Category Archives: Gear

Weekend Outing: Burnham Point State Park, NY 8/15 to 8/17/08

This will be my second outing in the month of August 2008, and it should be interesting. I am planning to camp on the shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway at Burnham Point State Park. This is a little bit downstream from Long Point State Park.

This is the route I have planned:

burnhampt.png

Overall this should be a nice 9.5 mile outing for an afternoon. It offers the option of heading upstream to Cape Vincent to hang out for a bit if I get an early start.

Once again I’ve planned this route so the outgoing leg is to the west against the wind and current and the return leg follows an easterly course to the campground.

It’s tough to see on the posted graphic, but I shouldn’t have a problem with any lakers. If I keep close to the southern shore the water should be too shallow for their draft. I figure any lakers I see should be at least 1/2 to 1 mile north of my planned route.

Burnham Point is also an interesting state park because the sites on shore do not have any vehicle access. Campers have to hike their gear in. This should be a good stepping stone to later camping adventures involving more strenuous hikes with gear or situations where I won’t have easy access to my car.

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Paddlefest Day 2: Friday PM

So after the high end boat demo Friday morning at the 2008 Adirondack Paddlefest I decided to wander around the vendor area and see what was on offer.

I wasn’t specifically looking for stuff to buy, but I wound up making some key upgrades to my kayaking gear.

The first item of interest to me was a shorter, more comfortable PFD. I own an NRS Groove, and it has some shortcomings with regard to me and my boat.

The first issue I have with the Groove is how small it runs. I own a Large/XL Groove and I really, really have to let the straps out. If I don’t I feel like my chest is being crushed! Not a fun way to spend a long paddle.

In addition to being cramped on the inside the Groove is bulky in the chest area. I feel like I already have plenty of chest development, and I don’t need more bulk in that area. The Groove adds so much bulk that it nearly interferes with my paddle stroke. Again, not fun on a long paddle.

Finally, the Groove is a fairly lengthy PFD. This means that it extends to the small of my back. This is a problem because my kayak has a high rear deck and seat, and the PFDs extra bulk forces me into a somewhat cramped seating position. Again, not conducive to comfort on a long paddle!

Thankfully, my newfound pal Erica did an excellent job fitting me for my new PFD! She sized me up and immediately knew that the Astral V-Eight would suit my needs.

The Astral V-Eight is a much better fit. I wear a Small/Medium, which is my usual clothing size, and I don’t feel as though my ribs are being crushed. It also doesn’t add bulk to my chest, and this means less interference and a more comfortable paddle stroke for me.

The Astral V-Eight is also much, much shorter so it doesn’t interfere with the rear deck or seat back of my kayak. The V-Eight also has a nice ventilating mesh that covers my lower back and keeps me much, much cooler and more comfortable when I am on a long paddle.

The other key item I picked up that afternoon was a new paddle in a shorter 220 cm length. This paddle was a FoxWorx Vixen handmade in Bainbridge, NY by the Fox family!

The FoxWorx Vixen is a hybrid design that takes advantage of different material types for different portions of the paddle. The blades are fiberglass, so the swing inertia is kept low. The shaft is epoxy-coated basswood cedar, and it feels incredible in the hand! The shaft is also bent to ease the load on the paddler’s wrists. The ferrule is aluminum and allows the user to feather the blades right or left 60 degrees.

My particular paddle has a laminate layer that consists of a fabric print. The print is of Chinese dragons surrounded by red flames. The red flames match the hull color of my boat, and in Chinese mythology the dragon is considered a harbinger of good fortune and wisdom. This is a picture of my paddle’s blade:

Vixen_Blade.jpg

After all the boat and equipment demos I was pretty pooped. I crashed at my hotel for a bit, then I headed back out to Slickers for a late snack of excellent buffalo wings. Thanks to Tracy for getting my order in, even if it took !@$%@#$% forever to leave the kitchen.

