Friday, February 28, 2014

The Planning Guide

As the saying goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Such is also true about planning, navigation, provisioning, and much of everything else. There is one part of the trip, however, about which I have heard the same sentiment repeated again and again. While I said earlier that problem solving brings a lot of satisfaction in the completion of a trip, planning, and particularly navigational planning, is the one many enjoy almost as much as the trip itself. It also has as much or more to do with the trip’s safety as anything else. Navigational planning is the epitome of safety itself. Knowing where you’re going, what hazards you will encounter, when and where you should expect them, and how far you can get in a day before finding a safe, “comfortable” place to sleep are essential.

In a well-planned trip, the actual run is the second time you will have done the trip. In a way, planning is indeed doing the trip for the first time, actually seeing the miles, rapids, portages, dams, lakes, campsites, and most other features for the first time. Another part that makes planning so much fun is that you are doing this part of the trip on the living room floor or dining room table in the depths of winter. As the maps, guides, charts, trip reports, and directories spread out over the table, the winter storms and doldrums slip away almost unnoticed. The best cure for cabin fever is planning a trip.

The first step in planning will be doing an internet search for the area you are visiting, and the first thing you will seek there is a guide. Waterway guides can be as simple as a tri-fold flyer, or as involved as that provided for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which runs 302 pages. Many also include an overview map of the whole route so you can get a general idea of whether you want to do the whole trip, or shorter segments. From these you can get an idea of what maps you may need and a list of suppliers where they may be obtained, the location of towns, main or alternate routes, historical or cultural points of interest, a schedule of area events or festivals, and so on. Once you get the guide and the maps for your trip, the fun begins.

To be successful in planning any trip, nothing beats the value of local knowledge, and the guide incorporates such information. The guide will usually come from the agency that regulates the waterway. Some may be the National Park Service, state parks, and the state department of natural resources. Some guides are also published commercially by states, like “A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri,“ or by individual authors like “Paddling Northern Wisconsin,“ by Mike Svob, which I reviewed earlier. A list of these may be found by searching sources like or Amazon books. There may also be overlapping responsibilities where the river may be managed by the park service or department of natural resources, while the water and some sections may be under the authority of a private concern, like a utility company.

The guide will generally do most of the work for you. Once you obtain the guide, you will find it incorporates all that was offered on the overview map, but of course in much greater detail. Here the managing agency will include points along your route for nature preserves and parks, canoe and kayak launch sites, historic points of interest, cultural sites, museums, state parks and campgrounds, activities for kids, accommodations, locations for provisioning and watering, and some will provide contact information for outfitters. You will also want to know how to contact emergency services, and if the water is controlled by a utility company, where you can get information on when water will be released through a dam.

In addition to a printed guide, many guides or portions thereof may be found on the internet. For example, if you go to, the site for the Erie Canal, in addition to all of that above, they will provide the lat/long for every one of the 57 locks along its 524 mile route, as well as the lock number, mile post, and telephone number for the lock operator. They also suggest that if the family enjoys cycling, there are 365 miles of bike path that follows the canal using the old mule towpath, along which the animals walked while towing barges and canal boats.

The first information you will want out of the guide is what maps you will need and where you can get them. I’ll get into maps next.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Juvenile Hawk

I had used my EOS 60D Canon for a couple years with the 18-250mm Sigma zoom lens, but I wanted to add a bit more wildlife capability. I also wanted to remain within handheld capability so as to not be dependent upon a tripod all the time. John West (See the right sidebar for his photography link. Check out his work.) suggested I go with a 400mm primary image stabilization (IS) lens, since I was shooting at maximum extension most of the time anyhow. Further, the lenses in a primary are such better quality than in a compound zoom lens, that if I needed to crop and magnify an image, I could do so without such great loss of resolution. I turned to John for advice since he does wildlife photography from a kayak, and would best understand the conditions I would be shooting under. He said the 400mm is the largest lens that should be attempted handheld, and that occasionally he will in fact use a tree limb or rock to steady the camera in a low-light, slower shutter situation. For the latter situation, I did add a monopod to reduce camera movement.

My approach, at least at the outset, will be to use the 400mm primary while in the canoe, and use the zoom while ashore where the need for greater framing flexibility should be expected. Since exchanging lenses introduces dirt, dust, etc. into the camera, I’d like to minimize lens changes as much as possible, especially in a saltwater environment.

