Wednesday, October 31, 2007

65 Consecutive Days of Paddling

Here's a little photo montage of pictures taken during the past 65 days I've been paddling. It's definitely been a mixed experience with days I couldn't wait to get on the water where I stayed until the sun went down, to days when I really had to force the old bones out of the house, down the road and into the boat. Without exception, I enjoyed every single one of these days. I'm a bit worried what will happen to me when the lake freezes over...


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Finished SOF Kayak

Willow, my wife's French Spaniel puppy, guards my finished skin-on-frame kayak for me while I take this picture. I had painted the deck a 'Newborn Walrus Brown' motif for the trip to Delmarva, but didn't get the rave reviews I was expecting for some reason. I decided to opt for something a bit more standard this time. The hull is now a light grey, while the deck retains the Walrus Brown colour. For those of you into 'pink', you'll be pleased to see 'pink' in the picture. The rest of us can appreciate the wonderful Walrus Brown heritage clearly seen in the glowing deck paint.

Willow says she's almost 6 months old and can already fetch and do other tricks when she's asked. She's looking forward to being an Agility Dog when she's a bit older like her older brother.


Monday, October 29, 2007

How's It Going, Partner?

I've just finished reading a book I picked up on the way home from my recent trip into the good ole USA. It's by Jill Fredston and called Rowing to Latitude. Like me she has had a passionate attachment for wilderness tripping, especially in the arctic environment. Unlike me, she and her husband partner have paddled just about everywhere one can imagine going in Alaska, Greenland and Norway.

In these days of finding - and keeping - like-minded paddling partners, Jill and Doug Fesler have much to teach us. These two slowly took the time to learn each others' gives and takes before and during their paddling adventures. It also seems that the landscapes they absorbed as they paddled were not just the visual ones they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears, but also the mental ones that formed in their minds. As one reads the stories in the book, the overwhelming message is one of shared experiences, respect for partnership, of caring, loving and the joy of simply being. The book is a good read on many, many levels. My kind of book!


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 12

It wasn't easy paddling out of Timber Bay on this last day. It had made a deep impression on me as one of those 'special places' one encounters from time to time. The day was overcast, but calm. The high winds and giant waves we'd feared along this coast never materialized. The 'protected' North Channel had been a much tougher paddle by far. As we paddled eastward, increasingly the whole experience became more and more 'civilized'. We began to see houses, hear cars and feel motor boat wakes.

One of the places we visited I'd actually wondered about before the trip began. It was called Michael's Point. Naturally, I was interested to see what this area was like. Was it like me? In the days leading up to visiting it, the point had been taken on the status of a 'Place of Power' for me. It was assumed that I would have magical powers and cosmic secrets would be revealed to me. Instead, I felt a sense of loss while I was there. Was it a loss because the trip would end later that day? Was it a loss because I felt something had happened, perhaps to my uncle who'd not been well when I left on the trip?

We pushed off on the last leg after having lunch on the point and by late afternoon I nearly capsized just off the ferry dock in South Baymouth as I leaned over for a celebratory hug! The folks on the ferry dock found it quite entertaining.

Click on map to enlarge

When I arrived home a few days later, I learned that my father had died during the first week of the trip. In fact, it happened the day after my only phone call home. Perhaps this connection with Manitoulin Island will always stay with me. It seemed to be a very spiritual place, somehow fitting he would go while I was there communing.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 11

Man does not travel on food alone. Someone has to filter the water! We named this campsite 'Coyote Flats' as we had another nocturnal visitor as well as yelps in the night. The flat 'beach' in the picture's background is actually a perfectly flat stretch of limestone which extended for several acres. It could have been a paved parking lot at the local mall except it was miles from any road!

The day began pleasantly enough, but by the afternoon the rain returned along with a moderate headwind. The result was a long slog into Providence Bay where we had promised a big ice cream cone to all survivors. By the time I finally got there, I was so wet and chilled I could barely crawl up the sandy beach and into the Museum cum pizza joint for hot coffee! A change of clothes and some food soon had me feeling like a human again, but the experience did make me aware of the importance of having better clothing for extended paddling in the rain on a chilly day. Fed and warm, we launched our kayaks and turned eastward to look for a quieter spot to camp.