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Paddlefest Day 2: Friday AM High-End Boat Demo

On the morning of Friday, May 16th at Adirondack Paddlefest the kayak company reps in attendance offered a high-end boat demo from 9 AM until noon. I scarfed down my excellent complementary continental breakfast from Riley’s Place at the Water’s Edge Inn and headed down to the Old Forge public beach around 10 AM.

I spent about 2 hours paddling some excellent composite boats made by Current Designs and Boréal Design.

I paddled three Current Designs touring kayaks, the Caribou, the Cypress, and the Solstice GTS.

All three of these boats were excellent in different respects. The Solstice GTS was 17’7″ and had a North American style hull design. The Cypress was a British style hull and measured about 16’9″. The Caribou was a Greenland style hull and measured 17’8″. The Caribou was probably the most efficient of the three boats, and it sliced through the water with ease. The Cypress was slightly less efficient that this, and the Solstice GTS was a little less efficient than the Cypress. The Solstice was probably the most stable of the three boats.

I really have to rave about the design of the Current Designs rudder footpegs in the Solstice GTS. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea to make the footpegs tilt to control the rudder. The major reason I tend to shy away from rudders in general is because I’m a huge fan of solid footpegs to maximize my power transfer to the boat. However, rudders are indispensable when facing strong currents and winds. Current Designs’ footpegs give you the best of both worlds with very little compromise! I also like the extra-wide rudder retaining jaw because I am one of those people who can never seem to get their rudder dead center before retracting it.

The Boréal Design boats that I paddled were also excellent. The first Boréal boat that I paddled was the Fjord. The Fjord is a good solid boat that would suit anyone trying to elevate their paddling skills or looking to go on a short overnight or weekend expedition.

The second Boréal boat I paddled was the Ellesmere. You can tell an incredible amount of work has been put into this hull design because it slices through the water in a truly supernatural manner. The secondary stability of this boat is also superb, and it definitely reminded me that I need to be integrating far more balance and core work into my fitness routines!!!

That’s about all for now. Time to go look at the retail area and play with my brand new Sigma wide-angle lens! Some lunch would also be excellent about now!

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Adirondack Paddlefest Update

Hello all!

Sorry about my delinquent update schedule…I’ve been a little busy and I’m also finally over some illnesses.

I am happy to report that I’ve booked a lakeside room at the Water’s Edge Inn in Old Forge, NY for the Adirondack Paddlefest weekend.

Right now my tentative plan is to drive up Thursday afternoon and check in.

Friday morning I plan to attend the high-end boat test paddle. I plan to spend the afternoon exploring the Fulton Chain Lakes in my own folding kayak.

Saturday morning I plan to check out random kayaks and accessories. I’m really hoping that NRS will be in attendance with the items I’m looking to pick up!

Saturday afternoon will once again see me put my own boat in the water.

Sunday morning I’m not quite sure what I will be doing. I plan to head back toward Rochester Sunday afternoon with a stop in Syracuse to visit a good friend.

That’s about all for now.

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Adirondack Paddlefest: Staging

Yes, I know I’ve been delinquent in my posting frequency of late. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been suffering some health and stress issues at the conclusion of grad school. Not a good way to be by any means!

I’ve been searching for inspiration about what to do with all my newly found free time, and an interesting flyer about the Adirondack Paddlefest showed up in my mail the other day!

This looks like it could be a really cool weekend, and it’s already got my mind bursting with ideas on what to do while I’m there!

The first major decision is whether to camp or get a room. Normally I’d camp without a second thought, but the above mentioned issues give me pause about exposing myself to the elements. I’ve also managed to find lodging right on the water, at the Water’s Edge Inn.

There are some decent campgrounds in the area, but I’m having trouble finding one right on the water’s edge. Anyone got recommendations? Pass ’em along!

The other major consideration at this point is whether or not I should take my personal holiday and a vacation day to go to Paddlefest. Friday morning a special session involving high-end composite boats will be held. That might make it worth my while to head up Thursday.

I’m also debating whether I’d drive back Sunday or Monday. It’s hard to say if I will be tired of demoing boats by Sunday or not. On the other hand, it would be nice to spend an extra day away from work and Rochester. I guess I’ll sleep on this for a couple nights before I decide.

