Showing posts from 2010

Cowboy Scramble up the Maelstrom Vital 166 - Find its sweet spot!

Does a sea kayak have a sweet spot? I think so. Especially when you are doing the cowboy scramble.

Ok, I'm in the water in a nice warm Canadian lake in July in my cute new Maelstrom Vital 166 sea kayak that I bought in May without really testing if I could get back into it unassisted. I just assumed I could. "Of course I can, I can do it in my Boreal Baffin in 5 seconds." I count. It's a game in warm flatwater when I'm doing it for fun and rescue practice.

In the first pic above, look how far the nose is sticking out of the water. This sea kayak has one very upturned kayak nose!

 The Malestrom Vital 166 is 21 inches at the beam and is 16 feet 6 inches long. The beam is the widest measurement across the kayak. That has to be at the cockpit. It's where we sit. Makes sense, especially after the Christmas holidays, we need to fit in there. Everything gets skinnier from there. Yes, after Christmas we work to get rid of what we gained, and from the cockpit, everyth…

Top 50 Kayaking Blogs - BaffinPaddler made the list!

Wow! It really pays to pay attention to your Web stats and see where your traffic comes from.

I just noticed that BaffinPaddler made the list of  Top 50 Kayaking Blogs on and Guide to Online Schools.  How cool!

Hey thanks! It's an honor to be reviewed and ranked. And a great motivator for a blogger. I'm a big fan of blogs and bloggers. And now I've just discovered yet another great resource of some kayak blogs I didn't know about that I can also share on my blog. Some of my favorite kayak bloggers are listed on my blog roll in the right column of my blog.
There is a kinship amongst kayakers in general and with kayak bloggers in particular. It is great to stay connected to other kayakers this way. They are the ones who motivate me to get out there and discover something new and maybe paddle with some of them one day.
This review is great for us bloggers..Looks like great photos and videos are an expected hit along with the stories and adventures that …

Let’s talk yoga, a Greenland paddle and healing a wrecked shoulder

Wrecking yourself is pretty easy. It can be sudden or come upon you over time from chronic overuse or stupid abuse. I’ve done all of the above with yoga and paddling . . . all things that are supposed to be good for you, right?

All of the wrecking part was my own fault though. None of it was an accident.

I’ve wrecked my back with yoga and I’ve rebuilt myself with yoga.

I’ve wrecked my shoulder paddling and later found a path to rehab and prevention that included a Greenland paddle and yoga. A good combo!

Don’t you just love sports!

According to all the physios I’ve frequented, it’s those of us who do sports that they see most often. And it seems that shoulders and knees could win an award for being the parts of our bodies that we mess up the most often.

I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes. The path to learning is sometimes long and painful. Some may say, “always!” But, it’s amazing what you can discover when you really need to.

Misery does not love company – you will hang out there a…

Maelstrom Sea Kayaks, About the chines from the maker

I was looking for a little more information about the chines on the Malestrom Vaag 174 and the Malestrom Vital 166.

I own a Vital.

I was seeing different descriptions on the Web from a variety of sources about the chines of the Maelstrom sea kayaks, so I contacted the maker, Maelströmkayak, and got a nice response from Charles-Alexandre Desjardins, President.

If you're interested to know more about the Maelstrom Vital 166 and Vaag 174's design, here it is from the source:

"The Vitäl's chines are on the hard side. I personally say it's semi-hard chines. It's not a pure hard chine like the Nigel Foster's Legend for example, where you see the sharp angle between the hull of the kayak and its side. On the the opposite of the hard chine, there is the soft chine, where the transition is very gradual, no sharp angle, like the P & H Capella.
The Vitäl 166 and the Vaag 174 have semi-hard chines. It's not a sharp angle but it's way more sharp than a sof…

Your Dam River

What is a “dam river?”

A river with dams on it. Most rivers are dammed, and if they aren’t already, they likely will be one day.

What is "your" dam river?

Your dam river is a river you paddle on with dams.

You need to know how many there are, where they are located, what kind of flows are coming out of them and how they might affect the stretch of water you’re planning to paddle on.

You may have more than one dam river.

There are many rivers that I regularly paddle in Canada: the Ottawa, Madawaska, Gatineau, Rideau Canal system, Mississippi, and St. Lawrence rivers. And, there are other rivers I hit up and need to learn about when I travel.

Every time I want to paddle a river, especially a new stretch I don’t know, it takes research.

