help achieve those goals.

I look forward to doing what I can to enhance paddling in our province and across the country.

Bryan Sarauer
Regional Director for Saskatchewan, Paddle Canada
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Official...

Well, the period for comment has ended and so it is now official, I am the Regional Director for Saskatchewan for Paddle Canada.

Last month I was asked by PC secretary, Doug Taylor (who co-led a course I took last spring in BC with Viki, a former Sask Regional Director), to take on the role of Regional Director for Saskatchewan on the PC Board of Directors. The position was vacated by fellow paddler and instructor Jim MacDonald who is off paddling in Belize at the moment. (It's hard to sit on a board when you spend as many days paddling remote areas as Jimmy does.) After learning more about the role and level of commitment required, I agreed to be nominated in the position. A notice was sent to the Saskatchewan portion of PC's mailing list, calling for other nominees (there were none), feedback on me as a nominee was requested (as far as I know, there was no outcry of objection), and now the byelection process is complete.

So, I look forward to learning what issues are facing the Paddle Canada organization, and to learning how I can contribute to growing paddle sports within Saskatchewan and across the country.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What A Great Stripper!

I found this today via Twitter on Water Fun Cartoons.  It's a web site with a weekly paddling cartoon so go check them out. This one's for the boatbuilders:

Friday, November 04, 2011

Derek Hutchinson on Modern Sea Kayaking

This video recently turned up on or via Twitter. It's Derek Hutchinson being interviewed on the beach during the 2007 West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium. He provides some pretty interesting perspectives on a variety of aspects of sea kayaking in Britain versus North America, and the 40 years ago versus now. Arrogant and out to lunch, or a genius and visionary pioneer? Some of each, I suppose.

Not coincidentally, here is an article from Adventure Kayak Magazine from 2008 that was posted today on the Adventure Kayak blog.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Fat Paddler Talks About His Book And Depression

In the video below, Sean Smith, author of the recently released book, The Fat Paddler, talks about some of his motivations for creating his blog and for writing the book.  I have been an occasional reader of the blog for years and so this book is high on my "to read" list.  It has been getting great reviews from around the paddling world (here's one and here's another).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dave Learns About Boatbuilding

David Letterman learns about boatbuilding and woodworking from "Parks and Recreation" actor, Nick Offerman. OK, I had no idea who that was, or what Parks and Recreation was, so I had to look it up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Soggy Bottom Boys And Their Constant Sorrows

(I posted this also over on the NSE blog, but it's so good I thought it deserved the re-posting.)

Great idea for a video, but their execution could use some work. ;)

What a great finish!

Thanks to for bringing this video to my attention.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Photos From The Broken Islands Group

Last summer our family canoed on the west coast, paddling in to the Broken Islands Group, part of Pacific Rim National Park. It occurred to me this evening that I never wrote up a trip report or posted the photos from that trip. Here, at least, are some photos from this fantastic 5-day canoe trip in BC. The captions should help to explain some details.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Radiant Rivers Photo Contest and World Rivers Day

Coldspring Paddling Instruction is helping the Saskatchewan Environmental Society to celebrate World Rivers Day by contributing a gift certificate for an Introduction to Sea Kayaking lesson as a first prize for their Radiant Rivers Photography contest.  The following is information from the Saskatchewan Environmental Society about the day and the contest.

World Rivers Day – September 25, 2011
For more information about any of these events, contact, call 306.665.1915 or visit

Radiant River Photography Contest – rivers all over Saskatchewan
In celebration of World Rivers Day September 25th, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society presents the Radiant Rivers Photography Contest to highlight the beauty of Saskatchewan’s rivers.  The photos must fit one of the three categories (action, tranquil, and sustainable).  Participants must name the river featured in their photo and describe why water is valuable to them and what they do to protect water.  All winning entries will be displayed as a travelling photo exhibit at locations around the province and will win fabulous prizes, including three outdoor adventure packages as first place prizes.  Entries can be emailed to on or before September 26th at midnight and winners will be announced the following week.  For rules and regulations, please visit our website by clicking here.  A big thanks to our sponsors: Sturgeon River Ranch, Coldspring Paddling, Phase 2 Foto source, Outter Limits, and Mister Print.

