Monday, June 25, 2012

Tangled in fishing line on the Riviere Rouge in Mont Tremblant. This is why I wear a kayak knife!

Well, it finally happened. I needed to cut myself loose from a tangled mess of fishing line. And I did, when I hobbled over to my Maelstrom Vital 166 sea kayak to fetch my kayak knife out of a hatch!

I had just stopped wearing my kayak knife in my PFD a week earlier. It was a bit bulky when I Cowboy Scrambled up the back deck of my kayaks. And some people kept telling me for years, "You don't need to wear a kayak knife. It's more likely to get in your way. Just stick it in a hatch." So I did.

Then, just before launching from a sandy, rocky shoreline along the Riviere Rouge (Red River) in Mont Tremblant, Quebec (Canada) one fine day, I stepped into my spray skirt and started to pull it up like I usually do. But this time, I felt something wrapped around my ankle and leg and tightening more and more as I pulled my skirt up to my thighs.

I looked down and saw a tangled mess of fishing line all around my ankle and wrapped around my spray skirt.

I was alarmed. How did that happen? I didn't see the fishing line at all. "Was there a lure and barbed fish hooks in there too?!" No - not this time. Lucky me. Trust me, only a paddle blogger would grab the camera and try to take a picture of this mess before grabbing a knife and cutting themselves free. I don't really want to tell you that my camera was handier than my kayak knife that day. But I wanted at least one image as proof. This stuff happens and it could be much worse.
I thought it would be as simple as pulling down my spray skirt and freeing myself. But no. Pulling the skirt back down only made it worse. The tangled mess of fishing line just got tighter and tighter around my leg.

Another, "Oh crap kayaking moment".

I wasn't wearing my kayak knife. I had to hop over to my kayak, open a hatch, fish it out, and then I was able to easily cut the fishing line in several places and I was free. You can't cut this stuff with your teeth.

I couldn't see the fishing line hiding in the soft, white sand and some of it was hidden under a little bush along the shore of the Riviere Rouge in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Someone had left it behind, or lost it and it blew ashore. I stepped right into it.

So, I'm back to wearing my kayak knife on my PFD.

Soon after, someone rewarded me by stealing my Stohlquist Squeeze Lock Blunt Tip Kayak Knife off my life jacket at a boat launch when my back was turned. They just snapped the plastic knife holder off in two from the knife holder on my PFD and took the entire knife sheath holder and knife. So be vigilant. Your kayak knife is a valuable little thing!

Fishing Issues

More and more people are fishing these days, on the water from boats and from shorelines on lakes and rivers. And those agile, inexpensive, little sit-on-top fishing kayaks have become really popular, making it easier for more fishermen to get into the sport and into a lot more spots.

As a paddler, I'm bumping into more and more issues from stuff fishermen (and women) leave behind, or leave loose and dangling from their boats at boat launches, or just plain lose. Like fishing line and lures with barbed hooks!

I've even come across unattended fishing poles propped up on shore with fishing line attached to baited hooks strung halfway across small rivers while the fishermen go into the cabin for lunch hoping to get a bite while they get a bite to eat - and you can't always see the fine fishing line as you paddle into it with the sun glare.

So, I'm preparing myself and upping my gear bag to be ready for more "fishing issues". More on that later!

Now back to the fun stuff! 

Like padding the beautiful Riviere Rouge in Mont Tremblant,
catching some sun on many of its sandy beaches with my kayak and paddle buddies,
and going for a swim in a little bit of the Riviere Rouge's current without being tangled in fishing line!
Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A perfect paddle on the Tay Canal from Perth, Ontario!

Actually, I've had more than one perfect paddle on the Tay Canal and through the beautiful Tay marsh. Why? It makes me relax. It makes me stop and look at stuff, like nature! Especially birds. And it makes me want to paddle! There are too many photo ops along the way. Beware. Bring extra batteries for your camera.
My favourite time of year to kayak the Tay Canal and marsh is late spring when the air is cool, birds are nesting, and the stronger early spring current from the winter melt has usually settled down. But the water is still cold, so it's a good idea to dress for submersion, just in case you go overboard.

