Sunday, July 7, 2013

Paddlefest 2013

I'm a kayak geek and I'm happy to admit it. 
So, when Paddlefest comes around every year, I get quite exited. So many boats to try and experiment with!

This year happened to be on quite a windy day. It was over 15 knots, gusting up to 18. That is far from ideal for beginners to learn and try out boats, but it was great news for us.

This year I really wanted to try the P&H Delphin 150. A friend of mine has a Delphin 155 which I have tried before, but I found it way too large for me. Since I'm too light for the 155, I found it way to stable and quite a chore to throw on edge. 

 The Delphin 150 however felt way looser and more comfortable for me on the water. It edged and behaved like I felt it should have. As other people have mentioned before, the Delphins are not the quickest boats out there, but they are not meant to be fast.

I really enjoyed paddling the 150, but the one thing that I hated were the foot pedals. They were pathetic! They were finicky to adjust and they gave out on my twice. I checked to see if they were locked in place (they were), and I asked one of the P&H reps to make sure that it was correct. I would be paddling along and all of a sudden it would just give out... and over I went. Needless to say, the boat rolls well.

If I were to get a Delphin 150 at some point, it would definitely be the surf spec, which has a nice solid foot plate instead of pedals. 

Next on my list was the P&H Hammer. I realize that it is designed for someone much larger than me, but I was still really curious to try it. 

It's a bit of a strange boat. It's designed for playing in rocks, which I enjoy, but something didn't quite feel right for me. I feel that the boat would need to be tested in the environment that it was designed for... but that wasn't happening in the bay.

I was hoping to try the Valley Gemini SP (In plastic) to compare it to the Delphin 150, but surprisingly Vally wasn't there. Next year, perhaps? 

Next we went over to Sterling's booth. We chatted for a bit and I suggested that Matt should try the Sterling Reflection. He tried Rowan's boat, and I grabbed a demo Reflection. We paddled out into the wind, and we managed to surf a few small waves on the way back.

I've tried the Reflection before, but it was the full sized one... which felt huge on me. The one that I borrowed at Paddlefest was the 1" cut version. This Reflection was still a bit large, however I didn't feel like I was swimming in it. It was a really fun boat, and it surfed very well on the small waves that we had that day.

We ended up staying for pretty much the whole day and we ran into a surprising amount of people that we knew. I'm looking forward to next year :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Carbon Fiber Skeg: A Beauty That Deserves To Be Shown Off!

Ok, by now most people know that I love carbon fiber... It's gorgeous! Matt and I have both worked with carbon fiber quite a bit, and while it's beautiful, it really is a pain to work with. 

One project that we started, but never completed, was a carbon fiber skeg for my Valley Avocet lv. While I realized that the weight savings from the stock plastic blade would be minimal, I still wanted to make one. I wanted it to have a foiled shape and to have a foam core (much like a Werner paddle), but we had more than a few problems with it, so I gave up on it.

Fast forward a bit, and I get an interesting email from a man named Norbert Gancarz. He asked if I would like to test his carbon skeg. I agreed and eagerly awaited the delivery. When it arrived I couldn't help but smile. The finish was beautiful, the fibers were in line, and it was foiled. Geeze... this really put my attempt to shame.

I stripped my old skeg blade out and I weighed it out of curiosity (The backpacker's mentality rubbing off on me!).

And then I weighed Norbert's skeg. 119 grams lighter. 

Ok, so saving 119 grams on a sea kayak isn't much, but look at it!

When installing it, we noticed that it was a bit wider at the base than the stock plastic blade. This resulted it a bit of a struggle getting it to fit between the rubber spacers on either side of the skeg box, but we got it in. Since the rubber spacers were squished a bit, deploying the skeg was a bit stiffer than before. One of the spacers also squished more than the other, resulting it the skeg being offset slightly in the skeg box. Both of these issues should be resolved once the spacers compress over time. 

Overall the skeg is absolutely gorgeous, and I feel bad for having it concealed beneath my boat. I feel that it deserves to be shown off... so capsizing, deploying the skeg, hanging out underwater for a while, and then rolling back up it is!

