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Sunday, August 29, 2010

"My Sprayskirt Clothes Line"

Ever wonder about a decent sprayskirt? Have you found your own? How exactly does it work under conditions? Has it lasted you? Needing repairs? Who cares?

This was my first spray skirt from Perception some 11 years ago. It Velcros at the waist and was not bad. Didn't keep the water out too well during rolls but in most conditions it was successful in doing that. I used it on my rotomolded sea kayak mostly. It is now relegated to pool duty where the chlorine has eaten away at the under urethane coating of some sort. It is super light and visible at night and easy to pack. I'd give it a 6 out of 10. I'm gonna grade tight here. lol After all 11 years is a long time for water abuse of all kinds. I liked it.

This is a Brooks convertible or half pint I call it. Do one roll and your screwed. Well your cockpit is full of water. It is designed for very warm water and weather and is good enough at keeping most droplets out of the cockpit. I give it a 3.5 out of 10. I used it maybe three times. I never seem to be in that warm of water. But I hung it out anyway. It has an elastic shock cord like the previous Perception skirt and for most purposes fits snug enough under the cockpit rim. It also has a plastic implosion bar more for keeping it arched so water can run off. Again like the previous Perception skirt.

This is a Bomber Gear sea touring skirt. It is one of their older models and has served me very well. It was my fourth skirt. I used it lots in BC. It also has a shock cord for cockpit securing and a type of grip material around the edges that worked well for grip but not for water tightness. There is a knot at the rear that leaves a space for water to enter on a roll so it let water in. It has a nice secure waist band bounded with Velcro and a watertight pocket in the front that served me well for lots of things over the years. I'll leave it all to your imagination. It is a very durable skirt and as with all Bombergear it is a nice think to pimp your kayak. Very solid but not water tight which is gonna make me score this low about a 6 out of 10. I liked the clip for attaching the front end to your PFD when you get out of the cockpit. That scored it above 5. I like gadgets that work and are utilitarian.

This was my second spray skirt and I find it as useless as t&its on a bull. It is from Snapdragon and they make excellent spray skirts. So literally taken this will keep "spray" off. I just don't like a pull string, nylon tunnel. But it does help with spray. I've tried their other skirts and they are fine. Just a little harder to get here. Which is too bad. I am keeping the price out of my reviews because if I want it in a sprayskirt, I'll buy. Plane and simple. I did like the sewn in shock cord that made for a complete seam with little leakage around the rim. This will score it good with me. I'm giving it a 5 out of 10 cause I know they have sweet skirts other than this. Check their site for yourself. I use it though for my rotomolded boat when a friend uses my boat. I don't care if they get wet. lol

This is a Seals Pro Rand I bought for my Nordkapp. Wrong move. Way too snug and hard to get on and off in serious conditions unless you got arms like Popeye, mine are more sweet pea! Well maybe not that bad. Solid rim around the deck and it kept water out. Neoprene tunnel which I prefer now as I growed up. lol The tunnel is nice and snug around my waist and I really like this skirt. I either was given the wrong info or just went and blatantly purchased it under bad research. The rand as thick as it ended up ripping when out on a trip and left me a little vulnerable for taking on water. I was not impressed but I think it all was my own fault so I bought one called the Shocker without the pro rand. Obviously I am not a pro. I liked the Pro Rand though but wrong info, so I will score it an 8 out of 10. Go Seals Go. What I liked most was that it had reinforced Kevlar edges which was the big seller for me with sharp cockpit rim that I have.

Seals Shocker. Superb skirt. All neoprene. Fits my Nordkapp  nicely but when wet seems a mare bit saggy. I don't like saggy, I like a firm deck. This will knock it down a mark or so. It did keep water out but when wet might be a bit too easy to get on and off. I'm giving this one a 7 out of 10 for my boat. May work better on another rim, if so you can grade it, may even work better on other Nordkapps as I know others use them. Just my opinion. Easy to purchase here which may lead to their popularity in this area.

This is my latest Bomber Skirt. It rocks. It looks nice when pimpn' your cockpit and hey it works. The staff were excellent with me on the phone in helping with sizing and they hit it right on. I love the design and because I work in Nuclear Medicine...I like Bombs. One little draw back is that the tunnel is super tight but I like that, just a bit snug getting on. It has reinforced edges, a bonus guys. Think about those sharp cockpit rims. I got this baby in about 4 days from Colorado go figure. I can't get a potato from PEI in four days. Maybe because I spell it wrong or something. This skirt also fits snugly to my cockpit so it is good on rolls. I tried it in the pool last winter when I got it and after about 30 rolls or so a bit of water started to leach in. But hey it was leachin in my body too so hopefully when in conditions you won't have to do 30 rolls to right yourself. If you do, well you do! This skirt also has that nice little clip for attachment to the PFD when out of your boat and still wearing the dress,I mean skirt, so that is a bonus with me, I like to keep my skirt up. Sounds bout right anyways. The pull strap has some reinforced rubber on it for solid grip when needed and sits out of the way when fastened ie not dangling on my firm deck. I like that too. I like this skirt and if I had to wear one in my truck I might use this one so I am giving this a 9.4 out of 10. How could they possibly make it better? Embroid my name on it!

