Friday, September 13, 2013


When I started this blog it was for the simple purpose of documenting the trials and tribulations of constructing the Nick Schade designed Night Heron Hybrid.

As my night-time boat building reality is unfolding, it seems more fitting to co-opt these pages to become my general kayaking blog - building and repairing, paddling, learning related skills and perhaps a little adventure here and there.

First I have to share some not-so-new news.

This past May, I brought my most recent winter project, the Shearwater Sport Hybrid, to the 2013 OkoumeFest. There were many amazing entries.To my surprise and delight, my boat received the "Best in Show" award.

My friend Dan Thaler from Moonlight Marine had received this award two years before for his fabulous Shearwater 16 Hybrid which he had built for his wife. This year his new magnificent and featherlight Petrel earned the "Best Kayak" award. Illustrious company indeed!

So, Iris has enjoyed paddling her new 'yak and we have done a number of outings. We also joined the "outcast paddlers", an informal group of experienced sea kayakers here in the Western PA area.

In order to join them on some river runs (in potentially shallow water) I purchased a used 16' rotomolded kayak. Hey, you can't blame me now... these guy don't bring their kevlar composite babies on these outings either!

I must confess that my paddling passion has sneakily impinged on my sailing time. I would never have believed that to be possible. But here I am, happily practicing my braces and more recently rolls. I am also working on my endurance paddling... all the while winds are beckoning all around me. There is much I still have to learn.

Last winter I purchased a dry suit after much belly-aching over the shocking price of such gear... and I have come to realize that aside from marrying my wife, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Okay, I can now safely and comfortably extend my paddling season by two months - moreover, without a doubt, the water temperatures in early April or late November would be a lot more shocking - if not fatal.

After paddling my Night Heron for two seasons now I am gaining skills and understanding which make for safer kayaking. At the same time the old truism still applies: the more you know that more you realize how much you don't yet know. To that extent I have become a (card carrying) member the American Canoe Association which provides an excellent reference and guide to further develop paddling skills and experience.

Along those lines I have come to the conclusion that the ability to roll a kayak is an essential element of kayaking safety. Even if you have an unsuccessful roll after an unexpected dump, you will develop a more confident relationship with all of the elements involved.

Finally, I am sorry to announce that after several years of using my small digital camera near water, it finally decided to get wet and - alas - cease to function. Since I do not see fit to use my phone camera on the water, I finally succumbed and acquired a waterproof camera.

In my next blog I will share a few sample clips of an outing on the "Three Rivers".