A NEW YEAR, A NEW CHAPTER

To say the last few days have been exciting is a huge understatement.
When the Canoe Collector started it was a result of looking for another canoe for the family and very quickly escalated into something much bigger. New adventures were tried and tested and the entire outdoors thing for me became much wider in scope. With the new adventures came a new circle of friends and influence and subsequently, I’ve enjoyed a new feeling of self satisfaction in helping others while expanding my own horizons.
Tonight, it is with great pleasure I am announcing my affiliation with Mythic Gear – high value drysuits that allow you to paddle comfortably and safely in cold water! Mythic Gear is sponsoring myself with a drysuit so you can be sure it will get a work out and I’ll keep you all posted of every adventure.  I encourage you to check them out, as I did, at their website, https://www.mythicdrysuits.com and follow on Facebook Mythic Gear and Twitter @Mythic Gear.
In speaking with Robert Holtzman, President of Mythic Gear, I gained the confidence this is a Company that will deliver the goods and stand behind their product. So, I am definitely looking forward to some “fresh” adventures.

Feel free to drop me a line regarding your travel plans because you never know when I may be in your area.

Be good, be safe!

@MythicGear #getoutside #canoe #backcountry

Gettin’ The Itch!!!

So many phone calls and texts and tweets going back and forth about this trip and that event, Did this and you have to do that.  My God!  Here I am going this way and the other; I should have been a twin and not a parent of twins.  Actually two sets of twins, but that’s another story.

Way back before the snow started flying in earnest, I mentioned I was putting whitewater canoeing on this years drawing board.  Well, talking about it and getting right at it are two distinctly different animals.  First off is the equipment starting with the canoe.  Let me see!  I’ve got seven, at the moment, so one of them has to fit the bill.

As the Canoe Collector, I’ve paddled a great number of hull designs and canoes of various materials.  I’ve got lightweight with my Nova Craft Prospector 16′ in kevlar and she will definitely take the load and keep you dry.  The Swift Algonquin 16′ in fibreglas is a jewel to paddle on lake and river but I don’t know how comfortable I’d be taking her through the rapids.  More concern for her than a doubt about my capabilities, mind you.  So which way to go?  I wanted a canoe that will be nimble in the splash zone and not afraid to run with the flow.  Bow and stern rocker need to be sufficient to handle a 16′ solo and get out quick when I need to.

Next is the target.  I’ve been pouring over my maps and talking to those who would listen about this trip and that trip so after all having been said, it will be a French River trip in the early season.  Why the French?  Good and fair question and the answer is familiarity. I know a section of that river very well and I know what kind of a ride it can offer.

The only major thing now is personal protective equipment in the form of a dry suit and helmet.  Gone, for me, are the days of running up and down the French in construction boots and jeans (remember please, most of you weren’t born when I started up there and yes times have changed drastically).  A spill hours away from the closest help can mean getting out and being carried out!

Oh ya…..the canoe!  I almost forgot to tell you.  The baby I bought is an ’07 Esquif Canyon and as Esquif has built their name on whitewater boats I’m confident this canoe will be more than able to handle anything I can put in front of her.

As for the rest, it’s a shopping I will go.  If you have any recommendations feel free to through me a line by comment here, on Twitter @canoe_collector or on my Facebook page @canoecollector.

Thanks for your time and here’s to you for planning and achieving that milestone that is special to you.

@frenchriverpp  #PaddleOn  #canoe  #backcountry  @OntarioParks

 

JUST CAN’T FIGURE WHY GUYS DON’T LIKE SHOPPING!!!

OK, so I shot you a false header because I agree, I’m not fussy on stretching my neck out to answer that famous question, “How do I look in this one?”  Luckily today, I got to do that guy thing and go shopping with Izzy.  Now mind you Izzy is not much of a canoe dog, yet, but he’s a ripper for getting out of the house and go for a ride in the truck.  Throw in a plain Timbit and he is one appreciative dog.