Can you see the bird in the nest just left of the yellow kayak? She blends in well with the fallen tree branches.
You'll see people canoeing and kayaking the Tay in spring, summer, and fall, along with a few motor boats that go slow in the boat channel between Beveridges locks, which is part of the Rideau Canal system, and Perth, Ontario.

Paddling the Tay is a favourite of groups, families, and couples.
This paddler stopped to take a few pictures, and is trying to catch up to a large group in the distance.
If you plan a paddle on the Tay Canal, I hope you also plan to spend some extra time or a few days in the quaint town of Perth, founded in 1816. I love seeing the preserved 1800s buildings in the historic downtown, which makes for a really cool visit on foot to poke around shops, eat in bistros, visit a museum, and more.

When in Perth, please don't miss a visit to beautiful Stewart Park. It's in the heart of the city, where you'll find picnic tables, sunny wide open spaces, and shade from trees. There are foot paths in Stewart Park along the Tay River and foot bridges that cross the river as it meanders through the park. I especially love the flower gardens, and the awesome bronze statue of Olympic rider Ian Miller on his famed horse Big Ben near the park's entrance. Photo ops abound here. It is a favourite spot for wedding photos.

This post will help you plan a paddle on the Tay Canal and I'll show you a few of my favourite “photo ops” along the way.

Launch sites: I like to launch from Last Duel Park, just outside of Perth's downtown and paddle to Upper Beveridges locks, enjoy a leisurely break at the lock station, and paddle back to Last Duel Park.
Last Duel Park boat launch
Last Duel Park has great amenities for the paddler and the boater. The boat launch is kayak friendly. There is lots of free parking, a restroom with flush toilets, a great play area for kids, wide open spaces, picnic tables, and mature trees for shade.
Last Duel Park is historic. The “last duel” in Canada apparently took place in this park. Hence the name.

You can also launch from the Upper Beveridges Locks in Port Elmsley, Ontario, and paddle to Last Duel Park. If you continue paddling past Last Duel Park, for about one kilometre, you'll soon find yourself looking at downtown Perth and the large Farmer's Market, open Saturdays from May to October, overlooking the spray of three beautiful water fountains.
Larger motor boats can't make it past Last Duel Park into Perth as there are a series of low bridges to pass under.

At Upper Beveridges Locks, there is free parking and restrooms, but this is not a kayak friendly launch site. There is not as much space or picnic area as Last Duel Park. And, you'll have to get into your kayak or canoe from an elevated blue cement wall or boat dock.
Distance: It's about 10 kilometres (6 miles) from Last Duel Park to Beveridges Locks, 20 kilometres (12 miles) round trip.

Current: The current runs from Perth to Beveridges locks, and empties into Lower Rideau Lake. If you launch from Last Duel Park and go right, you're heading towards Beveridges locks and you're going with the current.
The kayak has reached Upper Beveridges Locks 34. On the left, you'll find an elevated - not very kayak-friendly blue cement wall and boat dock for landing, picnic area, and parking. Public restrooms are in the white lockmaster house. Get out here to picnic. If you lock through this lock, you're heading to Lower Beveridges Lock 33 which empties into Lower Rideau Lake
If you launch from Last Duel Park and go left, you're heading towards downtown Perth against the current.

You can only go about one kilometer, passing under some low bridges, and into Perth. Just past downtown Perth, the water trail soon ends at a small dam.

If you launch from Beveridges locks and head towards Perth, you're going against the current. 

Ease or difficulty of paddle route: I have found this 20 kilometre round trip paddle fairly easy for me in a well-designed sea kayak, but you may find it tiring in a smaller recreational kayak or canoe. You will also want to factor in wind, and the current, which can vary depending on the season and water levels.

Wind: Check weather reports for wind speeds. You may encounter a head wind, cross wind, or tail wind on the trip, especially in the open areas of the Tay marsh. I avoid really windy days.