I haven’t really gotten the chance to get out and use the new lens seriously yet, but had the chance to get a couple shots in the backyard when a hawk came in to visit the wild birds that Jean was feeding. Hawks are so close in their markings that I have trouble trying to distinguish species, but its markings do show that it is a juvenile.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Navigation? Yes!

In a canoe or kayak, you probably won't use dividers, and
certainly won't use parallel rules, but navigation is no
less important.
A couple years ago I was reminded yet again of the old joke about naval navigation. A young midshipman was feeling the weight of his first stint as navigator. He was hovering over the chart table under the watchful eyes of the skipper when the admiral walked onto the bridge. Turning to the midshipman, the admiral said, “Young man, where did you fix our 0800 position?” The midshipman pulled his 0.5mm drafting pencil from his breast pocket, and at the fine intersection of three lines of position, accentuated the infinitesimal dot, and said, “Precisely there, sir.” Smiling, the admiral looked at the captain and said, “Captain, where did you fix our position.? The captain tapped the chart with his index finger saying, “About there, sir. You know our position though, don’t you, admiral?” “Absolutely,” the admiral said, “We’re somewhere around here,” as he slapped the chart with the flat of his palm.

Doing some preliminary planning for a particular river, I had asked an experienced paddler what maps he would recommend for the trip. I got a response similar to the admiral‘s. “Maps!!?, he bellowed. “You just put the left bank on your left side, the right bank on your right side, and paddle. What maps?!”

A second true example of an unusual example of varying perspectives around navigation involved a friend we had met while out sailing. I asked how he got started in ocean sailing. He related that he was young and traveling about the country when he fell in with a bunch of sailors out in California. They took him sailing a couple times, and he was instantly enthralled. So much so, in fact, that he decided it would be neat to sail to Hawaii. He knew absolutely nothing about sailing, seamanship, pilotage, navigation, rules of the road, buoyage, tides and currents, nothing, but he was a skilled woodworker. He bought a 19-ft. daysailer, enclosed it, and built in some cabinets for storage. He went shopping and picked up some books on the nautical subjects he had no knowledge about, and a plastic sextant. With everything loaded aboard, the plan was that if he started sailing west and reading, before he passed the Hawaiian Islands, he could learn celestial navigation, figure out where he was, and navigate to a landfall. Off he went, and I believe it was 31 days later that he landed on the island of Oahu. His makes a great story, but most folks can’t get away with this. He was especially bright, very goal oriented, and capable of climbing a very sharp learning curve. He was not an example for everyone.

When choosing a wardrobe, everyone has to decide what style, design, and colors suit them best. Navigation cannot be approached that casually. Yet, I’ve met too many people that indeed approach navigation with nearly the same mindset. Why one approach does not suit every application is this. If you walk out of the store and realize in the sun’s perfect light that the pants to your black suit are actually dark blue, you are not going to be shipwrecked and drowned as a consequence, nor will you find yourself lost in a wilderness where you will starve to death, nor will you die before help can arrive because you can’t tell rescuers where you are. Giving serious consideration to navigation, the art and science of knowing where you are and where you are going, can be as important in the middle of a river as in the middle of an ocean. Not every trip requires the same degree or depth of navigational planning, but what may indeed be needed should be determined and provided for. There are those that fly by the seat of their pants and get away with it----for awhile. While it’s foolhardy, it is also viewed by some as macho, and it generates some close-calls that make a great story. It can also make a great book that will be written by a survivor, or someone who is left to freely second-guess your thinking and decision making.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Claude Delorme-In Awe of Beauty

Claude Delorme on the hunt for more photographic subjects.
After sharing one of Claude’s pictures in the last “Shot of the Day,” I asked him to share a bit more of himself, since we already seem to share some of the same spirit. If you haven’t looked at his Facebook photos yet, you’re missing a real treat. Anyhow, this is what Claude cared to add.

