If you thought that the campfire you built last summer was big, check this out.

The photo is from an attempt to build the world's biggest bonfire in 2012. I’m not sure if they beat their old record from 2010 in which they constructed a monster 40 meters high. Apparently nobody was hurt in the photo but everybody seems to be standing a bit close for my liking. Maybe it's the Viking way.

Looks like the people of Ålesund, Norway have been fans of burning stuff on midsummer's eve since at least 1954 as evidenced this by this very cool photo history page.

BTW - Good nerdy quote found on the video youtube page by MrEdJepson: THE BEACONS ARE LIT! Gondor calls for aid.

If you have June 22 free on your calendar you should really consider making your way to Peterborough Ontario and visit the Small Craft Rendezvous currently being organized by the Canadian Canoe Museum.

It’s going to be a jam-packed day celebrating all things small craft including demonstrations of canoe canvassing by Carlisle Canoes, back-country cooking, tool sharpening by Lee Valley Tools and wood bending Michael Fortune.

What makes this event unique from pretty much everything else in the paddling world is that your MC for the day is actor, woodworker, canoe builder and all-round funny guy, Nick Offerman. You might remember him from the TV show, Parks and Recreation.

Check out this quick promotional video for Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak centre in North Vancouver, British Columbia. There is just something about aerial video that makes paddling look like the most relaxing activity in the world.

Watch the whole thing then watch the opening shot again. That big, sweeping single shot is brilliant.

I’m here to help you get through your Friday so just keep this page open all afternoon. A word of warning though, keep an eye out for your boss as your productively is guaranteed to plummet.

campfire

The Delorme inReach SE

Delorme, makers of the two-way satellite communicator, inReach have released a major update to the unit. Now called the inReach SE, the biggest change is the addition of a built-in colour screen and virtual keyboard making it even easier to send and receive messages to loved ones back home.

The biggest advantage to the new screen is that you no longer need to specifically pair the unit (via Bluetooth) to a smartphone to be able to receive texts as the old unit and now does it all by itself. That being said, you still have the ability to connect to your smartphone to manage all messages if you want.

The new inReach SE is now just under ½ the thickness as before so it will be easier to fit in your lifejacket pocket (I always felt the old version to be a little chunky).

As with the older inReach models you can use it to trigger an SOS and communicate back and forth with the search and rescue centre or set-up automatic tracking and share your current location with friends/family or social media.

The MSRP is $299 plus a minimum monthly subscription that starts at $14.95. The nice thing with Delorme's subscription plan is you can easily suspend or cancel the service during the off-season when you are realistically just going to get lost at the mall.

More info: inreachcanada.com

If you are anything like me you've always wanted to own your own pirate ship. Admit it, you have.

It's time to get yourself over to St. Louis and pick up this 50 foot houseboat. Yes it's $79,000 but think of the adventures you could have!

Pirate ship captains wheel.

Here is the ad from Craigslist:

Built on 50' 1988 Gibson houseboat. Brand new twin 454s, Kohler generator, V drives. Holds 30 people, looks like a Hollywood set! Great as a live aboard...and an AWESOME party boat! 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Just surveyed for $110,00, will sell for $79,000 - trades considered. Call 314-***-*****.

Did you know that the mighty Colorado River used to reach the ocean but now it doesn’t due to heavy water diversion? It’s something that people have told me but never really thought about it or imagined what that could look like.

Back in 2011 a group of kayakers paddled down the Green and Colorado Rivers from source to sea and filmed the whole thing. They edited the entire 113 day journey into 3.5 minutes and called the short film, Mirror River.

Spoiler alert: it goes trickle > raging river > trickle.

 

California Kayaker Magazine is changing its name over to California Paddler Magazine starting with the Summer, 2013 issue.

By changing the name from kayaker to paddler it will allow them to branch-out into new content and cover all of paddlesports. “Canoes and rafts have somewhat limited retail markets in our geography, so likely will only be covered from time to time,” said Peter Donohue, California Kayaker Magazine’s Editor, “but with this change we do plan to have stand up paddleboard (SUP) content in each issue, reflecting its fast growth and popularity.”

More info: calkayakermag.com

I will be the first to admit that I have a thing for stoves the same way that some women have a thing for shoes so when I heard about a new stove on the market called the Solo Stove I contacted the company to see if they could send me a sample I could try.

There are several other wood burning camp stoves on the market but what makes this one unique is its double walled design which channels air in and around the flames. Solo Stove describes how it works:

Designed with a double wall, the Solo Stove™ (patent pending) is a natural convection inverted downgas gasifer stove. The air intake holes on the bottom of the stove channels air to the bottom of the fire while at the same time, channels warm air up between the walls of the stove. This burst of preheated oxygen feeding back into the firebox through the smaller holes at the top of the stove causes a secondary combustion. This allows the fire to burn more complete which is why there is very little smoke during full burn. A more efficient burn also means you'll use much less wood compared to an open camp fire. The Solo Stove doesn't just burn wood. It actually cooks the smoke out of the wood and then burns the smoke not once, but twice!

