Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Off to Maine & New Brunswick!

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Mid season is here which means time for a my summer trip. This year it is three weeks out on the Maine New Brunswick coasts. Couple magnets there. First, never been to Maine and am looking forward to seeing a place with a culture so involved with the sea. Second is the chance to run up to New Brunswick and the mouth of the Bay of Fundy (click here). Further north is the location of the 60′ tidal range and this is the place that water flows past. With several islands out from the mainland it offers a chance to play in the tides. Then there is the tidal eccentricities such as the Old Sow (click here), the largest whirlpool in North America and the second largest in the world as well as reversing falls, a waterfall that reverses direction depending on the tidal height. Then there is the sea life due to the rich waters (click here).

This looks like a fairly civilized trip meaning there is a lot of development around and concerns about private property. Fortunately the good folks at the Maine Island Trail Association (click here) have worked hard to make places accessible.

See ya in August!


Hard to Believe!

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Seems like the spring has flown by. Given the warm weather the region has experienced, it also seems like a long season already. Hard to believe it is just Memorial Day weekend…

Life has been busy with instructor workshops starting in march/april and running thru june this year. The YMCA and Bay Cliff Programs are keeping Nancy and I busy as we prepare. But still getting a chance to paddle, here are some shots from the paddles.

The Presque Isle Rocks during a spring paddle.

Eagles nest off of Partridge Island, appears to be active again this season.

The roof of a sea cave near Laughing Fish Pt showing off the Jacobsville Sandstone of the area.

Memorial Day weekend paddle down to the Fairport area of the Garden Peninsula.

Point Detour with Cedar trees and limestone rock, typical of the areas shoreline.

Entertainment at Point Detour, one of several squall lines going thru after a morning of thunder storms.

See you on the water!


Paddle: A Long Way Around Ireland by Jasper Winn

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

This is Jasper. He is getting ready to fish. That is a shark behind him.

There is something about books on paddling around Ireland. Up until now, they’ve all been written by people from outside of Ireland. Jasper is different, he was raised in Ireland. Being well read with extensive world travels, he brings to Paddle what makes this land and people unique in the world.

First off, I can speak from experience that the summer of 2007 was a stormy year for going around. It made for an aggressive but doable trip for someone of Jasper’s paddling experience and health issues from the previous year. So expect to hear about misery, fear and uncertainty.

But also expect to read about a paddler who is gaining confidence. The West Coast was an unsettled place in 2007. The weather often changed 2-4 times a day. Jasper built his success by being conservative as he went. When the coast guard was busy with a couple of rescues due to stormy conditions, he was out paddling but in a way to intentionally minimize risk. That didn’t stop a boater from racing over and insisting on rescuing him. After refusing, he took off across a reef and around a small headland to loose the want to be hero. Soon the radio crackled with the boater talking to the coast guard – “He says he is alright. But the conditions are very bad out here … He’s paddled away now.” The coast guard responds “So what you are calling us to say, there isn’t a problem. [long pause] So would you clear channel 16 then?”

His near misses are frightening yet he leaves you chuckling at his honesty. Paddling after dark across a stormy Donegal Bay he talks of death by drowning, of other paddlers launching and not landing. Clearly he knows he has himself in a pickle. Relieved after he lands in a harbor, he works to get the boat up a boat ramp in the surging swell. When a swell lifts the kayak onto him and fatigued after six hours of stressful paddling, he lets loose with ” foul oaths – the majority having to do with procreative acts, some involving Jesus and the Mother of God”. Once up the ramp and out of the reaches of the sea, he realizes there in the dark is a mother with a six year old son. “Its forgiving of her to respond to my embarrassed Ah! Eve’ning’ with a cordial-sounding greeting.”

You hear about Ireland not from some soft eyed romantic foreigner but someone who knows its moods, its quirks and its humors. Even after being there for a summer and reading a bit on Ireland, Paddle still entertained me. Jasper describes a walk near Belfast where the Irish, normally curious about strangers, showed a cool restraint out of a cautiousness that comes from the Troubles. A farmer in the Aran Islands moves rocks around to open a path through a stone fence for his cattle instead of having a gate. And finally, he figures the value of free drinks given in pubs to the Australian who walked the length of Ireland with a stuffed toy donkey.

He is an Irish storyteller and writer of the modern era. Ireland is often painted as a quaint backwater by the tourist industry. Jasper has seen his homeland modernized by the wealth spread by the Celtic Tiger (what is now another Irish tragedy). That wealth has introduced many vehicles onto roads that in the 1970s were busier with foreign bicyclists than cars. Today, he deftly points out, one is safer on the sea than biking on narrow roads traveled by speeding SUVs.


Jasper and I at a memorial to St Brendan the Navigator and author Tim Severin, who launched here as part of The Brendan Voyage.


We met at a place called Brandan Creek. It was a rainy, windy, miserable day and the evening wasn’t shaping up to be any better. Jasper knew of a pub, a few miles away. It was quickly decided to go grab a meal and a pint or two. Well, I can tell you it was four pints, a late night and a most enjoyable conversation. It was here that I noticed Jasper’s talent to put together history, current events and his stories in such a way that left you entertained and amused.

Paddle brings me back to that pub. It brings back the paddling with Basking Sharks the next day. It brings me back to watching him fish. Except with Paddle, Jasper has gone around Ireland and skillfully landed a modern Irish tale only a sea kayaker can tell.

Click here for the kindle version of his book.





