Kirk Wipper. Image Credit: Paddle CanadaAs you many know one of the great Canadian canoe lovers, Kirk Wipper died back on March 18th of this year.

If you never had the pleasure of meeting this great man you really missed out. He was best known for his massive 600 piece collection of canoes and kayaks which went on to form the Canadian Canoe Museum but he was also one of the original founders of Paddle Canada back in the day.

To help celebrate his life, the Canadian Canoe Museum will be hosting a public memorial on May 1. In a lead up to the memorial, friends of the Wipper family are organizing an event called the Wipper Portage. They are planning to portage a canoe from Hart House at University of Toronto (where he taught for many years) 130 kilometres all the way to the museum in Peterborough.

The portage has been divided into 13, 10km sections and volunteers will be asked to portage the canoe smaller 500 meter chunks.

The portage starts on Thursday, April 28 with plans to arrive in Peterborough on May 1 just in time for the memorial.

If you want to get involved visit the Kirk Wipper website for more info.

The Wipper Portage is something that I would absolutely love to participate in and I’m disappointed that I’m going to be out of town for both the portage and the memorial.

Back in the mid 90’s when I used to work in the head office of Paddle Canada, I enjoyed when Kirk stopped in before board meetings to say hi. He was a really interesting guy and always had a great story to tell. I will always remember the private tour he once gave me when I visited his museum around that time and I was amazed that he knew every boat in the collection including where he picked it up and why it captured his imagination.

More info:

Image credit: Paddle Canada

Wenonah Canoe LogoA little bit of outdoor industry business acquisition news to start your morning.

Wenonah Canoe and Current Designs announced yesterday that it has purchased kayak manufacture QCC Kayaks for an undisclosed sum.

QCC Kayak LogoWenonah will be moving the QCC operation from its current home base of Exeland, Wisconsin to the Wenonah factory in Winona, Wi.

The good news is that all the QCC employees have been offered jobs over at Wenonah Canoes and QCC founder, Steven Freund will remain with Wenonah Canoe, managing the QCC brand.

This should bring a bit of a shift for Wenonah’s overall business model. QCC was based around the business model of selling directly to customer and shipped out individual boats while Wenonah generally will only sells to customers through its network of outdoor stores. The news article I saw the announcement in specifically said it would continue selling QCC boats factory direct to customers.

I tried to find more information on the purchase on the Wenonah website but they haven’t updated their company news section since August of 2009.

Quick update.  I uploaded three SUP specific lesson plans to the teaching resource repository that were generously donated by instructor and friend of the site, Michael Pardy.

The three new resources are:

I’m also pleased to announce that you no longer need to register and login to download the teaching resources. Just go and grab what you want.

Finally, I’m always on the hunt for resources. If you have any lesson plans that you want to contribute, please get in touch with me. I’m very happy to do the legwork to convert them to pdf and make sure you get full credit.

If you want to see what other people have contributed grab a few from the lesson plans category.

SUP Stroke Analysis

If you are new to SUP or an expert looking to get more performance from your paddling you need to watch this very technical breakdown of the stroke used during Stand Up Paddling. It’s developed by Jim Terrell, the creator of QuickBlade Paddles.

The SUP Instructors out there, watch closely when Jim breaks down each of the paddlers stroke pointing out some of the key elements to watch for along with the common mistakes that beginning SUP ‘ers often make.

The video is listed after the jump.

Ocean Paddler Magazine CoverThe latest issue of Ocean Paddler magazine is now out on the newsstands. This issue includes several interesting articles including the second part of a very good technical article about kayak construction, an excellent interview with Justine Curgenven as well as a fun article by Nigel Foster on his trip to the Great Lake Sea Kayak Symposium on Lake Superior.

Also tucked in there is an article I wrote called, “Safety Gear – Location & Decisions”. The article is really about the gear decision making process and the important skill of being able to critically evaluate your safety gear and where to carry it on your person.

To get the job done, I got on the phone with pro paddlers, Bryan Smith, Ben Lawrey, Greg Stamer, Helen Wilson and Jeff Allen and hit them up with questions. It didn’t take long before they were all gabbing away and I was typing frantically trying to keep up with each of them. All paddlers love to talk about gear.

I only got into Ocean Paddler a couple of months ago as it hasn’t been available here in Toronto but I have since started reading the electronic version of it and have really enjoyed it. Its different then other sea kayaking magazines as it clearly aimed at the intermediate/advanced paddler as the articles are a bit longer and the topics are slightly more technically focused.