The following are Saskatoon-based events:

Park Clean Up – 9am Rotary Park
SES is joining Trash Dashers Saskatoon and the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-Up to pick up trash at Rotary Park in Saskatoon in celebration of World Rivers Day. Bags and gloves will be provided, so all you have to do is show up to help us keep our river valley clean and healthy.  We will meet at the peace torch in Rotary Park at 9am, September 25th. See you there!

Nature Walk and Photo Walk – 1pm Peturrson’s Ravine
SES is hosting a nature walk with the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan along Peturrson's Ravine in Saskatoon. This river-side location was chosen to celebrate World River Day on September 25th.  If you are a photo-enthusiast, we also encourage you to bring your camera along to capture some of our river valley's natural beauty.
We will meet in the parking lot, just north of the Regional Psychiatric Centre on Central Avenue at 1pm, Sept 25th.

Blue Drinks – 6pm Winston’s
Blue Drinks is like Green Drinks, in that it is an opportunity for environmentalists to meet up, make connections, and talk about environmental issues, but on September 25th, the discussion will be all about water in celebration of World Rivers Day.  This pub-based discussion group is an informal, relaxed atmosphere, so come on out and talk about your local water issues!
We will be meeting at Winston’s Pub at 6pm in Saskatoon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Kayak Is Defective, It Won't Go Straight!

This is a funny animated video about two ladies discussing why the one can't paddle her kayak straight.

Defective Kayak
by: Firstfoundation

Having similar problems? Contact Coldspring Paddling Instruction and we can help!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Paddling in Lightning?

Here is a great article that was published today on by Tamia Nelson: Lessons Learned. Thunder? I Wonder… More Thoughts on Seeking Shelter From the Storm

The article discusses the danger of lightning storms in a very practical way.  It considers the actions of some paddlers who reacted to the storm in a way that is familiar to many of us that have been in a similar situation, and provides thoughtful analysis.  It also provides some sound advice which should be heeded by paddlers. Here's a brief excerpt as an example.
If you're paddling on inland waters, however, you should begin casting about for a refuge ASAP. Since buildings and vehicles are likely to be in short supply, you'll have to make the most of whatever the country affords. Give tall, solitary trees a wide berth. Avoid clearings, hilltops, and ridgelines, too. You don't want a room with a view, after all. You'll get the best odds when you hunker down among a uniform stand of not‑too‑tall trees. Are there no such trees to be seen? Then look for a sheltering valley.
In the excerpt above they mention finding shelter amongst trees that are not among the taller trees.  At a SCC talk I once attended, the Environment Canada fellow that was talking to us mentioned that willows might be a good bet for waiting out a storm.  They are low so as not to attract lightning, have many branches to protect you from being blown away, are well rooted, are not large enough to blow down and hurt you in a wind, and have no large branches to fall off.  However, the willows aren't going to do much to improve your comfort level.

I would add a piece of my own advice to the article that was not mentioned.  That would be to prepare for the storm before you ever head out for a paddle and bring with you day tripping gear. Day tripping gear should include a tarp and a number of other amenities that will make pulling to shore away from camp and waiting out a storm much more comfortable.  By having a bit of gear with you (for example a day pack, tarp, rain gear, survival kit, food, small stove, fire kit) it releases you of the pressure to push to get back to camp.  If you have left other people behind at a camp, they should know that you are going to seek refuge under the threat of a storm and they'll know you are OK and that they not need to worry while you are out in it and have not returned right away. With a few supplies with you, you can even spend a safe (but perhaps uncomfortable) night away from camp while you await safe conditions.

