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.

In an effort to help those who are researching a future kayak purchase the website, findthebest.com recently rolled out a new section specifically for kayaks. Their system makes it really easy to filter the results by category, price, weight or even suggested type of paddler.

With each boat they also provide links to stores online where you can purchase the boat online. That being said, don’t forget to also visit to your local paddling shop check out what they offer as well. Buying a boat online isn’t quite the same as purchasing the latest Dan Brown novel. Making sure the boat fits and experimenting how it handles on the water can’t be overstated.

To help keep things simple, I embedded the tool directly into the page below. Just click the "Filter" button in the upper right to narrow down the choices.

The nominees for the annual Canoe & Kayak Awards have just been announced and who do we find buried in amongst a wave of whitewater paddlers? Why none other than fellow Paddle Canada sea kayak instructor and Hurricane Rider, Rowan Gloag.

I don't want to tell you how to vote but when checking the radio button for your favourite, don’t forget, his name is Rowan Gloag.

You can vote here: canoekayak.com

Image credit: thrrowan.blogspot.ca

Why are there no Salmon in the Upper Columbia River? What can we do about that? What are the options?

Sea to Source is the first episode in a series of short films following the journey up the Columbia River in 5 dugout canoes that were hand carved by 1000’s of students.

The journey is about getting people reconnected with the history and culture of the Columbia River as well as the salmon that was once prolific before the creation of the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams.

Hap tip goes to Conor for the lead.

More info: voyagesofrediscovery.blogspot.ca

Scary bird on backyard...

Sign #122 that you don’t spend enough time in nature: You don’t know the difference between a bird and a barbeque cover.

Credit: criggo.com

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