A few miles down the coast we discovered Timber Bay, a deserted, beautiful, but fragile bay with white rocky protective offshore islands and sand dunes behind the beach. The whole shore was divided into building lots which took us aback somewhat after being out in the 'wilds' for so long. We camped in lot 23 aware that our trip was nearly over. It was sad knowing that if we ever returned to Timber Bay, it would be full of houses, ATV's and the noise of civilization.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 10

During the night and unknown to us, we'd had a visitor walk up close to our camp before suddenly changing its mind, turn and run off! A wolf? A coyote? We weren't sure, but it did give us yet another feeling of the closeness of wildness on Manitoulin Island. The previous evening an egret quietly flew overhead and began feeding in the shallows off our beached kayaks. We seemed not to be there. It returned to see us off in the morning.

The sunshine returned as we made our way along the Huron coast. We'd previously been concerned about paddling this long exposed coast where the prevailing winds can blow strongly from offshore, building up huge wave sets. Landing sites are rare along the way, gradually changing from lumpy rocks as seen in the above picture to the only slightly friendlier mix of sand and rock seen below.

Another hazard which seemed to repeat itself over and over were shallow areas, perhaps ancient eskers, composed of boulders, which extended some distance offshore. Time and again we were forced to paddle far out into the lake to get around the breaking waves at these places. At one of them I took a chance and tried to sneak through what I thought was a deeper break. As I tried to zip through, I found my timing was off leaving me at the bottom of the wave trough rather than the top. Scrambling out of the sudden 'hole', my Greenland paddle hit a rock and the tip broke off.

Later when we landed on one of the few partly sandy beaches for a break, I was able to carve a new tip, one of the advantages of making one's own wooden paddles!

That night coyotes were heard yelping inland and more tracks were found near the tent in the morning.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 9

Waking up, we found the weather had changed. Gone were the calm seas and sunny skies. It was overcast and foggy. By the time we'd packed away breakfast and broken camp and launched the kayaks, it had begun to rain and it continued for most of the day.

Rounding the point in the top picture we discovered we'd camp nearly on top of a huge quarry operation! Limestone was being crushed and poured into huge laker ships for transport to who-knows-where. We were totally taken aback as we'd had little clue such an enterprise was so close to us. It all seemed so un-natural after our week of virtually wilderness tripping. Paddling past the slab-sided laker, we headed a few more kilometers down the shore to the lighthouse where we'd promised ourselves a shore-side meal, our first since launching.

Landing just below it, the shores once again made of flat shelves of limestone, we made our way upwards where we had an early lunch. Asked whether we had peddled in to the place we said "No", we'd paddled. The reply was, "Had we peddled far in the rain?" Again, we replied, "No, we'd just paddled around the corner." The waitress now totally confused, retreated to get our order. It was clear kayakers were not regular visitors in the area!

The afternoon found us paddling in a mysterious world of rain and mists, where eagles and ravens called out to us from overhead and along the shores. None of the coastline seemed to be in the right place due to the flatness of the shore. This was exaggerated by the fact that Lake Huron's water level had dropped about 6 feet since our charts had been made and thus whole bays had disappeared and new islands had risen from the depths. Fortunately east was still east, so we kept Manitoulin on our left and paddled on, eventually coming to Burnt Harbour where we camped for the night.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 8

We pushed off again the following day, the start of the second week of paddling. It was almost a repeat of the day before as far as paddling conditions went. At times we followed the coast when it looked interesting, but mostly it was low rocky beaches backed by dense forests. There were no houses or other signs of human presence. Manitoulin Island, it turns out, is a place of interior villages and farms. Only in a few places have people begun to build on the shore lines. One tower built of rocks attracted our attention at the mouth of a bay, but shallow water prevented a close inspection of its purpose.

