I recently stumbled upon an article that was originally published in Collectors Weekly back in July. It looked at how back in the 1900-1920(ish) canoeing was viewed as a very sexy activity. If you were looking to get away from people for a little "private time", the canoe was the only way to do it.

Adolescents took to the waters with the urgency of salmon fighting their way upstream, spawning a veritable canoe craze, particularly in places like Boston along the Charles River and at Belle Isle, near Detroit. While any canoe would do, companies such as Old Town, Kennebec, and White marketed “courting canoes” specifically designed for waterborne lovebirds. “These boats usually had long 4-foot decks and an 8-foot elliptical or oval cockpit,” says Young. “The woman would sit in the bottom of the canoe on cushions with her parasol to shade her from the sun, while her gentleman in his boater hat would paddle and probably croon to her. Or she might read poetry to him.” Make no mistake; these were wild times.

One Minneapolis Tribune headline read 'Girl Canoeists’ Tight Skirts Menace Society'

As further proof that canoeing had become a hotbed for teenage delinquents, in 1913 the Minneapolis Parks Board refused to issue permits for canoes with unpalatable names. Local newspapers published some of the offensive phrases that slipped past the board the previous summer, including “Thehelusa,” “Kumomin Kid,” “Kismekwik,” “Damfino,” “Ilgetu,” “Aw-kom-in,” “G-I-Lov-U,” “Skwizmtyt,” “Ildaryoo,” “Win-kat-us,” “O-U-Q-T,” “What the?,” “Joy-tub,” “Cupid’s Nest,” and “I Would Like to Try It.” The commissioners unanimously agreed to outlaw phrases lacking obvious moral and grammatical standards, though a few of these clever pre-text-message abbreviations clearly had them scratching their heads.

Check out the entire article and learn more about the scandalous image that canoeing had at the time.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:01

The Prank that Ended up in Sea Kayaker Magazine

Andrea Knepper in Sea Kayaker magazine.

Congratulations to friend of the site, Bryan Hansel from paddlinglight.com who got his photo in the latest issue of Sea Kayaker magazine.

The photo is of Andrea Knepper (and fellow instructor) from Chicago doing something with her paddle. The jury is still out if he is doing her best stern rudder, draw, brace or just flailing around.

The buried kayaks were part of a boathenge sculpture I was happy to have a small hand in assembling at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium this past summer.

Update: It wasn’t me. I had no part in it and don’t know who did it so don’t ask.

Here is a photo of everything from another angle.

Boathenge at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium

Top Photo credit: Down Wind Sports

Top Photo within photo credit: Bryan Hansel

Bottom photo credit: Down Wind Sports

If you shoot film in the outdoors and looking to get better action shots, you need to check-out this Kickstarter project that is likely going to reach its $20,000 funding goal.

AirTracks is an inflatable all-terrain slider designed for DLSR cameras. It can be quickly set-up over (almost) any type of rough ground for super silky smooth sliding shots (say that 8 times).

The whole system only weighs a couple of pounds so it’s ultra-portable.

I want. Bad.

More info: kickstarter.com

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 16:07

For Sale: Double Sleeping Bag [Funny]

For sale: double sleeping bag

Even if the sleeping bag was free I don’t think I would take it.

Photo credit: criggo.com

Charlie Head was paddling along the shoreline in the UK on his SUP board when he noticed a stranded dog out on some rocks far from shore. The tide was coming in fast and there was an estimated 10 minutes before the rocks (and the puppy) would have been completely underwater.

Charlie just happened to be in the right spot at the right time when he was paddling by as part of a 600 mile SUP expedition from Cornwall to London.

Mr Head, from the Isle of Wight said: 'I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

'He was just sat there wondering what the hell to do. He was absolutely terrified.

'In about ten minutes the rock would have been covered with water. I managed to paddle out to him and then get him on my board.'

You can read the full story here.

doritos as kindling

This little nugget of advice could save your life if you happen find yourself car camping at your local state park and run out of kindling. That being said, it would be a real shame to waste those Doritos on a life-giving fire.

I found this handy little tip on the greatest website of all time. Make sure you check out 99 Life Hacks to Make Your Life Easier. You will thank me later.

I’m not sure what the rules are for lifejacket use because I’m pretty sure somebody could argue that they are really just swimming.

The real thing to sort out is to figure out how to teach people to kayak from this baby. I'm positive my effectiveness as an instructor would go way up.

Depending on your options, the HotTug ranges in price from €8,950 ($11,700US) for the basic model to €16,450 ($21,500US) for the top-of-the-line version which comes with a stove and electronic motor.

The HutTug

According to the website, you can cruise around your favourite lake for about 3 hours that is, after waiting 2.5 hours for the wood stove to heat the water.

Note to HotTug: I’m totally happy to do a review of this if you can ship one to Toronto. Call me.

Over the past two weekends I had the pleasure of attending both the Gales Storm Gathering in Wawa, Ontario as well as organizing the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering in Parry Sound, Ontario.