“You can usually tell mine (photos) apart by the complete lack of people and when there’s either a bright orange kayak, or a green cedar canoe involved. My family owns a cottage in Lanaudiere, Quebec, but I hardly go anymore. I prefer camping in some remote location by myself, and spend the better part of the day taking photos. Early morning, I find, makes for the best pictures. The lighting is perfect. Winter is the dead season for me as far as photography goes. Few and far between. I bought a GoPro HD camera last month and cannot wait to take videos with the camera mounted on either one of my boats. (Otherwise, he uses a Pentax K200R) I post maybe 20% of the photos I take.”

Thanks, Claude. Keep hunting for the pictures and sharing your own. We enjoy them very much.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Saga of the Stickers

Ibi, as she was meant to be.
In their infinite wisdom (definitely tongue-in-cheek), the Tax Commission of Oklahoma decided to eliminate boat registration for canoes, kayaks, and other paddleboats. I’m in favor of this, but the problems this creates wouldn’t exist if the ill-advised registration program had not been initiated in the first place. Always looking to wring out that last buck, the registration was really little more than a means of identifying people they could subject to a hefty excise tax for bringing boats into the state. Apparently finding the titling and registration program didn’t pay for itself, even with the excise tax, they scrapped the program. Oh, by the way. Getting rid of the titling and registration program doesn’t mean you get your accompanying excise tax back. With a sparkle in my eye, I made a point of asking, but of course already knew the answer.

As with most things in life, there’s good news and bad news in this. The good news is that one no longer must renew the registration in the middle of the summer (June 30), which never made sense to me anyhow. Why would they have registration renewal in the busiest part of the boating year? It’s part of that infinite wisdom thing again. It always seemed that logic would dictate doing administrative chores in the off-season when the boats were sitting idle. Trying to go on vacation or taking a long trip with your boat when you need to arrange getting registration renewal sent to you while 1,500 miles from home was always a real pain, but that, thank heavens, is no longer a problem.

The bad news is we now have those registration stickers and renewal stickers plastered all over our watercraft. Getting them off is labor intensive, can damage the hull, and can be dangerous, but can usually be accomplished in a day. There are a few precautions to watch for.

The best way to get the stickers off is by heating them. As the stickers age, they become more brittle, so removing them cold means pulling them off one little millimeter sliver at a time, and that takes forever. By heating, the adhesive is softened, and the stickers yield much more easily. The best method of heating is with a heat gun, but the risk is blistering the plastic or gel coat. The way around this is to hold the heat gun 6-inches away from the hull. Getting closer with the heat source greatly increases the risk of doing damage. Run the gun for no more than 5-seconds, remove it, and feel the hull. When it reaches the point where you can’t comfortably keep your hand there, the sticker is ready to come off. Don’t try to scrape the sticker off, as you will inescapably damage the surface. Just run a razor or sharp knife under the edge of the sticker, get an edge raised, and pull it slowly and evenly.

Now that the stickers are gone, you are still left with a horrible adhesive mess. I usually use acetone, but it was recommended I give Goof-Off a try, since it is supposed to be the ultimate adhesive remover. It is mostly xylene, and the health warnings that come with it are enough to give anyone pause. The user is warned to try a test spot to make sure it doesn’t melt the surface. It is okay on most fiberglass material, but I would be concerned about polyethylene or thermoformed hulls. One experience indicated that it was used on a car’s side-view mirror, and the mirror was melted. Another warning cautioned against using it around the plastic parts of a camera. The warnings include inhaling, skin absorption, ingestion, fire, the risk of storing it anywhere temperatures can exceed 120-degees, which also means anywhere the sun can reach, using it around children, and so on. Another warning cautioned about “defatting” tissue under the skin. I immediately thought of pouring it on a sponge and rubbing it all over my gut and butt, but leaned more toward caution. I decided the use of gloves was called for, and of course it melted the fingers off the rubber gloves. Finally, I went back to acetone and continued the job with my old stand-by. Another negative vote is the cost. A miniscule 4.5-ounce can was $5.

Another note is that neither product actually dissolves the adhesive. The glue is softened to an unmanageable goop that travels and smears over incredibly large areas. Using a rag quickly spoils the whole rag and smears it even more. The solution is to cut the rag into something like 4-inch squares. Get as much as you can on one piece, dispose of it, and repeat with a fresh scrap.