Here is a video from NOLS about lighting for those active in the outdoors.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Improve Your Kayaking the Hansel Way

Bryan Hansel posted on his list of 22 Ways to Improve Your Kayaking Skills Forever. It's a great list and I highly recommend checking it out for yourself here at

I was going to repost an edited version of the list here to show which of the points I'm already doing or working on, or which I haven't done, but I'll let you head back to the original posting to cross-reference my checkboxes below. Note that just because I've checked the box it doesn't mean I'm done working on that item. Most of the list (all of the list?) are items that we need to work on throughout our paddling lifetime. Go ahead and see how many of the points below you can check off the list. What points would you add to your own version of the list?


In order to check #3 off of the list and avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect, visit and give me a shout for some lessons!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Coldspring Paddling on Shaw TV

Cool! Thanks to my neighbour, Kevin (who sells collapsible fishing boats - called Porta-Botes - through his company Adventure Portable Boats), Coldspring Paddling is being featured in an upcoming edition of Shaw Cable's t.v. show Big Summer.

A reporter and cameraman are coming to my course on Thursday to film a bit of us out on the water and to conduct the interview. Assuming that they decide to use the piece and that it goes to air, I'll let you all know where and when you can see it. (It's going to be hard to tune in over our rabbit ears but I'm going to try.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Simple Pleasures

A great song from David Myles on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dreaming of a Trip

Bryan Hansel's recent solo kayak expedition from Port Huron Grand Marais, MN, in 45 days has me dreaming of paddling trips. Bryan's trip was nearly 1300 km and traversed the length of Lakes Huron & Superior. Now, that sort of thing is more than a little out of my league, and I don't envision myself taking off from my family for a month and a half, but, an adventure on a more reasonable scale is worth dreaming about.

Specifically, I've been thinking a lot lately about a circumnavigation of Lac La Ronge. Lac La Ronge is a large lake about 380 km north of Saskatoon, straddles the edge of the Canadian Shield and is surrounded by boreal forest. The southern portion of the lake is sandy and wide open, while the northern portion is rocky and full of granite islands. It may not be "Great Lake" big, but it's still pretty darned big at approximately 35 km across from the town of La Ronge on the western shore to the eastern side, and about 65 km from a bay in the southwest to the exit of the Rapid (Montreal) River in the northwest corner. It's large enough that standing on the shore in the town of La Ronge and looking ESE to the open lake, you see nothing but horizon.

View Lac La Ronge Circumnavigation in a larger map

A circumnavigation that generally follows the shoreline but is not strict about following the bays and completely skips Hunter Bay would be over 220 km. One could cut this down somewhat with a few more shortcuts in the northern portion of the lake, but at some point you would jeopardize being able to call it a "circumnavigation". Hunter Bay is a large lake unto itself (~18km x 19km) and adding a circumnavigation of the bay adds another 68 km to the trip.

Because of the large open nature of the lake, especially in the south end, I think this trip is best suited for sea kayaks rather than canoe. If you can figure on 25km per paddling day, the trip would take about 9 days. Add on some days for rest and being windbound, and we're at about 12 days even without Hunter Bay. It seems possible to do it in less time (30 km days, for instance), but that allows less time for fishing, repairs, rest & recovery, etc. and I would be reluctant to count on it. I should be able to carry 12 days of the food in the kayak, though I will probably need to pack more lightly than I am accustomed to. There are a few points where road access is nearby and so egress in case of trouble or re-supply are both possible. Overall, much of the lake should have a fairly remote feel to it, but there may be the occasional motor boat around, especially in the northern end of the lake. Lac La Ronge is a popular fishing destination so it would have that safety net of not being completely isolated.

I don't know if a trip of this scope would ever be in the cards, but it can be fun to plan regardless. In the meantime, I will keep working on my paddling skills in order that when the opportunity to take on a challenge like this, I have the skills to allow me to do it, and to do it safely. Perhaps I should start off with a mini-expedition, such as the circumnavigation of Candle Lake.

