Jonathan Reggler shot this very cool piece of footage recently of at least two Orcas swimming through a group of sea kayakers while playing in the tidal currents of Surge Narrows.

Good thing the paddlers got out of the way in time.

It reminds me of kids playing hockey in the street and having to yell Car! every time when one goes by.

Published in General News

Facing Waves is a new paddling and travel web TV show that you should check out on the YouTube. Hosted by Ken Whiting, Facing Waves highlights some of the awesome places to paddle around North America such as the Ottawa River, up north on the Hood River, Georgian Bay and Baja.

I was really excited to hear that their latest episode features my buddy, Ray Boucher who was working for Naturally Superior Adventures last fall when the episode was shot. In the latest segment, Ken and Ray head out to explore the gorgeous coastline of Lake Superior Provincial Park but along the way they ended up having an encounter with a bear which almost cut their trip short.

Published in General News
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 00:00

The World's First 3D Printed Kayak

Anything that's 3D printed is just awesome in my books. Doesn't matter if it's this thing or that thing, it's awesome.

3d printed stuff

Leave it up to Jim Smith over at Grass Roots Engineering to take things to the next level with his latest project, a 3D printed sea kayak.

Published in Gear

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.

Published in General News

Work is boring so here is tease of 12 people having way more fun outside then you are sitting inside.

 

1) This guy surfing in the waves.


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by UK Ministry of Defence

Published in Photography

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:

Published in General News

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 island is home to over 400 caribou wandering around the place. In our case we only saw four but another guided trip out the week earlier reported seeing 15-20.
  • The geography on the island is quite unique since a lot of the rock is volcanic in nature and most of it is over 470 million years old. Geologists believe that the island was part of an ancient vent in the earths crust that got filled with magma. Over the years there has been extensive exploration for minerals from everything like copper, gold and diamonds. You can still find agets on the island if you know where to look.
  • There is an old copper mine ready for your exploration. Quebec Mines was a copper mine that was abandoned back in the 1880’s. Since then the trees have reclaimed it but walking around you can find lots of old machinery including old boilers and massive iron gears scattered about. Exploring the area you realize that the people working back then had more manliness in their pinky then you do in your entire left leg. Be careful walking around the old mine as there are several overgrown old mine shafts that you could easily fall into so step lightly.
  • Along the south shore of the island make sure you explore the the three sunken ships that are in Quebec Harbour. They are relics of the large fishing camp that operated during the fishing peak of 1930-40. The camp was abandoned in the 1950’s after the fish stock collapsed.

The wreck of the Billy Blake. The tug caught fire and was scuttled.

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.

Gear left behind at the abandoned Quebec Mine on Michipicoten Island.

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.

The new inReach SE.

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.

Published in Trips

 

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.

delorme inreach-se

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.

If you want to follow along with our adventure, I will be posting regular updates to the Paddling Headquarters Facebook page. You can also follow along via the DeLorme map page here.

Have a great couple of weeks!

 

Published in Trips

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.

 

Published in Video
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.

Published in Teaching
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