So trailer hooked up last night and fuelled and gone by 7:30 headed for the London, ON area.  I was amazed to see so many people going to new jobs today because it appeared they hadn’t a clue as to where they were going.  However, no harm, no foul, no insurance claim, and no assault charges…..!  The day was shaping up just fine.

Since the very second I said, “So I’ll see your Dad on Thursday morning.” the thought that this purchase was going to go south haunted me and gnawed away at the back of my mind. The back?  Are you kidding?  I thought I heard Izzy say, “Relax Dude, this is going to come together and if not, I’m enjoying the day.  How about you?”  We are so fortunate to have an understanding dog.

Alrighty then…..the shopping list!  I was looking for something sporty!  Something sassy and splashy in red perhaps with a hint of yellow, yes yellow highlights.  Something that was strong enough  to get the job done, yet gentle enough to have a fun time doing it!  It needed the warmth of wood and the curl in the lip to say, “Bring it on!”

So bring it on, we will, right after we brought her home.  Esquif has been regarded as the primo white water canoe and I’m now fortunate enough to get into the owners circle with this beautiful Canyon model.  Watch for me this spring……it’s likely to be a red hull coming down river!

So in closing, gentlemen, just get out there and shop, shop, shop, …..for canoes and such and when the Ladies ask for assistance please be flattering, complimentary, and considerate.  Bottom line here is that it’s still winter so smarten up a bit and sleep indoors.  “Oh my goodness, that colour looks radiant…..as you’re standing beside my new canoe……..lol!

 

So after a tough day of shopping, there’s nothing like relaxing with a Scotch and water….whitewater, and I like it stirred and shaken!!!!

HOW YOU SEE THINGS

The auctioneer started the bid on an old cylindrical grater at $15. and with no bids he dropped to $10. and then to $5. The audience was very still and no bid was forthcoming so the auctioneer made like he covered the mike and said to his helper’s, “You know guys, with a simple tea light these make a fantastic table decoration and they give off some fantastic shadow effects. The grater ended up selling for $27; well above the starting offer of $15.
Moral, and more importantly, the reason behind the story is that a paddling and camping couple friends of ours, Marion and Duane, suggested something from the winter ski season may be of benefit for the summer paddling season.
Goes to show you, it’s not always what you’re looking at….but rather, how you see it!
Thanks to @luv2campingmom

REFLECTING ON ACCOMPLISHMENTS…

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt.
I was looking through some different things today and laughed out loud at some of the accomplishments made this year. Did I get everything done that I’d planned? Not even close, but year over year, I got a lot more done this year and with a greater variety. Cold tenting in January, Mad River run in the Spring, multiple trips with friends and family, a 50th anniversary trip with a cast of 22 people, three dogs and 8 canoes, and followed up with a mid November tour through several lakes in the south of Algonquin.  Best thing is that this one isn’t close to being over…..!
So a word of caution to 2017…..you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…!

I would never take sole credit for any of this as it’s just more fun to share the outdoors with others, so thanks to my family, the Millers, for testing most of my limits and still making us smile, @Paddle_In @Some_Eventful @OutdoorsShawn @luv2campingmom @Man_Camping @Swift_Canoe @Canoe_In @christinascheu and special thanks to Izzy, who is just as happy to see me when I come home from work as he is when I come off a trip away.

 

 

A LEGACY BEGUN……!

