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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"The Tip Look"

I should mention that the plans we are using are those of Chuck Holst and can be found for easy download at site. An excellent site for Greenland style paddling information.
I was wondering how solid the tips would be anchored to the ends of the paddle blade using our dowel attachment with epoxy. It was solid and planed very nicely considering the much harder Wenge wood tips.

Soon the ends will be rounded and the sanding and rasping will allow the paddle to get its familiar Greenland look and that rich organic feeling of holding a made at home paddling device. lol.

"Almost There"

The rough paddle with tips attached but still needing to be cut out to shape. We used a jig saw to cut a rough shape and finished with a hand plane. When cutting, it is a good idea to always check the other side to ensure that you are within your markings.

A closer look at the GP blade.

Cut to shape the GP begins to get some character. Planned and reasonably shaped it still needs to be maked for carving and rasping.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Wenge Wood"

As promised from yesterdays' post a picture of Wenge wood. You can see the deep rich chocolate color as well as the "partridge" pattern that courses the grain. Follow on to see tip attachment.

"Greenland Paddle Making Cont'd"

I decided to use some Gorilla glue for the laminating of the cedar and spruce strips of the paddle. I wasn't sure how that would work as compared to epoxy and it sure looked messy.

But after a bit of elbow grease with a hand plane. I hear there are electric ones out now! It finished up pretty sweet.

Now the different laminates become cleanly visible. The paddle will be 90 inches when completed. The loom will be 22 inches and the blades will be 37 inches. The blade lengths were already adjusted for the three inch tips that will be added next.

"Dowling A Little Jig"

We used a dowel jig to impregnate the paddle blade with three holes a half inch deep and a quarter inch in diameter to prepare for Wenge wood tip attachment. We used a handrill with a drill bit for wood to make the

In the three holes drilled on the blade ends we inserted dowel centers so as to mark the hole placements (in the tip to be added) so that the dowels in the blade would line up perfectly with the holes in the tip. They did toO!

Of course we had to do a little jiggin' to get the holes in the tips.

"Attaching The Wenge Tips"

With the Weenge wood cut for the tips and the holes drilled for the dowels and the dowels epoxied in place in the tip, it was time to connect to the ends of the paddle blades.

Before attaching to the blade Neil mixes a bit of fine sawdust from an oak floor that was sanded and adds to some epoxy. This will help fill in any gaps between the tip and the paddle surface and help further strengthen the bond.

We then had to figure out how to get a horizontal clamp on the tip and paddle blade. Neil came up with an ingenious idea I thought which was to clamp a clamp to the blade then use another clamp to clamp the tip onto the clamp secured on the blade. A horizontal clamping technique wit enough pressure so as not to turn up the tip.

The finished structure awaiting union. Soon the Wenge wood of the Congo will be one with the Spruce of the maritimes and the Western Red Cedar of BC or wherever the woods came from.
Next session will see me carve the final shape and begin sanding. After which I will apply and ebony stain and oil and soon the project will be completed. I also marked of a piece of solid Western Red Cedar for my storm paddle I have also started.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"The Making Of A Paddle"

What do kayakers do when they aren't kayaking? They "jerry-rig the next gadget", or make paddles. Neil hosted part two of his Greenland paddle making workshop of which I was able to participate in this Saturday afternoon with Sean and Dean. Very generous of Neil to give up his time and tools and home for this endeavour, and it was greatly appreciated. I feel a nice dinner coming soon.

The air has a bit of dust suspended and the light from the flash is reflecting of it. Looks like it is snowing inside. Only dust, dust in the basement. Great fun guys thanks for the opportunity.

Once cut our Greenland paddle of spruce and western red cedar began to look something like what could be called a paddle. No glue and still pretty raw.

A close up of what will eventually be a blade shows how much more carving , rasping, shaping and sanding still needs to be done.

