Friday, June 8, 2007

It's Time to Go Messing About.

Do not sit and stare at this screen... I am not here.
I'm with the thousand winds that blow.
I'm with the diamond glints on the waves.
I'm looking at the sunlight on the hills.
I'm standing in the gentle rain that falls.
I'm listening to the morning's hush, the quiet birds in circling flight.
I'm basking in the soft star shine at night.
So don't stare at this screen.
I am not here...
I'm paddling!

Yup, it's time that I went messing about in my boat. I'm heading off to Canada's maritime provinces to paddle for the next six weeks or so, maybe more. Posting will be sporatic at best, if at all. I suggest you all go paddling too! In any event, take care of each other, paddle well!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Why Are You Out There?

Two ships belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company trading with some Inuit in the Savage Islands in 1819. Robert Hood did the drawing. I suppose he had a reason for being there, but what would you have answered to the same question, 'Why are you out there?'

William Longyard in his book A Speck on the Sea attempts to answer that question. In fact, he gives 8 possible places to go looking for a reason. Here they are. You can slot yourself in wherever you find a good fit...
1 - Survival - Being out wasn't your idea, but staying alive is.
2 - Curiosity - You had to finally learn what was around that point in the distance.
3 - Money - That's why the Hudson's Bay Company was out there!
4 - Political - You're escaping from a regime that's oppressing you.
5 - Technical - You just have to test the new gadget you've designed.
6 - Personal - Tired of being a whimp, you're going to prove them wrong.
7 - Quest - Tired of your dull life, you set out on a quest for something better.
8 - Fame - You hunger to be known and admired by others.

So there you have it. Slot yourself in and wonder no longer. We all fall into one or more of these categories at some point or another. We may even slip from one to another as time and trips go by. That's okay, just as long as you're out there, having fun, building skills and confidence with a smile on your face and a fire in your heart.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

This and That

Remember the syllabic writing on the new In-uit kayaks I wrote about a while back? It's been bugging me as I couldn't translate them into anything meaningful. I appealed to friends better equiped than me with the Inuit language. Here's one of the replies I've gotten back...

As for the inscription on the bow of the kayak...masaitila...there are no
diacritical marks inserted between the syllabics; but I know there is a word
from the Pond Inlet area "maksaijuq" meaning to put a child to sleep by
singing a lullaby. "ti" is the infix for a person or the means to do
something. So up to now that would give "the singer of lullabies". The last
syllable, "la"...if we had the final diacritic, it would be easier to
decipher. It could be either one of the diametrically opposing things.
If it is "laaq", then it would mean "small", the "smallest" and it could
have connotations of endearnment. If it is "laq" it would be the "biggest",
the  "best".  So, we have either "the sweet little lullabier" or "the best
lullabier of them all".  This is, of course, pure speculation. The root of
the word might mean something completely different and of which I am totally
In Nunavik (northern Quebec) there are a couple of similarly written (in syllabics) roots:

    masak - wet falling snow
    matsaq - can, as far as I know, mean three things:
                - water-logged snow - "slush"
                        which gives matsaatuq - to ice the sled runners
                        to make them slide easier onver the snow -
                        Could this be it? The little kayak that glides over
                        the waves. or The fastest kayak???
            - it can also mean the "earlobe"
            - it can also mean the "spleen"

Needless to say, none of these possible meanings suggests the 'Excite' idea which I understand is the English name for this particular boat. So until Aled gets in touch, the mystery of the syllabic lettering will remain. If you haven't, check out Simon Willis's blog (see right column) to hear his podcast with Aled and others about this new boat.

On another front...

After learning about the very interesting new Ocean Paddler magazine coming out of England, I wrote enquiring about a possible electronic version which would save me some clutter at home and possibly a few dollars as well. Here is the reply I got from Graham Beckram...

Hi Michael,
thanks for the feedback, and the support. I'm sorry that the magazine is a little expensive - it would be useful to know where you are? I suspect the US/Canada? If so, yep, we have a problem with the high value of the pound to the dollar at the mo.
Online magazines are in their infancy in the UK and at least one canoeing magazine has faired badly with experimenting with them. However, it's something that we're keeping an eye on, and your feedback will encourage this.
Anyway, thanks once again.