Gales Storm Gathering
This was the second year for the Gales Storm Gathering and since it rotates around Lake Superior from year to year this was the first time that it has run in Canada. That made for a bit of a challenge for organizers as it also happened to take place over Canadian Thanksgiving so sadly there were not a lot of Canadians registered. That was ok, the enthusiasm and excitement from gang who was there more then made up for the lack of Canucks.

The Gales had an absolutely stunning set of instructors brought in for the event including Nick Cunlife (from the UK), Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme (from Washington state, Christopher Lockyer (from Nova Scotia), Keith Wikle, Ryan Rushton, Sam Crowley, Erik Ogaard and well, the list is to long you should go to the website to see everybody.

Gales Storm Gathering at Naturally Superior Adventures

Anybody who says that the Great Lakes don’t get ocean conditions has clearly never been to Lake Superior in October or November. Throughout the weekend we were under a gale wind warning with winds around 25-35 knots and surf coming in around 4-8 feet for almost the entire weekend.

Because of the extra large surf at the mouth of the Michipicoten River on the door steps of Naturally Superior Adventures, we were able to make use of the several neighbouring beaches where the surf was a more manageable height of around 2-3 feet.

A couple of highlights for me included co-instructing a beginner surf clinic with Shawna as well as tagging along for an ACA Level 4 instructor assessment with Ryan Rushton and Sam Crowley. For the assessment we went on a downwind run south from Wawa to Old Woman Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park which was about 22km (13 miles) long. While out on the trip we experienced almost every type of weather condition including 25 knot winds, sunshine, clouds, rain, and sleet and finally snow.

As soon as I got home after driving 12 hours, I threw all my laundry in the wash with just enough time to pack it up again and head out on the road again. This time it was north to Parry Sound to the event that I run, the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering. Now in its fifth year the Gathering has become a southern Ontario tradition for intermediate kayakers.

Georgian Bay Storm Gathering
Now I’m totally biased but I always look forward to the Gathering as one of my favourite events of the year. This year we had instructors from across Canada and the US including Gary Doran (from Victoria, BC), Kelly Blades (from Michigan), Ray Boucher and Dave Wells (both from Wawa, Ontario). We also had a huge pile of other amazing instructors so check out the website for the full list.

The annual dock launch.

Weather wise, we had pretty good winds throughout the weekend but because the direction was from the NE, we didn’t have the largest conditions (not like the Gales that’s for sure). That being said, there was more than enough lumpy water to run clinics on surfing, rocks, rough water rescues, etc. Though I would have liked slightly larger conditions, it was ok as we know how to make our own fun. Highlights included the annual dock launch, paddling in pea-soup fog and a serious match of pumpkin polo. If you haven’t seen pumpkin polo before, picture a large group of kayakers driving over each other while tossing around a medicine ball. It got pretty heated at times.

So for me that ends the organized paddling season for 2012. We still have plans to get out and do a lot of paddling in November and December but I can finally take off my teaching hat and paddle for myself for a change.

See you out there.

Top photo credit: Karine Boucher
Middle photo credit: Meg Garnett

Tuesday, 16 October 2012 16:21

Look Who’s Canoeing Now: Amber Tamblyn

Actress, Amber Tamblyn (of House, M.D. fame) got married a couple off weekends back to David Cross (Arrested Development) in a non-traditional wedding that involved a yellow-dress and canoes for both her and the wedding party.

I would have been quite happy to have been invited to the wedding since Yo La Tengo performed during the reception and Questlove served as the deejay.

Photo credit: Questlove

The sea kayaking community lost one of its true legends today.

Derek Hutchinson has often been called the father of the modern sea kayak as he one of the first to bring sea kayaking to the masses with is many books and DVD’s. I remember when I was young being fascinated with his book, Derek Hutchinson’s Guide to Sea Kayaking and for me was one the key books that got me interested in paddling.

Derek was also a prolific designer and over the years designed several kayaks including the famous Gulfstream and its little sister, the Slipstream for Current Designs. At the time (early to mid-1990’s) both boats were years ahead of the market curve compared to what the other North American manufacturers were putting out. The Slipstream was the first kayak I ever owned and still look back in fondness to the many adventurers (and mishaps) we had together.

Earlier today Wayne Horodowich from University of Sea Kayaking posted this note on Facebook:

At 4:12 PM GDT I said my final farewell to my adventure partner, my mentor and dearest friend Derek Charles Hutchinson. Derek passed peacefully in his bed. His adventure on this earth started June 30, 1933 and ended Oct 10, 2012. He has now launched for his next adventure.

I wish to thank all of you who have sent your comments to Derek. It meant so much to him, his family and his friends. It is typical to wonder if you have made a difference during your time on earth. The comments you have sent are just a fraction of the number of people Derek has touched. There is no doubt he made a huge impact during his life.

Derek was an innovator, a thinker, a designer, a teacher, a writer and was never shy to share his opinion on any topic related to paddling. He will be missed indeed. Paddle on brother, paddle on.

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