Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summertime wander to Lac du Flambeau

looking east at Big Island in the Turtle Flambeau flowage
The mostly annual getaway this year was a fair jaunt. We hopped on Hwy 51 and drove it for hours, through Minocqua until it was time to turn left on Hwy FF, a little used, worn out, twisty, old, two lane through the middle of nowhere. Except that it led somewhere. And that was to another left turn on to O'Meara's Lane, followed ~1 mile later by our final left turn into the driveway for our rental cabin.
The panorama above was the view from the yard. Not the wildest place I've ever been, but it fit the best for the largest number of wishes on the vacation list. The Turtle Flambeau Flowage is, by the way, the largest publicly owned wild space in the state of Wisconsin. I could see it as the BWCA of Wisconsin. There are numerous primitive campsites sprinkled throughout the flowage.
Also worth noting that my wife caught the most fish this year. On a 35 year old #2 Mepps spinner of all things. From our Ultimate kayak while I was paddling her around. Nothing worth keeping, but big enough to make her happy. It is fun to see people catch fish, young or old, the thrill of the unknown is hard to beat.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Canoecopia 2014 version

So this was a year of walking the aisles instead of having a booth at CC. Judging by how far away I had to park, it seems like this was a good weekend for everyone at CC. Packed parking lot and crowded aisles at noon on Sunday. I guess there are a few people interested in paddling..... All the usual players were there for the most part. My favorites were two little guys that I happened across. It seems like there is always one aisle that has all the innovators in small booths packed into it. Does kind of make me wonder why I never see anything innovative at the big booths..... Meg McCall was at the Angle Oar booth. Her idea, company and working prototype caught my eye the most out of all the booths at CC. I thought the idea her engineer dad came up with, that she is pushing out into public was a great one. a very cool innovation from Meg McCall and her DadWhen I fish from kayak, paddleboard or canoe, where to put the paddle is a constant issue. That was the first thing that came to mind for me when I saw an Angle Oar. Finally a place to "keep" the paddle where it doesn't fall in and float away. All I have to do is let go of it. The other thing I like about it is that I can easily paddle with one hand on either side of the boat. Usually what happens is that if I want to make an adjustment the paddle is always on my other side, so I have to put everything down to get the paddle. With an Angle Oar one half is always available on either side. Very cool. To me anyway. I think to many other paddling fishing types as well. I love to see people that recognize an opportunity and fill the gap. Looks to me like Meg McCall and her Angle Oar device are on the way!!!!!
Angle Oar

The second thing that caught my eye was a portable grill from SLATWORX, (with a singular X no Ks plural!) another favorite piece I saw at Canoecopia 2014 I think this is also a great idea. Not quite as gap filling as the Angle Oar, but I do think the Slatworx grill does put a fresh new twist on a piece of camping many people do not care for - the existing dirty grill at the established campsite - prior usage unknown. I know the possibility of what the prior camper did to the grill bothers my wife. It bothers me if I think about it too much. The slatworx grill offers an easy alternative. Easy to setup, take down, and package away. Good stuff.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Making a Bent Shaft Laminated Canoe Paddle

So last week was a big week for Quietwater. The event that splashed into last week was an ebook on making a canoe paddle. As some know, Quietwater Films got its start with a series of five DVDs on paddlesports. For me personally, producing the five projects for QW Films was especially nice because of my life long interest and enjoyment of paddlesports. Working with Darren Bush and other big names in the paddling world like Jimbo Meador, remain high points both personally and professionally.

Along with the enjoyment of paddling and the experience as a professional guide (again back in the day but a bit further) is one more piece. Paddlemaking. The wood and hand tools type of DIY making things. A few years back I decided that paddlemaking was something I wanted to do more of. One of the pieces of that was writing a book about paddle making. Last week was the culmination of that effort. Making a Bent Shaft Laminated Canoe Paddle is the first of three books on paddle making, and like all the other firsts, remains a ground breaking eye opening effort and entry into the fast moving and evolving indie publishing world.

Working with cedar strips has long been a big interest. Hand tools and the quiet shaping of wood for me just plain feels good. In this increasingly digital world we live in, going out to the garage and escaping all screens and sounds is yet one more pleasant pursuit. Immersing my ears in the one of a kind sound that a spokeshave makes is a pleasure. Watching a piece of wood take shape due to my own hand efforts is a pleasure. I hope that some of you paddlers out there on occasion enjoy it as well!

Ironically enough, writing the book required lots of digital screen time. But writing has its own strange sort of intrinsic reward as well.

Anyway, the ebook is out there. Globally even. Paper book soon to follow. If like me you are looking at a still growing snowbank, I hope you'll consider reaching for a small screen (like an iPad) and reading about how you can start adding your own hand made bent shaft paddles to your quiver!