The Solo Stove without the windscreen installed.

The Solo Stove is pretty rugged being made out of high-grade stainless steel. It’s also compact at 3.8 inches high and weighs in at only 9 ounces. The stove also has an integrated wind screen and pot stand which due to its clever design fits inside the stove when inverted enabling it to pack down.

How did it perform?

The quick answer is that it worked wonderfully and boiled water like it was going out of style.

Throughout the morning while out walking the dog, I collected a bunch of dry twigs and small sticks at our local park (all while avoiding the weird looks I was getting by fellow dog walkers). I also made an easy fire starter using cotton balls and Vaseline (quick tip: mix them up and store in a small zip-lock bag to keep your hands clean).

The Solo Stove

After lighting and getting the fire going, I put a litre of water in a pot on the stove and started the timer. 9 minutes later the water was boiling away.

Solo Stove also sells several accessories including a small pot as well as a windscreen to help speed up boil times. For those who are worried that they will not be able to find dry wood after a serious downpour, they sell a small burner insert that quickly converts it over to an alcohol stove. This will help bring peace of mind as well as allow you to use the stove even if there is a fire-ban in your area.

There are several advantages over using a wood stove over a typical white-gas stove:

  • The fuel is free and you don’t need to lug bottles or cans of camping gas throughout your trip.
  • There are no moving parts to break down or get clogged which is a pretty very common problem with white-gas stoves.
  • Except for the sweet sound of burning wood, the stove is completely silent. The roar of my beloved MSR DragonFly on camping trips drives me absolutely crazy.

Of course there are some disadvantages as well:

  • You will need to be proactive in keeping a little cache of sticks just in case you encounter wet wood. Or flip over to using the alcohol burner insert.
  • You likely won’t be allowed to use it if you are camping in an area with a fire ban as there is no on/off switch like a gas stove.
  • You will need to practice with the stove before your first trip (but that’s the same issue for every stove on the market).
  • As with any wood burning stove, your pot will blacken with soot.

Solo Stove and pot boiling water.

So what’s the verdict? I’m going to give it a couple more lights but I’m pretty confident that it’s going to become my primary stove when out on camping trips.

The Solo Stove retails for $69.99 and be found at solostove.com or several online shops including Amazon.

Friday, 26 April 2013 15:15

New Rescue Technique Using a Lap Bag

I recently stumbled upon this very interesting video hosted by a buddy of mine, JF Marleau from the BC sea kayak school, SKILS.

The video demonstrates a new twist on the classic paddle float rescue by using a waterproof lap bag in place of a traditional paddle float bag. Take a look, it's really interesting:

I decided to contact JF to find out more information:

1) Tell me about yourself, what you do with Skils and how long you have done it?

That is a tough one. I am one of the main instructors at SKILS, I am also a co-owner and the guy running the office. SKILS has been in business since 2003.  I have been guiding and teaching kayaking across Canada for the past 16 years. I am also a maniac of kayak fishing.

2) In a typical year, how many days on the water are you paddling/teaching?

I have been on the water teaching and guiding between 100-175 days per year for the past 16 years. Don’t forget to add another 40 days for personal paddling and kayak fishing.

3) How did you guys get the idea of using your lapbag in place of a traditional dry bag?

Like criminals in a court of law or during an inquiry commission are saying “I do not recall'', we have been doing it for so long. Maybe because a long time ago, we used kayaks with no day hatch to guide or instruct long expeditions and we needed to keep things handy to ensure safety, efficiency and comfort. The lap bag provides a much easier, faster and stable access than the day hatch. Furthermore, you can carry more gear on longer courses or trips. You can even have make-up handy if you are from the big city like Toronto...just kidding

4) How has the response been in BC? Do other instructors use it in their lessons?

In BC, most of the kayak guides, kayak instructors and advanced paddlers carry a lap bag which is a purse for kayaker. It might be because SKILS trained most of them and they like the idea. A lap bag is very common in BC.

Watershed Ocoee Waterproof Duffel

5) Any tips or tricks you have discovered over the years using them?

During the paddle float rescue, you will notice that your lap bag does not do "a yellow or red rainbow", the weight inside the lap bag provides a counter-balance during the paddle float rescue which is more stable than a blow up one if you are athletic and you do not carry an excess of weight in your lap bag.

Using a drybag instead of a real lap bag completely sucks. It takes too much time, you are more prone to lose stuff and it tends to get wet more often.

Yellow is the best colour because the daylight makes the contents in your drybag highly visible vs the red, blue or camo. Furthermore, Yellow is a highly visible color and enhance safety

Make sure you pick a lap bag with a good seal. Watershed are the very best though Orlieb has a long lasting fabric but the seal is not as good.

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