The last issue of Ocean Paddler is available elecrontically for free here.

Strap Sacks on a Kayak

A friend recently turned me onto sack straps and so far I have been impressed. If you haven’t seen them yet, Strap Sacks are basically a small nylon bag with a large opening and drawstring at one end and smaller hole with a ziptie sewn in at the other.

The idea with the Strap Sack is that it attaches permanently (via the ziptie) to your canoe or kayak tie down strap and becomes a quick storage sack for your leftover straps when the boat is ties down. For example, if you got 3 feet of strapping left over; rather then winding and winding (and winding) them around the rooftop cross bar you just ball it up and stuff it in the sack and cinch it close with the drawstring.

Strap Sacks - The old way.

It can also be used to store your straps and keep them from tangling in between trips which is where they make my life considerably less confusing.

Pricing for a set of four sacks is about $15.

More info:

Photo credits:

the guides...

For those looking to get kayaking instruction this season there are several very interesting courses taking place in my neck of the woods that I thought I would pass along.

Coming up this June here in Toronto, Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak center is running a pilot program partnering with SKILS to offer a Day Guide program (Guide Level 1) from the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC). This is the first time that this type of program has been run out of British Columbia.

The 5-day program looks pretty solid and would appeal to anybody who is taking people out on the water. SKGABC certification has international recognition including places like New Zealand, Denmark and South America so if you are the working/traveling type, the certification card has traction in those parts as well.

More info: (1/2 way down the page)

Paddle Canada Level 2/BCU 3*

If guiding isn’t your thing but you are interested in intermediate kayaking skills why not join Bonnie Perry and myself in Wawa, Ontario this August. We are putting on again a joint Paddle Canada Level 2 and BCU 3* program at Naturally Superior Adventures on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Level 2 Rescue Preactice. Photo Credit: Naturally Superior Adventures

Bonnie and I were talking on the phone just the other day howling with laughter while remembering the good times from last year. Bonnie says that she has a whole new batch of jokes ready to go. I’m still on my jokes greatest hits tour so you are going to hear my recycled gems at least three times over the week.

If you interested the Naturally Superior Adventures blog has info as well as a great collection of photos from last year.

Paddle Canada Level 3 is hosting several exciting sea kayaking skill development courses this season including two Paddle Canada Level 3 courses running out of Byng Inlet in Georgian Bay. If you are taking vacation in Spring jump on their course in May or else ask your boss for extra time off in early October.

Level 3 is a fantastic course and is aimed at intermediate paddlers who want to develop their rough water paddling skills. It starts to get into topics with a lot more detail inclding incident management, leadership, multi-day trip planning and advanced navigation.

Here are the course details if you are keen.

Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor

Finally if you are busy in both June and August then book time off in October when White Squall Paddling Center in Parry Sound, Ontario will be offering a Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor course.

This advanced instructor course is being held in conjunction with the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering (which you should be coming to anyways!) and taught by two of Ontario’s best instructors, Greg Mason and Graham Ketcheson (who also happens to be Paddle Canada’s executive director).

If you are interested in signing up, contact White Squall and they can give you all the details about the course.

Top photo credit: the guides... / schmish /
Bottom photo credit: Naturally Superior Adventures

Tuesday, 12 April 2011 16:26

Safety Tip: Zombies Can’t Kayak

Zombie Kayak Sign - Fail Blog

Though I can’t be 100% sure, my zombie movie education has taught me that this sign is 100% true.

If I owned a kayak shop I would make and sell t-shirts with, “Zombies Can’t Swim - Get a Kayak” on the back in a heartbeat.

To help further your own zombie survival skills you might remember we posted a quick lesson on how to turn your kayak or canoe paddle into an effective zombie weapon with the simple attachment of a chainsaw.

You will thank me later with all this helpful advice today.

Veggi Zombie Comic

Image Credit: Fail Blog
Comic Credit:

Tuesday, 12 April 2011 15:43

Is the US GPS System at Risk?


Did you know that the GPS system in the US could be a risk? The Coalition of Save Our GPS is concerned because the FCC recently issued a waiver for LightSquared to blanket the US with approximately 40,000 base stations to broadcast wireless broadband across the US.

The Coalition is concerned because the signal coming from the LightSquared satellite will be approximately 1,500 watts which could quickly drown out GPS satellite signals which hover in the 50 watt range. This could lead to deadspots around each tower that will be miles in diameter.