Almost looking like a dessert the paddle is glued and clamped and set to dry. Set to dry only to soon be immersed in water. Kind of ironic I guess that it has to dry to serve its' function being primarily wet.

To this paddle which we laminated with spruce and cedar I will be adding tips from a wood called Wenge (weng-gay). It is a tropical timber, very dark in color, with a distinctive figure and a strong partridge pattern. The wood is heavy and hard, good for paddle tips. The wood is a product of the Millettia laurentii tree, native to the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It has also been called by these names African Rosewood, Congolese Rosewood, Faux Ebony, Dikela, Mibotu, Bokonge and Awong.

I chose it because of its' dark color and very distinctive pattern as mentioned above. I plan to stain my paddle a hint of black and I thought this would match. I will post a sample of the wood and eventually you will see the end result, paddle, tips and all. I am anxiously awaiting the next step.

Interestingly enough the dust when cutting or sanding Wenge can cause dermatitis similar to the effects of poison ivy and needless to say is an irritant to the eyes. The dust can also cause drowsiness and the splinters are septic. That part I can attess to as I already have had to pluck out two. What a beautiful grain though.

"Off To The Presses"

There eventually comes a point in Greenland paddle making when what you cut has to come together. This is it. Dean's Greenland paddle in its' infancy being clamped. Neil making sure enough clamps are applied. Because I was clamping as well there was a strain on supplies but we made do with even an old wooden antique kind- of- vise- clamp. It all worked well me thinks. Next week will tell. As we gather for our marking and carving. Should be fun once the maiden christening is had.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"The Paddler"

I really like this shot. I've become so critical of my pictures I sometimes loose sight at what they can mean not only to me, which is important, but to what I might want others to see or imagine they see. It is good when you feel you are there. Though it is called the paddler, there is no paddle in the picture but because Tony is in his boat you can probably imagine that it is on his deck, or maybe you never even thought about a paddle. Maybe you just saw the fishing boats at their mooring, maybe you just wandered why only part of the bow of another kayak was in the side of the picture. Maybe you thought it was just to offset the fishing boat that only has part of its bow in the picture. Maybe you wondered why the slip was so dry and maybe it was just the fog at the harbour entrance that you caught. Maybe your eyes just took you first to the stern of Tony's boat and you didn't realise why. The eyes are attracted to the brightest spot of a picture first. But I bet you thought about something!

"Holding Pattern"

Holding inside the very small harbour at Bauline as Clyde prepares himself on shore.

"Course, Bearing, Heading"

Our course last Sunday was from Bauline to Cripple Cove at Cape St. Francis. We didn't quite hit our target because of conditions. The bearing was about close to due north 350 degrees the heading the same, no current and 15 to 20kt winds with gusts. The course, bearing and heading not all quite the same on this day. I was elusive as Tony pointed out to me later on, during this paddle. Sometimes I am. I get a better emotion for my environment then and kind of blend in and feel everything better. I was feeling the wet fog in my nostrils, the coolness of spray on my cheeks, the water beneath my hull, the tingle in my ears of ocean sounds, the warmth of my paddle, the ever slight chill in my bear hands that I like on the water, the familiarity of friends close by and if I were an eagle I would have been soaring,enjoying the currents of air and the vibrations of and resistance in friction. Oh I was, but mine was liquid, fluid and accompanying in every way. There was no where else!

"Land Fog"

When you paddle with land fog out of Bauline you are treated to some captivating scenery as the fog hugs the hills and moves undulatingly as you do to the tune of an ocean swell. Music to my ears and candy for my eyes. Tony and Clyde enjoying the paddle. Clyde is in a bit of a trough.

"Our Return"

Tony "railing" on our return from Cape St. Francis. Though we did not quite make it to the Cape, the conditions there that Sunday were not what we wanted that day for sure, we settled for a safe return.

