Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Defintion of Kanjaku

light stripped of blue
warms the shoreline reeds
the oboe's voice

Summer morning, toes in wet grass, reaching for the kite resting on the back of the lawn chair, large piece of duct tape over the tear. Also an evening as dad brings the power boat in, the wind blown out, the waves gently slapping stones, me on the dock, watching, sand in a line on my thigh. Also up the West Fork, fly rod in hand, sweat drying on the back of my neck, the way the elderberry  flowers are half turned to berries, the redness of ripe against green. And recently the sound of cooling metal, the softness of the silence lying out across the lake after the engine is turned off.

 Near Regan Lake

There are moments, fat as summer raindrops, which hit you from a blue sky. The sudden awareness of awareness. The sudden appreciation of slackness that would be exhaustion if you had worked for it, the sudden slumping of something inside, like a pile of sand slumps as it dries out next to a sand castle. That very fine sound of grains tumbling. It is a pleasant sensation, a deep adjustment in the muscles. And complex, because while being relaxed and tired, it is also sharp like pricked dog's ears.

Brewster Lake

In Chinese the word is xian, in Japanse, kan. A state of mind that is free from worry, open to embrace the Dao. The root kan is joined to jaku, which means lonely or still. Jaku has a active element though, even in the stillness, like the action of making oneself loose and open. Shaking out cares, limbering up. One translator puts it simple as, "carefree idleness," and that is not bad, but there is the missing element of being open to the larger meaning in things, to being open to the smaller meaning of things. Being open to whatever there is without expectation or anticipation. Just letting go and being present.

Gray Lake

out over the dark lake
wing tips peep
sharp specs in the silence

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

All Eyes on Izon Designs

A beautiful canoe made by a talented and iconic boat designer is always a treat to see in action. This Discovery Channel production is a warm celebration of one of Skip Izon's performance tandem designs:

Skip, quoted in the Grand Bend Strip Community Newspaper in August 2008, said, "The third [design I created this year] I call The Little Tripper. It’s a 12.5’ open kayak, like a little canoe, but you use a double-bladed kayak paddle. You’re out in the open, so you’re out in the sun. You’ve got access to all your stuff, same as a canoe, but it’s light and fast like a kayak. So I’m trying to get the best of both worlds."

Ah, doesn't that sound perfect? Best of both worlds, kayak and canoe? Wait... I have one of those! I know, I know, but it feels good to gloat a little sometimes.

And the exciting news is that Skip is interested in getting his designs to manufacturers who can create more affordable versions for the average person on the street. So far, however, it doesn't appear that his Little Tripper has been picked up by anyone.

Chana R. Schoenberger writing for Forbes said, "Izon's boats come unadorned with flashy graphics or trims. "If you can make a natural shape, it ends up looking pretty," he says. "It borders on art." His customers agree. Many row their canoes in the summer, then hang them on the wall in winter."

Schoenberger indicated in the Forbes piece that Izon started selling designs to manufacturers in or around 2003. Hudson Boat Works, Mad River Canoe and Raven Works are listed. Hudson Boat Works' website does not include photos with their boats, let alone reference to the designer. Mad River Canoes doesn't  brag about who designed their hulls either. Raven Works appears to have gone out of business or at least let their domain registration expire. There are numerous links to them from canoe and kayaking sites across the web, but the tent is gone and only a digital wind now blows across the empty stake holes where the site used to be.

Not mentioned by Shoenberger is the Souris River Skeena. This is a white-water-capable tandem tripper with an attractive flat water layup that unfortunately still weighs in at a hefty 50 lbs.

I will keep my eyes peeled for other Izon designs and if you are as interested as I was, you might try searcihg for the drool-worthy pictures of the Shadow River Chipmunk I found online.

Looks like Mr. Izon does not have a website for his company, Shadow River Boatworks, which is not surprising for a fellow who does all his engineering and design calculations by hand without the aid of a computer.

If anyone knows of Izon designed boats being built in a less expensive layup, I would be pleased to know.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Lake List Updated and Plans for this Summer

I have now visited 134 lakes and paddled 77 of them. 

Updated the lakes list:

I'm planning two longer trips this summer, one to the Kennedy Lake area and one to the North Island. The North Island has the most potential for lakes but the Kennedy Lake area has some areas with high potential, particularly the Kennedy River Bog and Muriel Lake.

Muriel Lake

Of course I will also be checking out some of the lesser known lakes in the Sayward Forest and revisiting some favorites.

I recently purchased a copy of Michel Gauthier's excellent book: A guide to the Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit and will be reviewing it here soon.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Wenonah Solitude and Rendezvous

A few weeks ago my friend Paul took some photos of me trying out his Solitude and Rendezvous canoes when a few of us got together with different boats and paddles. I thought I would post  a brief review of the two boats with some of Paul's photos.

Wenonah Solitude (now built by Clipper):

The Solitude is a classic Jensen design with minimal sheer and a low stern. The tumblehome is modest but pleasing and the boat paddles equally comfortably with a single or double paddle.

This is an efficient hull that feels slightly more zippy than my Solo Plus but with relatively similar glide and tracking. The Solitude is shorter (15.6 for the Solitude, 16.6 for the Solo Plus) and a bit closer across the beam (28" at the widest and 30" at the waterline compared to the Solo Plus at 29" and 31.75" at the water line). It turns a little easier that the Solo Plus, matching the exact depth at the paddling station but with a different shape in relation to the ends. The Solo Plus has a more pronounced sheer line making it seem lower to the water at the paddling station.

I would recommend this boat for the kind of day tripping I like to do on flat water. Short two or three day trips would also be quite comfortable in this craft.

The boat's most noteworthy quality, in my estimation, is it's clean lines and somewhat minimalist aesthetic quality. Here is a shot of Paul in the Solitude that accentuates the rich aged look of both the kevlar and wood gunwales.  A genuinely pretty boat.
And also...

Wenonah Rendezvous

You can see three different paddles in this shot, and despite the look on my face I was happy with how this boat performed with each one. The bent shaft carbon fibre paddle of Paul's that I am using in the photo really accelerated this canoe nicely and I was surprised at how little effort it took to keep this moderately rockered boat on target. I'm generally not keen on bent shaft paddles for solo paddling, but because this boat is so easy to maneuver, it was actually almost effortless to paddle with a standard Canadian stroke.

My Cree/Iroquois style single blade was also comfortable, though slightly less enjoyable than it's performance in my Spitfire.  I'm still mulling this over, but for some reason the Cree/Iroquois blade is perfectly suited for the little pack canoe, while in this boat if felt merely adequate.

The Greenland style double was also comfortable to use with this boat, perhaps surprisingly given the higher paddling station (15"). Our craftsman extraordinaire, Charles, subsequently designed and fashioned a longer Greenland style paddle (actually an Aluet design) for use with our solo canoes and I will be reviewing it in an upcoming post.

I have to confess that paddling the Rendezvous disrupted my long held beliefs about rockered boats. I had always considered them to be designed for, and best suited to, river travel. For the kind of flat water paddling I now do, I have been leaning toward minimally rockered racehorses like the Wenonah Advantage. Now I am not so sure. I have to take my hat off to the designer of this hull - maybe Mike Cichanowski? There is something magical about it.

It is nimble, easy to correct and keep on target, and amazingly exhilarating to paddle. It SEEMS to go faster with the same amount of effort I would put into paddling other boats. Next to the Rapidfire, this is the hull I am now most enamored with.  Just a lot of fun to paddle.

So thanks Paul for letting me try out your boats, and for taking some shots of me in them. It was a great day and very educational.