Check out this crazy footage from the Discovery television show, North America which features footage of two sea kayakers who got the the thrill of their life when several Humpback whales broke the surface about 20 feet away to feed (not on the paddlers luckily). All this footage is shot somewhere in Alaska.

I can confidently say that I would freak out in this situation. How do I know you ask? I get scared startled seeing a floating stick on the water and think it's a giant snake going for my throat.

Click through for the video below:

This is easily the craziest story I've read so far this September.

A young New Zealander who the press is only identifying as Ryan got trapped on Governor Island in the north end of Western Australia for two (yes two) full weeks because a six-meter (20 feet) salt water crocodile would stalk him every time he tried to make a break from the island. Yes, two weeks…

Luckily when he was originally dropped off he had lots of water and food since his original plans were to explore the island for a short while then paddle back to the mainland. Once he discovered the giant monster stalking him the situation changed.

He was finally rescued by Don McLeod who was passing the island on a fishing trip and found Ryan with no food and only 1 liter of water left.

Mr. McLeod told ABC Radio yesterday: "I saw a flash in the scrub. I went across and Ryan came out looking a bit distraught. He came down the beach. He said he'd been there a fortnight and he came to the conclusion very quickly that he couldn't get off there without attracting this crocodile.

"He was relieved and shocked, and thankful someone had come along."

Mr. McLeod went on: "He said every time he got in his little kayak, this crocodile – who has lived there for many years and is a monster – has chased him.

"That croc is a very, very big crocodile. One of the biggest I know of around here and it followed him around for a while. So Ryan headed back to get under cover and left his kayak up on the rocks about two kilometres from where his camp was.

"I've seen that crocodile come past me quite fast a few times," Mr. McLeod said. "My boat's 20-foot long, so I know he's well up towards the 20ft mark."

More info: scotsman.com

Flickr Creative Commons photo credit: BMaco

With a new school year underway Kelly and I thought it was about time that we get off our butts and record a new episode of our sea kayaking podcast, Kayak Mainline.

In episode 11 of Kayak Mainline we learn about:

  • Military Dolphins with guns attached to their heads,
  • Freya Hoffmeister's Sunday Afternoon Expedition is now 2/3 the way around South America,
  • Halifax paddlers take on a serious crossing to raise cash for kids camp,
  • Scary news: Mosquitoes could soon be immune to Deet.

We also explore (hypothetically) what it would be like to watch a stripper take on Gordon Lightfoot's, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

As a break for hearing us blab on and on, we get on the phone and talk to Marty Perry and Kate Hives of the Hurricane Riders and catch up on they are up to these days.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did putting it together.

There are several different ways to get our sweet voices directly into your ears:

You can stream it live in your browser here:

 You can mp3directly download the mp3 (Right click and select, "Save target as..." or "Save link as...".

Subscribe via iTunes Subscribe via Stitcher

iTunes user? Subscribe and get each new episode downloaded directly to your iPhone/iPod as soon as it’s uploaded.

 

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Not an iTunes fan? We distribute Kayak Mainline also via Stitcher. They offer a free fantastic podcast app for both iPhones and Android and you can search and subscribe there as well.

 

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Monday, 02 September 2013 17:03

P&H Hammer Surfing Test

Simon Osborne from Sea Kayaking Cornwall in the UK got a hold of the P&H's new Hammer sea kayak and took put it through the wringer recently out in the surf.

The new P&H Hammer is a new rough water play boat that takes heavy inspiration from the P&H Delphin and the Pyranha Fusion with a dash of white-water kayak design thrown in for good measure. What you end up (as you can see in the video) is a boat that is extremely comfortable in both surf and rough water.

It looks like a whole lot of fun. Click through for the full video below:

I'm really excited to let you know about an upcoming Paddle Canada Level-3 kayaking course being offered at the end of September here in Ontario.

Running September 25-29, the course is being organized by myself and Ray Boucher in partnership with White Squall Paddling Centre and will take place in Georgian Bay (just north of Toronto).

Paddle Canada Level-3 further develops your skills for undertaking multi-day trips in open water conditions. Some of the topics we will be covering include trip planning, rescues, towing, inaccessible shoreline launching, advanced navigation, weather mysteries revealed, risk management, decision making, leadership among peers and other nerdy stuff.

This course is going to be unique in that we are planning to work our way out to a very small set of islands in southern Georgian Bay collectively called The Westerns. They lie about 12 kilometers offshore. To accomplish our goal (and if the weather cooperates), we will work through the planning and the decision making process of undertaking a major crossing like that.

Speaking of the Westerns, they are easily the most remote group of islands on Georgian Bay and very few boaters and even less kayakers ever make it out to.

The price of the 5-day course is $595+taxes. We need at least 4 people to make it run so our cut-off go/no go date for the course is September 15th. If you are looking for a challenge, contact the White Squall office and they can get you signed up.

If you have any questions, please feel free to .

We hope to see you there!

 

You might think you are cute when out paddling your SUP but I can pretty much guarantee that you don't look as cute as Kiara Goold does while learning to paddle an SUP in the video below. She is two.