Note: All of the above is pure speculation. I have not gone over the topographic maps in detail and have not engaged in figuring out the logistics of such a trip. Do not use the above information to plan your own trip other than as inspiration!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kayak Roll Practice in Pike Lake

This is my first ever edited video where I spliced together a few videos and a handful of photos, then added a title page and credits pages. The videos and photos are of me practicing rolling my kayak at Pike Lake this past weekend. It was rather breezy as can be seen and heard in the videos.

To learn to paddle a kayak from a guy that can get back upright in his kayak most of the time, visit

Update: I've been getting some great feedback on my mashed up technique from the folks over on Click here to see the discussion.  An important point is that the above is NOT a how-to video. This is just me practising, and apparently my technique is a bit mixed up. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dark Matters

I might be a science geek, but this is pretty damn cool (from PhD comics)...

Dark Matters from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trailer Design IRL

Last month I posted about the design for modifying my utility trailer and turning it into a kayak and canoe trailer.

I was trying to avoid having to shuttle kayaks in two loads for my lessons (I need 7 kayaks for a set of lessons) and also avoid having to overload the roof racks on my CRV.

CRV with a couple too many kayaks on one roof. The Thule racks are really good but still, I'd rather avoid this.
I took the trailer along with my sketches and required dimensions to a local welder (CJ's Welding near Clavet) and he went to work. About $1200 later (including the replacement of the trailer's leaf springs, which were apparently broken), and I have a trailer that will serve to haul up to 12 kayaks at a time on their sides, or 4 canoes sitting flat.

Room for 4 canoes or kayaks sitting flat. Or, with kayaks leaning toward the pillars there should be room for up to 12 assuming their decks are not too tall. The bars are 78" wide, the same as the Thule load bars on my vehicle. The welder added a plethora of  loops for tie-down points, on the bar ends and at various points on the racks. The racks and the extra tongue bracing are all removable so that the trailer can serve for hauling stuff to the dump and similar mundane tasks. 

My canoe & kayak at 17.5' and 18' respectively are among the longest loads this trailer is likely to see. The rack spacing allows the canoe to fit on the lower rack as well.

Close up of extended tongue with removable brace in place. The pin near the receiver pulls out in order to remove the barce. Note that the re-wiring was not complete at this point. I also want to add a jack to the tongue. In it's previous state the old trailer didn't need a jack because it was quite light. All the extra steel adds a lot of weight and the trailer is now fairly heavy. Plus, I might have occasion to unhook the trailer with a load of kayaks and that will be easier with the jack.

Close up of the trailer end of the tongue. The original tongue bracing is seen on top, and the original tongue was removed and a larger square tubing welded in it's place in order to act as socket for the telescoping tongue. When in short mode, the pins at the corners pull out as well as one near the receiver and the outside brace lifts off. The extended tongue can then slide back into the socket and pinned short.

A much nicer load distribution. My two kayaks on the CRV roof (with Thule racks), plus another 6 kayaks on the trailer (4 on the bottom, two sitting flat on the top bars). The two kayaks on the top of the trailer are relatively short. If I wasn't careful, I could run into a problem with the kayaks on the car hitting the kayaks on the top tier of the trailer.

I still need to figure out the perfect arrangement for ropes or straps for easily securing the load.

The center pillars have been padded with sections of rug to protect the kayaks and the kayaks are resting on foam blocks on the load bars. 
So, let me know what you think of the end product!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

NYC Bike Lanes

Here's an interesting video illustrating some of the hazards of riding in the bike lane. Man, this guy is dedicated to his cause.

Friday, May 27, 2011

National Lifejacket Day, 2011

National Lifejacket Day came and went & I missed it again (it was on May 19th). This is something I would help to promote if only I was reminded about it beforehand. To see my comments from last year's day, which I missed then too, see my post from almost exactly 1 year ago: You can also see the CBC interview I did on the subject of PFDs (I checked and the link to the video still works).