Shoreline friendliness: There are limited places to get out of the kayak or canoe along the route. The shoreline along the way is mostly wild with a mixture of marsh, fallen trees, farmland, or private property. So plan accordingly. Have water, snacks, and whatever you might need along the route in a handy place. Plan to get in and out of the canoe or kayak at the launch sites, not along the route.
Boat channel markers: There are red and green boat channel markers. If you follow them, it will help you find your way and keep you out of the shallows and rocks. Motor boats pass through the boat channel in the Tay Canal too, so be on the lookout to give way. They go slowly.
Enjoy your paddle on the Tay Canal and Tay Marsh!

Other Favorite Paddles and Camping Spots
For more information about the Rideau Canal:
BaffinPaddler kayaking the Tay Marsh with the Boreal Baffin sea kayak, and awesome Made-in Maine Greenland paddle
It's a lot of fun to paddle with paddle buddies. They always seem to know where the best paddle trails are, and how to get to the boat launch! Thanks to our dynamic local paddle clubs, awesome instructor communities, and great waterways, we have lots of opportunities in Canada to get together for a paddle and to improve our skills.

Paddle safe. Always wear a PFD. Happy paddle trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cowboy Scramble up the awesome Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro

Here we go again. Cowboy Scrambling!

I plan to Cowboy Scramble up every awesome sea kayak I test. It has become a benchmark manoeuvre for me. I must be able to Cowboy Scramble up a sea kayak's back deck and get back inside the cockpit by myself quickly and easily in calm water and in moderate wind and waves (at the very least), or it's off my list as a kayak I'd buy, rent, or paddle on a trip with an outfitter.

I can't roll a kayak yet, but I'm working on that again this year with my awesome Maelstrom Vital 166, and some awesome people, the ones who help us learn, encourage us to keep trying, and don't give up on us when we aren't brilliant. Trying to learn how to roll has been a real struggle for me for several years.

Even if I get the roll, I'll still need my Cowboy Scramble and other rescue techniques. I'm not a strong paddler. I'm not an instructor. I use simple techniques, take lessons and attend clinics from time-to-time, listen to advice from experienced paddlers, and then throw in a little practice to improve my paddling skills . . .and make sure I don't lose them. It's easy to forget stuff over the long winters when you don't paddle for 6 or 7 months.

It's also interesting to test your skills and confidence by testing different kayaks. Some kayaks make you feel secure and happy, others make you realize you'd better up your skills, and some just make you want to get out!

The Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro is a low volume fibreglass sea kayak with a skeg, keyhole cockpit, 16'6" long, 21.5 inches wide, and weighs 49 lbs. I'm 5'6" tall, weigh 125 lbs., and I have really long legs to stuff into the cockpit once I get my seat inside. The Tempest 170 and 180 is available for larger paddlers.

This is a Cowboy Scramble up the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro on a windy day with a "No Swim Advisory on the beach, so I have to make it fast. 10 seconds is good.