Fair enough, I guess. Hopefully if enough people show interest in receiving the new magazine in digital format, then they'll be willing to satisfy us.

Oh, the photo? Just a cloudy, cold, miserable day today, good for staying close to the fire blogging about nothing in particular.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Glen Villa

This is a short video I made the other day on Lake Massawippi where I keep my kayak and frequently paddle. It films the remains of an old pier which was once the steamer dock for the Glen Villa Hotel, a well loved watering hole which was destroyed by fire in the early 1900's. The boat house located at the end of the pier housed a casino and bar and remains of pottery can still be found along the shore from time to time.

I intend to film various places of interest around the lake and put them together on a DVD once I've done. Glen Villa Brook, the Cliffs at Black Point and the Bridges in North Hatley are the beginning of this effort. I hope to do something similar with the videos I make on my travels this summer.

This clip was filmed with my Oregon mini-camera mounted on the Sticky-Pod post. The film downloads in AVI format which I then edit using iMovie, adding the title etc. Once the editing is finished, I 'Share' the results in the highest resolution setting to the Desktop and then open it as a Quicktime video. From this point, I use QT to compress the film in this case for YouTube. I use QT's 'Export' MP4 setting using the optional H.264 format with a frame rate of 30 fps. Once saved, I then upload to YouTube. What you see is the result after they arrange it for viewing.

Thought you might like to know what I've learned. The quality seems to be improving... I believe.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Stern Wheels

I bought some wheels for my kayak recently made by Washburne Marine Products of Seattle. I took them for a spin today to see how they'd perform. They're not the heavy duty folding kayak cart available elsewhere, nor do they cost anyway near as much. However for a compact, lightweight, take-apart cart made to support only the stern of the kayak, I was pleased with how well they performed. I pulled the unladen boat over some grassy beach areas as well as along a rutted gravel beach, all without any problems or difficulty.

I noticed that has posted a couple of reviews of the Washburne 'Stern Wheels'. One of the reviews was favourable, the other not. I suspect the latter reviewer did not attach the cord running from the axel to the cockpit correctly and this may have caused the problem.

As the wheels easily detach, I might look around for some slightly bigger diameter ones and perhaps fatter ones as well, especially if I find myself in sandy areas like in Prince Edward Island in the next few weeks. From what I've been told, tidal flats can result in long carries, so I'm hoping fatter wheels will work better than the standard skinny ones might.

I wouldn't suggest stuffing the cart into the cockpit like this while paddling, but enclosed in a suitable bag and pushed up against the forward bulkhead, they ought to be out of the way, yet easy to reach when needed. All the parts are made of a tough plastic. The exception is the axel which is a non-corroding solid metal bar.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Go Camping, Go Cheap!

Like to go RVing, but, like me, you've no money to do it with? Here's a possible answer, the Go-Camp trailor. I've never seen one of these mini-campers, but if standing headroom isn't a necessity, this might be the answer. I assume one can eat, sleep and so on in one of these things, at least when the outside weather turns completely foul. Personally, I'm looking for something a bit larger...

Friday, June 1, 2007

Multi Camera Filming

The video I posted earlier in the week was taken with my 'calm weather' camera set-up. In the picture on the left, it's the video-cam sitting on top of the post. Unprotected from the elements, it produced quality images, but would never survive a dunking or a rainy outing. The other advantage is that I can turn it on and off with a remote which I keep in an AquaPac case. Very handy.

Lower down on the post is my mini-cam sold by Oregon Scientific. It, on the other hand, is totally waterproof, easily able to take a roll or two or a wild surf landing. The quality of the image is not as high, but that is the price one presently pays for protection these days.

I filmed the cliff scene with both cameras simultaneously to see the difference. The video-cam was able to capture a better picture as it uses multiple points of the image for detecting light levels and adjusts accordingly. The mini-cam seems to use only a single point light level detection system so that a mix of cliff and sky in the image results in the cliff being very dark and the sky being very bright. This was the difficulty I experienced in Florida during the winter with the Viosport lens. Both the Oregon and Viosport lenses can be improved slightly using a polarizing filter, but only marginally in my experiments with them to date. Each time I go out, I learn new things. I guess I'm still a young video dog!

Both cameras have a 'quick-release' feature which enables me to attach and un-attach them quickly.