I've entered the date into my calendar for next year, maybe I'll remember?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trailer Design

Coldspring Paddling needs a kayak trailer so that I don't have to transport 5 kayaks at a time on top of my CRV like I did last week (too bad I didn't take a picture of that, but maybe it's better to avoid photographic evidence). I have a nice sized utility trailer that I want to extend the tongue of and add trees to. I've been playing around with Google Sketch-Up to design my modified trailer. What do you think of the design? It should be able to haul at least 8 kayaks (would do 6 nicely as illustrated), or 4 canoes, or 4 kayaks & 2 canoes, and so on. It shouldn't be overly heavy or tall. Plus, there's a fair bit of room for gear in the 4'x6' box. Now, hopefully I can get Rod's help to build it!

Update (27/5/2011): My trailer is at a local welding shop for the modifications. He suggested stiffening the long tongue with a brace that goes upward from the tongue to the top of the trailer box. Also reinforcements are needed where the trees will bolt on to the trailer box. The trees will be removable, bolting into a socket that remains in the trailer box. Also, for simplicity, only one upright will be used for each tree (not two as illustrated), but with the cross bar joints strengthend with a triangular piece of metal welded in at the joint.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One More Round for the Sheepdogs!

Well, the Sheepdogs have survived all the way to Round 1. Now vote & help this great Saskatoon band get to the top!

Playing At The Pool

I was out last night with the Kelsey Kayak Club and decided to finish off my evening in the pool by going off of the 4' high diving board.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Boat Building Music

Thanks to Rider over on the WCP forum for pointing out this video to the paddling community. I love Matt Mays & El Torpedo!

Matt Mays & El Torpedo "Building a Boat"

OR Water Bottle Parka Review

Works great!
By Pawistik from Saskatoon, SK on 5/16/2011
5out of 5
Pros: Insulates well, Effective, Simple
Best Uses: Day Paddling, XC skiing, Snowshoeing, Winter Camping
I've been very impressed with the water bottle parka used with a 1L Nalgene. I had made my own out of blue foam, webbing & duct tape. The DIY version worked, but I'm now ready to retire it or loan it out to friends in favour of the OR Water Bottle Parka. I used it this winter for snowshoe camping trips at -32°C and it kept my water liquid all day (starting with hot water). I used it this weekend in warm temperatures (sunny, but not hot) and it kept my iced tea cool all day.

In short, a great & effective product that does what it's supposed to.

PC Level 2 Course in BC

A few weeks ago I was in BC for a Paddle Canada Level 2 kayaking course. The course was run by Viki and Doug, who instruct with Kingston Sea Kayak Instruction and Comox Valley Kayaks, respectively. Viki and Doug work very well together and they put on a fantastic course, I can highly recommend them if you get the chance. It was tonnes of fun and I feel like I learned a lot. Rolling a loaded kayak in the current of Surge Narrows by the end of the course felt like a fantastic achievement!

Here is a slideshow of some of my photos and a couple of videos taken during the course. Enjoy!

If you prefer, visit the Picasa Web Album directly.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Goepel Passage Rolling and Rescues

Here is a video from the recent kayaking course that I was on. This was filmed at the outflow of Goepel Passage, near Surge Narrows Provincial Park and the east side of Quadra Island, BC. We were practicing rescues, with one paddler heading out into the current across the eddy line, attempting to roll, then "wet exiting". The partner in another kayak was supposed to head out into the current and TX rescue the first paddler, emptying their kayak of water and helping them to get back in their kayak, all while floating down current in the tidal rapid. In the video here, you see the first paddler, Dave, head out into the current, perform two rolls, then flip a third time in order to wet exit the kayak. Meanwhile the second paddler, Mark (on the left side of the video), heads out to rescue Dave. Unfortunately, Mark may have got his edging wrong as he crossed the eddy line because he too flipped, but unintentionally. That meant that I had to stop filming and go rescue one of the paddlers (Dave) while one of the instructors (Doug) went to retrieve Mark. That is, after all, why I was positioned downstream from the others. It turned out to be an excellent practice of real-world dumps!