Finally, I decided to try Interlux #202 Fiberglass Solvent Wash. When building fiberglass boats, the inside of the mold is treated with a mold-release agent (wax) before the laminates are laid, so the hull can be broken loose from the mold for removal. Before applying bottom paint, the hull has to be liberally washed down with 202, or the bottom paint will not adhere. This does dissolve the glue very briefly before it reverts to goop, but the 202 does a much better job of controlling the removal of the glue and clean-up. It cut glue removal time to at least a third of that using either Goof Off or acetone. The added benefit of the 202 is that what is left over can be used in other jobs for oil and grease removal or clean-up, and for cleaning paint brushes. Like the other two chemicals, it is flammable and must be used with huge amounts of ventilation. 

UPDATE: I received a comment from Dan Perry on Facebook saying that he used peanut butter.  Since I was done with my job, I asked him for more details.  After removing vinyl lettering from his work truck, he spread Jiff Smooth over the remaining adhesive with a bondo squeegee about like he would spread it on a sandwich.  After letting it sit for about 30 minutes, he wiped it all off, and the PB had removed about 95% of the adhesive.   Thanks, Dan.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

To Sooner Lake

Sooner Lake.  Description follows.  Click to enlarge.
In several areas around the world, people have to become accustomed to dealing with high winds. Knowing that you are not alone in your discomfort somehow doesn’t make the winds any more bearable, however. Some deal with Nor-easters, some face gales, Siroccos, the Mistral, Meltemi, and Chinook. In fact, if you look them up, it appears there are 64 names for local wind conditions. Here in Northwest Oklahoma, we just call them Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday. Actually, it’s more like Tuesday AND Wednesday AND Thursday AND so on for weeks at a time. Yesterday the wind was blowing 40-50 mph, with gusts in one area in the sixties. Ho-hum.
If we had a bit more convection, like we will in April and May, the meteorologist says we would be having tornados tomorrow. Personally, I can wait.

Walking along the shore of the lake.
Anyhow, from Perry Lake, we continued north to Sooner Lake. There was not a hint of ice there, and there’s a reason for that. The lake is owned by Oklahoma Gas and Electric, and they have a large power plant there. The lake provides cooling for the generating plant. In the photo, you can see the plant in the top left. A thin line runs east and west across the top of the lake, and another runs north and south at about the west quarter of the lake. These are breakwaters, or rock walls, that control the water flow in and out of the plant. The discharge comes out of the plant at the top-left, flows between the breakwater and the shore until it spills into the lake at the top-right. It then circulates clockwise around the lake, passing through a canal between the shore and an island at the bottom, then flows north between the breakwater and the shore until it finally is drawn back into the plant again. The lake covers just shy of 70-square-miles and has a 51 mile shoreline. The warming keeps the fish happy, and according to one source, of the 23 record trophy fish taken in Oklahoma, 19 of them came out of Sooner Lake. There are a number of species that call Sooner Lake home, but the two most sought after are large-mouth bass and huge catfish.

A couple coots in a small branch off the lake.
We walked a couple miles along the west shore where the land is kept natural for wildlife and some cattle. We saw a number of deer trails and tracks, but nothing of the deer themselves. The birds were enjoying the warm weather as much as we were, and they sang their hearts out, especially the meadow larks.
The banks of cirrus clouds that had moved in and out all day often made the sun fade, but as we drove west, they gave us a long and spectacular sunset. Some days are just meant to be special.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pushing Spring

Perry Lake still covered by ice.
We decided to get out of the house yesterday. It was both just to feel alive again, and with an ulterior motive of checking out a couple lakes to see if the recent warm weather has opened up the ice. We saw a lot of other folks out pushing spring as well. So it’s not just me. Stores that had been nearly empty looked like Christmas shopping had returned. Everyone decided to hit the streets at the same time. We saw one young man jogging in shorts and a tee-shirt who a couple weeks ago would have been in the hospital from exposure. Another rode a motorcycle in his shirt sleeves. There were a lot of motorcycles out yesterday, but most riders were appropriately attired for the wind chill.

We rode through Perry, OK, simply because we’d never been there before. Perry was originally called Wharton. It was named after an Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad train station built in 1886 a mile south of the current town. With the opening of the Cherokee Strip to white settlement in 1893, the U.S. Government opened a land office a mile north of the train station, and assigned J. A. Perry to lay out the town plot and manage the land office.

