Oh my. It looks like another group of kayaks got in trouble with Johnny law over the weekend when they were caught trying to smuggle in 297 pounds of marijuana worth around $178,000 from Mexico into the United States.
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:
Last week I had the amazing privilege to guide an eight-day sea kayak expedition on Lake Superior for Naturally Superior Adventures. The route started with a boat shuttle out to Cozens Cover at the eastern end of the very remote Michipicoten Island. From there we worked around the island clockwise before making the 18km crossing to the north shore and back towards Wawa and Naturally Superior Adventures. Here is the full route map (new window).
This trip was different than a typical guided trip in that each participant was responsible for their own food, camping gear and boat. My role throughout the trip wasn’t to do the cooking (they would have starved to death if they did) but rather to get everybody back home safely.
Lets cut to the chase, Michipicoten Island is wicked awesome. If it isn’t already on your bucket list of trip destinations, you need to add it. Even if you just plan on circumnavigating the island as the vast majority of visitors do, you will die a happier person (hopefully long after the trip is done).
Here is what makes the island special:
The crossing from the island to the north shore of Lake Superior was something that was always a concern in the back of our head. We had a two day window to make the crossing so it came down to figuring out which day was better. We decided to make the jump on the trips third day and cross north from Bonner Head. This meant that we only made it around 3/4 of the island but if we kept going and crossed the next day (from the east end of the island) it would mean a very strong head wind and medium seas. I believe we made the better choice and was on the water at 7am with light tailwinds. Just over three hours later we were on the north shore patting each other on the back, happy with our accomplishment.
Michipicoten Island has a long history of failure over the years. Explorers to the island had dreams of striking it rich through mining or fishing but more times than not they were sent home bankrupt. It was a very tough place to try to make a living.
Talking to the owner of Naturally Superior Adventures, Dave Wells, we figure that less than 50 people visit the island each year and we were one of only two commercial trips that will visit this year. Also, the route that we took by crossing and paddling home has only been done by about 20-25 people in the past 15 years so as you can guess, Michipicoten Island is a pretty remote place.
Due to that remoteness, if you do go, you need to make sure that your paddling and rescue skills are rock solid. There are several sand and cobblestone beaches to camp on but they can be few and far between in certain points so plan your day out carefully. Finally don’t count 100% on your VHF radio being able to access the Canadian Coast Guard in the event of an emergency. Due to the high mineral count in the rocks, there were several places along the north shore where you will be in a radio shadow and unable to get a signal. On a trip I took out there in 2007 we had a difficult time reaching the Coast Guard and had to paddle offshore about a mile or so to report in one evening.
To help out with our risk management plan, inReach Canada sent me one of their newly released inReach SE to put through it’s paces. The inReach SE is a two-way satellite communicator that allows you to send short text messages to anybody in the world from anywhere. It has a built in keyboard similar to your old cell phone so it doesn’t require you to connect your smartphone via bluetooth (though that option is there if you want). I’m working on a more extensive review but the real short review is that I was blown away by the unit. The fact I could send a note to the NSA base (or my wife) letting them know where I we were located was amazing. Even better, a couple of days I sent them a request for a more precise weather report then what was on the radio and 15 minutes later we had the response. I did find a couple quirks with the unit but I will hold onto them until I publish the detailed review. Overall, I was very pleased with it.
Should you do the trip next year? Of course you should. I would tell perspective paddlers that they should be comfortable in medium seas with 2-3 foot swells and have a firm grasp on both rescue and camping skills.
Here is a very cool short documentary that I found while researching the island. It gives a very good idea of what you can expect when you visit next.
If you want to see more photos, stop by my flickr page and scroll through the collection or click through the slideshows below.
Well I'm off to Lake Superior for the next two weeks to guide a sea kayak trip with Naturally Superior Adventures.
We are going to be circumnavigating Michipicoten Island then making the 18 kilometre crossing to the north shore before working our way back to Wawa. If you want more details, I wrote about the trip earlier.
The whole adventure should take eight days if everything goes well.