For pictures from the course, see my earlier post.

Help the Sheepdogs Get Through to Round 1!

Keep on voting for the Sheepdogs!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Last Saskatchewan Pirate

This one's for you Dave!

Here's a great song to sing while paddling at the end of a long day in a head wind.

Last Saskatchewan Pirate, originally written and performed by the Arrogant Worms and brought home to the prairies by Captain Tractor.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coldspring Paddling Instruction

I think paddling season is officially here so it seems like a great time to announce the launch of my new kayak paddling instruction company, Coldspring Paddling Instruction. Check out the new website, created with help from paddler and kayaking instructor David Johnston of Swim River Design.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kayaking Connections

I just searched for "Doug Taylor kayak" and turned up this blog: Doug Taylor was one of the co-instructors on my Level 2 kayak course from last week. Doug circumnavigated Vancouver Island in '08, which is the subject of that blog that I linked to. Doug paddled around the Island with Jonathan Reggler who is, coincidentally, my grandma's doctor in Courtenay. Go figure, it's a small world. Especially if you paddle.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sheepdogs & the Rolling Stone

Only 1 more day to vote for your favourite band to put them on the cover of The Rolling Stone.

Go Sheepdogs Go!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Topographic Maps in Google Earth

Here's a pretty neat tool I recently came across. You can now view the Canadian topographic maps via Google Earth. This tool allows you to view the maps as a "layer", overlayed on the satellite photos. That means you can switch back and forth between the maps and the regular satellite view, or set the map layer to be semi-transparent so that you can view the satellite image through the topographic map. It will make measuring distances on topographic maps a snap.

Start playing with it for yourself by downloading it here:

Thanks to Martin for letting us know about it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Headlamps - Joining the Modern Era

Thanks to Badger Paddles & Algonquin Outfitters, I have a new headlamp coming my way!

For 15 years or so I have been using a Petzl Zoom Zora, a large headlamp that can use either a halogen or standard bulb, and has a 6 volt battery that is strapped onto the back of your head. Although I've been satisfied enough over the past years with the headlamp, a perpetual problem has been that the headlamp gets turned on in the pack (the lens rotates to turn it on and off) and the battery is quickly drained. So, for trip use, I need to bring at least a couple of the flat 6V batteries (which are getting more expensive) along, just in case. Also, because the bulbs are conventional bulbs, they eat batteries even through normal use (especially the halogen bulb), when compared to the LED lights that are available today.

So, after seeing a promotion recently on the Algonquin Outfitters blog, I realised that a new LED headlamp was the perfect thing to spend my $50 gift card on. The gift card was recently won in the "Badger High Water Marks" contest that I took the top prize in (see my winning blog post here). After going through the Petzl web site, I decided that the Tikka Plus2 was the perfect one for me. It has a bright white LED bulb with various output settings, plus a red LED so that I can maintain my night vision & not blind my camp mates. Batteries should last MUCH longer than on my old Zoom Zora and hopefully it does not turn on accidentally quite so easily. The long battery life will be especially appreciated since I seem to have folks around (ie, kids) that like to borrow my flashlights. Another nice feature to further reduce my battery consumption is that I can later add the Petzl "Core" rechargeable battery system if I choose to.

I also wanted to mention the fantastic service that Gord at AO gave me. He has little to gain by going out of his way for me since, with me in Saskatchewan & they in Ontario, I am unlikely to become a regular customer. However, not only was he very friendly by phone and email, he went out of his way to help me through my indecision (I was initially thinking of spending the gift card on a pot set) and to get the Tikka Plus2 on it's way to me, just in time for my upcoming kayak course in BC! By rights, he should have charged me a good ten bucks for taxes and shipping, above the value of what my gift card covered. However, he chose to simplify things and called it square. So, this post is my small way of repaying those good vibes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World Water Day

Today, March 22nd, is World Water Day. What are you doing to celebrate?

