Monday, July 8, 2013

Old dock or snapping turtles?

My paddle partner said, "I need to take a break ashore somewhere. Oh look. There's an old dock over there. Maybe I can climb out."

Me: "OK, I'll wait out here in the middle of the creek!"

Paddle partner: "Come over here with your camera! It's not an old dock. Look! It's a bunch of snapping turtles on a fallen log!"

Oh joy. Do I have to? There's a little current in the creek pushing me one way, and the wind is blowing 25 km/hr with 40 km/hr wind gusts pushing me the other way, and all I've got is a little hand-held snap'n'shoot camera with only a 3X zoom, and you want me to get a picture of this without scaring them all off the log if I get too close!

I did this for you turtle loving friends and almost lost my paddle.
Snapping turtles on fallen log, Lyndhurst Creek, Lower Beverley Lake, Delta, Ontario, Canada
My quick drift and shoot plan worked out, and the turtles stayed on the log while I cursed that I don't yet have a GoPro camera, and that I forgot my paddle leash on such a windy day. 

The pictures turned out fairly well for all the trouble they were to get. I've never seen this many snapping turtles in one place before. 

And notice the hierarchy for the best real estate. The bigger turtles are on the bigger end of the log with the best sun. Turtle size diminishes as the log narrows and disappears into the marsh grasses with less sun.

Depending on the image and the angle of the photos, I count 35 to 40 turtles. You can click on an image to enlarge it. The images are scaled down from the originals. 
Lyndhurst Creek, Lower Beverley Lake, Delta, Ontario, Canada
And the turtle stories continue. 

People keep making me stop and look at snapping turtles. I never notice them, or seem to care if I do, but they keep showing up and catching my attention one way or another.

I recently passed by a large female snapper laying her eggs and burying them next to a bike path route near a river where I was cycling. I cycled right past her, and someone said, "Hey, look . . . !"
Snapping turtle laying eggs, bike path, Moira River, Belleville, Ontario, Canada
I've got more pictures and a short video of this snapper laying her eggs in early June, and a cycling story of the bike route along the Moira River in Belleville, Ontario that I'll publish later.
One of my most popular BaffinPaddler posts is Turtles! People are interested in seeing snapping turtles and learning more about them. So, all this turtle stuff is for you. 

And, if you are a paddler, a swimmer, or a fisherman spending time in the same waters and shorelines as snappers, it's good to be aware, as they can get very big, and can deliver a nasty bite if surprised or bothered. They also like to steal your bait or small catch.
I keep learning more about snapping turtles, and I keep thinking, "There are a hell-of-a-lotta snapping turtles out there in rivers, creeks, and lakes. This turtle probably just laid about 50 eggs!" 

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Leaky Gul Knee High Paddle Boots

Recently, I did a post on how to keep your paddle boots from getting smelly. I'm surprised to see it has been a pretty popular post in my web stats reports. Even though it isn't the most alluring or pretty paddle topic, it is an important one. We're always wearing some kind of paddle bootie or boot. Most of us have many different types of paddle boots and booties for different conditions.

I also promised I'd call out the well-known maker (brand) of my knee high paddle boots because they leaked like a sieve at the soles from day one. I bought them brand new several years ago.

Brand new, my Gul knee high paddle boots leaked badly all around the rubber sole, filling my foot with water as soon as I stepped into even a few inches of water. The boots were useless and left my feet sitting in a pool of water. There are no holes in the boots. They were not left out in hot sun all day and they've never set foot in salty oceans, just lakes and rivers. The problem is the seal around the soles. 
When I went back to the paddle shop right after I bought them and said, "These boots leak like crazy", the store said, "Yeah, sometimes that happens. There's this goop you can use to put a waterproof seal around the soles."

The "goop" (a waterproofing sealant/glue in a tube) cost me $8. It was extremely toxic to work with, even outside with lots of fresh air. It was difficult and sticky to apply, made my brand new boots look awful, and the "goop" started to turn yellow and peel off the first paddle season. The glue didn't last and didn't stick well. The boots were leaky again. How can you return boots that are messed up with all this ugly "goop" around the soles?

With knee high boots, you can't easily remove them to evacuate the water inside the feet like you can with short ankle-high paddle booties. Short ankle booties are mostly good-weather summer booties and you've always got water in them unless you launch from dry docks all the time.

The reason we buy knee high boots is to keep our feet dry and warm when we step into several inches of cold water and paddle in colder climes! They also protect our feet and legs from unfriendly shorelines, scratchy plants, and biting bugs.

So I contacted Gul about the leaky boot problem. 

I asked Gul to compensate me for these boots, or to give me an equivalent exchange of gear. I think that's fair.

They are Gul paddle boots. Or, at least, that's what the "Gul" logo on them seems to indicate. But the people from Gul looked at the photos of the boots and politely said, "They don't even look like our boots. How old are they?"

I bought them several years ago. Because they leaked, I didn't wear them. They sat in my gear bag.

When Gul responded that sometimes stores sell off old stock, I responded, "Do you put best before stickers on your products like food? How am I supposed to know how old the gear is in the store when I'm buying it brand new?"

I should have returned the leaky paddle boots right after purchasing them. They shouldn't have leaked brand new. I shouldn't have been asked to apply goop to correct the problem with the leaky soles. That's the job of the manufacturer and the brand.

A paddle friend wears knee high paddle boots of a different brand and remarked, "My boots don't leak."

I'll be buying another brand of knee high paddle boots that don't leak. So buyer beware. I have other Gul products that function well, but not these boots. It's a name we think we can trust, but like so many companies, if the product is dysfunctional, you're on your own.

I'm disappointed and surprised by the poor performance and the response of the brand.

You may want to ask the store where you purchase your products before you buy, "Do these paddle boots leak at the soles? If they do, can I return them?"

If the store says, "Ummm, I don't know, or They can't be returned . . . " You'll know what to say, "Thanks. I'll be shopping elsewhere!"

Now my leaky Gul knee high paddle boots are only good for use as gardening boots on days when the grass is not wet and the ground is not muddy!
Happy paddle trails with boots that don't leak. Warm, dry feet are the best when conditions are cold or mucky. I paddle spring, summer, and fall in Canada's cool, cold, crisp waters and in other places where I really appreciate the protection and insulation of a good paddle boot.

Here's the link to the post on How to keep your paddle boots from getting smelly.

And . . . happy 4th of July, Independence Day!
The BaffinPaddler