So what isn't on my "Clothes Line"? That would be my Immersion Research Shock wave plus Skirt because it is in my gear bag. Well not now because I took a picture of it. It has just about everything the Bomber has except the implosion band on the outside. So what does this do. A couple things for me. It is another way to release your skirt from the cockpit, not that useful for me. I liked that color blue. It also provides a point to tuck my paddle blade under momentarily for taking you get the picture. I like gadgets that work. It has a plastic tubing around the grab loop to keep it open for a solid grip. Good safety feature also makes it easy to find. It fits snugly around the waist tunnel and the cockpit rim. I used it on my trip this summer to Burgeo and believe me, we had conditions. It is solid and held up nicely. Took on water a bit at one point but that was more to do with me than the skirt. The other thing that really rocks with this company is their interactive web sight when you want info and want to order. They are quick and very ready to help with a dialog box that helps you through the process, an interactive dialog box like talking to someone on the phone. I found the service personable and very helpful and delivery super fast. Three days I think. I really don't know how they do it but believe me they do. So this skirt gets a 9.9 out of 10. These are my own opinions from usage and performance on my own boats a rotomolded Perception Eclipse and a Valley Nordkapp.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Gerrard and Mermaids"

Well it was good to see Gerrard the other day. Gerrard is doing tours for Outfitters down in Bay Bulls. My son and my Dad were coming back from a picnic down in Ferryland. I saw Gerrard on the water and popped by to say hello. It got me longing to be back in my boat. Soon I say, soon.

You can't pass by Bay Bulls and not check out the mermaid there. She poses nicely as the kayakers are caught in the backdrop. Now Gerrard if ya spot any of those on the water I'm hoping you'll be calling me. lol One way to get on the water in a hurry I figure.

As the sun began to set Gerrard's group awaits him on the water. Looks like a beautiful evening fo a Bay Bullls tour. We'll be paddling sooon buddy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Ode To Photography and Photographers Everywhere"

Sometimes ya just have to pay homage to what is real and what is wonderful. Photography to me is real because it catches those moments and when you look back on that snap years hence, how wonderful it is to realize those smells, colors and events all over again.

As timeless and nostalgic as a  57 Chevy photographs just never seem to get old with me. Sure the process may change over the years but all you still really need is a box with a hole in it and something to record light. I love this shot I took recently of the old beast. The fins, the real metal, the cool color ,the snappy bumpers, the white walls and the smooth lines just add up to a classic. Not many can say that.

Part of my trip to Cupids last weekend was to take in the photo and art show at the old Avondale Train Platform in Conception Harbour. What beautiful pieces of art and photography on display. Most notable to me was the exhibit of Hugh Hoyles Fraser a Newfoundland Photographer in the early years. This is some of his equipment on display by one of his descendants. His story is ripe with intrigue to me and his dedication to his craft was evident in the meticulousness of his work and his product. He kept journals and wrote every setting for every picture he ever took. He organised hundreds perhaps thousands of plates catalogued in boxes for print and enlarging using a kerosene enlarger seen here long before the ease of computer manipulation.

Of course bellows cameras were popular then with mechanisms and dials to adjust lens and apertures and  perhaps shutter speeds.

The literature also in his collection about photography was also an indication of how learned he must have become over the years of his passion.

One of my favourite pics I've taken below is of the camera with the drape over the rear on an old wooden adjustable tripod which epitomised for me the early tools of the trade seen in movies and in books of photography around the world. With plates needing changing and safe storage for copy to paper of some sort or to glass plates with emulsions.

 I remember when those cheap plastic viewfinders they were called came out where you inserted a wheel with two image to try and give a three  D effect. They tried this very early on as well as seen in the top image of one of the old "viewfinders" on the front of the table where you needed to put two images on either side of an eye piece for viewing.

