Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Clean Kayak is a Happy Kayak!

What's wrong with this photo? Why is my $16k truck in the driveway... and my $500 kayaks are sitting in the garage? I'll give you a second to think about it. And the answer... nothing wrong from my angle! ;-) You know you are a yaker when the above photo seems the norm to you!

As you can see, I never got around to ordering storage racks for my kayak flotilla... and with only about two months before paddling season resumes for me... it ain't going to happen!

So, with paddling season just around the corner... it's time to start thinking about getting your kayak and gear in shape. I found a great "kayak care" article at Smart-Start-Kayaking.com.

Here are a couple of other maintenance and cleaning tips the article does not mention:

- At the start of paddling season (and periodically during paddling season), check and tighten all hull hardware - e.g. foot braces, rudder cable guides (if equipped), deck rigging tie downs, cockpit seat back supports, etc.

- Clean your kayak after each paddling adventure. I use hot, soapy water, a large sponge, garden hose, and a lot of elbow grease. I clean the hull, underside, and cockpit areas... than let the kayak thoroughly air dry before storing back in my garage. It's important to not only get all the lake and river gunk off your kayak, but to kill as much bacteria as possible. Lots of nasty stuff (leaching chemicals, oil, gasoline, waste products, dead animals, etc) unfortunately find their way into our waterways... and coming into contact with these hazards... either directly or indirectly by contact with the water... can be harmful to you.

So... I have gotten into the habit of always "cleaning up" after each of my paddling adventures! Your kayak will thank you for it! ;-)


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Smartphone just got smarter - Paddling and a GPS!

Or maybe it is the smartphone "operator" who got smarter? ;-) I own a Blackberry Tour 9630... and absolutely love my first "smart" phone! Built in 3.2 MP camera, email, texting, alarm clock, word processing, spreadsheets, memos, games, etc. ... and oh yes, I can make phone calls with it too! :-O How in the world was I able to function without it?

But, during my 2010 paddling season, I was lamenting the fact that I did not have a GPS device with me when paddling - both for navigation and safety reasons. But that has all changed now!

Today, I was poking around Blackberry App World and discovered GPS Tool - a free GPS application! So, I downloaded and installed the app on my Blackberry... enabled my built-in phone GPS... fired up GPS Tool and in less than 45 seconds... GPS Tool was displaying my latitude, longitude, altitude, heading, and speed... accurate to within 4 meters! Wow! It can also display basic street maps!

Now, since I always carry my phone (in a water proof bag) when paddling... my "newly discovered" GPS will be with me too! The Durhamblogger just got a little more safer while paddling!

Post Update (2/17/2011)

Thanks to the BaffinPaddler and her recent comments, I was motivated to investigate more GPS apps for my Blackberry! ;-) So, I returned to Blackberry App World and discovered GPS Find... an app for marking and managing way points, and navigating to those locations with a compass. It is made by Tworoads Software, the same software company that made my GPS Tool app! GPS Find was not free, but at $4.99 ($5.23 with tax), I thought it was a good bargain.

GPS Find not only displays location, speed, heading, distance, and bearing... it also has a customizable main screen, a Wind Rose style compass and a way point manager. It even has a Night Vision setting (red lettering on a black back ground) and a back light option for low light environments!

I'm pretty pumped with my new navigation / safety gadget! Now I just have to watch my battery life and keep it from getting wet while paddling!

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Paddling Safety - A Tragic Reminder

Greg Feeter

On Monday, January 31st, the following tragic event made headlines:A search for a missing kayaker on Falls Lake has turned into a recovery effort. Authorities say 40-year old Greg Feeter has been missing since launching from the Barton’s Creek Boat Ramp off Six Forks Road on Sunday. Several witnesses reported hearing someone screaming for help on the lake Sunday. "Last night around 7 p.m., we received a call that they were hearing someone cry for help," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. Feeter's wife said when he did not return home, the Wake County Sheriff’s Department launched an intense search with boats, helicopters and dogs. Feeter’s empty kayak, a backpack and several other things have been found, but Feeter has not. Firefighters from several departments have been out searching all day Monday. The sheriff says the cold weather and water temperature pose challenges for searchers, so does the area itself. Feeter was last seen wearing an YMCA shirt and shorts." - WTVD-TV (Raleigh-Durham, NC)

Feeter's put in area at Barton's Creek was just a few miles south of some of my favorite paddling "haunts" - Beaver Dam Lake and Sandling Beach - both on Falls Lake.

Fellow yakers and canoeists... please exercise caution and err on the side of safety when it comes to paddling - especially in cold weather!

Some Basic Paddling Safety Tips

Don't paddle alone

Always wear a PFD

Dress for cold water immersion (Dry suit) - Water temperatures at Falls Lake (January / February) are in the upper 30 degrees F. In these conditions, hypothermia will quickly set in followed by death for an unprotected individual who falls into these waters.

Check out my Cold Water Survival information and my list of essential gear.


This tragic event has left me a little shaken and sad for a fellow yaker. My thoughts and prayers are with the Feeter family.

Greg Feeter's kayak

Post Update (2/3/2011)
Greg Feeter's body was found shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday [2/2/2011] near the Upper Barton Creek Boat Ramp. Feeter leaves behind a wife and 5 year old daughter.


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