I found a real internet treasure: Short stories on The World of Jack London site. I haven’t had time to browse the whole site but I found one interesting story with a baidarka in it called Nam-Bok, the Unveracious. It’s not too sympathetic to pre-contact Native Alaskans. They are depicted as a backward, ignorant, closed-minded, superstitious, and wretched people. Well, it was written in 1902. Another entertaining story is Small Boat Sailing. After reading that I’m really inspired to build that sailboat I’ve been planning.
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I finally worked up the energy to scrape the snow off the qajaq and go for a paddle this afternoon. The cold and dark and snow are paralyzing. I miss summer but remind myself that kayaks are arctic craft. The wind churned up the water over the past couple days. Today however it was dead calm so it would have been a shame not to go out. The most dangerous part was walking to the water on the icy road wearing slippery neoprene booties. Logs littered the narrow beach – big ones still tied together with rusty cables and entire trees torn fresh from crumbling bluffs. I paddled around the pier giving the sole fisherman wide berth and headed for the lighthouse. I decided not to practice any rolls today.
During the weekend at Neah Bay, Leon taught us the “cross deck bow jam”, which I practiced today. If I recall correctly it goes something like this: Work up some speed. Place a blade against the opposite side of the kayak at the bow (with the power face against the gunwale, if using a Euroblade... I think), and slide it down the side of the kayak into the water. Angle the blade so that the rear edge is away from the kayak. This maneuver turns the bow away from the paddle side - very effective with a Greenland paddle. After you’ve tried it a few times combine it with a sweep and edging to start the turn before initiating the bow jam. But hold on tight because it can create a very powerful turn. I find it even more effective than a bow rudder. I wish I had a picture of it. You’ll find a description of the bow jam in the BCU Handbook in the canoe skills section.
As I was paddling along the state park beach I saw a salmon, lazily swimming along the bottom. It wasn’t startled at all by me and I followed it closely, coaxing it into even shallower water. When I was in about a foot deep I just reached down quickly and grabbed its tail. I didn’t have hold of it very long before it thrashed out of my gloved hands. It must have been 20 inches long! If I had some kind of spear I definitely would have caught it. Oh well, I don’t even eat fish anyway!