The first sun we had seen in weeks would soon be
obscured by a thick layer of clouds.
When the gun fired at noon on September 16, 1893, to start the land rush (one of several), 100,000 men, women, and children rushed into the Cherokee territory, and by nightfall, 40,000 had erected tents in Perry. One man, Jack Tearney, set up a tent and added a sign calling it the Blue Bell Saloon. With the scarcity of water, he was able to sell beer for $1.00 a bottle. Checking the inflation calculator, we see each bottle would now be worth $26.32, and he sold 38,000 of them.

The town clock and library.
Two years previously, while it was still Wharton, the Dalton Gang rode in to rob the train, from which they gained $1745. Charlie Bryant, one of the gang members, became ill after the robbery, and was taken to the doctor. Deputy Marshall Ed Short spotted him and made the arrest, but during an escape attempt, Short and Bryant shot and killed each other.

In the late-1940’s, the Charles Machine Works Company was founded, and began making equipment now called Ditch Witch, and still a mainstay of the town. .

On April 19, 1995, a State Trooper spotted a 1977 Mercury Marquis just outside of town without a tag. He stopped the car and arrested the driver for carrying a loaded firearm. He was to later find that the driver, Timothy McVeigh, was fleeing after having bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City when he was stopped.

After crossing McVeigh’s tire tracks, we drove out to Perry Lake, also just outside of town. Perry Lake was built during the Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It has 567 surface acres and a 13-mile long shoreline. It’s still early enough in the year that we shared the recreation area with only one other vehicle. While the ice has opened in the middle of the lake, the branches and shoreline are still blocked by thin, rotting ice. The morning sun had been blocked by a thickening layer of cirrus clouds that returned a flat, drab wintry-looking sky.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Project Canoe

This is a documentary film I received from Kevin Callan this morning.  It is both a great film and wonderful program.  I think you'll enjoy this.

Paddle/Camping Shot of the Day

Claude Delorme is from Montreal, Quebec.  His photography concentrates on paddling, camping, wildlife, landscapes, and he has a passion for small, picturesque log cabins nestled in the wilderness.  I really enjoy his photography, and I'm sure you will as soon as you check his Facebook page at:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Can Spring Be Far Away?

Canoes and kayaks everywhere.  At least mine wasn't
the one with the two snakes in it. 
Photo by Maryellen Self.
We’ve been having an enticingly warm spurt in the thermometer‘s mercury. Yesterday was 45, today hit about 56, and it’s supposed to keep warming into the weekend with temperatures approaching 70. Of course, I will not risk to think what may come next with the weather, but the snow is all but gone, the sun is shining and actually feels warm to the skin, and the birds sing happily. I’ve been forced from my lethargy, coaxed from my recliner, and driven to thoughts of boat and gear maintenance and paddling trips. A week ago, we were in single digits, and now I’m thinking of spring.

While there’s no opportunity for paddling around here, in fact, there’s still ice on the little ditch out back, I’m nevertheless deep in thought about the paddling season to come. Anticipating that, there has to be some attempt at stretching the muscles and reversing winter’s atrophy, so the Total Gym is now stretched across the living room floor. I’ve put in 1,500 reps over the last couple of days, which is a slow start, but it’s a start. Most importantly, the weather and my mood are at last in some degree of synch. Come on spring.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Houston, We've Had a Problem."

On the St. Croix River, WI.
Life is a journey, not a destination. That’s also a basic truth about doing a paddling trip. The greatest joys go beyond arriving at Point B. Included are things like enjoying the minute-to-minute pleasures of water, sun, birds wildlife, and flora. Beyond the day by day challenges and pleasures of the trip, there are two other elements that should bring as much satisfaction. The first of these is successful problem solving.

It was April 14, 1970, when Jim Lovell sat aboard Apollo 13 and uttered those now famous words into his mike, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.“ Unless a solution to the problem was found, the end of the trip may well have been that moment. On any long trip, the journey is little more than a sequence of problems and obstacles. Like chapters in a book, episodes in a series, or prerequisites in a course of study, getting successfully to the finish means facing and completing each challenge in turn before continuing on. At the end of a successful trip, there’s great contentment in looking back at all the problems you’ve met, analyzed, decided how best to negotiate, and conquered in turn. The real reward from that is the confidence that develops to face the next problem, and the next trip.

