Friday, April 24, 2015

T is for Tandem canoe

The workhorse of the canoe world. It requires team work for a pleasant and efficient trip. Putting two beginner paddlers into a tandem canoe can be a true test of friendship or marriage. What I admire about this style of boat is in relation to a rowing style of boat. As far as I know the facing forward canoe is a Native American invention. Europeans had only the facing backwards row boats. Big mighty civilized Europe could not or would not be bothered to develop a facing forward type of small boat? Meanwhile for who knows how long, the natives of North America were using it routinely?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

S is for Simple

Probably the thing I like most about paddling is the simplicity. Effort equals movement. Relaxed effort equals a leisurely pace with time to see what around you. Strong effort delivers the workout and the focus on smaller world and optimal sustained effort. I like the concentration on perfect strokes and keeping a high rate in a straight line. Although it' not as simple, sometimes on my paddleboard I'll bring both canoe and SUP paddles. Short for sitting and tall for standing. Different everything between the paddles. I like this variety. What I like more than anything though is getting out on the water.

R is for Rivers

Where would lakes be without rivers? Empty for starters. Life here in the Midwest offers lots of both. Close to the house as well. The Yahara is my first paddling choice. Always upstream to start. To the island in Mud Lake, past the old pioneer bridge and the native fish weir then back downstream. Usually I have the place to myself both ways. Great water. Great paddling. When that's not enough lake Kegonsa looms large. I like sunrise paddling on that surface. Usually smooth, calm, and quiet. Unfortunately water skiers like the same conditions. It's still worth the wake up though.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quiet

Quietwater Films has always been narrowly scoped into producing instructional DVDs. The meander that led to the name though is a distinct nod to the weirdness of media in outdoor recreation. Back in the day when Quietwater was getting organized, the paddling industry was commonly seen in the media as this collection of pink-haired mohawk-wearing kayakers doing something outlandish on some creek with some really bad really loud music underlying the whole show. It was as if the entire industry consisted of a bunch of nose ring wearing gomers frantically jamming themselves down some Cat. V river drop. I have to give them credit, at least someone was doing something to try and promote kayaking.

But I think there was a fundamental disconnect. The bulk of the paddling world was aging rapidly and spending time on lakes not whitewater rivers. The largest volume of new boats sold was in the recreational kayak category, not creek boats, not whitewater boats. It wasn't too long before fishing kayaks were one of the top sellers as well. But yet in the media, all you saw were stunts involving cliffs and pink hair. The industry just couldn't seem to pull its head out of its collective nether region and recognize where the money was and where their customers were. The gomers hucking themselves off cliffs were rotten customers. No money. No job, borrowed boats with an occasional sponsor boat. Very narrow appeal mainly to other broke couch surfing pink haired youngsters.

Not sure where the manufacturers were going with this line of thought other than out of business.

Anyway, Quietwater saw this somewhat pathetic environment. I did not want to play in it. Thankfully my partner at the time did not want to either. So we went off the opposite end of the spectrum. Quietwater is a name that represents our awareness of the REST of the paddling world. The quiet normal weekenders who get out in lakes with kids. The couple that get out for a paddle in their rec kayaks. Nothing Cat. V, no hair dye, no bad music.

As an aside, Mike Hooks, who I believe is still the Sales VP at Native Watercraft created several original pieces of what we called "swamp rock" as the score for two DVDs we did with Native Watercraft. Mike is a great guy and an outstanding musician. It used to be funny how many artistically gifted people ended up in sales. It's not funny anymore, the correlation has been consistently strong between artistically creative and sales for a long time now.

Quietwater is still around, still carrying the flag for normal people in normal boats having normal fun. Hair coloring is OK, bad music no. It's not all about ear throbbing adrenaline rushes. It's about time on quiet water too.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for paddling

Paddling has been the heart of Quietwater Films. It still is. Facing forward so you can see where you are going. Not where you have been. That's rowing. It also makes my neck hurt. Very european as well.

As with most things, paddling can be easy to learn, but harder to master. Most people get 80% of the sport in the first day. That final 20%, like so many other things is more subtle and, if you do not do it frequently, may be something you truly never master. that's OK though, even with 80%, you'll still have a great time on the water and that is what it's all about. Simple pleasure derived from a simple movement. Clarity. Peace of mind. All good.

O is for Olive Dun

The mayfly and its life cycle provides a good bit of flyfishing's raison d'etre as well as a good bit of its vocabulary.

Egg, nymph, subimago, and imago are the four stages that a mayfly goes through. "Dun" is another word for subimago. This mayfly, at the dun stage of its life, can fly, which it does from the water surface to a sheltered spot along the stream where its wings can dry and harden a bit. The wings sometimes have an olive tint to them at this stage. It is now an adult, but thought to be sexually immature. At some point shortly after surviving this flight from water to shelter, it sheds its skin one last time. This mayfly is now fully mature and is known as a spinner.

And there you have it, the sex life of bugs and the fish that eat them. It's a tough life.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for National Geographic

That girl with the eyes. I'll bet that is still what a bunch of people think when they see a National Geographic magazine. I do. Apparently the magazine itself still does as well, given that picture's presence all these years later in its current marketing media.

Just as cool as that image itself, taken in 1985 by the way, is the fact that the photographer spent a ton of his life afterwards looking for that girl. He found her years later, looking more like a world weary, war weary refugee, but her eyes were still there.

My favorite magazine. Compelling imagery being the leading reason.