1. I hold on to my paddle and my kayak with one hand, and position myself just behind the back hatch. Next, I secure my spray skirt. I pull my spray skirt tab up and secure it to the shoulder of my PFD with a quick release clip, or I stuff the spray skirt tab and lip of the spray skirt down the front of my PFD to keep it up over my chest and secure, so I won't find it getting stuck between my legs when I scramble up the kayak. I won't put my spray skirt tab in my teeth today to secure it. There is a "No Swim Advisory" sign posted at the beach and I don't trust the water quality. With the spray skirt secure, I reach over to the far side of the kayak with my other hand. Now I'm ready to start the scramble. I have to do all this fast. The kayak has no weight on it, and is being blown around in the wind.
2. I count quickly, one, two, three! I Take a deep breath to make myself buoyant, and kick my legs to bring myself up. Awesome. When my torso is up out of the water, then I put weight over the back deck of the kayak. I don't pull on the kayak or the deck lines when I'm down in the water. You can't pull yourself up with your arms from the water- if you do, you'll just pull the kayak over on top of you. You've got to get your shoulders and torso up out of the water a bit so you can put weight on the back deck and balance over the boat. I've got a forearm on the back deck, (you don't want to come up and elbow your back hatch and risk imploding a rubber hatch) and my other hand is pushing down. I'm balanced and the kayak's tail has lowered nicely into the water to welcome me on board! The wind is still blowing, but now that I've got weight on the kayak, I start to have a little more control. Now I'm ready to swing my leg over and mount the kayak like a horse.
3. The fun starts here. I keep my paddle in front of me and use my arms to hang on to the deck lines or sides of the kayak and pull with my arms as I gently "inch worm" my way up the back deck until I reach the cockpit. See, my legs don't kick in the water. My thighs are doing the leg work by gently gripping the sides of the kayak. Don't grip hard. It will make you lose your balance and you'll get bruises on the insides of your thighs. When I see others trying to do the Cowboy Scramble and they try to kick their legs to propel themselves forward at this point, it just seems to make them unbalanced and tippy. I don't kick with my legs - I "inch worm".
4. When I reach the rear of the kayak's cockpit, sometimes I sit up on the back deck and take a break or grab my paddle and brace if things are tippy. Sitting on the back deck, just behind the cockpit, may also allow me to paddle away from an obstacle if the wind and water have pushed me too close. Or, I can stay low on my kayak, and keep pulling with my arms and "inch worming" my way forward with my legs until my seat is over the opening of the cockpit and I can lower myself in. As I move forward over the cockpit, I let my paddle slide along with me in my lap so I don't lose it and can grab it to brace when I get into the cockpit if I need to.

5. This is the tricky part. The big moment of truth. Getting your seat into the seat of the kayak! I always wonder, "Am I staying in, or going back out!" The Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro feels pretty stable to me in moderate wind that is pushing me around, so I'm smiling! I won't have to go swimming again!
6.  There's a little time for me to claim victory.  I can't resist. I've got my seat into the kayak and I feel stable again. Love you Tempest!
7. Here's the unsexy part that the camera guy loves to shoot. The part when you've plopped your seat into the kayak cockpit and you've got to lean back to get the legs in one at a time. This is why I like keyhole cockpits! I need that space in front to get my long legs in quickly and easily. But see, I've still got my paddle handy and my spray skirt isn't stuck between my legs. I'll be able to put it on more easily if it's free and I'm not sitting on it. If you don't secure the front of your spray skirt before you scramble up, you'll be sorry. Don't forget to do that in Step 1, or you may fall back into that nasty water at this point trying to get your spray skirt out from under you. Lots of people forget! I don't anymore.
8. Now, it's time to get the spray skirt on fast and get the hell out of here because the wind and waves are pushing us into some beach ropes.

And we did all this stuff in about 10 seconds. Two thumbs up! 

I found the Cowboy Scramble really easy in the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro sea kayak on a windy, wavey day when I tested it. 
  
There was also a "No Swim Advisory" sign posted on the beach where I launched from. That was an "Oh crap!" kayaking moment, since I was also testing the Current Designs Suka the same night and I wanted to test Cowboy Scrambling up each kayak. But, I need to be in the water to Cowboy Scramble. You can either wet exit to get out of the kayak, or hop over the side of the cockpit, or swim out to deeper water with the kayak to practice. But, when it's windy, swimming next to the kayak and holding onto it, and your paddle isn't easy! 

What to do? Go home? Or get in and out of the water fast? What motivation.

Because of the "No Swim Advisory" from a previous day's rainfall, which unleashes unwanted stuff from the City of Ottawa's sewage systems into the Ottawa River, I told the camera guy, "I'm only going to do this once. I'll swim out to deeper water with the kayak and do it fast. So please shoot what you can. I won't have time to pause in between the steps for shots."

I chose the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro over the Current Designs Suka for my one chance at getting out of the water and into the kayak fast. Interesting, eh? Deciding which kayak you'd rather be in when stuff gets a little nasty changes. The Suka has a smaller keyhole cockpit, little primary stability, and is stiffer to turn without a good edge, but it is a faster kayak. All stuff that doesn't help me when I need to get back into my kayak from the water.
Red, fibreglass Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro
I always get a big adrenalin rush when I do the Cowboy Scramble. It really wakes you up! Especially when conditions are a little more challenging and you don't know if you're going to make it. But I got it the first try with the Tempest.