Water in the air, water in the river. Otter Rapids in the early morning fog.

Solid, liquid, gas - this picture should be cover the bases for World Water Day. Nistowiak Falls from February 2010.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

TC Vessel Registration Update

A few weeks ago I wrote about the new regulations from Transport Canada regarding the registration of canoes & kayaks. Well, it seems that they have backpedaled (back paddled?) just a bit from the earlier registration requirements.

At the Transport Canada Procedures for Registration of Small Non-Pleasure Vessels in Canada web page, there is a link that reads "Note for human-powered non-pleasure vessels (e.g. canoes or kayaks)." Following the link brings you to a page which includes the following statement:
Note: Transport Canada is currently reviewing the Vessel Registration and Tonnage Regulations for human-powered non-pleasure vessels and examining the feasibility of exemptions for certain groups, so that registration is sensible, efficient and fair for all Canadian boaters.
So, it would seem that everything is on hold for the moment until they get things sorted out.  It looks like the efforts of Ralph, Alan, and numerous other folks at the forums of and have been effective in bringing this issue and their concerns to the fore. They seem to have gotten the attention of not only the media, but also the Minister of Transportation. However, that doesn't mean that the issue is done with, not yet.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Surge Narrows, Here I Come!

Five weeks from now I'll be at Discovery Islands Lodge, on Quadra Island at Surge Narrows for a Level 2 kayak course. Looks like fun!!!!!! (p.s. Watch in HD, if you can.)

Coincidentally, also posted just this afternoon another video from Surge Narrows. Check it out at the link.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My New Paddle is Coming!

My new paddle is on it's way here! You may recall that late last fall I entered and won the Badger Paddles High Water Marks contest with a posting about myself on this blog. I just received the following from Fiona at Badger Paddles:
Hi Bryan!
Just wanted to let you know that your paddle finally shipped today! I do apologize for the delay in getting it to you but things have been truly hectic around here and your paddle got a little lost in all the melee.  Badger is in great demand... so I thank you for your patience!!! .... I have also attached a photo to this email for you.
I truly hope you "dig" your Sliver, Bryan!!! Thanks so much for your online support from the very beginning (you were the first person to ever mention Badger in a blog!) and please know that we wish you many safe and happy voyages! And the best of luck in winning the trip with, the Happy Camper, Kevin Callan!
All the best to you and yours,
My new "sliver" from Badger Paddles!
Now I just need the weather to warm up a tad! (It's currently -18°C which is a good 10° warmer than it was at 9 am this morning when I was walking the kids to school.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Have You Licensed Your Canoe or Kayak Yet?

TheStar Boaters fear they’ll be up a creek without a $50 licence

The above article refers to an issue that's recently come up in the Canadian paddling community, Transport Canada's new regulations that seem to require the licensing of canoes & kayaks.

This item also appeared in today's CBC News:

I've been aware of the issue for well over a month now, and have resisted blogging about it, primarily because I was waiting to see what it all means, and hoping for clarification of several points. To that end I have been reading the information put out by Paddle Canada, and, as well as following closely (but not getting mired into) the conversations at Canadian Canoe Routes and West Coast Paddler.

These rules are confusing, and there has been a great deal of confusion of how these rules will affect local paddling clubs (like the SCC), Guides, Scouts, schools, and other organisations that are important for introducing canoeing and kayaking to new paddlers.

As an instructor, it's not not the end of the world for me. As someone who occasionally volunteers to take the less experienced out on the water in canoe and kayak, this could be a very big deal. I've been hesitant to take a stance while I've been trying to figure out what it all means. However, I'm more and more of the opinion that this is a bad thing for individual paddlers, and for paddling culture in Canada.

During discussions of these new rules it gets brought up that it will be impossible to enforce. That may be, but they don't need to enforce it at all for it to be very important. It suddenly becomes important when something bad happens on a trip, course or minor excursion, and you are deemed to be a leader.

