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August 2007
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October 2007

Upside Down and Backwards

Pool1Pool2I’m going to pool sessions these days, back to wearing nose clips, looking very out-of-place ("Dude, you look like a seal!") and working on rolls with friends.

I tried out a whitewater boat the other day.  If you are having trouble getting your first roll I recommend trying a whitewater boat.  They are so easy to roll it feels like cheating.  Now that I think about it I should try some of the more difficult traditional rolls in it, like the elbow roll and the elusive kingup apummaatigut (behind the back roll). 

I’m an awful rolling instructor by the way.  I let my students struggle underwater a long time before rescuing them.  They come up sputtering, their lips a blue-gray color.  Then I just yell, "You need more hip snap!"

One piece of advice when you are doing an Eskimo bow rescue: if you are being rescued please check on both sides for the bow of your rescuer -- underwater you lose all sense of left and right.  In fact, when it comes to rolling don’t even bother talking to me about left or right, and especially (as my friend Ricardo likes to do) port and starboard!  Those terms become pretty meaningless. 

Then there is that interesting piece of advice from Greg Stamer about the behind the back roll: it’s easier to learn if you start from the finish position and work backwards.  I’m still trying to figure out what the hell that's supposed to mean!  Here is a little movie related to that, pieced together from random clips taken by Dick and me.  Enjoy!

State of the Art

One of the big arguments for owning a wooden kayak is that it can be made lightweight enough to cartop and carry by yourself without risking serious injury.  If most of your paddling is in an empty boat on daytrips it makes a big difference in being able to get out on the water more often, especially if you like to paddle alone.  Well, all that's changing with state of the art fiberglass technology.  Dubside’s Ice Kap weighs only 32 pounds.  A model built without the day compartment could be as light at 28 pounds.  That’s as light as my Greenland skin-on-frame when it’s bone dry -- and the cedar frame on my boat will soak up few extra pounds when it gets wet! 

Sterling Donalson, designer and builder of the Ice Kap, had this to say about how he was able to make this 17 ft kayak so light:

We’re using different materials: vectrans, carbons, Spectra glass, and we’re using special cores.  Then everything’s infused.  So we can meter our resin and control the resin content. And that’s how we can keep them light.  Our fiber content far exceeds the resin content, so we’re strong.  Very, very strong. 

Even I’m starting to get excited about fiberglass composites now! 

Another argument for owning a custom wood boat is that, if you are so inclined and have the woodworking skills, you can customize it to fit your personality or taste beyond just picking the color of the hull, deck, and sheer stripe.  But now the partnership between auto body artists and kayak manufacturers can bring the type of artwork typically only seen on custom cars and motorcycles to fiberglass production boats.  Donalson worked with a nationally-known street rod artist to paint Dubside's face on the Ice Kap.  "It was nothing that Dub requested,"' he said.  "We just did it!"  In fact, the artist who works with Donalson can even simulate the look of wood under gelcoat.  According to Donalson, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  Now something about that seems very wrong to me!

Movie: Dubside, surrounded by adoring fans and paparazzi, unveils his Ice Kap at the 2007 West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium.

West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium Highlights

I just got back from another fantastic time at the 2007 West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium in Port Townsend, with a couple things to share:

Dubside unveiled his new shiny black kayak, a custom Ice Kap designed and built by fiberglass guru Sterling Donalson. Using a resin-infusion technique, Donalson is able to precisely control the resin/glass ratio, producing a ultralight, flexible and incredibly strong layup. Dubside's Ice Kap weighs 32 pounds. Donalson says that by omitting the day hatch and day compartment, he can get the weight down to 28 pounds.

Ten year old McKinley Rodriguez starred in the Greenland Rolling Demo. Here is a short clip of her performing the bowling ball roll -- for the first time. She looks like she is having way too much fun! Congratulations on a great performance, McKinley!

That's it for now -- hopefully I'll get a chance to upload more videos of the Symposium later!


Return to Salmon Beach

Salmonbeach5Ah, the end of summer... and the beginning of paddling season!  Now that the weather has started to cool it'll be comfortable wearing a drysuit and long underwear again.  The summer boaters will be putting away their runabouts and jet skis, and kayakers will have the water all to themselves! 

Salmonbeach7Salmonbeach1Salmonbeach2Salmonbeach4 Today I met Ricardo for a paddle down to historic Salmon Beach.  The Salmon Beach neighborhood first started out as a line of fishing shacks, summer cottages, and tent platforms along the water after Andrew and Thea Foss purchased the tidelands in 1906.  The neighborhood sits at the bottom of a cliff and the only access is through stairs down the steep cliff or by water.  The slope has always been prone to slides.  In the past, cottages would be totally wiped out from slides, but people would just rebuild on the site again the following summer.

It's interesting to see old pictures of the area in the Images of America series, Tacoma's Salmon Beach, published by Arcadia.  In those images you'll see cottages equipped with outhouses -- that emptied right onto the beach!  In fact there were no sewers until 1991!  Of course, this is juxtaposed with pictures of kids playing in the water and people fishing.  Do you sense a bit of a disconnect here?  Well, I'm sure a hundred years from now people will look back on us and see us  swimming in our own filth, metaphorically speaking -- contaminating our own food with PCBs, mercury and bisphenol A!

By the way, happy Labor Day!  In a country where the average CEO of a large corporation makes 364 times what the average worker makes, it is a well-deserved holiday for the unwashed masses!