Where are the dams? Where are the rapids? How paddler friendly is it? How hard is it to navigate? Where is the put in and take out? What else do I need to be aware of? (There are alligators in some Florida rivers, and others affected by tides, o…

North Carolina Instructor Reviews the Maelstrom Vital 166

Here's more news on Maelstrom sea kayaks provided by a paddler and sea kayak instructor who recently headed out to coastal waters to give the Maelstrom Vital 166 a try.

Fern, from in North Carolina, U.S.A., contacted me a while back with some questions about the Maelstrom Vital 166. Several paddlers have, as they have been looking for more news and reviews from other paddlers on the new Maelstrom sea kayaks, the Maelstrom Vital 166 and the Vaag.

Also my BaffinPaddler Web stats show I'm getting the most Web traffic overall for my news on Maelstrom kayaks and Greenland paddling posts. Web stats are so great! So share your news. People are looking for it.

I fell in love with my Maelstrom Vital 166 on the first try and have been posting some of my own reviews and following the news and reviews from other, more experienced paddlers like Alex Matthews. Of course, no love story is perfect forever. But it's a great feeling when it hits! I was anxious to hea…

Magic spots. Simple, small and not so far away

Ever find a little out of the way magic spot that you normally wouldn't notice and not understand why?

Some place so simple, so small, and not so far away. But you could feel something there and not know what it was? A spot along the trail, or the water that makes you want to stop and linger while others pass by?

There are lots of spots. You can travel far and wide and be amazed by something so obviously spectacular, but at the end of the day, it's about what you feel.

I was surprised to find a little pond in New Hampshire that I would not normally even consider with a 16 or 17 foot sea kayak. It was only two miles long and one-half mile wide at the widest point. Not an exciting place to paddle. But a place to relax. The water glows at dawn and dusk. The stars dance off your paddle. Something magic.

Swim in it. Your skin will tell you the same. There is something special going on in a small pond, without all the development you find in so many once-nice places, no speed boats, onl…

Alex Matthews, Adventure Kayak Magazine Reviews the Maelstrom Vital 166

Timing is everything!

I was at an outdoor store buying some new waterproof Merrell hiking boots (please don't ask me the model, I go by look and feel) and likely to be late for my next appointment where I'd have to sit and read something for a long time.

Yes, the totally vain Baffin Paddler was off to the salon to get highlights. I dread that stuff! So I grabbed my new boots and the Adventure Kayak mag that was staring at me from the rack across the room without looking at the cover or the (very brief) stories inside.

A few minutes later, covered in foil and smelly highlight stuff, I glanced at the cover of the magazine I'd just bought on impulse. Hmmm, Alex Matthews on the cover. I'm a fan. I like his articles, reviews and book on Sea Kayaking Rough Waters­.

Great, in the Adventure Kayak 2010 summer/fall issue, he reviewed the new Maelstrom Vital 166. Hey, that's my new sea kayak!

I got a little nervous. I just posted my reaction to how the Maelstrom Vital 166 …

Comerford Reservoir, Connecticut River, New Hampshire: Paddling with Dams is Damned!

Looks nice doesn't it!?

The Comerford Reservoir, on the Connecticut River, borders New Hampshire and Vermont, in the United States.

Plenty of water, a nice sandy beach, easy boat launch, grass with picnic tables, lots of free parking, not much development along this stretch of the river towards the Moore Reservoir, and mountain views.

But what did I leave out of this shot just off to my left of the beautiful public access to the water?

A major development. The big monster. The dam monster. The Frank D. Comerford Dam.

There are much bigger dams of course. But they are all monsters for "us". Those of "us" who want to use the water once in a while, and know, "When is it safe for "us"? When can "we" use the water that you control? Could you let us know when it's OK?"

And guess what. I was paddling towards an even bigger dam, the massive 178 foot high Moore Dam on the Moore Reservoir.

"During boating season, water levels could va…

Maelstrom Vital in Wind and Waves

I finally got my new Maelstrom Vital 166 sea kayak out in some wind and waves to test it in something other than calm lake water and compare it with my Boreal Baffin.
This pic is from the launch in a protected bay. I couldn't really take a shot in the bigger waves and wind. I forgot to attach the float to my waterproof Olympus Stylus Tough camera (they sink without it), and this sea kayak turns sideways too quickly on windy days before I can grab a pic. And I still can't roll yet. A head cam or a cam mounted on the sea kayak would be great! I'm checking them out.
When there are whitecaps and lots of kite surfers out moving at speed on a big stretch of water, it's a good sign for sea kayak play. And when you have a shallow protected bay without too many rocks to launch from on a sunny fall day, it's just perfect!
To be honest, I was disappointed in how the Maelstrom Vital headed into the bigger waves. It's one of those sea kayaks that jumps up and crashes down…

Love the Valley Avocet!