As the day passed, we headed offshore to explore some smaller islands along the way. In the picture above, on Vidal Island, we had lunch. Note the use of the pool noodle under my kayak protecting it from the nearly submerged rocky shore! On the island in the photo below, there were two bird rookeries, one for gulls and another for cormorants which built nets looking like 10 gallon pails made of twigs. All in all, it was a noisy, smelly place with very unfriendly shores composed mostly of gelcoat munching fragmented boulders. Perhaps that's why the birds found it so attractive!

Heading onward once again, we pointed our bows for the last cape, the one that led around the western corner of Manitoulin into Missassagi Strait. Once more the cobble stone beaches returned, this time higher and steeper than ever! A few fishermen were doing their thing in power boats out in the strait. When we decided to bathe in the chilly waters, the fishermen suddenly decided to try their luck closer to shore, but it didn't seem to improve the fishing no matter how close they got!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 7

Click on map to enlarge.

Okay, I had now been paddling for a week, so where have I been? This Google map of the island gives an idea of my route, beginning in South Baymouth and working around the island in a counter-clockwise direction.

We were now within easy distance of the next lakeside town, Gore Bay, so we headed in for a re-supply stop. Arriving this time in mid-morning we were finally able to get all the things we had missed in Little Current. Heading back out soon after, we stopped for a brief lunch break and then kept right on paddling through the afternoon. The weather was sunny, warm and dead calm. Our boats cast perfect reflections of themselves on the water. We saw no people, heard no boats. Only a few deer at the water's edge saw us passing by. The fact that Manitoulin Island seemed so wild and deserted a place impressed us as it is really within a few hours drive of some major population centers.

That night we camped at Cape Robert facing the sunset. For a long time we could hear an ATV chugging along in the woods behind the beach, but it never seemed to be making any progress. Suddenly it appeared on the beach beside us driven by a young Indian man. We were all quite surprised to see each other, but after taking a moment to recover we said our hellos and he headed off down the beach. He and the lady the previous night were the only visitors we had during the whole trip.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Days 5 & 6

When we awoke on Day 5, there was silence. Not a breath of wind. Without wasting a moment we loaded up the kayaks and headed westward on still, calm water. What a relief to be paddling on smooth water again. We still ached from the previous day's hard push to Little Current.

By mid morning however, the wind was back. We made it to tiny Wabos Island, some rocks and a few trees and bushes was all it really was. The wind was back with a vengence. As we ate our lunch, we watched the waves build and build. It was obvious that this tiny outcrop was going to be home for the night. Find a place to camp wasn't easy. There was hardly a inch of level ground that wasn't covered with poison ivy or crags of broken limestone.

The next morning the wind had dropped somewhat, but the huge waves continued to roll by the tiny island. Feeling we were now experienced in the waves, we shoved off, heading southward into a big bay. We figured as we got down into it the wind and wave height would drop and we'd be able to take advantage of the shorter reach to turn westwards again. We did just that and finally reached the western side of the bay mid afternoon. It seemed too early to stop so we rounded the point and began looking for a spot to stop along the shore further westward. We were again facing the huge waves and some islands marked on the chart were completely awash beneath them! Staying within sight of each other wasn't easy either as, at times, our kayaks would be invisible in the waves.

We finally found a spot to camp after checking several rocky coves. Supper never tasted so good as it did that night! I used a compact butane stove on the trip. It's advantage was its instant-on feature allowing meals to be ready quickly without much fuss. Definitely an advantage after a long, tiring day of paddling!

We'd no sooner settled into the tent when a four-wheeler appeared out of the woods. It turned out to be a friendly neighbour curious about who had arrived next door! Thank heavens. We couldn't have faced those waves another minute had we been forced out into them.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 4

Slipping through the Hole in the Wall the next morning we ran bang into a strong head wind which hammered our boats all morning as we crossed over to Heywood Island. Once again we were dragging our boats up cobble beaches. After a brief break, we chose to paddle around the leeward side of the island as we made our way towards Little Current, the first of two re-supply points on the trip.