Why do I keep talking about the Cowboy Scramble and sharing it with you?

Because I couldn't do the Cowboy Scramble when I first tried and gave up . . . for several years! I thought I needed a paddle float. I didn't. I just needed to learn a few simple tricks! Now I practice it almost every time I paddle. It may look a little different each time I do it and on different kayaks, but I always follow the same steps.

For more tips on how I Cowboy Scramble up the Boreal Baffin and Maelstrom Vital 166 see:
For more about my test of the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro sea kayak see:

Testing the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 again. Gotta love it!

Enjoy your Cowboy Scrambles! 
The BaffinPaddler 

Credits:
  • Photos courtesy of Jeremy Cherpit.
  • Thanks to Ottawa Paddle Shack and staff for letting me test the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The WildWasser Kayak Deck Bag takes the plunge. Is it waterproof? Pass or Fail?

Here we go again. Getting stuff wet! We're kayakers. That's what we do! And with Canada's warmer June weather and water in a lake I can just barely stand without a wet suit, it's time to swim with some gear that I have only tested strapped on top of my sea kayak.

It's actually a lot of fun to test gear this way. Get in the water with it and see how it performs. Just don't put anything important inside while you're testing!
This year, I finally decided to take my WildWasser Kayak Deck Bag for a swim to test how waterproof it is and see how well it floats. I purchased this deck bag several years ago for about $80 and have used it numerous times on day paddles and kayak camping.

So here goes. Testing the WildWasser in a lake.

I punished it a bit by trying to force it underwater in numerous ways.

By hand. This was tough. With one hand, I had a lot of trouble forcing it completely underwater. It fought me to stay on top of the water.
I sat on it in the water. It took two hands to push it down and it kept me afloat.
Fully submerged underwater, it made bubbles. Uh, oh. That mean's it's taking on some water. It took on a few inches of lake water - then stopped bubbling, even though the watertight zipper in the front was fully and properly closed.
Even after it was fully submerged for about 15 minutes and took on some water, it still floated when I let it come back to the surface.  
Then I swam with it.
Damn! This is one tough bag. I love you WildWasser!

I've taken my big blue WildWasser Kayak Deck Bag kayak camping with me in the 1000 Islands near Gananoque, Ontario and attached it to the front deck of my Boreal Baffin. It gave me lots of extra storage space, and under moderate use, like kayaking with wind and waves, it did keep everything dry inside. Although, I only trust my cell phone, car keys, and wallet inside any dry bag if it is in something I know is completely watertight, like a trusty Pelican hard case. Why take a chance?

Lots of kayak deck bags on the market have a lower, flatter profile. It's true. My blue WildWasser Kayak Deck Bag is a bit round and has a fairly high profile, so you have to paddle a little higher to clear it if you carry it on the front deck of your kayak. But, it is very roomy inside and so well outfitted for attaching it to your kayak, carrying it on shore, and attaching things to it, that I can't complain.  

Paddlers are always asking for a fully waterproof deck bag. Some leak badly. Can you fully submerge yours without some water leakage?


WildWasser Kayak Deck Bag. Pass or Fail?
My deck bag fails for being totally waterproof when submerged but I'm giving it a Pass as a good kayak deck bag. Even though it took on some water when I forced it under, and gets a few drops inside if you swim with it, I'm giving the WildWasser Kayak Deck Bag a two thumbs up. I love it. It did better than I thought it would. I'm keeping this bag. And I'm really happy to learn, that when the zip is properly closed and the bag has no holes in it, that it will keep my stuff and me afloat in the short term. But don't count on it as a lifesaving device. It wasn't made for that.

Are you testing your gear? Are you happy you did?
Here's to finding gear you love and can count on.
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Testing the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 again. Gotta love it!

Would someone please tell me why the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 is not in my fleet . . . yet?

I tested it again. I seem to test this kayak every year without fail, and select it on trips with outfitters if they've got one in their fleet and I didn't bring along one of my kayaks. I just like to paddle and play with it.