(Norbert, the only criticism that I have is that it should have a small hole drilled into the tip of the blade. This makes it easier to pull the skeg down if it happened to get stuck.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Portland Island

(I'm really quite late with this post, but as I mentioned we have been quite busy with preparations for another trip.) 

With the car loaded up before hand, we caught the 5pm ferry after work. Matt and I ended up giving Mark, another WCP member, a ride.

The paddle over to Portland was better than expected. The forecast for the whole weekend was pouring rain (at least 20mm's each day) so we were expecting the worst. It turned out to be a nice evening and we got to the campsite relatively quickly.

When we rounded the point towards the campsite it was already dark, but we could see headlamps on shore. As we paddled closer I saw a headlamp walking along the beach and a voice called out "Hello". I said hi in return and introduced myself, to the headlamp. The voice in the dark responded with "Ah, Alana, we've been expecting you." 

A little weirded out, we landed on the beach. As it was dark and somewhat late, we decided to save time and just carry our boats straight up to the campsitte instead of unloading them. This really seemed to amaze everyone and I heard someone say "Are those loaded? I swear that mine weighs 300 pounds loaded!" as we walked by. We were carrying the boats by grabbing the hull (not by the toggles) and I was honestly surprised by how light and easy to carry they were.
I've carried unloaded boats that were heavier than that!

Since Matt and I were preparing for hiking the North Coast Trail and the Cape Scott Trail, we had a backpacker's ultra-light mindset. Our boats ended up being really quite light. I'm guessing that we had about 20 pounds of gear, plus food and water. 

I remember the first camping trip that I did... I packed EVERYTHING and my Avocet must have weighed at least 150 pounds.

Anyway, after we set up our tent we had a late night snack and Mark came by and enjoyed rice pudding and tea with us. At that point everyone was asleep already so we went to bed ourselves.

The next morning we were pleased to see that the rain held off for another day. We joined the group for breakfast under Dan's massive MSR shelter. The thing really is huge! It engulfs two full sized picnic tables easily and provides a cozy shelter for everyone to cook and eat under.

After breakfast we asked around to see where everyone was paddling today, but surprisingly everyone else wanted to stay at camp. Mark was the only one who joined us. Oh well...

The wind was gusting around 15 knots, but it really wasn't all that bad out. We decided to head over to Russell Island to take a look at the old Hawaiian settlement.

We stopped for lunch and enjoyed the view for a bit. While eating, we noticed that the crow calls that we had been hearing sounded somewhat fake, so I decided to investigate. I walked over to the calls, but I couldn't see any crows anywhere. The crow calls suddenly stopped and a low grumble/growl and crashing sounds started coming from the same area. We came to the conclusion that there was a speaker hidden somewhere playing the animal recordings. We eventually gave up on finding the speaker, but while walking back to the boats I managed to catch a small garter snake that was in the grass.

On the paddle back to the campsite, the wind died quite a bit. Matt and I decided to go for a walk around the island to kill a bit of time before the potluck dinner.

A few paddlers came for the day, and then returned home.

Portland Island is quite beautiful, and there are numerous species of wild flowers scattered around. While walking around, we heard more fake crow calls. Now we were really curious, so we followed it. Aha! It was a speaker and mp3 player after all. Of course I forgot to take a photo of it...

We were not sure if they are trying to attract, or detour animals with the speakers.

Dinner ended up being fantastic! Everyone brought delicious food, and amazingly, no one brought the same dish. (There was even bacon covered scallops!)

The next morning everyone started to pack up. The three of us weren't in a rush so we had a slow, relaxing morning.

The racoons on Portland are a bit crazy. You really need to guard your food. All weekend they tried to steal food, and they even ended up chewing on someone's PFD and back rest. At one point I chased one up a tree, and as I came closer to get a better look, the little guy started peeing! Revenge I suppose...

We left Portland and ended up stopping on Coal Island for a short lunch break. We watched the ferries pass.

... and then we continued around the Island.

On friday we had launched from the public dock beside the ferry terminal, but since there was no parking left, we had to park in Canoe Cove. So, the logical thing to do would be to paddle to Canoe Cove to our car. 

