Well I'm off to Lake Superior for the next two weeks to guide a sea kayak trip with Naturally Superior Adventures.

We are going to be circumnavigating Michipicoten Island then making the 18 kilometre crossing to the north shore before working our way back to Wawa. If you want more details, I wrote about the trip earlier.

The whole adventure should take eight days if everything goes well.

delorme inreach-se

I'm really excited as inReach Canada sent me their new inReach SE to test while we are out there. The inReach SE is a two-way satellite messenger with a built-in keyboard to easily send and receive custom messages. It's a nice improvement from the older model as it doesn't require me to pair with a smart phone.

If you want to follow along with our adventure, I will be posting regular updates to the Paddling Headquarters Facebook page. You can also follow along via the DeLorme map page here.

Have a great couple of weeks!

 

I was super excited today to get an email from Simon Willis letting me know about the upcoming release for Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown, Volume 3 DVD.

Picking up where Volume 2 left off, this version is made up of four separate films covering navigation, rolling, dealing with emergencies both on and off the water and finally, how to build a solid first aid kit.

I'm very interested in the emergency situations film which involves teams from the Coastguard using both helicopters and rescue boats. Let’s be honest, how cool would it be to be on the film shoot the day they brought out the helicopters?

Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown, Volume 3

The sea kayak navigation film also looks like it has a lot of promise as it is co-presented by Franco Ferrero. His book, Sea Kayak Navigation: A Practical Manual, Essential Knowledge for Finding Your Way at Sea is easily one of the best books navigation books out there.

For those who can’t wait until the end of October (when the DVD will be available), there will be four free short films filled with out-takes and behind the scenes clips available for download on September 1.

More info: seakayakwithgordonbrown.com

 

If you are one of those paddlers who have looked in envy at UK sea kayakers with those funny white stickers on their boat covered in chicken scratch writing then you will be pleased to know the Bryan Hansel from paddlinglight.com has developed his own set of kayak deck slates and is now selling them. If you have no idea what I’m talking about that's ok.

Kayak deck slates are basically two vinyl stickers that are positioned just ahead of your cockpit which provide a good writing surface for notes to yourself using a grease pencil. Paddlers on tidal waters can keep track of daily highs/lows or current on the left slate while the right one blank making a perfect location to keep track navigation, weather observations or if you are teaching, student names, notes or a rough lesson plan.

Kayak Deck Slate - Left side. Photo Credit: Bryan Hansel

The deck slate is printed on 3.5 millimetre vinyl so you know it’s durable. It has also been coated for UV resistance so it shouldn’t fade for some time.

Bryan is offering the slates with a Listo grease marking pencil for $24.99 or $19.99 without. Take my advice and get the pencil version. It's one of the good plastic barrel versions and not the paper wrapped ones you see at your local Home Depot. I proved a couple of years ago that the paper wrapped grease pencils last about 1 hour into a typical rescue lesson on the water.

More info: paddlinglight.com
Photo credits: Bryan Hansel

Friday, 05 July 2013 15:23

Look Who is Kayaking Now: John Kerry

US Secretary of State, John Kerry was on vacation during the 4th of July at his home on Nantucket Island when he decided to go out paddling in his kayak.

I'm going to pretend that he is reaching for his life jacket to put on while out on the water.

Photo credit: Ryan Hutton

Wednesday, 03 July 2013 14:25

How Big is the Ocean?

We all know that the ocean is large. By large I mean huge. The reality is that the ocean is so big that it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it.

To blow your mind this afternoon here is a short animation to help put everything into perspective.

Here is my favourite ocean fun-fact: The oceans of the world hold 99% of the world’s biosphere. That means that every single tree, bug, human and gopher you see on land is only 1% of what’s really out there.

Ok, kids it’s time to have a chat about making sure your canoe or kayak is properly secured on the roof of your car before you drive off down the road. It seems that a driver in Atlanta, Georgia didn’t properly tie down the kayak and it promptly blew off the roof of the car and onto the Interstate 75 causing a multi-vehicle accident and sending one woman to the hospital. It could have been a whole lot worse. According to reports, the owner of the kayak will be charged by the police for failing to secure the load.

By secure, I’m not talking about you reaching up through the car window trying to hold the boat down or even using two pieces of yellow rope around the boat. In a pinch the proper canoe or kayak tie-down kit with foam block and straps will work but I suggest spending the cash on a proper roof rack. The boat will be more secure and it’s less likely to shift around in the wind.