When ocean sailing, there was great joy in calculating the time when a mountain, lighthouse, or sea buoy should appear over the horizon, and at the appointed time climbing on deck to discover it sitting right there on the bow. Of course it’s not that simple. There’s a lot that goes into such things. It amounts to more than the hundreds of celestial observations and reductions you’ve performed, but also calculating current set and drift, estimating leeway, managing adverse weather, anticipating and managing emergencies, dealing with crew personalities and fears, making sound judgements on how to meet and negotiate vessel traffic, knowing what hazards exist around you, or worse yet, how to survive if the rig falls overboard, the engine dies, or you realize you’re suddenly taking on hundreds of gallons of water from some hidden, mysterious source.

Handling the problems encountered in paddling are no different, and the consequences may be no less dangerous. The good news is they are also no less manageable. Here, we’re dealing with reading the river, beating hypothermia after a dunking, dealing with wildlife, orienting or navigating to avoid becoming lost, managing a serious injury like a broken leg, or an axe cut, and so on. The key to managing these and other situations is approaching them in a cool, rational manner. Hysteria or panic make problem solving almost impossible, causing paralysis in both thought and action. You have undoubtedly noticed that you almost never hear of policemen, firemen, or military personnel panicking in the face of crisis. Notice the matter-of-fact calm in Lovell’s statement. We heard the same calm in Capt. Sully Sullenberger’s announcement that he was about to crash his airliner in the Hudson River. The reason is that trained responders subscribe to the PTA. No, that’s not the parent-teachers’ association, but a regimen of Planning, Training, and Anticipation. We’ll get to planning later.

Training doesn’t just mean having the tools at hand, but the knowledge of how to use them in dealing with the situation. This not only means having a first aid kit, but having taken courses in administering first aid. It means knowing beforehand how to properly use a knife or axe so you don’t get in trouble with one, or deciding to carry a saw instead. It means not just having a compass but knowing how to navigate with it. It means not just having a signal mirror, but having learned how to use it and practiced with it. The common question is what items should be included in a paddling/camping kit before taking off on a trip. That’s the wrong question. The greater concern is if you really know what to do with it all. Having emergency flares are of little help if you don’t know how to light them or set your boat or yourself on fire with one. Yes, that actually happens.

Anticipation is vital to dealing with any emergency because it eliminates surprises. Eliminating surprises goes a long way toward eliminating panic. Part of anticipation is that even if you’ve never encountered the situation before, you’ve been there and experienced it before. How? The greatest tool for those anticipating emergencies, or adventures where emergencies may occur, is the “what-if” game. Learn from others about all the problems they’ve had, the crises they’ve managed, and the emergencies they’ve faced. The first couple ways of doing this is to take guided adventures, or training programs in expedition paddling, and joining those with much greater experience. The first two can quite costly. While of value, especially in the beginning, this approach must also be augmented with independent study, particularly if you’re diligent about it. You do this by sharing the experiences of anyone and everyone who has ever dipped a paddle or pitched a tent. Read the accounts of their trips, and every time they are faced with a problem, ask yourself, “What if this happened to me?” Am I prepared to handle it?” Don’t just read for armchair pleasure, but actually study the accounts. Answering such questions honestly will immediately reveal the deficiencies in the tools or knowledge you possess to deal with that problem. Dealing with the problem over and over, even though it is only in your mind, will indeed prepare you for the real thing. It actually hard-wires your brain to respond in a confident and knowledgeable way. You will be able to say, “This is new, but I’ve been here before, and I can handle this.” Lovell and Sullenberger both knew they were facing a real emergency, maybe even death, but their mental reaction was, “This is new, but I’ve been here before, and I can handle this.“ For such independent study, a good place to start is with the four-page list titled “The Paddler’s Reading List.” If you go back in the Log of Ibi archives, you will find this between 20-24 Feb. 2011.

As Eldridge Cleaver said, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” He was speaking in terms of political activism, but the statement is no less true in meeting crisis. We need to start by not being part of the problem.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thoughts on Blogging

Ibi in camp on Deadman's Island, Eastern Pensacola Bay, FL
I’d like to share a few thoughts on this blog, and why and how I decided to attempt doing it. First of all, I need to express my thanks and appreciation for those that return again and again to read “Log of Ibi.” This is especially true when I don’t have anything amazing or interesting to share, and yet you come. Without you, there would be no reason for the blog at all. So, thank you !