What would you do with an inheritance? Take a trip, pay off some bills, or just blow the wad and go high on the hog until the money ran out?
My Buddy, Steve, found himself in this very situation and with the support of his wife, Nancy, he decided to do something that would perpetuate the memory of his Grandmother, Jean!
Sure, you could take one trip, or do something else short term to satisfy yourself, but how could you capture and nurture the memory of a loved one and keep that memory alive through your children as they remember you?
Steve has long been a lover of the outdoors and is a “keep it light” freak! As a family paddling companion, it came as no surprise on the day he announced he was going to purchase a canoe, a top notch canoe, and name her Jean, in honour of his Grandmother, so that her name and memory could become an heirloom to Steve and Nancy’s family.
Off we went to Swift Canoe and loaded three different hull designs onto the trailer for a paddle at Hardy Lake. No packs but a typical fall day complete with a stiff breeze to test the best of any canoe.
The choice was made and after a bit, both head’s nodded in acceptance.
Jean’s maiden voyage took place this weekend and she was stellar. A 16′ Swift Keewaydin in carbon fusion and Innegra along with the carbon tech package and tractor seats…..this canoe attracted looks on and off the water.
At 34 pounds, the main concern was having her blow off the truck roof but once in the water this boat made you think you’d actually known Jean…if for no other reason but to help her along.
Once loaded with two big guys, a big, yet gentle dog, and all our gear, we put off the dock and glided down the river chasing the others. Soon we were all facing a strong cross bow wind while we headed for our first campsite as night fell.
Next morning we re-loaded the canoes and headed south amidst an ever changing wind.
Standing 6’4″ and 225 lbs. I sat in the bow position and have not felt more comfortable in any other canoe….Period! This is a finely designed canoe which is rock solid stable, while being nimble and responsive to the paddle.
On the way out we encountered some substantial winds ( +45 km/ph all weekend) that rolled in every direction and this lady took what ever was dished out. We rode 1 and 1/2 foot swells and with the tumblehome Jean provided, all was kept dry and she sat proud in the waterimg_20161111_145625.
The memory of Jean will live long, through Steve and his family and for Steve’s love, respect, and admiration of family.
As a footnote, when we came out, Steve remarked on the fact the canoe and the truck weren’t the same colour. I told him, “You’re gonna have to paint the truck!”
Stay tuned for many more photos!

SPEED RIVER….!

Saturday was not close to the first time this year that I’ve ventured to to southwest section of the province in search of a new (to me) canoe!  I had a plan set up since Wednesday when I made the call regarding a canoe available for sale.  It’s funny how voices come through the phone and you just know when a deal has been done; few and far between are the deals done by someone’s word, anymore.

I knew it would be the better part of the day before I returned home, so the day started off by taking Izzy for an extra long walk.  I’m certain he knew that it would be a solo trip because he didn’t walk me to the garage door when I left.

Rolling across the 401 at 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning, I was amazed at the volume of traffic right out to the 282 exit where traffic came to an abrupt stop due to construction right up to the 278…..yup, my exit!  Oh well, with a zig here and a zag there I rolled on into Kitchener on Bridge St. headed for HandCrafted Canoes.  I could see the canoes on the rack out front and the wooden sign with the bow paddle bent over in a power stroke, let me know I’d found the right address.

I backed the Ram and trailer into the driveway and headed for the door when I saw the reason for this trip.  A Kevlar Speed River, designed by John Winters, sat right out front and while she showed signs of use, she displayed all the right lines for a quick and stable craft, yet capable of packing some gear.

I walked into the showroom and saw several different craft on display along with an assortment of seats and paddles available for sale.  I saw James fly past the shop door and he waved to make sure I knew that he knew I was there.  Introductions were made and out we went to have a look at the Speed River.  This is an asymmetrical hull with a length of 15’11”, width of 35″, bow rocker of 2.5″, stern rocker of 1.75″, center depth of 14.5″, bow height of 21″, and a stern height of 18.5″.  My mind was made up and James gave me a lift setting her up on the trailer for the trip home.

While speaking with James some great knowledge came to light with regard to their warranties and their building procedures.  While I listened it became clear why these canoes look so great.  In the shop the craftsmen follow a strict format in order to maintain the flow of construction.  Premium components come in and are handled the same way for every canoe that goes out the door.  Speaking of which, a customer took delivery of a gorgeous lime green Speed River as I was fastening down mine.  There’s an old saying, “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.”  That sums up both the showroom and the shop.  I thought to myself that I’d be very comfortable regarding any possible warranty work that someone may come up with due to these work procedures.