This time I finally got to try a WS Tempest 165 Pro in fiberglass and in a nice flashy red!

Sweet! This 16'6", 21.5 inch wide, 49 lbs., sea kayak (with a skeg) is so easy to love and a good benchmark kayak to use to compare with other sea kayaks in a similar category.

I'll show you a Cowboy Scramble up this kayak in wind and waves in an upcoming post. Here it is posted June 19: Cowboy Scramble up the awesome Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro

Then, we can start to compare Cowboy Scrambles up different sea kayaks. A hint: It's really easy in the WS Tempest 165 kayak. At least for me. It surprised me.

I hope to have a Wilderness Systems 165 sea kayak in my fleet sometime soon. In plastic or fiberglass. It's not a speed demon, or as playful as some sea kayaks, but it's a good quality, reliable boat, and nice to edge.

Happy boat trials! There are lots more I would like to try, some too far away to find. Tis the season. Pick a windy, wavy day to test a kayak! See which kayak you want to be in.

For me, it's still the Maelstrom Vital 166 and Boreal Baffin which I already own. A Nigel Dennis Romany S if I could find one around here. And I could easily add the WS Tempest 165. It fits my 5'6", 125 lb. frame perfectly. For larger paddlers, there's a 170 and 180.
Testing Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 with a made-in-Maine, USA Greenland paddle
Why didn't I buy it first?

The Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 wasn't as playful, or as fast as my other two sea kayaks, the Baffin and Vital 166. I went for playful and reliable.

But I still love the Tempest 165. A great kayak. Let's just hang out together for a good long while until they close the beach!
What, you want specs and infinite details? They're all in my head. Visit Wilderness Systems for that and hop into a boat . . . soon!

The BaffinPaddler

Credits:
  • Photos courtesy of Jeremy Cherpit
  • Thanks to Ottawa Paddle Shack for letting me test the beautiful fibreglass Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Pro

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Persistent Perch's babies

I promise I won't do this to you very often . . . post an image of newborn fish. You might find it dull.

But how often do you meet the mother fish while kayaking and testing your gear in a lake, and a few weeks later in the same spot, meet the babies she was protecting when they were still eggs.

This is pretty cool. It warms the heart.

I just met Persistent Perch's babies. I'm pretty sure. Another wonder of spending time and taking your time with your kayak.

A first for me. Wonders never cease. Simple and grand. That's nature. We should protect it better.

Some discussion ensues on the fish type: Perch, Large Mouth Bass, or Walleye.


Who is Persistent Perch? Here's the story here:

Persistent Perch: Fishing with some pretty strange bait!

Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Friday, June 8, 2012

Whatcha lookin' at! Testing the Seal Line "Watertight" Seal Pak. Pass or fail?

You aren't watertight Seal Line Seal Pak, even when properly closed, but I'm still fond of you.
When I test waterproof gear, like the Seal Line watertight Seal Pak, I like to take it for a swim, for about an hour. It's more fun that way. Bathtub tests get pretty boring.

But I played safe - I didn't trust my new Seal Pak. I packed my cell phone, car keys, and wallet into something else that has already proven to be waterproof and reliable, a Pelican case or my WX-Tex Waterproof Gear Dry Pouch.
Yellow Pelican 1010 Watertight hard case (left), WX Tex Waterproof Gear Dry soft pouch (right), blue Seal Line Watertight Seal Pak rolled closed 4 times and secured (top)
Then I packed it into the Seal Line "watertight" fanny pack - rolling the Seal Pak closure 4 times before securing it tightly with the clips, attached it to my waist and went for a long swim in a lake.

I found that, no matter how tightly I closed the Seal Line Seal Pak, and submerged it, even for a short time, water seeped in. It is not completely watertight or waterproof. I've tested it underwater by swimming in a lake with it attached to my waist 4 times.

In the top photo, and in the underwater shot below, the Seal Line bag is rolled 3 times from the top and clipped. But even rolled and sealed a few more times as tight as you can it still leaks at the seams!
Seal Line Seal Pak underwater in a lake - shot with waterproof Olympus Stylus Tough camera
It's only rolled closed 3 times. When I opened the Seal Pak (on land) to get out the waterproof camera packed inside and take an underwater shot of the bag, I got a little lazy and didn't roll it closed as tightly as I normally do, and it took on several inches of water. But I thought rolling it closed 3 times looked pretty secure for just a few minutes underwater. So be vigilant.