It was on the east side of Haywood that we encountered one of several little miracles that occurred during the trip. We found a bright neon coloured pool noodle lying on the beach, just the thing for saving our hulls from their inevitable fate! We cut it up and rolled up the beaches scratch-free from then on.

The remainder of the day became a race into the wind. We wanted to hit the stores in Little Current before they closed. As it happened, we made the grocery store, but nothing else of interest. We might have made a few more, but the high dock walls everywhere in town, designed for the power-boat crowd, prevented us from landing. After searching for a while, we finally found a sailboat slip where a kind lady agreed to watch over our kayaks while we were in town.

Thwarted by our shopping venture, we headed westwards through the narrows and camped for the night near the ruins of an old mill on Picnic Island. While it was a quiet spot to camp, we soon discovered the place was also covered, like many parts of Manitoulin, with poison ivy! We walked around with care!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 3

Another sunny day and this time there was almost no wind as we paddled. The further along the east coast we got, the higher the limestone cliffs rose beside us. It's these same heights that further to the east create the falls at Niagara.

After stopping for lunch, we began the crossing over to the rounded granite shores marking the entrance to the North Channel. On the way we threaded our kayaks through a number of islands, some larger than others. One tiny island, no more really than a bit of gravel beach poking out of the shallow water looked interesting. Terns were swirling above it and something yellow seemed to form its hidden interior. Stopping we discovered a little miracle which you see me pointing at...

The terns had chosen to lay their eggs inside nests made of clumps of yellow flowers. It's an image that remains with me even today, it charmed us so completely.

We crossed over to the mainland and began looking for a place to camp. I had sailed this area several years previously and remembered a spot called Hole-in-the-Wall and it turned out to be a perfect spot. Having had some geology training at university, I was interested to find the site was right on the contact zone between the limestone to the south and the granite to the north.

Had time been on my side I would have liked to stayed in this area to explore places my sailboat had been too large to visit. Alas, we moved on. It made me yearn for my retirement when no schedule would bind me and my children would be successfully launched into their respective worlds. Then I would be able to paddle on open-ended trips taking as much time as I wanted to satisfy my explorer's urge. Of course, now that I've reached that fabled time, finding others willing to make longer trips isn't always easy. Oh, that everyone could be free!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 2

Swinging around the southeast corner of Manitoulin put the big waves directly behind our boats and they started to surf. It was here that I started to learn what the designer John Winters had been thinking when he created my QCC hull. The rounded center section allowed the boat to surf alright, but there wasn't the flat mid-sections required to leap off waves and accelerate like the Current Design boat beside me. It really took off down the wave backs, easily out-accelerating my boat. At the bottom of the trough however I had the advantage. The CD boat would bury its nose in the leading wave while the QCC, having a much fuller bow, rapidly rose up and began climbing the water up ahead. A couple of strokes allowed us to arrive at the next wave crest together, ready to head back down.

A few hours of this and we were ready to have lunch. In fact, we began losing the waves after passing through the narrows caused by an island and we headed to shore. In the picture, you can see the fist-sized rocks which composed the beach. They were nearly impossible to walk on and gave almost no purchase for hauling our heavy boats up out of the water. These beaches occur at both the east and west ends of Manitoulin and tested our back muscles every time we stopped.

The rest of the day passed quickly with a varied coastline of rising cliffs and hanging forests, all an Indian reserve where camping wasn't really permitted. The day dragged into the early evening as we paddled in search of some level ground to pitch our camp. That blessed moment arrived just as exhaustion set in. It had been a long day and I wasn't in the best of paddling form at that point in the trip having decided to use the 'paddle into shape' formula rather than its reverse (get in shape to paddle).


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rounding Manitoulin - Day 1

I paddled my kayak around Manitoulin Island, the largest island in the North American Great Lakes in 2004. It was a trip done as a substitute for not going around Prince Edward Island that summer - a trip I have still to do! At the time, there was only one hint that anyone had ever done the trip before us, but I was never able to confirm this one way or another. Since then I have not heard of anyone doing it, but It's a great paddle if you have about two weeks free and the urge to paddle some interesting waters.