It seems we have come a long way and yet maybe not too far because when you view the black and whites of the likes of Ansel Adams you can still be captivated by that which is the greatness of photography in its' purest form. There are way to many greats today to name but it is rewarding to me to be able to draw on the works of others if not for inspiration and clarity then for just looking and feeling the effects of a good ol' snap.
It is so pleasing that one can enjoy the air, the water and the land while recording that moment in time for eternity. My son and Dad pay a visit to St. John's on Saturday for a week. This is the second time my Dad of 85 has ever flown. The other was when he was about 40, close to my age now forty somethin' lol. This is also the first time one of my parents has been in my own house as I have always been the one away and traveling back home. My Mom passed on some years ago before she could see me actually settled and closer to home. Such is life. But with three generations hanging around for a week I will be delighted to show my Dad with my son what is the substance of my home life and what is the substance of what I love in photography. After all my Dad is why I moved back from BC closer to home. What a reward finally for his visit and his courage to do it. This is why photography is so important to me. Moments that will be captured and enjoyed for eternity.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"On Top Of Spectacle Head: An American Man"

Spectacle head is a high promontory on the north side of Cupids' Harbour. The name actually dates back to 1613, as it was recorded in a description by Henry Crout as he was describing a harbour and bay full of ice as far as the eyes could see on January 25th of that year.
It is an awe inspiring vantage point from which to view not only the small town of Cupids but Port De Grave , Bay De Grave and the North Side of Conception Bay to the north and Cupids itself to the south. You have to get there early to climb the 300 and some feet to its' top if you want to view A sunrise. I got there at 4am on Saturday morning and hiked up it in the dark with my head lamp and caught a most amazing display of sunrise and warm ,mustard colored sunrays as it rose above the distant horizon dispersing its energy on the rugged hillside and grasses beside me.

This cairn is called the American Man and no one knows for sure when it was built or what its' actual purpose isor was , if any other than to mark a piece of territory. Some say it is a survey marker that was built by Captain James Cook when he mapped Newfoundland in the 1760's. It is amazing that this pile of rock still stands like a cold solid beacon with no light other than that which gets reflected from the suns at various points during a sunrise and sunset. It is a beautiful thing.

The light was constantly changing as the Sun rose and cast shadows and lit landscapes, it was spectacular to see the transformation of the various colors as they were laid out on the landscape around me. Hills and rugged cliffs with goats to the south and on its' face. Spectacle head looks out to Conception Bay and North to various ports and rugged meadows to the north where cows graze and can be heard mooing in the distance.

This is looking into the harbour of Cupids west towards the suns resting place, unfortunate that it will eventually fade, on this already beautiful day and only 6am in the morning. Sail boats at moor in the harbour idly unbeknown st to my presence as was any in the community.

Once I had my fill of photos and there were many, I made my way down like a mountain goat content with every bit of progress yet watching carefully every step less I tumble on the broken shards of rock all around. Then it was off to Burnt  Head where once small villages existed nestled in quaint little coves and inlets with grassy meadows and rolling hills with smaller valleys and golden grasses up to your knees that brought back floods of memories of my youth. There was Noder Cove, Greenland and The Arch that made for more amazing hiking in such a short span of time. I meandered up and down and in and out of the coves and bays and meadows savoring every bit of the freedom that was solitude and sunshine on this day.

Inukshuks are all around the world now but were very deeply routed originally in the Inuit culture. The word Inukshuk means, "something that acts for or performs the function of a person." They may have been used for navigation as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds or as a food cache. Maybe even Geo-Caches now. Whatever their purpose, today they seem to emanate a feeling of friendship and serenity that says welcome to this land, tread lightly and treat it with respect and that way it will be here for many others who come along to enjoy and by viewing this Inukshuk that thought and those feelings are felt and can be passed on. This is what they mean to me. This one was at the top of a meadow that stretched down to the shoreline and a small cove below. It is any wonder why those early colonist wanted to homestead there and leaves me wondering how soon it will be encroached on again.

Certainly as I continue my hike the sun continues to climb and fisherman are out participating in the food fishery and small boats dot the bays and horizon and even off in the not to distant  silver spray in the sunlight from the blowholes of whales are filtering through the warming air and everything seems to be just as it should and just as it might have been 400 years ago. Once again I am not kayaking. It is too warm for me and besides the water today was as enjoyable from the land as it would have been from my cockpit, and of that, I am sure.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"The Finches"

WE love birds and Finches are a joy to watch. A bit timid but when feeding they are determined and a beautiful little thing. I guess sometimes when you want to view something closer and clearer you have to "chum the waters", so to speak.

I find the Red House Finch more finicky than the others.

The red House Finch which is the male and the Yellow male American Goldfinch and to the far right is the femaleHouse Finch. The males sporting the fine plumage are very colorful and more agressive on the feeder.

