Unpredictable November For Kayaking

This week is warm in Michigan for November. Even in Southeast Michigan it can be in the 30’s for a high or like this week in the 60’s. I have to work in an office all week so I’m missing the warm days to be paddling up and down the Huron River.

I don’t work for progressive people oriented company like Patagonia where when the surfs up the employees go out and surf the waves. No no matter how nice it is during the week I’m sitting at my desk and not in my kayak. Getting exercise for health is not part of the corporate culture. As you can tell I’m addicted to kayaking, enjoying the company of other like minded paddlers. If you start kayaking be warned you may not be able to stop.

If you think you may want to try the sport next year, then take some classes at the local school systems to learn the proper techniques and safety precautions over the winter. Just going out on your own next year with no mentors or training may make your first kayak experience a disaster with the wrong equipment and technique. Then you may give up the sport before you even really start kayaking.

If you are in Southeast Michigan, I can recommend some instructors and groups to get you going. There are events for kayaking being held every week even in the cold weather. I am planning on a paddle instead of shopping the day after Thanksgiving at Island Lake State Park. If that sounds like fun, check out the Great Lakes Paddlers calendar / event page online at: http://www.greatlakespaddlers.org/calendar/calendar.htm.

For the November 26th event I’m going to try my 10′ kayak instead of my almost 17′ sea kayak. My little kayak does not get much use since I’m usually on bigger bodies of water. If you paddle larger lakes you will enjoy a larger kayak if you are like most people who start kayaking with small boats.

Audio Podcast

Kayak Season – Start Kayaking

Well maybe not the warmest time of the year to kayak. The lakes and rivers are much quieter, with the leaves gone there is more to see, hidden in warm weather by the leaves.

The key to paddling in the fall is having the right gear for comfort and safety. I don’t over do it, dress for the exercise to keep me warm, but I bring layers that can be added and a change of clothes in a dry bag just in case of the unlikely event I get wet. The water is cold and should not be taken lightly.

I find that I don’t get out paddling as much when it’s cooler. The fall brings lots of outside work to prepare for winter if you own a home. The boat’s winterized, dock is out, liquids from the garage taken to the basement, leaves cleaned-up, water hoses drained and put away. I can see why some people move to warmer climates from Michigan. It’s a lot of work changing seasons.

There is limited light now if you have a day job and commute, dark by the time I get home so no week day paddling any more. That just leaves the weekend with all the other work outside saved up from the week. Still getting out on the water is relaxing once the time is found to get back out on the chain of lakes.

I’m using the colder weather to take some indoor classes at the Brighton High School pool. Certified instructors are teaching all levels of kayaking, so you can start now and be in good technical shape for next spring.

Audio Podcast

New Article Published On Selecting A Paddle, Review of the Cyprus Paddle

Ezine Article

I upgraded my paddle recently from a lower cost Bending Branches paddle to an investment grade Werner paddle. I am very happy with my choice but I learned some things after the purchase and I may have made a couple different choices in the paddle I purchased. I hope to share some of my experience and hope it will be of benefit to you if you just started kayaking and will soon be motivated at some point to begin upgrading your equipment.

I’m very satisfied with my choice and judging by the number of people that have the same paddle amongst more experienced paddlers, I know I did not go wrong. This review is geared towards sea kayakers but perhaps some of the things to watch out for will apply to other types.

In sea kayaking there are some different styles, I am not covering Greenland style paddles here that will be for a later article. There are two types of common paddling styles however, Low Angle and High Angle. The type correlates to the angle of the shaft in relation to the water. I did not even realize there was a low angle style, and you may not know there is a high angle style. However you need to understand what type of paddling you do before you invest in an upgraded paddle.

Low Angle is the most common paddling style I’m told. This style has a more relaxed cadence for a relaxed touring style. The paddles typically have longer and narrower blades.

High Angle paddling is typically a more aggressive style with a faster cadence and allows a larger variety of strokes being used on each outing. These paddles have short wide blades for a powerful catch and stroke. I have an aggressive style. There are also some options here as well, large paddle area for power, but shorter trips or less paddle area for longer tours.