"Looking Out"

For my archives. Mulling around in Bauline/Conception Bay last weekend.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"A Closer Look"

As you come into Styles Cove from Faltrock side you are entranced by the falls. Seeing only part of them at this angle. The sun seems to always shine in this area. I guess we just pick our days right. It is a beautiful spot and one that allot do not get to enjoy. LAst year we washed off under these falls. Realising the dangers of falling rocks being rained down from above, we opted out this year. But it is an excellent stop for a food break and fairly sheltered from all but easterlies.

Isabelle is about to join Neil here who is checking out the landing site. I linger for just a little while capturing all I can with my senses, enjoying the raining down sun and sloshing in the gentle swell of the cove.

From the header picture, on this page of Styles Cove, if you look closely you can see a walkway going across the top portion of the falls. I didn't see this during the paddle but ocated on my shot when I got home and realised that the East Coast Trail goes past this beautiful location. That trail I walked part of last weekend on ly out to Shoe Cove. This point is beyond Shoe Cove from the trail access point in Pouch Cove. I will reiterate that the East Coast Trail is a beautiful trail to hike on the Avalon Peninsula. The neat part about that is that there are lots of possible day hikes especially if you shuttle.

"Railing - Past Half Moon Brook"

Peter Noel one of Newfoundlands' sea kayakers', yatchsmen, and navigators' and god knows what else, said this year at a kayaking navigation presentation that we as kayakers are often "land railers". He may have said hand railers but you probably get my point. We hug the coast line when we paddle more often than we probably do major sea/ocean crossings. We may rail from island to island with small crossings but we still have to be cognizant of navigation skills and basic seamanship to be adequately prepared for the water and for our water trips. Another prominent paddler in our community Malcolm Rowe is quite learned in the aspects and distinctions between navigational skills and seamanship, they are different but comlplimentary you realize this when you paddle with paddlers who possess this skill set. Neil whom I paddleed with on this outing, always has map on deck and I know he knows, exactly where we are at all times. Utilising these skills all the time makes for a successful navigator.

I enjoy this aspect of kayaking but I employ it more on longer outings. This year though I want to employ it more on our shorter paddles. I want the practise. I like the basic dead reckoning type of tripping that we do as well as piloting and using natural and man made ranges. All of which can be done while in a kayak and sometimes maybe even unnoticed to yourself at the time that you are employing some form of navigation.

Isabelle and Neil are paddling along an exposed bit of the Avalon just past Half Moon Brook I believe. If I had of been navigating like Neil was during this trip I would have remembered for sure.

"Black Head North"

Neil rounding Black Head on a recent paddle from Flatrock to Pouch Cove on the Avalon Peninsula of NL. With the westerly winds bearing down we made it into Pouch Cove with a compulsory stop at Shoe Cove where the current coming out of there made it feel like you were on a water treadmill. Beautiful day on the water with seabirds all about.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"Pool Night Tonight"

I like getting to the pool when I get a chance. I always try to get there just before I do major ocean paddling so as to firm up rolls and learn new stuff if I can. Tonight it was rolling with my GP. At first of course I tried different things with mixed success and then just relaxed and let the paddle do it's work and that worked fine. Sometimes when I rush I loose sight of the basics. It always comes down to basics. But walking through the pool entrance corridor always gets the anticipation factor going for me as well does leaving always feeling better. Like the gym. No matter how hard I have to drag my butt to get there sometimes, I always, always feel better leaving. Good to keep those doors open.

Monday, April 05, 2010


On Saturday April 3rd, Neil, Isabelle and myself put in a Flatrock for a paddle to Pouch Cove about 14kms away. The waters were a little bit gnarly for thorough exploration like we did on this leg last year but the weather was beautiful and the paddle exhilirating, a great day to be on the water. Thanks Neial and Isabelle

"Stiles Cove"

Coming into Stiles Cove is very scenic. There are waterfalls and colorful cliffs and it is sheltered from nagging winds blowing any direction other than easterly.