If you are at all nervous that you are not securing your boat properly, here is a quick primer to help get you going:

Since I teach kayaking, I find myself often talking to students about weather and science behind weather forecasting. I used to always be nervous talking about weather since it can be one confusing monster to understand (let alone explain) and even the best meteorologists can get it wrong (especially when predicting your upcoming weekend weather).

Over the past several years, one of my goals has been to figure out ways to explain the science without overloading students with extremely technical descriptions or complex lectures. With that in mind I’m always on the lookout for new resources.

The other day I stumbled upon this really good video published by PBS that explains where wind comes from.  You should take a look.

Quick Teaching Tip: If you find yourself struggling to find resources or ways to communicate a particular theory topic (eg. navigation); focus on resources online that are aimed for teachers in elementary schools or kids themselves. The information is often presented in a more simplified style and the depth of knowledge is often just perfect for your students. For example, I found this amazing article that goes in a touch more depth about what causes wind and the influence temperature has on the weather machine.

Here's something that's pretty amazing: all of the tiny, invisible molecules that make up the air have weight. They don't weigh very much (you couldn't put one on your bathroom scale), but their weight adds up, because there are a LOT of molecules in the air that makes up our atmosphere.

All of that air is actually pretty heavy, so the air at the bottom of the atmosphere (like the air just above the ground) is getting pressed on by all of the air above it. That pressure pushes the air molecules at the bottom of the atmosphere a lot closer together than the air molecules at the top of the atmosphere.

And, because the air at the top of the atmosphere is pushing down on the air at the bottom of the atmosphere, the air molecules at the bottom REALLY want to spread out. So if there is an area where the air molecules are under high pressure (with a lot of weight pushing down), the air will spread out into areas that are under lower pressure (with less weight pushing down).

Don't forget that there is also a pile of free teaching resources available for your taking over in the resource area here at the Headquarters so start clicking!

Flickr Image Credit: Peter Mulligan

It looks like we are going to be seeing some major changes in the coming months at Canada’s largest outdoor co-operative retailer, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).

CEO, David Labistour announced this morning in the Co-op's blog that they will be undertaking a massive brand revitalization program. The announcement is a little vague but there are a couple clues scattered throughout:

What they said: Starting this summer, we’ll begin to roll out a revitalized brand platform. It begins with a new version of our logo on MEC products released in July. In September, you’ll see a shift in the style of photography and the design of store interiors, elements that will complement the freshness of our product lines.

What it likely means: The familiar mountain logo is gone and replaced with something less "rough and tumble mountainy". This will allow them to cut their ties with the past as the place to get only mountain gear and give them the ability expand into new outdoor sports down the road.

Change is coming...This also means that the old way of how they did things and the decisions behind types of gear they sell is finished. It’s clear at MEC is feeling the competition from big box stores like Bass Pro, Sail and some Canadian Tire stores that they need to change or become quickly irrelevant.

So what does that mean? My guess is that they are going to be making very hard choices to what they will focus on. Hard choices mean that money losing departments like the rock climbing section will probably be cut back drastically (or moved out of the store and available online only) making room for more urban activities like expanded cycling or running departments.

I think we are also going to see a subtle shift in the clothing line-up away from purely wilderness designed clothing (ugly but functional) over to more lightweight “outdoor lifestyle” clothing to compete with the clothing departments found at Sail and Marks (which is owned by Canadian Tire).

Are all these changes bad? Nobody likes change so the knee-jerk reaction is to think the sky is falling but I think this could be a good opportunity for MEC to get themselves out of the corner they have painted themselves into.

As much as we like to think that Canadians actually do stuff in the wilderness; we don’t. We have two weeks of vacation and typically too busy to do anything more than a quick weekend adventure somewhere. Canadians are interested in being active but not interested in being outside for long periods of time and our buying purchases reflect that in everything from yoga pants and running shoes to stand-up paddling and recreational kayaks. The problem is that if you only sell expensive gear aimed at the shrinking market of hard-core adventure kids you will be out of business quickly.

I always knew that Seahorses were awesome but the video below puts my love for them over the top.

Friday, 14 June 2013 11:15

A Map of Every Single River in USA

I stumbled upon this very cool map this morning showing every single river in the lower 48 states.

It’s all part of a new vector map project released on GitHub by Nelson Minar so if you are techy, you can install the software on your own server and depending on your project, configure it to display the river information slightly different. Or, you can be like me and just play around with a live map here and dream of future trips.

Rivers of USA Vector Map

All I know is that there is a whole lot of water out there to paddle on.

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