While working with composites, workers are subject to VOC’s ( volatile organic compounds) which are flat out bad for humans and have contributed to the ozone problems.  Most of us over the years have become familiar with the smell that instantly identifies fibreglass work being done.  HandCrafted Canoe has been building canoes for 12 years and the booth they use has a series of scrubbers and 12 filters in the venting system.  While lesser efficient systems have to set the height of their vents a minimum level ABOVE neighbouring locations, this system can basically vent down to the ground.  Net result is a concern for their staff and the environment which sure sounds like a “win win” situation to me!

Well, canoes don’t come together on their own so I thanked James for his time and a firm hand shake told me this was a good choice in a great canoe.

Having been born in Guelph I got a bit of a chuckle on the way home as my  Speed River bounced down Eramosa Road and onto the bridge to cross over the Speed River.  The trip home across country and off the 400 series highways made it clear to me that I just love what I do; a  chance to meet some great folks, see more of the country side and be able to paddle a variety of canoe designs and learn more about canoes.

 

SUBJECT TO CHANGE…..!

You just have to love the invitation that reads as follows…..” Your company is requested to join us on a late Fall adventure that will entail an easy peasy concoction of 8 lakes, 6 portages over a scant 7780 metres, within two days.  The courtesy of a reply is requested!”

“Hell, YES!”  All I got was the tease of seeing a whole lot of moose over the trip and that was good enough for me.  Again a trip that will put new players, to me, into the equation but what does that matter.  I enjoy making new friends.

So from lighter to a whole bunch lighter yet we go for this one and I’m happy to go for it.  Anyone have a phone number for cab service near Dwight…..in the bush….in the dark….?That’s what I thought.

Tonight I thought about the weapon of choice because at my age, the canoes don’t get lighter on their own and the portages don’t get any lighter.  So technically speaking I need help from others more qualified;  designers, purveyors, and those with the experience of tripping.  I got in touch with a company who has a John Winters design canoe that comes out at about 42-44 pounds and with the distance I’m looking at travelling, it sure as heck beats out the 72+ pounds I did recently on considerably less travel.

I’m already excited about the trip potential and now I’m getting antsy about trying out, yet, another hull design for possibly a season end trip with the paddle…..!

Season’s end is still “subject to change”

 

A CANOE IS A CANOE IS A CANOE…..!

Ha!  Hogwash!!  Sure they’ll all get you out on the water but will they do what you want them to do, will they be able to do what you’re capable of making them do, and will they make you happy?  As the Canoe Collector, I had some knowledge and gained much over in the scant year that I’ve been doing this.

The very first thing you need to decide is what you want to do…..yourself!  Do not allow any one to tell you what it is you need.  Flat lake, easy peasy paddling , perhaps the occasional portage, or perhaps you’re planning on a 2 month tour across the Yukon.  You’re certain not to satisfy the above with a single choice in canoes.

So with a new canoe in the crosshairs, and definitely a lighter one, we hooked up the trailer, added coffee and headed north to get together for a meeting with a canoe company we know of.  A test drive on new boats is not going to be done carte blanche at this time of year as oddly enough, while everyone states they are experts and with much colder water temps, it is not something to be toyed with!  Equipment checks were done and an itinerary was shared with an expected timeline and we were off.

The trailer was loaded with quality, obvious statement and affect from the looks heading through town, yet the trio offered so many different tangents for the canoeist.  On board we had a 16′ Prospector, a 16’6″Kipawa, and a 16″ Keewaydin.  I appreciate the fact there is nominal difference in the length but that is where the individual hulls come to life in their own capacity.