Once I was back home, I made this logo and put it on a T-shirt to celebrate the adventure. Other than a little article in a local newspaper, I have never published an account of the trip. To correct this, and to fill in a somewhat dull paddling period at the moment, I thought I'd post an account of the trip over the next few days.
• • •

Departing from Tobermory, Ontario, we took the ferry over to South Baymouth. Leaving the car in the care of a local camp-ground, we launched in the late afternoon and headed out counter-clockwise in search of a first camp site. It was my first experience paddling in waves big enough to hide one boat from another, but within a short time my fears of capsizing disappeared and I settled in for a fun ride down the coast.

As dusk approached we began looking for a place to camp. Entering a small cove, we had our first encounter with Manitoulin's limestone shorelines. Rough, flat and strewn with erratics, it was going to be difficult keeping the kayaks from losing all their gelcoat! I don't have pictures of this nasty stuff, but this trip did teach me the value of having a decent waterproof camera. Take my advice however and bring along pool noodles to protect your hulls!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting Sucked In

There is something about headlands. They beckon. They suck me in, pulling me onwards. I felt it strongly in Newfoundland and I felt it again yesterday. I had no particular destination as I paddled, but as I passed the point in the picture, that headland further south called to me. Naturally I headed for it. Then another and another until I came to the lake's end. A two hour paddle. With nowhere left to go, I turned about and two hours later I was back where I'd began.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Turning The Corner At 50

After I finish posting this I'll head out for my daily paddle. It will be the 50th paddle I've gone on in the past 53 days in my attempt to paddle every day for 100 days. I have missed three days since I started. Two were the result of traveling to Delmarva and the other was a scheduling problem which gave me no free time to paddle.

The first 50 days have been the easy ones. While the weather has ranged from glorious, warm, sunny days to cold, blustery, rainy ones, it has always been a pleasure to get out there and launch. The past few days have not been as easy however. When it's cold and rainy on the lake, it's very tempting to take a 'shore day' and not go out. Staying by the warm fire and reading a good book seems so much more interesting. However, each time I head out on the lake something interesting takes place. Yesterday, for example, a Great Blue Heron burst out of the trees just ahead of me and flew off across my bow. I knew there were a few of these large birds on the lake, but I've never seen one in a tree before. I'm beginning to see migratory ducks now as well. Common mergansers are almost everywhere and I have seldom seen these migrants until I started paddling daily.

So I head now into the second half of the challenge I made to myself last August. These 50 paddles will get tougher as the weather changes slowly into winter. The water is still relatively warm, so I haven't had to switch into my drysuit, but soon that will come and just getting ready to paddle will take longer. Snow and ice will force me to move to another launch site. I will have to begin car-topping my boat as the boat-house will be out of reach by car.

Wish me luck!


Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - The Environment

I've joined the Blog Action Day group today to blog about their chosen topic, the environment. One of the reasons I thought this would be a good idea came as a result of some things which have been happening to my neighbours. I'll deal with each one at a time.

For years we have bought turkeys from a small local producer. We chose this farm because it raises its birds in a natural fashion, feeding the birds food which doesn't have to be laced with anti-biotics and keeping them in a place where they can forage by walking around. The government has recently tried to put them out of business. Why? Because they don't conform to their regulations designed for the huge factory style producers who house their birds in confined spaces and feed them trash food.

Another neighbour produces goat cheese from their own small herd. This small operation has also been forced to curtail its operation to the point where they cannot make even a modest profit. Again this operation doesn't have the thousands of dollars it would cost for them to meet the government regulations put in place to make the giant milk and cheese operations safe for the public.

Finally a local dairy producer has also stopped producing. Why? Again, because he is too small to afford the constant upgrades in costs to meet ever changing regulations in place to protect the food supply coming from the giants.

