Monday, April 28, 2008

Lake Water Level II

Sunday was a great day, it was sunny, warm and only a slight breeze. It was a perfect day to take a Paddle Canada certified Lake Water Level II canoing course. There are 6 or 7 of us taking the course and almost double that many canoes. Bill Morris was there with his swift canoes, there was also an Esquif, Madriver and an Old Town which is nice because in an afternoon a person can paddle many different makes and models of boats.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Just for you Bryan!

On April 25 the forecast for the following day called for 15 - 20 cm of snow and a discussion went back and forth all day, via email, weather to cancel the much anticipated canoe trip or to take our chances and go any way. Finally after much debate common sense prevailed. The next morning found me sweeping the snow and ice from the boat that I had loaded on the car the night before. Steve, Bryan, Jimmy and myself piled into Steve's van with two canoes on top and Jimmy's kayak wedge between him and I inside.
The view from the window as we passed through the Nesbitt Forest could have passed for an X-mas card. Snow lay on the ground and trees 12 inches deep and questions of our sanity started to surface. But Steve assured us that he had got up early and installed the snow tires on the van! We might get stuck in mud but we were at least ready for the snow.
When we arrived at the bridge over the Garden River we were surprised that the snow had completely disappeared and that the river was completely flooded! Even the fields were under water. At least there wasn't going to be a lack of water! Soon after we arrived at the put in Doug, a fellow from Prince Albert, arrived and after introductions he and Steve shuttled the vehicles to the take out. When they returned we got down to some serious paddling.
Doug and Jimmy would paddle their whitewater kayaks, Steve and Bryan would paddle Steve's prospector and I paddled a solo guide. I didn't know too much about this river. I knew it was small, even smaller than Eagle Creek and I had some concerns that it would be too tight for a 16 foot prospector. As it turned out, the river was about two boat lengths wide, perfect!
In the 5 or 6 km's from the bridge, where you put in, to the North Sask. River the Garden River drops over 90 feet! For those of you who paddle rivers will know that this can mean only one thing, a steep, fast river with lots of rapids and features. The Garden River certainly doesn't disappoint. The entire run is basically one long stretch of rapids with a few short, quiet sections to relax on. There are a bunch of waves for surfing, some large eddies to practice eddy turns and a ton of small eddies along the shoreline. In my opinion, this river is similar to the Torch river but much smaller. About half as wide and twice as steep. The rapids are similar however I would not recommend this river for novice paddlers. There are many bends in the river and around almost ever bend is a sweeper on the outside. Couple that with the swift current and a rooky paddler could easily find themselves in trouble. We paddled this river at flood levels so a lot of the rapids were washed out. The kayakers in the group would like to see the water higher and the canoeists would like to see it lower. At lower water this would a very technical river with literally hundreds of rocks to maneuver through.
We did have one mishap on the river. As I came around a bend I could see that, just ahead Bryan was standing in the water up to his waist next to the upturned boat. This struck me as a bit odd. Now I'm certainly no expert when it comes to paddling but I'm pretty sure that standing in ice cold water isn't what's meant when we say "run the river". When I pulled into the eddy behind them, after laughing my ass off I checked to make sure they were alright. Apparently they had the tilt wrong and when they entered the eddy, the eddy current caught the side of the boat and over they went. Now they will tell you that it was over quickly and gracefully but I'm pretty certain they held to the time honor tradition of grabbing the gunwales. Hell even Bill Mason did it! After they emptied their boat and some good natured ribbing we were on our way.
The rest of the day went without incident. Along the lower sections there are some pretty bony rapids that I sure wouldn't want to tip in! Some of the waves were large and came in over the gunwales, landing in my lap! Luckily the sun had come out and helped to keep us warm.

The take out is a very nice gravel beach on the North Sask. River. You end up paddling right out onto the big river, the beach is right at the mouth of the garden river. Over all I'd have to say that the Garden River is one of the nicest rivers we have in southern Sask. And possibly my new favorite.

I made a chine bag

It may seem as though I’ve forgotten about my blog but I asure you, I haven’t. My latest project is a chine bag. There are lots of times that I’ve wished that my binoculars were handier to get to than digging through a dry bag. Now I’m not sure where I’ve seen this idea before but a chine bag is a water resistant bag that attaches to the inside hull of the boat. For those of you that don’t know what a chine is. Where the side of the boat curves to meet the bottom. That curved area s known as the chine.
I started out by sewing a 2" strips of 18 oz. pvc coated nylon to either side of a YKK water proof zipper. I then used contact cement to bond the finished zipper assembly to the underside of a 22 X 17 " panel. I had cut out an 1/8 inch slot for the zipper to slide along. I then turned my attention to the ends. I wanted a neat finished end, something more than just flattening and bonding the two sides together.
From MDF I made a male and female form. Here you can see the pvc nylon was laid over the female form then heated with a heat gun to soften the material. I then pressed the male form in place. While pulling the material tight to avoid overlapping creases I stapled the fabric to the back side of the male form.
After the piece had cooled I applied a generous amount of contact cement to the outer edge of the piece. As well as the corresponding edge of the main body panel. After waiting 4 minutes I carefully pressed the two pieces together. Forming a nice rounded end.
After assembling the other end the same way I pulled out the staples and the wooden form, turned the whole thing inside out and trimmed the excess off. I then turned it right side out and glued the seam that closes off the back and seals the bag together. Buckles where attached and a anchor pad was created by sewing a piece of nylon webbing to a pvc circle. This anchor will be cemented to the inside of the hull to provide an attachment point for the bag.

Friday, April 18, 2008


It's been a while since my last update on the boat. It's coming along slowly. Now that all the structural components have been installed it's time to sand. I've sanded the inside and the outside of the hull. And it is now ready for paint. The paint was ordered a few weeks ago but has been back ordered and still hasn't arrived. In the meantime I've been able to prepare the hull for priming, which will be the next step.

Preparations for the expedition continue. I've almost got all the food dehydrated with only a few items left (tuna, chicken for example). The departure date is coming up fast and I've got to nail down some logistical details. I've got to contact Jack Batstone in Churchill to arrange for him to pick me up on the coast. I've also got to book my seat on the train from churchill to hudson bay, sk, go over my maps (but that can wait till closer to the departure date.) I've got to figure out how to mail a food parcel to myself in leaf Rapids.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I have to admit, drilling a hole in the hull of a boat is not a good feeling. I drilled a hole in the bow and stern for a grab loop. I had glued a wedge of hard wood to the inside of the hull. this should keep it rigid and water tight. After fiber glassing both sides of the foam, Martin helped me glue them in place. We had to work fast using a caulking gun to lay a bead of epoxy along the seems. I'm not really sure why it's purple.

Friday, April 4, 2008


I've spent the last few evening working on all the wooden parts. I used a spokeshave to contour the deck plates and to take the edge off of the gunwales. Then used a sander to smooth it all our. After removing all the thwarts I used a table router to round off all the edges including the corners of the seat hangers. I am planning on outfitting the boat with thigh straps to hold me in place for those big waves. To secure the straps I've constructed these D ring anchor pads. I bought a strip of black PVC coated nylon and cut it into 5x5 inch ovals. I then sewed a loop in the nylon webbing around the D ring, then sewed it to the pad. These will be epoxyed to the inside of the hull.