Reading through the coalition website, I’m realizing that it is a pretty technical problem and most goes over my head. On one hand I can’t imagine that the US army would allow anything to interfere with their technology but on the other hand the Coalition is made up of some pretty heavy hitters including:

Air Transport Association
Aircraft Electronics Association
Association of American Geographers
The Boat Owners Association of The United States
General Aviation Manufacturers Association

You can find more info about it here. [Equipped to Surive]

Photo Credit: GPS / Flynn Kittie / CC BY-NC 2.0

T Rescue

We have a guest blogger today. Tim Dyer, owner of White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario has contributed in the past so I’m excited to post this today.

For some reason this winter sea kayak rescue technique seems to be a real hot topic in magazines, blogs or internet forums so Tim asked if he could chime in with several random thoughts on the issue.

Give it a go. There is so much here that it will probably require 2-3 reads to get all the meat out of it.

What do you think? Post your thoughts below.

Staying Alive on the Water – A Critical Look at Rescues
By: Tim Dyer – White Squall Paddling Centre

I’ve been thinking a lot about rescues.  Maybe it’s because every time I open a paddling magazine or view the list of topics for symposia, sea kayak rescue in all its guts and glory is dissected ad nauseum.  To add to the nausea, I thought I would weigh in so here are some thoughts about that most humbling piece of paddling – saving a life.

Lemons Can Get You
If you haven’t heard of Jim Raffan’s model of lemons – it’s the simplest trick in the book, yet most people don’t use it near enough.  Really briefly – every time you head out and forget to think about a possible risk and more importantly how you might lessen or get rid of it entirely – consider yourself in possession of a lemon.  A common example is not knowing your paddling partner’s skills – that’s a lemon!   Now imagine you’ve got yourself a couple, and you’re trying to juggle them.  Two aren’t so bad, but hey – a couple more have just popped up.  The juggling isn’t going so well, and you’re now in the land of accidents.  Maybe you won’t have one, but the likelihood is strong – all because you didn’t destroy your lemons before they got out of hand.   If all you ever think of when paddling is getting rid of these dastardly little fruits, your paddling life will likely last longer, which I imagine is a good thing.

Rainbow Warrier

Do No Harm
Don’t go in to rescue somebody with a heroic extrication if you’re not reasonably sure of staying on top yourself.  This means hanging your ego on that clothesline in the sky.  You’re likely not god’s gift to kayaking so don’t pretend.  And you are no good to anyone if you’re upside down in the drink.

A Bird in the Hand
Get whoever else is still on top in a position where they’ll stay on top.  It’s a pretty dumb rescue if you haul somebody back in, but while your back is turned, two others go in the drink.  How do you stabilize?  With a skilled group, have them maintain sea position with each other into the wind.   We call it a “hover” and it can also work fine with stern to wind, depending on the situation.  Last thing you want is a group trying to round up going broadside to waves and current.  If they can stern hover quickly, that’s great – all depends on the wind and their skills.  If you have an inexperienced group, it may be all you can do to simply get them to raft up.  It won’t be pretty, but they’ll stand a better chance of staying right side up.  The raft becomes a big sail, so you may have some chasing to do.  If you’ve played your cards well, there’s someone else capable of managing the group while you work the rescue.  If not, consider yourself in lemon city.

Make Contact and Don’t Let Go
Once you decide to go in, there are no half measures.  Sometimes swimmer and boat are separated, and you’ll have to make hard and fast decisions.  Most often, you need to get the swimmer first – but if you can just as quickly get the boat to the swimmer, then consider it.  It’s not a lot of fun to deal with someone in rough water conditions if you don’t have a boat to put them back into.  Conversely, imagine proudly tagging the boat and then looking around for the swimmer who has just slipped beneath the waves.  Whatever you decide, go fast – and once you’ve got them – don’t ever let go.

Talk Loudly and be Tough
Think about it – as a rescuer you’re in wild wind, crashing waves and this sorry dude is thrashing about getting colder by the second.  He is not going to listen unless you’re really loud, really clear and really direct.   I’ve been on both sides of this and it’s simply no time for your kinder, gentler side.

Follow Me On Instagram


Search the Site

Get our Newsletter


Strategic Partner

Paddle Canada Logo

Site Sponsors

P&H  LogoWerner PaddlesKokatat LogoNorth Water
Keen Footwear Logo
Aquapac LogoSeals Logo