The good thing here is that they perhaps seem to be backtracking a bit, based on the comments from Chuck Strahl, Federal Transport Minister as reported in the above CBC article.

So, if you paddle, especially if you take others paddling, look into this and form an opinion for yourself. Keep an eye on how this is progressing and if your not satisfied or if this has you worried, consider writing a letter expressing your concern to your elected representatives. Also, spread the word. I think very few of us even know about these regulations at the moment, though the news is spreading.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tough Decisions

Rather than write a blog post, I'm supposed to be packing for a winter camping trip at the moment. A group of us from the Saskatoon Snowshoe Club are to be leaving Saskatoon for Prince Albert National Park in the morning. However, I've had a cold for the last few days and things are not currently getting any better. Late this morning, about 19 hours before Bob & Jeff were to meet at my house to pick me up, I finally concluded that I could not go and made the decision to back out of the snowshoe trip.

It really sucks to back out of a trip like this. It's not just that I really want to go (despite the -34°C overnight low that is forecast), but the feeling of letting others down. In a group like this some of the gear is shared. My pulling out now means that Mike no longer has a place to sleep. Of course he can borrow my tent and stove, but it's really too much for one person to haul in (3 is ideal, 4 will fit and for 2 it's a palace). So, I called one of the other people on the trip and suggested that he and his tent partner join Mike in my hot tent. However, I hardly had the words out of my mouth that I was pulling out before he was telling me that his tent partner was sick and if I was pulling out, she would be too and therefore he wouldn't go either. So, our group of 7 quickly diminished to 4. A phone call to Mark later and now he's out too. That leaves 3, maybe.

So, now I feel responsible for starting the cascade that has essentially killed this trip. But, the more I think about it, the more I know it was a decision I had to make and the correct decision was made.

Had I gone, I might have been on the upswing by then and could have had a great time. However, it seems just as likely that my energy would be low and I'd be dragging my ass to keep up with the group and pull my own weight (not to mention that 100+ pounds on the sled behind me). It also becomes a safety issue. When you are fatigued you are prone to bad decisions. When fatigued due to sickness that effect is likely worse. Also, because I am with a group, my bad decisions may not only affect myself, but also the rest of the group. Another concern I had was the cold weather (did I mention -34°C was forecast?) and the potential effect my sickness might have on my ability to thermoregulate and combat the cold. I don't presently have a fever or the chills, but if that were to set in, I'd rather be at home than in a tent.

Anyway, I could go on listing various scenarios and discussing the repercussions of a decision to go despite a head full of mucus, but I think I'll go make myself a hot toddie instead.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Put The Sheepdogs On The Rolling Stone

Great local band and hot sensation The Sheepdogs have been selected as one of 16 bands that have the potential to earn a place on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine (not to mention a deal with Atlantic Records and a bunch of other cool stuff). They are the only Canadian band among the 16. Help them out and show some love for this fine Canadian band and their great classic rock sound.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Paddle Canada Kayak Course in the Broken Group Islands

Here is a video I came across recently while checking out the SKILS web site. It's a film by The Hurricane Riders of Vancouver while the group was taking a Paddle Canada Level 3 kayak course in the Broken Group Islands. The Broken Group is where I paddled last summer with my family (what a great experience) - trip report forthcoming! Watching this video makes me want to rush out and take an advanced sea kayaking course, especially one that's situated in the Broken Group. Featured in the group is Michael Pardy, the instructor trainer that helped to teach my instructor's course last spring.

p.s. The lost kayaker was part of scenario training, not a real situation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sea Kayak Snow Launch

The Hurricane Riders enjoy a Snow Day in Vancouver (or thereabouts, maybe Deep Cove?). This sort of thing has gotten pretty mundane with whitewater kayaks, but these folks are "paddling" full fledge sea kayaks. Really, when was the last time you saw someone catch air with a sea kayak? Looks like fun!