I recently finished a batch of knives. Some were for gifts, but every once in a while you have to make something for yourself. I decided to whip up a pair of PFD (aka life jacket) knives for the wife and I. Sometimes when paddling it is important to have a knife close at hand. It could be something like fishing line string across the river, or could be that you are tangled in a rope underwater. In either case a knife that is easy to get to can save the day (or your life). I always have a folding knife clipped to my pocket, but to have something right on my chest that just needs to be pulled out should work well.
I must admit I copied the design a bit, but not exactly. I went with a sheep-foot blade and the other a claw shape. I had to rush to finish them, and made the sheaths two nights before leaving on vacation (a canoe trip). There is still a bit of finish work to knock out before I can call them done, but they worked well on our trip.
The sheaths hold the blades in securely. So secure in fact that Bridgit asked me if there was some trick to get it out. The sheath is then securely affixed to the PFD lash tab with a couple of sex screws, so it won’t fall off.
A while ago I decided that we needed to paddle a good chunk of the Huron River this summer. Yesterday we spent most of the day on the river. We started at US-23/Whitmore Lake Road up in Brighton and paddled all the way to Whitewood Lake in the Dexter-Pinckney area. We had a great time and got a chance to visit the Locks on our way by their house. The kids were fine on our 5 hour trip, we made a couple stops for leg stretching and using the bathroom.
I apparently wrote this last winter (08/09) and forgot to post it. I thought it might be interesting so I am posting it now. We used it all last season and a few times this year too. It has worked out great and spending the extra cash on an awesome yoke was well worth it.
In the fall I put a canoe downstairs so I could do some work on it over the winter. We bought an Old Town Penobscot last summer for about $500 to use as our everyday (or everyweekend as it sometimes is) canoe to limit the wear and tear on our more expensive tripping boat. It was in good shape. There was some fixing up and changes I wanted to make to it. The wood seats and thwarts were a bit neglected but a sanding and refinish was all they needed.
The only change I wanted to make on it was to remove the center seat and put a yoke in. Some people would do the opposite, but we have solo canoes. A yoke allows the canoe to be carried comfortably by one person. Comfortable is relative. Portaging is never comfortable, but can be made less miserable. Flat yokes are a thwart that has a place for your neck. They are better then a regular thwart, but for long carries your shoulders start hurting fast.
There are different schools of thought on this and I have tried most of them. In the BWCA foam blocks that sit on the shoulders are popular. They are ugly, get dirty soggy with use. They work best when used with a flat yoke so there is more room for your neck. I am a believer in the Canadian school as far as yokes go. Take a big hunk of wood and sculpt it to fit nicely on the shoulders. They look beautiful. On our Swift Kipawa the best looking wood is the yoke. So after looking around for the perfect yoke I decided on a shadow yoke from SlipStream.
It took almost three weeks but it finally happened. We went with my brother, Nic, out to Pickeral Lake. It was a nice day and we paddled around for an hour or so before going to the beach for some swimming.
We no longer have Abe's canoe that we had been watching for about 2 years, he finally took it with him and know that he will enjoy having it again.
So we have been down to three canoes, the problem is that only one is a tandem. If we want to go with another family/couple we weren't able to. We have been looking for a good second tandem for a while now and whenever we find one someone else gets it first. Today I got a chance to get all my news read and say a Old Town Penobscot (the ideal canoe we were hoping to find) in Ypsi. I went to look at it this afternoon and bought it. It needs a seat reapired and is ready for skid plate
Now we are back to a 1:1 people to canoe ratio. Eli is excited.
and that means that it is time to go canoeing. Also that it is time to do some maintenance that I have been putting off. Earlier in the week I oiled the wood on the Kipawa. I don't think that Birdgit will want to do any solo canoeing this year. Her center of gravity is off and the water isn't warm yet and later in the summer we will have a newborn to deal with in the canoe.
I got the rack on the car and bought some replacement bolts for ones that end up missing. The paddles needed some love too so I got some varnish and have been touching up spots where it has worn off.
We did get to go out at Bandemer for a paddle. Eli is much more mobile and inquisitive this year. He is able to walk around the canoe and was enthralled with the ducks, geese, and muskrat that we saw. He also really wants to paddle, so I will be making a paddle for him (hopefully this week). He kept picking up a paddle to put it in the water. I have started teaching him the proper way to hold the paddle, but his stroke needs some practice.
This year should be a lot of fun, but it will be challenging with 2 kids and 2 adults. We may just have to tie up and sit in the canoe.
So there has been talk of removing a couple of the dams in the Huron River Watershed. The dams in question are Argo Dam at the north end of Ann Arbor and the Mill Creek Dam in Dexter. I think it would be great. The Dams on the Huron do provide nice flatwater sections, but this part of the state has plenty of that nearby. The Argo Dam is 18 feet above the previous rapids that once existed there. I would love to see some good whitewater in downtown Ann Arbor. It would also serve as a good excuse to let Bridgit let me get a whitewater canoe. The only thing nearby are the Delhi rapids which are ok, but get crowded sometimes.
Here is a study by the Huron River Watershed Council, and another done by the School of Natural Resources (where my Mother did her undergrad BTW)
After this weekends paddling I looked at making a custom Google Map. I was originally intending to do just what we did this past weekend, but next thing I knew I started doing all of the Huron River that I have paddled. I am planning on adding pictures, but I don't have many on the river.
I am going to try re-paddle much of it this summer and maybe take some notes and pictures to add.
This weekend we paddled Ypsilanti. I have been looking at the map all summer and looking at the huge chunks of the Huron River that I have canoed, and also the fact that I haven't really done anything down river of Gallup park. So we started this weekend. Bridgit and I paddled the solo canoes and I had Eli in mine (he slept the whole time). We put in above the dam at Peninsular Park (aka the Paper Mill) and paddled up river to the bridge at Superior Rd and Back.
On Sunday we had a graduation party to attend at Riverside Park in Depot Town so I had Bridgit drop me off at the paper mill and I paddled down to Riverside. It was a great, quick paddle at 15 minutes. Water levels are pretty high and the river was moving at a good clip. I am not sure if I would want to do that in late August. the river was about 2-3 feet deep in most spots. The section isn't too technical. Things to watch for are: 1) a downed tree underneath the Forest Street bridge with the roots upriver in the center. 2) small rapids under the Cross Street bridge should be paddled on the left side of the river.
<%popup(20070430-ypsipaddle.jpg|640|480|The Paper Mill)%>
With this bought of warm weather, let the canoeing begin. It was over 70 yesterday so we decided to put the boat in the water. We called up Abe and he decided to shirk his homework in favor of canoeing. We headed over to Gallup park, got to the boat launch and it was iced over. We went to the main (and crowded) part of the park and and found some open water in the flow of the river. Elijah didn't seem to mind being in the canoe, he was more annoyed by the bright sunlight. He decided to instead take a nap. Of course we took pictures, the link is below.