"Near Seals Cove"

Floating in the frothy brine of clapotis. The winds were about 15kns today gusting to 20. Seas were 1.5-2 metres that created some interesting wave action from the westerly winds. If you hugged the shoreline though there was less fetch to feel the full brunt of the westerlies until we headed directly straight up Pouch Cove on the last leg of the journey. When we docked and carried the boats up near the post office and looked down on the water you could not appreciate the conditions you just came out of. I often wonder what people think when they see us coming in a cove. "Oh the waters are so calm for those kayakers out there". Little do they know. lol

"Shoe Cove"

After a bit of a slog around Black Head North a break at Shoe Cove to rezap the energy stores and stretch the mucscles. This stream in the foreground exits from further inland where the East Coast trail passes by.

"Neil Peeling Out"

That stream that was exiting in Shoe Cove provided a neat little putin. Putting in the stream on the beach gave you a little run down to the cove. Very short thrill, but fun. I had to try it. Here Neil is coming through after I shot through.

"Pouch Cove Take-Out"

Always interesting taking out in Pouch Cove. The waves from the east can roll over the rock ledge in the middle right of the image and give you a bit of a sideways push to the rocks on the left just before the slipway. Timing of course is everything and Neil and Isabelle were timed right on even though a wave is rolling menacingly close to that rock ledge.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

"Superior Paddles"

I am thoroughly enjoying my Greenland paddle from Superior Kayaks. I would have to say that I am hooked on the Greenland stick. I paddled 26kms on Friday and about 15km on Saturday in fairly gnarly waters of the Atlantic and felt very comfortable with it. Greg Stamer is coming to our retreat this year so I think a group of us will get him for lessons, from someone who truly knows a GP. Anyways I love the feel of the Superior paddle in my hands. The other thinG I like as well is that when I am in the process of taking a stroke I can put my ear to the stick and hear the current of the stroke. Just something I noticed. It is so light nad I feel that I can paddle with so much less effort but with similar or more speed when I sprint. Sweet all the way around. Just want to learn more on how to use it. An excellent product and the size is perfect, well for what I currently know, perfect. The stick is 90 inches and has a 22 inch loom. It is a two piece with the Lendal Lock system. Works well and no problems connecting or disconnecting and it is as solid as a rock and here on the Avalon Peninsula we know rock. lol

Saturday, April 03, 2010

"B-Day Paddle To Bell Island"

Yesterday my B day fell on easter again. I liked that when I was a kid. I got a day off. Turns out those feelings haven't changed as I morphed (kind a) into adult hood, never thought my name could be used in the same sentence as adult. I'm digressing more like regressing these days....enough already!

Anyhow I hooked up with our regular crew and we had a great paddle from St. Philip's to Bell Island and around her backside. Please don't take that the wrong way. She is a nice Island. A great bunch of guys and a great day. Maybe it was "Great Friday". Who knows? We were on the water. I will post more but I'm out the door now paddling again today. This is Tony and Dean coming into Conception Bay.

"One Bell Of A Day"

Then there were Five! Always great to start and finish with the same numbers. Our group often finishes with more but that is OK too. Great paddle guys and thanks. Thanks for the hospitality for the coffee at your house Sean. Wicked!

"April 2nd and Bell Island"

It was a superb day to paddle, to paddle Bell Island and to be lost in doing that, which others can take forever to find. Bell Island in the foreground. We put in at St. Philips' , our normal haunt, but decided to cross over that day. It only takes about an hour to do that and sometimes the wave action can slow down or speed up that considerably depending on which end of that you are on.


We all have them. Doesn't everyone in the world now own a camera. I think if you took a shot from everyone who owns a camera in the world and pasted them together you would have a "photo wrap" of earth itself, like an earth photo blanket. I got the Bell Island shots. lol The mainland is aft by the way.

"Beach Lodging"

Lots of beaches on Bell Island and rentals right at the shore line. I included this shot because the guys were all together. Sometimes that is a difficult feat.

"Past The Dock"

Passing the Bell Island Ferry terminal dock.