I love the Valley Avocet . . . for fun. But didn't buy one . . . yet.
I'd like one . . . if they make improvements to some basic design elements!

I'd like Valley to work on making their seats something I'd like to sit in!
So far, I don't know anyone who likes their seats! And it's a well known complaint. Come on Valley! When I buy a new sea kayak, I shouldn't have to redo the seat before I can paddle the boat, although lots of high end paddlers do just that with every sea kayak they buy.

I already have two sea kayaks: The Boreal Baffin and Maelstrom Vital. And I'm perfectly happy in the factory installed seats in each one. Although in the Boreal Baffin, I had to add a bit of foam for a tighter fit. The Baffin is a bit big on me. I'm a 5'6", 125 lbs. girl.

I also didn't like the short awkward coaming around the cockpit of the Valley Avocet.
It was next to impossible for me to get my skirt on this thing. Not something I have time to fiddl…

For the Rolling Challenged - Your Dry Happy Puppy

Here she is, your warm, dry, happy, puppy pic.

There is nothing better than being warm and dry after you've gotten a little (or a lot!) cold and shivery during a rolling lesson or practice and find yourself getting even colder soon after you've gotten out of your boat as you pack up your gear. At the very least, this is your top concern of the moment.

Even on what seemed like a fairly warm day when you started, in a not so cold lake in which others are swimming in Speedos, you can get pretty cold during a rolling lesson. A rolling lesson for the rolling challenged is not the same thing as rolling practice for those who can roll. We, the "rolling challenged", tend to spend more time in the water, which is usually cooler than our body temps, and so do our great coaches in the shallows at our decklines! (Mine are getting pretty stretched out . . . ! I mean the decklines!)

Why do we get cold? At least me. I don't know about you.

Because we aren't really moving…

For the Rolling Challenged - Your Wet Puppy

Here's your "Wet Puppy" pic. She doesn't seem to like it either . . . getting used to water.

Is this how you feel sometimes after a rolling lesson, whether you have successfully rolled or not. . . when you get out of your nice snug boat?

And she hasn't even experienced upside down underwater. But, she's a happy pup just the same . . . a little surprised, a bit confused, sometimes worried and whiney, needing a bit of support, love and understanding, and trying to get used to a whole new world, just like us! You gotta love a newbie to something.

I just wish she wouldn't sip my coffee!

A warm dry happy puppy pic will appear soon. The same way I feel after rolling practice and a great big towel!

Why puppies?
They just make you feel better don't they? And they share some of the same emotions we do. Even if you are feeling great, they make you smile harder.

Happy rolling practice and staying warm and dry!
The BaffinPaddler

Half rolling success

The Half Roll

I'm starting to be able to half roll my new Maelstrom Vital. What a nice feeling, especially when the coach says, "you did that by yourself." And despite a weak sweep, and a barely there hip flick, I can get up in my Maelstrom with a half roll. "It's the sea kayak," I say. "It is very forgiving. I don't need much. It will spoil me."

To practice a half roll, my coach pulls me over, asks me to count to three while I'm upside down, then start my sweep and hip flick. What I like about the guy in this video, is that he actually smacks the side of his boat with his leading blade before the sweep. Cool! That little move might just help me figure out where my leading blade should be, as I tend to let it drift away from the boat before I start my sweep, which leaves me with only a weak half sweep.

Why Practice Half Rolling?
Finding your way with half rolling builds confidence and helps you get the feel of the paddle sweep and the hip …

Rolling Rewards

I bet you think this post means, “So, she finally rolled her sea kayak!”
Nope. I’m still rolling challenged.

It just means I’m finally starting to recognize “trying to learn how to roll” as a reward rather than an intense feeling of dread, dry mouth, and nausea.

Now, even after a practice session in which I don’t roll, I’m still smiling and very comfortable with whatever audiences I’ve gathered along the way. No matter how much I’ve messed up, I’ve managed to gain something each time. (Even if I’m the only one who thinks so!) One day I’ll post a video or two. Good, bad, or ugly.

In the past onlookers have asked me, “So, how is it trying to learn how to roll?” Me, “It really sucks!” And I forgot to add, “peeling yourself out of wet neo afterwards in a dark smelly outhouse after the sun has set and you can’t find your undergarments while others are waiting in line to use the facility isn’t so much fun either! And it really messes up your hair!” They thought it was funny, and so did I.

I hav…