All three producers have been told the changes they have been asked to make are for the public benefit. Simply speaking, the regulations are supposed to reduce the chances of disease being spread. Disease? The fact is that there have been no incidences of illness being spread by these producers or similar small operations. What is really happening is the big producers don't like competition from the small speciality farmers who grow a better product and who maintain a diverse gene pool. Big producers tend not produce food in an environmentally sound fashion in many instances. They usually grow in mono-culture lots, to produce not for taste, but for transport and shelf-life, they lace their produce with a chemical soup designed for factory style farming and they produce waste products which foul our streams and fields. Do the regulators care about this? Generally they don't. It usually takes a crisis to wake them up to their short-sightedness and foolishness. Clean-up tends to be superficial and designed mostly to quieten the outraged public.

Our wild places are being over-run by our foolishness. Even a high school biology course will alert one to the dangers of these practices, yet we allow it to persist in our environment. We do it to our peril. Don't let the traffic circle be our only wilderness!

So my environmental plea today is to become an informed consumer. Buy your food locally, pay attention to how it was produced and support farmers who care about the sustainability of their farm practices. Finally, a good book to read on this topic is by Barbara Kingsolver. It's called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I highly recommend it!

Lower photo from the site The Big Wild.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kayak Questing?

In olden days, knights were said to go out on quests. The search for the Grail, it was often called. In these stories, the hero would set off, usually by himself, leaving the known world and the old ways behind in search of renewal. There were monsters to fight, labyrinths to explore and endless ordeals to overcome before that missing something was found and the knight would be transfigured, finally bringing something of value back to both himself and ideally, to the known world as well.

Well, it seems that kayakers often go out on quests too. These are the adventurers who head out searching for something about themselves. They seek answers for the questions their lives have become. They hope to return with some new knowledge which will give them the peace and happiness they seem to be missing in their lives. In a way these people feel that to go out into the wilds is to find the answers to all the questions within themselves.

Does it work? Are these people more enlightened than the rest of us? Do they get their questions answered? Are their lives changed for the better? My guess is no, not really. Some may think so, but the ones I know seem to be troubled by the same questions they had before they left. A few were actually worse off, having returned embittered or even more confused by all their travels! None I've yet to meet have brought back much more for the rest of us than perhaps a good story.

Still, I recommend we all go on quests. You see, I'm wondering whether I've got enough good stories lined up to get me through the long winter up ahead! Besides, the answers to my questions and doubts are most likely locked up inside my head somewhere and that's where I ought to be searching if I really want the answers! That leaves me free to kayak, just for the shear joy of it.


Friday, October 12, 2007

The Lower North Shore of Quebec

Paddling home today in rainy, cold weather.

Funny how things ebb and flow. In 2005, I was all set to paddle down the Lower North Shore, the interesting coastline of Québec which faces Newfoundland. I actually left on the trip only to see it come to an abrupt halt in Sept Isles, one day before we launched. We'd set aside five weeks for the trip, more than it takes, but giving us plenty of time to do some exploring and hiking along the way should we wish. In a flash, I had five weeks with nowhere to go and a bucket full of questions about what had happened.

Since then I've had no bites from others interested in making the trip with me. I was beginning to wonder if I really was going to have to make the trip solo, not my first choice, but if that's the only way to go, I'd consider it.

Suddenly two people have expressed interest. Both have one or two others who might also be interested. I'm beginning to think the coast might get crowded if a few of us don't go soon! As I begin to see this year's paddling season come to a close, I'm excited to think I might get to do a trip I'd had to cancel. There's always something special about grabbing hold of something that has slipped one's grasp on the first try!
• • •

Monday, October 15th is Blog Action Day. It's a day set aside for bloggers who wish to post something about the Earth's fragile environment. If you're reading this and you have a blog, join us in posting an environmental posting.


Thursday, October 11, 2007


I'm back home after my brief trip to Delmarva and points in between. In the short time that I've been off Lake Massawippi, lots of subtle changes have taken place. The driveway to the cottage still winds its way through the hardwood trees, but leaves now clutter the ground. A yellow light now filters down, brighter than the somber green of summer. Birds flicker ahead of the car in migrating numbers. They too sense the changes.