Thursday, 29 August 2013 10:26

Look who is Paddling Now: Tom Brady

 

New England Patriots football player guy, Tom Brady went out kayaking in Boston over the weekend with his wife and son.

The excursion turned out better than it did back in 2009 when he went for an afternoon paddle and ended up swimming in the Charles River. He had to be rescued by one of the rental staff

"He had to be rescued," an unidentified spectator told the Boston Herald. "The launch guy went out and got him and got him back in the kayak. He's been bragging about it ever since. He's telling everyone he rescued Tom Brady."

"It was more embarrassment than real danger," the spectator said.

More info: aolnews.com

 

 

I got an email from my buddy, Bryan Hansel who runs North Shore Expeditions out of Grand Marais, Minnesota. A couple weeks ago singer and songwriter, Jerry Vandiver joined Bryan on one of his day tours of Lake Superior.

You might be thinking to yourself who is Jerry Vandiver is and that's ok. While you might not have heard Jerry's voice in your ears before, if you are a country music fan you have most likely heard a song that he wrote. His music have been recorded by a huge number of country music legends including Tim McGraw, The Oak Ridge Boys and Barbara Mandrell to name a few. In fact his two most popular songs, "It Doesn't Get Any Countrier Than This" and "For a Little While" which were both recorded by Tim McGraw are among the gold and platinum records on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

It's no surprise that Jerry decided to go kayaking whole on his vacation. He is a big fan of canoeing and even wrote an entire album of songs dedicated to paddling.

More info: paddlesongs.com
Photo credit: Bryan Hansel

 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 10:06

Keen Now Offers Custom Designed Sandals

Keen Footwear has just rolled out a brand new program called "Build Your Own Keen" where you can order a completely customized pair of their classic Newport Sandals.

The new app on their website allows you to customize pretty much every single component of the shoe from the webbing pattern right down to the colour of the lace or the sole itself.

I did a quick count and there 14 different parts of the sandals that can be adjusted and some quick grade 2 math at my end tells me that there at least 62 billion and three combinations to choose from. With so with that many colour choices; you can pretty much guarantee that nobody will have your exact pair of shoes.

Keen says that they can get them made and on your feet in about 2-3 weeks which is pretty amazing. I haven’t confirmed it yet but my guess is that they are able to offer this service via the new manufacturing facility they recently opened up in Portland, Oregon. I just found out that that the Keen Custom shoes are manufactured for you in one of their factories in Asia.

The price for the shoes is $130 (US) which is only $30 more than regular Newports so it isn’t an exorbitant price to pay for custom footwear.

Ok kids, get designing. Just don’t walk up and shoe me the pair that you ordered with every option as black. That would be waste and you would feel my sarcasm. This is what I’m expecting next time I see you:

My custom designed Keen Newports

More info: Keen Footwear

 

Monday, 26 August 2013 10:48

Delorme inReach SE Long-term Review

A couple of weeks ago inReach Canada loaned me a new Delorme inReach SE to take along for my trip around Michipicoten Island on Lake Superior.

The new SE is an update to the Delorme inReach and released to market this past spring and includes a pile of new features to make (what I feel) the best satellite communicator on the market today.

Before we get into the full review, let’s look back at the evolution of backcountry satellite messengers/communicators. First on the market in 2008 was the Spot Messenger powered by the Globalstar satellite network. At the time the technology was revolutionary in that it gave paddlers the ability to send home pre-configured messages with a link to a map of their current position. This type of technology was available before of course this but it was typically associated with a $1000 satellite phone purchase.

The biggest problem with messengers was that they were essentially one-way communication. That changed a couple of years ago when both Delorme and Spot both released units which allowed you to send and receive messages when paired to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The great advancement in technology now allowed people outside of cell phone coverage to communicate back and forth with home. Of course the new problem was that the while units themselves used very little power and would last a long time it was a different story with the paired smart phones request to type up the message. I don’t know about you but my Android phone seems to only last about 6 hours before it is begging me for a recharge.

This brings us up present day and I believe that the inReach SE solves a large number of problems in previous versions. The biggest improvement is the addition of a small LCD colour screen and built in virtual keyboard. Now, you can gossip with the family back home without needing to depend on the limited battery life of your smartphone (though you can still pair them if you wish).

Another very cool feature (that gladly I need to test) is if you need to trigger the SOS and summon help in the event of a life and death situation, you can interact back and forth with the search and rescue monitoring centre. The ability to tell them via text message the extent of the emergency or get an updated response ETA could be a huge benefit.

Delorme inReach SE

Daily Use

For the trip on Lake Superior I was guiding a small group of people in sea kayaks around Michipicoten Island and then paddled back to Wawa. The total distance was approximately 175km (108 miles) and included an 18 km (12 miles) crossing from the island to the north shore of Lake Superior.

Because of the extreme remoteness and high risk of the crossing itself, both the guiding company and participant family members back home were obviously anxious for our safety throughout. The inReach SE was a huge help in keeping everybody informed of our current location The text messages automatically posted to my Facebook wall as well as Delorme’s interactive allowed casual friends to follow along as well. Throughout the day I generally updated our position at lunch as well as our final stopping point for the day.