There are different types of shafts as well; a neutral bent shaft or a straight shaft. The straight shaft is likely less cost if that is a concern. If you have issues with your hands then spend the money for a neutral shaft. This type naturally aligns your wrist to help reduce stress on joints. The straight shafts are lighter and provide a predictable, straight and continuous grip area.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently size does matter. The shaft size provides the proper fit which is key to allowing a light grip to increase comfort and reduce fatigue no matter what your skill level is. You may need to try out both standard and small diameter shaft sizes and see which one is best for your hand. Large hands typically will be best with the standard diameter shaft size. I think I should have purchased the smaller diameter shaft. On very long paddles, my hands go numb or cramp up, thinking the smaller diameter shaft may have been a better choice for me.

The correct length of paddle is also very important. The length is determined by a combination of your height and your boats width. Some research here is recommended to get the right length of paddle to fit your personal situation. Many manufacturers will provide a chart to select the proper length.

The paddle I selected was a Werner Cyprus with a straight standard shaft. The performance core carbon touring paddle is very light at 23 oz. The lighter the weight of paddle generally the more expensive it is. The paddle features an adjustable ferrule. It adjusts the feather either right or left in 15 degree increments, you determine what is best for you. The button is so low profile that I have trouble finding it lots of times to take the paddle apart for storage.

I have used this paddle now for a few months and it is a great paddle. The key is getting everything right on the size and type for your personal preferences. The Cyprus appears to be the most popular paddle for sea kayak touring. Werner offers many models so check out their web site at Werner Paddles.

Visit a local Kayak shop to get some additional information and touch and feel the paddle prior to purchase. In my area which is Southeast Michigan there are many places to find the paddle such as Kayak Corral, Riverside Kayak Connection, Summit Sports, REI, and Backcountry Outfitters just to name a few.

Great Lakes Paddle Part 4 of 4

Ending of the journey, everyone had a great time. Some people were tired, some were ready for more. Some good company and exercise. Chain of Lakes tour Little Portage to Zukey lake and back.

Audio Podcast

Great Lakes Paddlers Fall Lt Portage to Zukey Lake Part 3 of 4

Leaving the half way point after the mud entry.  After few beverages and someone is ready to roll.

Audio Podcast

Great Lakes Paddlers Fall Paddle Part 2 Lt Portage to Zukey Lake

This video shows getting to Zukey Lake Tavern, inside the Tavern, playing in the mud getting in and out.  Some horses visited us from Brighton Mi Stables.  Good time had by all.  Picked up a nice Kayak couple who caught up with the group at the Tavern.

Sunny day, warm for October, colors were good, nice blue sky, blue water, leaves mostly past peak along the river.  Maples must not like wet conditions.

Audio Podcast

Great Lakes Paddlers

I hosted an event this last Saturday, starting at Little Portage Lake and going up the Huron River chain.  A flat water trip.

It was a great turnout and everyone had a good time.  Some people thought the paddle was too long since they had not been doing much paddling recently.  The event was listed as difficult and the miles provided.  But everyone made it and still enjoyed the trip.

There were 2 rolls – on purpose, and one at the very end taking out not on purpose.

The half way point was for lunch on Zukey Lake Tavern, a little muddy getting out with the low water.  Horses even showed up to see us off for the return trip.

This is the first part of the four part series if you want to take a virtual trip.

Audio Podcast

Fall Paddle Video And Home Grown Music

Heavy metal music is from my friend son’s band The Edge of Decency.  I think the band is pretty good, high energy to paddle to.  Get out there and exercise, the water will be too hard sooner than you think.

Fall Thoughts and Experiences

I thought of this blog while I was walking my two dogs for an hour on the back roads near my house, walked from Little Portage Lake to Silver Lake and back.  It was a very nice Saturday not cold, not hot, sunny and very quiet and peaceful.  Only two cars past me in the hour walk, and I saw six pheasants at once along the walk.  Forgetting now most of what I was going to write, I need to record my thoughts as  I have forgotten most of  the reflections I wanted to share.