On the water, Canada geese crowd the shallows, up-ended, feeding for those last few carbohydrates they'll burn flying further south. I've noticed the mallards have been pairing off. Loons still cling together with their nest mates, their plumage nearly changed into adult colours. Docks are disappearing. Rafts have been anchored close to the take-out area. I am nearly alone on the lake. Soon it will be all mine. It won't be long before even the angels will fear to paddle.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Delmarva Greenland Paddling Retreat - 2007

The kayaks of the clan, await.

I had several things in mind when I left to go to the Paddler's Retreat this year. First was to meet friends I'd made previously and whom I get to visit with so seldom. Second was to again work on my paddling skills, especially in my new SOF boat. The last was to film. I wanted to take some video footage which would celebrate what traditional paddling brings to people's lives, especially how it works to enhance their life experience. I especially wanted to make a film which I can share with Canadian Inuit living in northern Canada. I want people there to also feel and experience what those who go to Delmarva feel and experience.

Over the next little while I will work to edit the raw video footage I now have. I'm really excited with much of it, especially an interview with an elequent Greenlander which I filmed on the last day. I'll be posting exerpts when they're ready!

Getting ready for a day on the water.

Greg and Freya paddling away from the moving ceremony held on Sunday morning.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Skinny Stick Helpings

The early mornings were misty, still and already warm. As I slowly realised I was awake, I would hear mist drops which, having condensed on the pine needles high above my tent, had now reached a size too large to hang on. Down they fell, bouncing off the fly and telling me it was time to meet the world of Delmarva. Poking my head out, I'd head to breakfast, but others were already on the water, communing with whatever it is that draws us to paddling in traditional boats.

The rest of the days were filled with helping. Helping me with my new boat, my balance brace, my sculling braces and rolling. Helping wherever help was wanted, people were beside you lending a hand, a paddle, a quiet bit of encouragement, a cheer when you got it. Help paddling, rolling, speaking, making paddles, hanging out, skinning boats. Whatever. Even getting married!

Delmarva. Special people doing special things, sharing a cultural experience that's spread far from its roots without losing sight of where it came from. Makes your spine tingle!


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's Not Pink, Okay?

I've been busy painting the re-skinned SOF this week. I began with white, but have now switched to a brown tint. I wanted the skin to look white on the inside and dark brown on the outside, which is why I began with white. In the picture here, the boat looks pink, but that's just an illusion caused by my poor photographic skills. Actually the colour is New-born Walrus Brown or what is called, for some bizarre reason here in southern Canada Industrial Brown. It's clear the paint manufacturers haven't much imagination when it comes to paint colour names...

I should get at least 3 coats on the hull before leaving for Delmarva and 2 coats on the deck. That ought to keep me dry while paddling, but I'll probably put some more coats on when I return next week as I like to have a smoother finish than the 3 coats provide.

So, I'm off early tomorrow morning, driving south to Delaware. I will return early next week. Take care of yourselves while I'm gone!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007


With the trees beginning to show off their Fall colours, these people have decided to announce their allegiances. It seems that Canada, France, Italy and the USA all get the nod.

I have no idea why those countries have been favoured but it's good to know that there are such wide-flung connections in our area. I personally enjoy the multi-cultural aspect of Canada and the willingness of people to openly display their heritages and perhaps also their dreams.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Noodle Magic

When paddling around the rocky shores of Manitoulin Island a few years ago, it very quickly became apparent that my brand new kayak was not going to survive the abrasion abuse it was getting every time I landed. There was nothing that I could do about it except be extra careful. Oh if I only had a pool noodle to roll the heavy boat up the limestone beaches! On the third day, Providence provided. A neon green pool noodle magically appeared on a deserted beach! It didn't take long to put it to good use. I still have it today and use it now and then.

Yesterday, Lake Massawippi provided me with another noodle. I had been wondering what to use for floatation in the re-skinned SOF as I paddled along. Suddenly the Lake answered, "Here's a pool noodle!" Amazing indeed. Is it me, the places I paddle or the pool noodle god that seems to be in touch with my needs? In any event, I tucked the noodle under the rear deck bungies and paddled home.