Kayak Trailer Construction

This week we have made some real progress on the construction of turning our utility trailer into a kayak carrying trailer. By “we” I mean my husband has made progress.

Ever since we started paddling, we have always just lined them up side by side and wiggled and jiggled them until all vessels were in a happy place for travel.

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And every time we buy a new kayak with a bit different shape or size, its gets a bit more complicated to find a happy spot that they can all be carried safely.

Now of course, we have seen kayak carriers on trailers for many years but time was always a factor. Let’s face it, summers are short and who wants to work on the weekends when you could be paddling. Well, we have now come to a point where we had no other option since our son bought a very long kayak and this has thrown our whole trailer situation into a tail spin.

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Thankfully, my husband is an engineer by profession and can literally come up with a plan for almost anything. And he is a pack rat (which I consider his second profession) which actually turns out to be a bonus in this situation. He has had pipes laying around in our garage rafters for years with no good reason until now. They are what he is using for the frame work that the kayaks will be braced on for travel.

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Evey night this week he has spent time drilling, measuring and making progress.

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All that is left to do is add are few more bolts, cover a few more pipes with pool noodles for protection, and a test drive to a body of water somewhere. Now, whether that will be this weekend or not….we shall see.

 

 

 

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Ok, So I Am Starting To Go A Little Crazy!

I almost have two weeks into this ankle immobilization and it’s starting to make me a little crazy. Not so much with the actual boot itself, honestly I kinda like wearing it. I am not on guard as much about someone bumping into it with the boot on. That being said, I am tired of sitting…..really tired of sitting. This toes over nose thing is getting to me.

Last weekend, I sat in the truck at a boat launch waiting for my son and husband while they paddled a near by river with their kayaks. Total bummer!

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Then I came home and I sat on a chair talking with my husband as he worked in the garage. After this became boring, I grabbed my kindle and finished a book I had started while sitting on the porch outside. I did get up to make dinner…..thank goodness we need to eat. Then I again, sat on the porch outside to eat my dinner. After dinner it started to get cool outside so I came in and crashed on the couch, leg propped, and watch some television…..another total bummer. I swear I can feel my derriere expanding by the hour from lack of activity. Although so far, I have kept it together and not exploded with frustration…. yet.

As for the good things that have happened recently, there are a few. I hung my first few loads of laundry outside this year. I love fresh hung laundry! We ate our first meals of the year on the front porch again.

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We slept one night without having to turn the furnace back on. Our temps all week have been gorgeous so open windows during the day and fresh air have been the best! Our landscaping is all done, which officially finishes the list of chores to do before we can enjoy summer. However, I don’t think getting into a kayak with this anchor on my foot is a good idea. And I have my first tan line of the summer. Take a guess where…..right where that boot meets my knee. Can you imagine what my legs will look like in another two weeks? One will be nicely tan and the other will be completely white! A fabulous thought that is.

Anyhow, a few hours from now another weekend will be upon us. Obviously, nothing too exciting here is planned but I sure hope you all find something fun to do.

 

Kayaking Safely With New Paddlers

It’s that time of year again. All our “seasonal friends” are letting us know that this will be the year they give kayaking a try. I laugh every year I hear them state this fact. In the back of my mind I know it all sounds great and exciting UNTIL it comes to summer and time to bite the bullet and actually come along. Then they all seem to chicken out…..but we play along and usually have a few give it a try.

Anyhow, here are a few basic facts that we have learned over the years that will make guiding a trip with newbies much more enjoyable for you as a guide. Plus, by following a few basic guidelines you can ensure that it will be safe, fun, and very enjoyable for first time paddlers.

#1 Check that everyone has the proper gear before leaving home. Examples:PFD, helmet, spare keys, water, sunscreen, portage shoes, snacks etc. Also, make sure their PFD fits them.

#2 Let someone (neighbor, friend, parent) know what river you are doing, from what point to what point and when you expect to return home. Just in case!

#3 Get the current weather forecast. If possible, try and take a newbie on a nice day. It’s not so cold and miserable for them then in the event that they decide to swim instead of paddle:)

#4 Give details of the river they will be paddling. Some of the most common questions for us when we are guiding a trip is: How do we portage? How many portages are there? Do I have to portage? Is there a place to change? What should I wear? (These last two are normally asked by females) Letting them know what to expect always seems to help.

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#5 Stress proper hydration/nutrition throughout the day. Tell them to bring water and somehow secure it into their kayak. Remind them throughout the day to drink. You would be surprised how many people forget to drink. Also, ask them often how they feel. Would they like to stop for a snack? Are they comfortable?