I'm really excited as inReach Canada sent me their new inReach SE to test while we are out there. The inReach SE is a two-way satellite messenger with a built-in keyboard to easily send and receive custom messages. It's a nice improvement from the older model as it doesn't require me to pair with a smart phone.
Have a great couple of weeks!
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.
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.
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
My friend Conor sent me this email letting me know about a new sea kayaking film that he discovered. I couldn’t have written the description any better so I just stole this from him:
Thought I'd share this great short film about sea kayaking in B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest--the same wild channels that could soon be plied by supertankers if the Northern Gateway Pipeline happens. The 8-minute film is excellent not for its technical proficiency but rather for the compelling story it tells. It doesn't focus on politics but rather the simple joys of being immersed in wilderness. It's well worth watching and sharing with others.
Have I got a treat for you today. I just got an email from the fine folks at the Greenland Tourist Association who just released a series of short films highlighting the great things about
Take a look at the amazing sea kayak film they put together. What can I say, it’s gorgeous. When you are done with that watch the second clip below which more of a general film about what makes
If you are wondering who the paddlers are in the films, one of them is Jens-Pavia Brandt from Greenland Outdoors. He is a local guide working in the Kangerlussuaq Fjord [map link] in western
I recently heard about another trip being organized that you might be interested in. This summer the guiding company, Uncommon Adventures is organizing a 12-day adventure to
Here is the trip description from the website:
This one is completely different. Combine the logistics expertise that Uncommon Adventures is known for with the celebrity status of our co-leader and you arrive to community dinners thrown in your honor. Travel like a Greenlander...hand-lining fish for dinner, learning to eat seal, hunting with your camera, paddling in sea ice, camping in sites used as traditional hunt camps for generations. Think cultural immersion, think travel like a Greenlander with a Greenlander...all with a bit of a safety net that comes with our 31 year history in the kayak tripping business.
They are planning to do a loop of about 100 miles on the west side of Greenland out of Sisimiut [map link]
The trip starts at $4900 and you can get all the details here.
About a year ago Jill Ellis from Adanac Paddles contacted me to see if I would be interested in testing a new prototype
One of the things that I learned while visiting Adanac Paddles world headquarters was that every single paddle is custom made to order. When an order submitted, Jill contacts the buyer and asks for a variety of measurements including the arm span, elbow to wrist length, elbow to fingertip, as well as the diameter of your first finger and thumb when doing the "OK" symbol.
Though it sounds pretty precise, these follow the traditional measurements that would be taken from a
As mentioned before, the paddle that Jill made for me was a prototype model she had been working on. The overall shape of the paddle itself was similar to other traditional
One of my goals over the past year was to take the paddle out in a wide variety of conditions including large surf, rocks and ice and try to break the tip off. A year later and I’m quite pleased to say I haven’t busted it yet.
How do I like the paddle? The short answer is that I love it. The finish on the wood is a mixture of oil and wax so it’s super smooth on the hands. It will also be easy to sand out and scratches and buff up with more oil down the road.
While the new tip did add a very small amount of extra weight, the trade-off is a very strong paddle for playing in and amongst rocks. Overall I think the addition if it is well worth it considering how rough I am with all my paddling gear. For example, the photo below is one of the rough water tests I put the paddle through here in Toronto.
The first time I took the paddle out on the water I was also quite pleased to discover that there was very little blade flutter when pulling the paddle through the water. Also, when it comes to rolling, the blade sliced through the water very smoothly and since this particular one is made of Western Cedar it’s super buoyant making rolling that much less work.
When ordering, Adanac offers several different paddle models available in different wood options (from domestic to exotic) so you are going to be able to get exactly what you are looking for. If you choose to "pimp your paddle", Jill will carve a very cool graphic (of your choosing or design) into the tip. My friend Rob got this very nice design carved into his paddle when he ordered it. Did you know that Jill was a champion bird carver? Highly detailed finches were her specialty so you can be confident that the design will come out perfect.
If you already have your own Greenland Paddle and interested into building your collection of
They really are a work of art.
More info: Adanac Paddles