The day was heavily overcast and the breeze was strong with a smack of drizzle.  Just enough to make you say under your breath, “Why didn’t I bring wipes for my glasses?”  Toughen up sailor!  Steve flipped the Prospector into the lake and off he went into the stiff breeze to put the boat through the paces. He rocked and rolled and actually stated, “Hey, It’s only 2 -4 feet deep here!”  Oh great , and the water temp is…..?  Rest assured the inside did not get washed and the boat went to shore.

Next in was the Kipawa for Steve, while Karin and I put the Keewaydin in the water.  The Kipawa had been out for a bit as we turned the Keewaydin into the wind.  I’d many stories from many people about the Keewaydin

and when we applied some paddle pressure, this lady fair leapt out of the water in response; the track was true and in the face of a good wind the course was easily corrected while maintaining a strong forward speed.  All of the canoes were tested in a variance from bow and stern combinations and weight distributions.  Please keep in mind that these three hulls are large capacity trippers and we were just empty hull testing while keeping the end result in mind.

I’ll tell you what though, there is a time and a place for a bow sliding seat.  Karin found it and it was so delicately balanced that she noticed portaging the Keewaydin with the slider in two different positions…..seat forward….tail up!  Meanwhile at 6’4″ I found the Kipawa could have been better suited to have the bow slider.  Different strokes, right!

Stay tuned for further developments and enjoy your season because what we thought may have been over turned out to be a fun and informative day on the water while inside some of the Ontario Parks.  Research and exercise your buying decision…..it’s a matter of choice!

@Swift_Canoe @OntarioParks  #wegetoutside

 

BY ANY OTHER NAME……

A campfire is such an amazing place to be, almost spiritual with the immense scope of the world just beyond the circle of light of the flames and the same flames dancing in the eyes of the children sitting around the fire.  Truly a remarkable place to tell stories about yourself to let your friends know a bit more about you.  Truly an ideal setting for the children to build memories, some that will last a life time.  That sparkle in the eyes of the kids’ just may be the reflection of something quite worthwhile from within!

This campfire was with a group of 22 people, four of which we know very well and two others that I had met once before, and was one I’ll never forget!  More than a fair share of strangers had banded together to enjoy a trip to Wolf Lake and can you imagine their surprise when they came to find the lake had another name.  Yes, being the eldest on this journey I came to know the lake by another name.  As the story of Chicken Lake  was told, I summoned a great deal of help from the kids and a good number of the adults and so with being on the lands of the Ancients, beneath the towering pines, while the great winds blew…..I laid an egg!  No, I mean an egg….!  Some of the eyes from the younger set were absolutely priceless and I successfully proved to myself, there isn’t a great deal of age difference from four to sixty-three!  I also hope they appreciate how carefully you have to walk for an hour and a half with a hard boiled egg in the cuff of your boot top in order to tell a campfire story.

It was around this same campfire that several of us expressed concerns with the winds and the return trip coming up the following morning. For two days the winds had kept a strong pace and Saturday the wind speed grew to the point where I had to change position twice while paddling our Swift Algonquin 16 to get the nose down in the water and weather vane the tail.  She was not a day to take lightly.

Sunday, the dawn broke and Karin whispered, “Can you hear that?”  I listened for a moment and replied, “Can I hear what?”  That’s when the sound became deafening!  The sound of the relentless wind not being there.  Time for a quick breakfast and get outta Dodge because there’s only one way for the weather to go……!

It’s funny to look at the different viewpoints offered from those that participated in this trip.  We truly had everything from soup to nuts, and it really had all the ingredients for a disaster except for one thing…. every body had a real desire to paddle in.  We had the catalyst by way of the crew from Paddle In, who put a whole new meaning to “jumping in” to help, plus some great people who were there to participate, enjoy, and help others to make this trip a huge success……..and so it was!

I going to fix an egg salad sandwich but not before saying thanks to……

@Paddle_In @Some_Eventful @luv2campingmom @Swift_Canoe @OutdoorsShawn @Man_Camping @OntarioParks #wegetoutside #canoeing #backcountry #tripping