Final Details…

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Spent the day up at Bay Cliff Health Camp – helping  Sam with the kayak program up there.  It was good to be up at camp, and see some of the kids.  Even better to see the progress some of the kids have made over the years – becoming  more confident in the water – in and out of the kayak, and in the in between stages of a wet exit.  The bravery and determination of some of those kids never ceases to amaze me!  Had one pool session, and one lake session.  Second lake session got canceled due to thunder.  We hung out under a shelter – with most people playing in the rain… until 20 minutes from the last rumble.  Scrambled to get  everyone out on the water for a brief paddle – and then got another rumble, so were  grounded, and out of time.  Too bad – it cleared up within the 1/2 hour.  But, fun was had by all, which is the most important thing!

Carl drove up yesterday from Lake Orion with his  boat and gear.  Finally got to talk in person!   Spent a couple hours chatting about maps and tides and boats and gear and ferries and other details.  Then he turned and drove right back home.

I am doing  last minute chores – will pack my boat one more time tomorrow, then pack the car.  Am organizing things for my house sitters – trying to leave the house in respectable condition so it is in the same condition when I return.

Found another piece of faulty equipment today – my hydration pack is leaking – a slow, insidious leak, but a  leak none-the less.  I guess it’s good to get all this  done now instead of a week from now!

Installed the  under deck bag yesterday, and all went smoothly with the correct glue.  Tried it out today.  No  problem with wet exits or re-entry and roll.  It is noticeable, and I will need to take care with and assisted re-entry, when my  body twists getting in.  But,  I don’t plan to do any wet exits or need a rescue!

Just over 24 hours before the first leg of the journey – the drive to Syndey, Nova Scotia, begins!

The Busy Season

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Well, it is busy once again. Two weekends and two instructor workshops. The photo at right is Nancy teaching at the one in Big Bay. We had a small but geographically diverse group there who represented outfitters and schools from around the region. The previous weekend was at Rutabaga where a larger group of enthusiastic paddlers attended. There I also got to work with two instructor trainer candidates. Fun was had at both workshops. Of course, had to try out chariot races as seen below.

Click on the photos to see a larger view. Note there are leaves on the trees, a rarity this time of year. And the busy season will last until they come off sometime in early to mid october.


Surf City

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Marquette is a small city – but sometimes has Big Surf!  I was out in the small stuff with Sam a couple days ago.  Sam was out in the big stuff yesterday.  We were playing with pictures and video cams both days.  Too much fun.

Check out my new helmet!

I tested out my new helmet, from Shred Ready (though, I don’t really feel ready to get shredded).  Very well constructed, super comfortable and easy to size.  Sam needed to put on his sunglasses – said it was a little bright.  I figure I want to be visible… especially if other surfers are out there – on boards or boats.  Or, in the unfortunate event the coast guard ever comes searching.  But, I don’t expect that to happen – just want to be prepared if it does.  I didn’t test it in the true sense – no head bumps (thankfully).

Got a second helmet – a Super Scrappy.  This is a little smaller – easier to carry on a trip, as in going to Newfoundland, but less coverage, so likely to use the Standard Full Cut helmet most of the time.

Click on the titles of the images below to  link to video of Sam and I!

Surf Jive with Nancy

Middle Bay Mayhem -Sam

Photos From a Days Paddle

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The Eagles nest on Partridge Island.

A close up, note the perched Eagle and yes, that is a white head sticking up out of the nest! I think that nest must be 3 stories tall now. :)

A close up of Larus Island.

Vultures near Partridge. What is a flock of Vultures called? For some reason Wall Street Bankers comes to mind… 😉

Close up of the ten bankers, oh I mean Vultures. :)

A sure sign of spring, Aspen blooming on Partridge Island

A sure sign of spring in the UP. Same Aspen and yes that white stuff is ice!

To see the photos in full resolution, click here to be taken to the first photo in this series.



Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Pirouette in the surf

A frame captured from a video of a pirouette in the surf

I found an old video and managed to upload part of it. It is of a pirouette I did in the surf from a long time ago. Click here to watch the video, it is about 6 MB.


What a beat boat!

Monday, April 26th, 2010
Click to go to rock hopping video

Scene from rock hopping video

That’s what people say as they question why our boats are all scratched up. Our friend Jukka found out the reason for all the scratches after we ran into him on a paddle around Grand Island. Simple put, Nancy and I paddle in the rocks. Jukka, after 15+ years paddling his boat, hadn’t put a scratch into it. But he scratched his boat that day, many times.

Paddling in the rocks is just plain fun and challenging, especially on those days where the waves aren’t big enough to surf. It forces one to have good boat control, I know I have developed better draws. You also understand waves a lot better, especially what a breaking or reflecting wave is going to do to your course and what can be done to counter act it.

And you do scratch your boat. How many holes you ask? For me there have been 2 or 3 along with several serious gel coat cracks and numerous deep gouges. Fiberglass boats are tougher than many think and easy to repair.

Click here to see a video from paddling a week ago in the rocks. Warning, it is 16 MB in size but does have close to 3 minutes of gel coat crunching goodness set to music. Enjoy!


First Kayak Trip of 2010 Along North Shore

Sunday, April 18th, 2010
Conor Mihell doing an ender at Naturally Superior 2005 Wawa Surf Fest

Well… While we have been dreaming, planning and getting our first paddles in for the season, a friend Conor has been out doing some serious paddling. Click here to read a trip report on what is no doubt the first trip of the season along the Pukaskwa coast from Marathon to Wawa, ONT. Conor also did an overnight trip during the winter from Old Woman Bay to Wawa.

Just who is this person Conor? Click here to check out his website.