Saturday, March 27, 2010

Let The Dogs Out!

I should have been on this one a bit earlier as the race is already underway, however for those into racing traditional eastern arctic style dog teams, here it is! This year's race is around the shores of western Ungava Bay, from Quoartaq to Kuujjuaq. The last I heard, the leading teams had already passed through Kangirsuk, my old home town and are headed south. You can catch the updates by clicking here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ford's Kayak Van

Despite the fact that my little Go-Camp trailer has proven to be a welcome and handy way of traveling to the kayak put-ins around the country, I seem to be continually on the lookout for an even better idea. The other day I discovered Ford's Transit van which is relatively new here in North America, although Europe has seen it for several years now.

As you can see in the top photo, kayakers have already discovered it and have begun adapting them to whatever fits their needs. My idea is a variant on this idea. My boats would go on the roof, but I'd convert the interior into a micro-motorhome. The photo below gives an idea of what the interior looks like when tricked out for your particular dream. I haven't seen a camper version done by anyone yet, but I'd like to. In fact, I think Ford (Are you reading this Mr Ford?) really ought to give me one of these vans so I could build a dream home on wheels, ready to kayak anywhere, anytime! I'm sure Mr Ford could sell a bunch of these to the kayaking crowd once they see what I've done with mine...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I've Been Baking Kayaks!

It's been an indoor day today with snow in the air - not easy to take when it's the first full day of Spring and the temperature is well above the freezing mark! Obviously it's 'Baking Day' and what better things to cook than some kayaks. FIMO clay kayaks actually. I'm in the process of cooking up some little goodies to put in the Geocaches I find when I head out shortly on my annual trip south.

People like to leave things in these caches so that others can either collect them or pass them along to other caches. I'll be attaching tags to some of these which are registered. This will enable me to track their movement from cache to cache. They'll all be placed near water with instructions to place them in other caches near good kayaking sites. Who knows, perhaps I'll find some new places to paddle via them!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Paddle Time!

Having given a paddle away to a friend in Newfoundland last summer (only to have it suddenly switch ownership again once his wife spotted it!) I hit the workshop this week to replenish my dwindling supply. I had decided to take photos of the process, but things got out of hand. First I forget to bring the camera to the saw mill where I got the cedar blanks. They had a yummy supply of the stuff and let me run through the pile to select out what I wanted. I like that!

Next, I managed to measure out all the critical points on the wood and begin cutting before I remembered the camera. By the time the blank was roughed out, the camera seemed to have disappeared and it stayed that way during the planing and sanding stages. Finally just after the tung oil got applied, the camera resurfaced with the result you can see on the left.

I've got a couple more 2x4 cedar blanks in the workshop so hopefully I'll take the photo series next time. Meanwhile, it's rapidly switching from 'Paddle Time' to 'Paddling Time'! I like that even better!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Goodbye Winter, Goodbye!

Winter appears to be on the way out for another year in my area. Normally I wouldn't be saying that for another six weeks or so, but this year abnormally warm temperatures have been with us since the end of January. Looking at the lake ice today, I'd say it's melting fast. I could be paddling on the lake by the end of the month if current conditions persist. That would be two to three weeks earlier than usual.

In the meantime, there have been things to do! I repeated my snowshoe climb of Mt Megantic again. Conditions were similar to last year, although the melt was underway from bottom to top of the mountain. This mountain has one of Canada's biggest observatories at the summit. Sadly peasants like me don't get to observe the cosmic wonders available to viewers inside the building, but just the naked eye will provide quite the view at this altitude.

This last photo is my way of saying 'Goodbye winter, goodbye'!

Monday, March 1, 2010

How To Race Dog Sleds

Dog sled racing has come a long way since the Inuit raced out of Siberia and crossed the Bering Strait. Today's dogs are breed as sprinters. They're lighter and fasters than the dogs used by traditional Inuit. Their dogs were breed for strength, stamina and usefulness on the hunt.

Here is what you need to race today...

Harness your dogs and attach them to the sled-line...

Get the dogs to the Start line and have someone hold each dog so it doesn't run off prematurely...

Try to avoid fouling your dogs with over-eager spectators...

Once clear, try to hang on until the finish line appears...

In wooded sections, attempt to steer dogs all on same side of trees...

Cross finish line and check to see if you've won anything...

There you have it. These photos were taken last weekend in Burke, Vermont and show a variety of different races with from four to eight dogs per team. Obviously I jest, when I imply the sport is simple. I was impressed with how well trained everyone was, dogs, children, adults all included. A great event to see if you ever get the chance. These folks just love being outside in the snow having fun!