I tried getting this littl fellar for days as they are very timid the Red House Finches and quick. The look on this guys face shows that he is still not to sure about the situation. I took the screen out of the kitchen window and opened the vinyl window all the way, parked my tripod and camera in the sink and waited. They still new I was very much there. The Yellow Finch way more comfortable though.

Yes, Yes, I'm still looking at ya. Here's lookin' at you babe!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival"

The 34th annual Folk Festival was held here on the weekend. The music was simply grand.

There was a bit of rain Saturday night but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm. I tried an orange filter on my flash for this shot. The lanterns on the trees made the ambiance festive.

Of course I got to see one of my favourite folk singers , David Francey. Performing here under the NL flag.

Old Man Luedecke. Excellent Banjo Player and singer. Not very old though.

This guy was just amazing on the harmonica. If you ever wanted to hear , "The Orange Blossom Special" on the harp this is the guy to play. His name is Mike Stevens and he will captivate you. He played along with Raymond Mclain who grew up in eastern Kentucky. A member of the Mclain Family Band he has toured 80 countries and appeared hundreds of times on The Grand 'Ole Opry Stage.

Of course there was a variety of instruments to hear some on the main stage and some in the smalller daytime shows at the smaller venues where you got to listen to your favorite artist jammin in a really relaxed format.

The Masterless Men were there and were bring down the house. The have a mixture of haunting ballads and rousing original and traditional songs and tunes that allows them to create their own unique sound.

There were record crowds this year and the weather was perfect and the food was great and of course I ate way too manu toutons. This if you are not aware is fried bread dough that is best eaten with dark molasses. Hmmmm.

Now all this has absolutely nothing to do with kayaking but it sure keeps the landlubbers happy. Hopefully this week now that I am not on Call I will be able to hit the water.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


Alexia comes from a Greek word expressing negation. A type of aphasia where damage to the brain causes the patient to lose the ability to read. You don't have to read anything to see the enormity or beauty of this superyacht.

It is docked at harbour side downtown St. John's. I was out shooting Cape Spear yesterday early and on the way back decided to get some soft light shots. Been meaning to shoot this for a few days now. They say the owner is Argentinian, not sure on that one but it's registered port says Jersey.

It sure is a beautiful boat. A sailing sloop with an overall length of 30.3  meters or 100.49 feet. The naval architect is Javier Soto Acebal of Argentina. He says the owner's brief was to "have all the cruising comforts and to race successfully in the Meditteranean circuit." Seeing is believing even if you can't read.

Friday, August 06, 2010


"Naut D' Clew"
Bay Bulls Fog, Newfoundland

I have updated my photo site and you can find some (mostly) none kayaking pictures there.  The address if you haven't guessed is   I hope you enjoy. A folk festival is being hosted in Banner Park downtown this weekend so that will be my haunt. David Francey on Sunday night and that will be my highlight. It inspired me to bang on my own guitar today.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

"Running Of The Royal St. John's Regatta"

Quidi Vidi Lake in the heart of downtown St. John's was once again host to the oldest running sporting competition in North America. The earliest verifiable Regatta was in St. John's harbour in 1818. The tradition of this event is cultured and thick and it entices some 50,000 souls to come and watch and participate in the festivities of the day.

There was of course the now familiar wind socks of sorts.

There were scullers and ducks alike looking for lanes and the right of way on the Pond.

There was also fish ponds on land for those "Ex" large catches for the kids.

There was the odd oopsy-daisey!

Many boothes representing various communities and groups were hosting games of chance for prizes like this wooden ring toss. Just as I got there a young chap to the total amusement of the crowd got the ring on the center post containing the fifty dollar Canadians bill. Believe me it barely fits.

It was obvious that this type of paddling/rowing involved great efforts in team work and skill.

There were prizes of stuffed animals able to be won in all sorts of ways: the hammer and bell strength thingy, darts, and the list goes on. There was ethnic food and lots of burgers, fish & chips , hot dogs etc. Also a beer tent for those seeking shelter from the hoarding crowds.

On your mark, get set............

There were lots of dogs strangely enough but not many red eyed ones.

A treat on the way there was this Ural looking pretty new. In fact it is as a company in Russia now makes them I believe. They are a nice looking ride with the sidecar and multiple compartments for storage.
This was my first outing at the regatta and I have been here for five years now. The weather was very nice with sun and low winds until the last race. Go figure.  There appeared to good attendance and everyone looked to be having a great day on this local holiday in St. John's. The litter there was unbelievable. As I type this I am watching the local news and the clean-up is such that you can't even tell they had an event there. Leave no trace holds credence here! Right on.