I was also able to take advantage of the two-way communication and check in with the guiding company itself and let them know how things were going. It ended up being a really good resource when I needed to get a more precise wind/weather forecast then what was available at the time via the marine radio. That type of information and near-instant communication was invaluable as it allowed us to make a more educated decision if we should cross that day or not.

Delorme inReach SE Message Screen      Delorme inReach SE Keyboard

Tracking

Like many of the other satellite messengers on the market, you can set-up live tracking and automatic location posting of your route. Knowing that tracking does eat up battery life a touch faster we really only used that feature during our crossing. In the settings you can set the time between location updates from 10 minutes all the up to a couple of hours.

Earthmate App - Message Window      Earthmate App - Tracking Window

Free Earthmate App

A very cool side-feature is you get access to their free Earthmate App for both iPhone and Android Smartphones.

The app pairs via Bluetooth with the inReach SE and turns your phone or tablet into what’s described as a global satellite communication and navigation tool.

The app overlays your current tracks or messages over their own mapping software so you can see exactly where you are. Both topographic and NOAA (US) charts are available free of charge. It also allows you to send and receive messages directly within the app which is a very nice feature.

 

Battery life

The unit is powered by an internal rechargeable lithium battery that is advertised to last up to 100 hours. In our case the unit was still going strong right up to the end of our eight day trip so I was pleased with that. Keep in mind that I turned the unit off in between sending and receiving messages to stretch batter life out as long as possible.

One of my few beefs with the unit is the fact that the battery is built-in and you are unable to exchange them out in the field. If you were on a long trip or planning on doing a lot of tracking, you are going to need to come up with a recharging system for the unit. The inReach SE recharges using a micro-usb port so there are plenty of options out there from solar powered chargers or external battery packs. Having the option to drop in extra batteries would be a killer feature.

 

Pricing

The MSRP for the inReach SE is $299 (US) and requires a monthly subscription. The subscription pricing is different depending on if you live in Canada or the US. Since I’m in Canada I will speak to those plans. Pricing ranges between $14.95 to 49.95 a month depending on how many messages you plan on sending or receiving. You can switch between plans at any time so one advantage is that if you know you have a big trip coming up you can jump up to a higher plan for that month. Once the season is over you can also put the unit in a hibernation mode for only $3.95/month. Again, those are the Canadian plans so if you live in United States, Australia and New Zealand, the plans and prices could be different.

 

Final verdict?

I was really blown away with the unit to be honest and exceeded by expectations. Like I said above, the integration of the built-in keyboard makes the unit a workable solution for two-way communication in the outdoors (also with good battery life). Before this, everything on the market has looked to me like some sort of cobbled together device that left me disappointed so this was a nice change.

I also really like the ability to change monthly plans compared to other companies where I’m required to pre-pay for a full year. That being said, if you are on a cheap plan, sending messages back and forth to your friends can add up quickly so figure out what you will realistically use on a trip since extra messages beyond your monthly allotment can be expensive.

If you are looking to increase your piece of mind in the wilderness (or your husband’s back home) I would say yes, check it out. It’s a good one.

More info: inReach Canada

 

Advertised features:

  • Send and receive free-form, 160-character text messages outside of cell phone range.
  • Trigger an SOS and interact back and forth with GEOS, our 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center.
  • Turn on tracking to share and view GPS coordinates.
  • Color screen and virtual keyboard with predictive text.
  • Intuitive LED indicator for satellite availability.
  • Audible message notifications.
  • Long-lasting internal rechargeable lithium battery for ultimate convenience and portability. 100 hours of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode with a clear view to the sky.
  • Designed for maximum durability in harsh environments (waterproof, dustproof, and impact-resistant).
  • Post to social media.
  • Built on award-winning technology pioneered with our first inReach device.

Specifications:

  • Rugged, durable housing that is waterproof/dustproof (IP67; standard submersion to 1 meter for 30 minutes) and impact-resistant (Mil-STD-810F for vibration/shock)
  • Length: 62 mm (2.44")
  • Width: 26 mm (1.02")
  • Height (including antenna): 149 mm (5.87")
  • Weight: 190 g (6.7 oz)
  • Operational temperature range: -20°C to 60°C (-4°F to 140°F)
  • Storage temperature range: -40°C to 85°C (-40°F to 185°F)
  • Battery charging temperature range: 0°C to 45°C (32°F to 113°F)
  • GPS accuracy to +/- 5 meters
  • GPS fix reports position, speed, course, and elevation with each track or message sent
  • Internal, rechargeable lithium battery delivers about 100 hours of operation in tracking mode
  • Color screen with predictive, virtual keyboard for standalone two-way messaging
  • SOS locking mechanism complies with RTCM SC-128 for satellite emergency notification devices (SEND); prevents false alarms and supports one-handed gloved operation
  • Pairs via Bluetooth with Apple iOS or Android devices
  • 100% global coverage via the Iridium satellite network
  • SOS messages are received by GEOS, a worldwide emergency response coordination center with 24/7/365 staffing

MSRP: $299 ($US)

 

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