Much more to come, I promise!

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Northern Michigan Paddling Resources

This post was prompted by an informative comment left by Kirk up at Hearthside Grove up in Petoskey, MI.

Kirk was able to confirm that yes, there is a significant drop-off near the mouth of the Bear River where it enters Little Traverse Bay.

Getting fished out before this point will be a must!

Kirk was also able to point out a couple local businesses able to assist the intrepid paddler:

  • The Bear River Canoe Livery, just outside Petoskey, is probably able to answer the remainder of my questions about the Bear River. They rent paddling gear and offer a variety of canoe and kayak trips down the Bear River.
  • The Bahnhof, just inside Petoskey also offers a variety of kayaks for rent or sale. They sound like they have a good range of experience on staff, and are probably able to help with all your paddling needs!

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My Skis…

Just the tips…

Tips

…and the tails…

Tails

…which I hope to get on the slopes more than once this winter! I’ve been to my hometown stomping grounds at Nubs Nob, but I am definitely hoping to ski bigger and better things, like Wildcat Mtn. in New Hampshire…

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Cell Phones vs. VHF Marine Radios

One question that’s been running through my mind as I plan to venture farther afield in my kayak is whether or not to purchase a handheld, marine VHF radio.

At this point most of my journeys have been on freshwater lakes that are not terribly removed from civilization. At worst my cell phone has been reduced to a roaming state.

However, I eventually plan to go places where I may not even get the benefit of roaming coverage.

To get others’ opinions, I began a Facebook discussion on this topic, and I received a very helpful reply from Christopher Strout:

“I HIGHLY suggest getting a VHF radio. When I paddle I always carry one. I also will often carry my cell phone. Some reasons to have a VHF. They are generally submersible rated unlike your cell phone meaning that it can get wet and still work. When using a cell phone you have to know phone numbers.”

Chris’ complete, and very informative, response may be found here:
Cell Phone vs. VHF Marine Radio

Best Paddling!

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The BEST Folding Kayak Resource!

Many people out there might be wondering where they can get more information on the sport of folding kayaking?

Well, look no further folks, because by far the best folding kayak resource on the Web is found at:

Foldingkayaks.org

All the information, reviews, tips, and discussion that you could hope for when it comes to folding boats!

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Lake Champlain, VT: Part III

My final venture into Lake Champlain this summer was a circumnavigation of Savage Island. The journey was undertaken on August 29th, 2007 and the entire trip was about 7.92 miles in length. The GPS track of this journey is shown in the graphic immediately below:

vt_track3.png
    Lake Champlain, VT, Around Savage Island, 8/29/07:

  • The first part of the journey was an easterly sprint across Lake Champlain to the southern end of Savage Island.
  • Once the southern tip of the island was reached it was time for a water break and half an energy bar.
  • Several interesting details were visible on the eastern side of the island, which is private like Fish Bladder Island.
  • There appears to be a working sheep farm on Savage Island.
  • A manor, possibly a summer home, was also visible.
  • As I reached the northeastern corner of the island I was able to watch a plane land and takeoff from the landing strip.
  • I also encountered a sailboat at anchor off the northern tip of the island.
  • At this point I stopped for more water and the remainder of my energy bar.
  • The kink in my track off the northwestern point of the island was due to a line of barely submerged rocks. I thought there was going to be an opening with enough draft to let me through. This wasn’t quite the case!
  • This line of rocks was the resting point for a massive flock of gulls
  • The southern passage in front of the island’s western shore was unremarkable. The items visible on the eastern side were masked by trees.
  • The return westerly sprint to the boat launch was uneventful…unless you count the seaplane that was practicing takeoffs and landings in front of the state park! Uh, WTF dude?!
  • I wanted to make it around yet another island while in VT, but I was too fatigued during the day following this paddle. The next day it looked as though it was going to rain torrents all day, so I broke camp and headed back to Rochester!

    That concludes the recap of my summer kayaking journeys for the year 2007. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about them, and I hope to have more to present later in the year 2008!

    Feel free to drop any comments or ask any questions!

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