I love where I live, but it is not for everyone.  Some say it’s too far out from civilization, in fact had you told me I was going to live in this area 5 years ago I would say you were crazy.  I have a good friend that I have known since high school that live’s two miles away from me as the crow flys, and when he moved here I thought he was nuts for moving so far away.  Now I am in the same rural area.

For a sportsman the area offers everything, boating, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, road biking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, camping, fishing, horse back riding,  you name it its all here, you are even close to Hell.  That’s Hell Michigan.  But don’t think you are going to be shopping at the mall close to here however.  Then again Ann Arbor is just 20 minutes away for food out and shopping.  No need to drive 3-5 hours up North, it feels like up North right here close to Detroit.

The point I guess I’m trying to make is that I can get away from it all here and choose my form of recreation.  I worked way too many hours this week for a corporation that does not really care about people, just the bottom line and getting the results they want regardless of how it impacts a person’s free time.  So I had no time during the week working 12 to 14 hours a day, plus the 50 minute drive each way to get any exercise during the week.  I really enjoyed the dog walk early Saturday morning and was able to forget about the week I wasted working too many hours.  I need to work for myself, looking for that niche market now.

I have another friend that sells guinea pig cages, he’s happy to go to his garage every day and work on shipping product.  Did his best month ever in September.  This guy is a smarter engineer than I will ever be, and he retired early from corporate, now happy selling cages online.  Look up Bluestonecages.com if you want to check his business out.

I also got in a very nice long paddle on Saturday, videos posted soon.  The power boat came out this weekend as well – video to my other boat posted below.  Just remember get out there when you can and get some exercise and it helps refresh you from a long work week.

Attitudes: IC Machine Versus Human Power

I was having a discussion today at the water cooler about people’s driving skills (or lack of them) and had this thought that I’m writing about today.  It also involves a few recent experiences, one with a car yesterday, and a power boat incident I wrote about  a few weeks ago.

People act differently when they are under human power and encounter other humans.  This can be walking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing, jogging and so forth.  My experience is people are nicer when they are doing activities under their own power and are not relying on the internal combustion engine for motion.

I encounter rude and inconsiderate people when they use  power boats,  jet skis,  cars,  snow mobiles,  motor cycles,  four wheelers.  Is this that these people are different than people that use their own muscles for motion?  Please, looking for some comments there on what you think about this.

I think people become different people when they have a throttle or accelerator to propel them, and sometimes allow them to quickly to take flight from their own stupid actions and inconsideration.  By their actions with an engine they convey that they are more important than you, and have to be ahead of you for some reason.  Be this taking off from a stop light, passing on the right to get ahead in a back-up, be the first through a one way channel on a river, on a snowmobile trail, whatever.  Am I the only one that thinks this way?  A young person,  short, thin, and homely becomes older over 6′ and 200 lbs of body builder, good looking behind the wheel of a car.  The gender does not much matter, however men I think are worse in general.

Contrast that to the nice friendly people you encounter paddling, walking, cross country skiing and so forth.  Are these people different, or does the act of physical exertion and being outdoors make people less stressed and more friendly? The other thought is if they are not rude if  there is no fast get away.  I’m not sure what it is, or maybe it is all of the above reasons.

Being on a machine I think is like writing an email versus speaking to someone, you act differently thinking you are protected by the machine.  When you are removed from direct human contact people just act differently , maybe more macho.  There appears to be some big disconnect in thought processes  when driving a power boat that people have to cut across your bow, rather than slowing down (heaven forbid) or going behind you at a good distance, it is even worse if they are pulling a skier or a tube.  For some reason the throttle can not be pulled back or steering to change course.

My solution is people need to spend much more time using their own power rather than burning fossil fuel.  Maybe it has nothing to do with gasoline, but more of a vehicle issue.  I’m sure people in electric cars are just as rude on the road, there is just not enough of them yet to form an opinion…