Even though it's not a perfect swim partner, the Seal Line Seal Pak is an awesome little bag to attach to the kayak, bike, or to take on a hike if it rains. As long as you don't count on it to be totally waterproof, especially if it goes underwater and spends time submerged. It is water-resistant. I haven't found it to be watertight.

Inside the Seal Line Seal Pak, my cellphone, keys, and wallet were safe and sound inside either the Pelican case or the WX Tex Waterproof Gear Dry Pouch every time I tested them. Even if the Seal Pak was full of water, the Pelican case and the WX Tex Waterproof Pouch kept everything inside perfectly dry.

If I'm going for a swim in my gear (it's fun, I do it all the time), I like double protection. The Seal Line Seal Pak provides some primary protection, and it floats. Cost is about $30 Canadian. But I have to count on other products to really do the job.

Keeping important stuff safe, dry, and afloat is part of kayaking

Seal Line watertight Seal Pak - Pass or Fail?

Fail. It's not watertight. I've even tested it in the bathtub tightly secured in all kinds of configurations. It fails every time. The seals leak and water will seep in.  

But, what about my waterproof Olympus Stylus Tough camera? 
Orange Olympus camera float
It really is waterproof, as long as all the ports that open for the USB, battery, and memory card are properly closed, it keeps on working. But it does not float. The camera float has saved it many times.

Imagine if it was just kind-of-sort-of watertight? I would have missed this shot.
Canada Goose and 5 babies
I asked for a waterproof fanny pack, but I'm still looking for it. One I can take off and swim with, that really is watertight.

Let us know if you've found one.

Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Does my spray skirt make me look fat?

Standing yoga tree pose on a rock in the middle of a lake in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada with the Boreal Baffin sea kayak
Yes! It does.

"Is my hair a mess?"

Yes! It looks awful. Get over it . . .

"OK."

Smile, you're on Candid Camera!  

See how easy that was . . .

"The standing yoga tree pose on an uneven little rock in the middle of a lake with wind blowing, and water rippling all around me while standing on a lanyard attached to my kayak to keep it from drifting off, or the smile?"

Figuring it out is part of paddling. It's a balancing act.
Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Where time goes . . . with a sea kayak

Sitting on a rock in the middle of a lake in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, with the Boreal Baffin sea kayak
Ever stop to think about where time goes with a sea kayak?

The top 25 ways to spend time
  1. Packing kayaking gear
  2. Putting away gear
  3. Hanging paddling gear up to dry
  4. Shaking sand out of gear
  5. Washing chlorine and salt water off gear
  6. Hauling gear from place to place
  7. Shopping for more gear
  8. Looking for gear . . . "Now where did I put the compass?"
  9. Organizing gear
  10. Putting gear on
  11. Taking gear off
  12. Wishing you had more gear
  13. Buying other people paddling gear as gifts 
  14. Admiring other people's gear and asking, "Where did you get that?"
  15. Loaning people gear, "You forgot your paddle?"
  16. Listening to people's comments about your gear: "You have too much paddling gear! What nice gear!"
  17. Responding to comments about your awesome paddling gear: "Yeah, half the garage is full of kayaking gear, but there's more gear in my closet, and lots more in the guest room, and still more in the furnace room. Some of it, I can't remember where I put it or who borrowed it. Thanks! I love my gear!"
  18. Planning trips
  19. Looking at maps
  20. Attending events
  21. Paddling
  22. Making new friends and hanging out with old friends
  23. Having fun
  24. Getting lost
  25. Doing it all again tomorrow
Now, where did the time go? It goes too fast, and it takes forever.

How can we make this more interesting?
Yoga pose on a rock in the middle of a lake in Mont Tremblant, Quebec with the awesome Boreal Baffin sea kayak
Spend more time with your kayak!

Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler