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.

Siemens Aquaris Hearing Aid

As you know water and electronics don’t mix very well and paddlers who wear hearing aids always have to make the tough choice every time they go out on the water. They can leave the very expensive unit(s) on shore and not hear well on the water or they can take the risk of them getting splashed with water and shorting out. Tough choice indeed.

I remember having a student a couple years ago who came down to the paddling school for a couple of weekend clinics over the summer. Without his hearing aid he couldn’t hear a thing out there so we had to figure out a plan to keep his hearing aid dry. I put him in a super stable boat and made him aware well in advance if we were working on any skills with a medium chance he was going to fall in. I also gave him a dry bag that he could throw the units in while he was working on rescues. It worked out but it was stressful for both of us which killed the fun.

If you are a hearing aid user you will be happy to know that Siemens has just released what they claim is world's first fully waterproof digital hearing aid.

The Siemens Aquaris is IP57 certified which means that you can safely use them three feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. The moisture sealed unit is also shock and dust proof so it will be strong enough to handle the rigors of paddling, rescue practise or even rough water paddling.

To keep the unit behind your ear, it’s got a non-slip soft rubber surface including an attachable sport clip for extra security.

No word on pricing yet but you can learn more about them here.

Image Credit: Siemens

Crazy Creek is pleased to announce that it has expanded its sponsorship of the GO OUTSIDE & PLAY ROADSHOWS for 2011. The Roadshows will be taking place throughout the spring, summer and fall at over 100 major outdoor events, races and festivals in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast, Colorado and California regions. Crazy Creek’s support helps to further the Roadshow mission of engaging and inspiring people at the grassroots level to be active in the outdoors and more involved in their local outdoor communities. Each Road Show event also features a raffle for a Free Crazy Creek Chair.

Bay of Fundy. Photo Credit:

There is a contest on now called the New 7 Wonders of Nature Campaign and a title like that doesn’t need a whole lot of explaining.

Paddlers, the Bay of Fundy sits right between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and is home to some of the most beautiful sea kayaking anywhere in North America. Oh yes, it’s also home to the worlds highest tidal rage which is 16.8 metre (55.1 feet) high.

You can see where I’m going with this. The Bay of Fundy is currently sitting as the only Canadian finalist and it needs your help to get the vote so it can be rightly named as one of the new 7 wonders of nature.

Quick fun fact: Did you know that 115 billion tonnes of water flow in and out of that bay each and every 12.5h tidal cycle?

You can vote here.

Photo credit:

Professional Paddlesports Association LogoThe Professional Paddlesports Association just announced a new program called the 9th Grade Paddle Pass. As the name implies, it is a program aimed at introducing students in grade nine to paddling by allowing them to get out on the water for free up to ten times throughout the 2011 paddling season.

I think it is an amazing program idea and it’s perfect for introducing kids to the sport just as they are old enough to get seriously hooked.

The only downside I can see to the program is that there are currently only two outfitters onboard and they are located in Ohio and Missouri. It’s only the first year so low numbers are a bit to be expected though I’m surprised that there isn’t a larger group of paddling schools and outfitters onboard for the initial launch. Here is hoping that more sign on to the program soon.

If you are thinking of taking advantage of the program, you have until June 22, 2011 to get your application in.

More info:

Aquapac LogoAs the calendar moves over into spring, Aquapac® – makers of 100 percent waterproof protective cases – rolls out its brand new Stormproof™ range, a colorful 14-item collection of affordable waterproof packs and pouches designed for outdoor use.

Being delivered in time to stave off April showers, the breadth of the new Stormproof range includes small pouches that hold and protect phones and MP3 players, to camera bags, padded laptop cases, drybags and backpacks. While not intended to be submersible, the Stormproof range offers lightweight and simple-to-use protection for outdoor enthusiasts to safeguard their equipment against the elements.

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