There weren't many places for us to get off the water and unload, so Matt went to scout it out. He ended up talking to the Marina and asking if we could unload boats and pack up the car. They said yes so we did. However, when we were halfway through unloading, a man walked toward us and asked if we could move our boats. I responded with "Yes, we are unloading and will be gone in a minute" and I continued packing up my Ikea bag and put it in the car. He didn't move and responded aggressively with "I said, move your boats". We weren't blocking anything, and other people from the marina had walked passed us without any issues. So to please him, we lifted one of the empty boats onto the car. He stomped off down the ramp, only to return minutes later saying "You don't belong here. I better not see you here again." and he stomps off again, this time in another direction (and assumingly to the office). When he returns again we are tightening cam straps, and he looks even angrier, "You are lucky that the manager isn't in, or else they would have charged you a fine."

You mean the one that we talked to and asked permission to unload? 
We obviously didn't say that, otherwise his head might of exploded. 

We ended up driving off, after having only spent 10 minutes or so at the marina.


On a better note, Matt and I brought the MSR Gear Shed add on to our Hubba Hubba. I had bought it months ago, but we hadn't had the chance to use it until this trip. It essentially doubles the floor space of the Hubba Hubba. The floor of the Gear Shed is open, except for a triangle of fabric shown on the left of the photo. In a pinch, you could probably use the Gear Shed to turn the Hubba Hubba into a 3 person if you use a tarp for a floor (and if you don't expect much rain), but in BC I wouldn't recommend it.

 I'm probably never going to take this backpacking, but it is a welcomed addition of space for paddling trips (and you don't have to buy another tent!).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Posts to Come, I Swear!

I'm really sorry for the lack of posts lately (again!). I recently came back from hiking the North Coast Trail and the Cape Scott Trail on Vancouver Island. We were planning this trip for months and I hadn't had the chance to update anything.

I will try my best to post my trip report as soon as possible, and I have a few other things that I want to post as well :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Annual WCP Spring Camp Out

If anyone is looking for a relaxed and easy trip, WCP (West Coast Paddler) is having it's annual Spring Camp Out.

It's on April 27th and 28th and it will be at Portland Island. Here is the link to the trip discussion if you are interested. 

Please post if you are going, and also note that there is a potluck one evening.

Here are last year's trip reports and photos.

I should also post the following words by Dan Millsip, the creator of WCP:

YOU are responsible for YOU.
There is no leader on this camping trip.
How you get there is entirely up to you.
The gear you bring is entirely up to you.
This trip IS NOT recommended for novice paddlers -- if you are not or cannot be completely self-sufficient, this trip is probably not for you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Repairing a foamcore paddle

So I figured that it was probably time to repair my cracked Werner Cypress. I cracked it back in November at Skooks and I nearly took the tip off.

I started by removing the fractured glass and carbon, and I sanded down to the foam. 

Since I wasn't sure what type of foam Werner used, I was a bit nervous that the resin and acetone that I was using would eat away at the foam.

Depending on the foam used, acetone (and polyester resin) can 'dissolve' foam completly. The reaction can be quite dramatic.

(Here's a video that I found on youtube)

... I didn't really want that to happen to my paddle. I ended up removing a small bit of foam and placed it in a bowl of acetone. Nothing happened... so far so good. I picked the foam piece out from the acetone and then placed it in a bowl of resin catalyst. Still nothing. I then did the same with the resin. Again, nothing happened so I figured that it was safe to proceed.

 I don't have any photos of the fiber glassing process, sorry. Above is a photo after the resin cured and after I trimmed the extra carbon. Before I layed the carbon down I placed some loose carbon strands into the area where I had sanded down to the foam. This was to save weight (as the hole would fill up with resin without it) and to keep the surface smooth.

Next I sanded off the extra carbon. Now it's starting to look better....

After some more sanding I decided to add a finish coat of resin.

My other paddle had a small puncture that had been covered with a piece of packing tape. I removed it, sanded, and added a small bit of resin to seal it up. 

The finished paddle.

It's not perfect, and it's not the same weave in the carbon, but it will do :)