Unless you also blog, you may not appreciate what goes into doing this. I spend a lot of time doing research. When I’m out and about, I take copious notes so that I can accurately regurgitate my memories with enough feeling and accuracy that you may feel yourself actually sharing something of the experience. At least that is the goal. The post is written, edited, and edited again. Jean and I take turns reading each other’s posts, and with a fresh perspective, invariably find something more that warrants attention, like punctuation, an improper word usage, a misspelling, or a sentence that just doesn’t sound or flow right. After she’s had a look at mine, I go back and edit and rewrite again. In most four or five paragraph posts, there is usually four or five hours of work. Some posts, like “Stalled in Mid-Ocean,“ may only take a half-hour to complete, while others may stretch on for days. Finally, there’s the lesson I learned eons ago in high school, and I find it is a lesson that has served me well and paid immeasurable dividends. I let the post percolate for at least 24-hours. Not doing this is why so many people get in trouble with social media. Instead of typing it and just putting it out there, I wait a day, and then read it again with a fresh outlook. I often find I decide to change words, sentences, and sometimes I read the post anew and find I have doubts about the message, or the slant, or some of the facts. Sometimes I have a change of heart and delete the whole thing to either start afresh, or electronically circle-file it and move on.

There are several reasons why I decided to try doing a blog. Foremost of these is undoubtedly just the idea of sharing the experience. I find having the opportunity to share an experience at least doubles the pleasure, and later enriches even the memories. Of course my experience with the blog is that it really isn’t sharing. It’s one-sided. I shoot a post off into the ether, and that’s it. It dies.  This is where you can help me make changes.  Before starting, I had read Steve Earley’s “Log of Spartina” for over a year. I found it interesting first of all because he hails from the same area as me, so I could appreciate the subject of some of his posts, because we had had similar experiences. More importantly, another reason I found his blog interesting was because of the frequent reader comments he received, which often turned into dialogs. That was important to me. Coming from a social, multifaceted, and maritime part of the country to one that is agrarian and very insular was more than a cultural shock, it was entombing. The entombing becomes even more acute this time of the year when augmented by ice. I was hoping for some social contact that hasn’t, for whatever reason, materialized.

I need to ask a favor. Instead of me doing a blog, I’d appreciate us sharing a blog. If you enjoy the blog, comment. View my posts not as articles for consumption, but rather as something to provoke thought, and more importantly, discourse. I value learning highly, so would like to take advantge of your experiences. Tell me how my experience differs from yours, or what you have learned that expounds on my post, improves on it, or takes a different approach. What paddling trips would you like to take? What are your aspirations? The exchange of thoughts will not only enrich my experience, but I’m certain will do the same for other readers. Come on! Let’s share.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stalled in Mid-Ocean

I was somehow given to understand that Aleksander Doba, the Polish kayaker paddling across the Atlantic Ocean, had completed his trip. Quite the opposite is true. While determined to carry on, he is still 800-miles at sea, and each of these massive lows that have been raking the country with cold and snow, are driving him backwards and north. To get more favorable conditions, he needs to be much further south, but persistent weather conditions are determined to send him back to Europe. He has spent 3-weeks going in circles. Here’s the link to Jeff Moag’s article for Canoe & Kayak Magazine with all the details.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Buffalo Gal

Buffalo Gal, my Mohawk Odyssey 15, finally got her lettering.  Not unlike what most of you have likely been experiencing, single digits have made shop work a bit difficult.  In spite of my imposed medical layover, I haven't felt too bad about not being in Florida the last month.  Jim and Marc have reported even using their fleece in the Florida Keys. 
If you haven't been following, just a reminder to click on the "Kayak Around Florida" link in the right margin under Favorite Blogs.  They are all the way up the East Coast of Florida to Sebastian, and are taking a lay day there.  They are only 2-3 weeks away from putting this notch in their belts.  Check their journal and follow along.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Paddle/Camping Photo

I didn't figure too many people would be taking time to read on Super Bowl Sunday, so here's an image shared from Rick Eisele's Alaska trip last year to remind us that there's more in the offing than cold, frigid temperatures, and water in a solid, altered state.  Thanks, Rick.