#6 Assist them on paddle strokes and the feel of the kayak upon entering the water. Before you even start paddling, make sure they understand how to hold the paddle, what strokes do what, make sure their seat is adjusted correctly, and they are comfortable with their kayak. Making adjustments mid river is not always easy or possible for that matter.

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#7 Make sure you take them to a river you are familiar with. I cannot stress this enough!!! They are depending on you to know what is coming next. If they change their mind when they start to hear the rapid around the corner, you know where and how much time you have to get them out to portage before they are committed. Be a knowledgeable guide about the river you are on.

#8 Don’t push them too hard. Ask if they are tired and would like a break. Remember you paddle often, they do not. If they want to try something new, let them. On the other hand, if they need to think about it for awhile or watch someone else first, let them do so.

#9 Stress what to do in a roll over. This is usually the scariest thing for newbies, but let’s face it, it sometime happens. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them in what position to float downriver, never to get between their overturned kayak and a rock, and to swim to the rivers edge when possible. Explain to them how to wet exit their overturned kayak.  Remember it’s all about priorities. Rescue order should be people, boats, equipment.

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#10 Bring First Aid. This is what dry bags are for. Accidents happen. You don’t need much, but when you need it, you will be glad you had it. We have used our first aid a couple times. From simple bandaids to gauze wrapped with duct tape. (Yes, duct tape! Holds great in water)

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#11 Keep Alcohol For The End Of The Trip. We do not allow anyone in our group to consume alcohol while with us on the water. Maybe it’s being over cautious, but it’s hard enough to help and rescue a sober person when they are in a panic much less if they have alcohol in them. We have no problem asking anyone to leave the alcoholic beverages of choice for the end of the trip. This is for their safety as much as ours.

These are the basics for taking a newbie kayaking. Just keep in mind, a great guide can really make a great trip. If you want your family and friends to join you, show them you can be fun and knowledgeable all at the same time.

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Safe and Happy Paddling Everyone!

 

 

Opening A Child’s Eyes

It is so rewarding to open a child’s eyes to something new and exciting. Our family recently had this opportunity again this past weekend when we stopped in for a visit with my inlaws. They had our niece with them for the weekend and we just happen to have two kayaks in the truck for a brief paddle on the lake near their campsite. (Yes, I know we have whitewater kayaks and this is a lake, but water is water when you can’t get to a river.)

We see our niece once, maybe twice a year so this was quite the treat. Although, we do not know her very well, she seemed very interested in the kayaks and asked a ton of questions on the way to the lake. (Yes, that is a winter hat and mittens on her head and hands. It was quite chilly this weekend.)

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When we reached the lake the boys suited up entered the water.IMG_1083

That is when she took her position at the docks edge, got comfortable, and watched closely.

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Even talking Uncle Terry into rolling his kayak. ( it was pretty cold on this particular day)

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Then the offer was made for her to try it. She was not too sure but said she just wanted to sit in a kayak next to the dock. This was done and it took only a few minutes until she asked for a paddle and gave it a try. I think you would all agree that the smile says it all.

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I think we may have a another paddler in the family.

It was such a pleasure to spend time with her and show her how our family has fun. We don’t get to spend much time if any with much of our family but the offer is always there for anyone to join us in our adventures.

 

 

 

Lesson Learned/A Guides Perspective

We hit the river for the first time this weekend without our son. To say it was a little strange to not pack up all his gear would be an understatement. The entire trip, from start to finish, I felt like someone was missing. Although, we ought to get used to this, he will not be paddling for quite some time. That being said, we still had a great time with a new couple and our newbie neighbor that has now officially graduated from a newbie to a full blown kayaker.

As I have said in the past, we rarely find friends to join us in our river adventures. However, this weekend with three kayaks empty instead of just two, we left it up to our neighbor to search out some friends she would like to have experience the adventure with us. Surprising, this was quite easy for her and the first couple she asked said yes. (We seriously need some friends like this) So, our neighbor, who has been down the river once with us in the past and once at a beach with some lessons on wet exits and rolling accompanied us along with her sister and brother in law. Our neighbor took our son’s kayak and the new couple used our recreational kayaks.

The day was hot, partly sunny and beautiful. A great day to see if the lessons on wet exiting at the beach were worth teaching. In our opinion, after you teach the basics like how to hold a paddle and paddle strokes the next lesson should be wet exiting your kayak. Even though they may not like the fact that this should be taught, they will be happy they know the skill eventually. Our neighbor was very happy to have learned this lesson after trying to surf one of the nicest rapids on the river this weekend. I will apologize because I have no pics of this part of our day but I had a little more important things to do. (Like retrieve gear after she flipped) If someone is going to flip surfing, we know from experience, this is the rapid it is going to happen on. She wanted to try and my husband was never very far from her in his kayak the entire time. I, however, exited my kayak, beached it on a rock and stood nearby in the water to assist because I knew how this would end. The newbies sat nearby in their kayaks watching. She was doing great until the wave caught her, turned her sideways and over she went….and exited just like she was taught. Success, she was up, my husband was out and ready to assist and I gathered the gear. Afterwards she admitted that she was so thankful to have been taught the lesson and even happier to have had the chance to get a true wet exit experience. We officially have graduated her from newbie to just an every day kayaker….Congrats!

As for our newbie couple, they did terrific. One flip in the last rapid of the river but everyone stayed calm. She also surprised us all by trying it again and the second time it went much more smoothly. Success was achieved by all this weekend and it was a great ending to our day on the river.

After that it was picnic time. I don’t think anyone was really ready to leave the river on this day because it was so beautiful but a nice spread of good food always helps.

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We really enjoy taking new people and showing them that even though what we do can be dangerous, it can also be fun and relaxing. With the proper safety precautions it is no more dangerous than riding a bike on a city street. It’s really what you make of the experience that makes it what it is. You can float along and portage everything if you wish or you can try new things and even get a little crazy like my husband and slide down a rock with a dramatic splash.

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It’s all up to you. All we ask is that you have fun and enjoy the moment.

This weekend I think we would all agree, we all enjoyed the moment:)

 

 

 

Canoecopia 2014

We were up early Saturday to make the three hour drive to our favorite convention, Canoecopia. It is held in Madison, WI and runs for three days every year. If you enjoy kayaking, canoeing and camping this is the hottest ticket of the weekend.

We always try and arrive early enough to shop the parking lot…fellow yakkers will place there kayaks atop there vehicles or on trailers with for sale signs and phone numbers attached. You can find some great buys if you know what you are looking for. (Although, we are not looking to buy another kayak, you never know when a good deal will be had)

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Upon arrival, you enter the convention center and there are many free booths of local guides, groups and camp grounds offering freebies. You browse, chat and pick up maps of possible lakes and rivers to be paddled.

Then it’s the big opening. I head straight for the Bargain Baga area. I am quite frugal as my husband calls me, so anywhere I can save a buck I will.

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Then it’s time to make the rows and rows of paddles, kayaks, canoes, shoes, outfitters, camping supplies, roof racks, clothing and on and on….

We were specifically looking for three things this year. A roof rack for our new car, a spray skirt for a friend’s kayak, and some new decals to personalize our car with. I know, decals, big spender I am? (They are free) Well, like I said, I am frugal. We hit the jackpot this year getting everything on our list and then some.

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After finally deciding on the rack system we wanted, it was time to browse. We checked out the newest Jackson fishing kayaks. My husband would be very happy to own one of these. Sorry honey, there is just no more room:(

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We walked past an array of paddles. Some more practical and some I would be scared to use because they are so beautiful.

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Next, it was time to check out the newest in whitewater kayaks. I like checking out the new colors that they come out with every year.

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You can even get your kids on the water in kayaks made specifically for children. Even at a very reasonable price for many days of happy paddling.

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Then we stopped in a booth that had some homemade kayaks that should never be used on the water in my opinion. So much work is involved that I would be devastated if I scratched any of these on a rock or even with the beach sand. Take a look at the detail…

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Aren’t they gorgeous?

Next, it was off to check out the newest in stand up paddle boards. Even though I love mine, it is still nice to take a look.

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And last but not least, you always have your crazy new inventions. This kayak comes apart in three sections that are held together with a rubber ratchet strapping system. In my family, we prefer our kayaks in one piece. Any kayak that purposely breaks apart into sections is fundamentally WRONG in our eyes. Legos and boats should never breed!

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There are also countless speakers that you can attend at certain times throughout the day also. We do not usually attend these so I can not tell you good or bad about this part of the convention. I can tell you that the rooms are packed, so if you plan to attend make sure you get there early and get a seat.

It was a very fun and exciting day for us. We wait all year for this convention and it never disappoints us. The temperature may still be cold outside but it felt a little closer to summer while we were inside chatting with people that love to do what we do. We left with a trunk full of gear, some great memories of Canoecopia 2014 and a smile on our face.

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Happy Paddling Everyone