Sunday, December 28, 2008

Babies can be taught to swim

found this a couple of years ago
and now that I'm an uncle, and it seems like half my friends have little ones, I thought it would be a good time to post this here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Creeking Saw

wait. WHAT?!? A creeking saw?

Throwrope, knife, rescue vest, elbow pads, break-apart paddle, and now a SAW?

How much stuff do I have to carry with me?

That depends what you want to do.

A 10" folding saw won't take out a huge strainer across the river, particularly while the creek is raging. But, it will allow you to do quick debris cleanups, and perhaps even let you get out on that big tree and clear up enough branches that you can run the drop. The decision is ultimately yours to make.

Many strainers are not monster trees, but branches that floated down stream and block the line. And, there may be smaller pieces of wood that can be avoided, but would be nice to remove for the sake of less skilled paddlers (and in case you make a mistake some day).

Think of it this way. If you can avoid having to hike back into the river when the level has dropped and take care of the offending lumber immediately, why not?
We took care of this little strainer in about 10 minutes and opened up the regular line again.

A folding pruning saw (found this one in the yard cleanup section at Lowes) is small enough to be stored in a boat or backpack. Eco-friendly because it does not burn gas and oil. And, it's quiet, so you don't disturb the neighbors with that noisy chainsaw.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Farmill River in Shelton, CT

When the northern creeks are frozen, the coast of Connecticut often gets freezing rain instead of snow, and the Farmill runs. It's only 1 hour from New York City, less than 45 minutes from Hartford and just off the highway so is easy to get to. The Dunkin Donuts at the portage make winter paddling easier, with hot drinks and cheesy melty sandwiches.

After some warmup boogie water, the river bends left then you spot a house on river left as the river bends right. This drop is next to the house and can be run just right of center or left of center at these low levels in the photos. When the river is high you have to go left of center. Far right is a no-go no matter what level.

A very short bit of flatwater after the first waterfall, and just past the house (which can be seen in the background) is the first low head dam. Boof it straight and true down the middle at low levels. It can be done at medium levels too, but the hole has some real kick by then. At high water you absolutely want to do the sneak on the far left like Jimmy is doing in the photo below.

There was a tree in Left Turn (Z Turn) that maybe, possibly could have been avoided, but we had a saw, a rope, and 7 boaters so took the 10 minutes to remove it. There seems to be wood in this rapid often so it's a good thing we stopped to look.

James hugs the left shore for a tight approach to Left Turn

Jeff runs the more classic center approach which sets him up for two boofs

Jim swings wide with the current to go with the flow and bit off as much of the top hole as possible.

Here is Henry punching through the hole at the bottom, which is boxed in on both sides, with the runout blocked by a maze of rocks.

And a shot of all seven of us having fun doing multiple laps on the last drop. Hit the rooster tail and you are all set. Miss it and you might end up pitoning on the rocks at the base. Either way, be sure to smile and wave to the spectators way up on the hill above who are watching from their back porches.

I wonder what the suburban condo dwellers think of a bunch of odd guys dressed up like this climbing out of the river in their back yards...

(can you spot the Lozer?)

Monday, December 15, 2008

to run a low head dam or not?

Here is Jeff, running one of two low head dams on the Farmill. The level is very low. Note how shallow the curtain of water is.

A good boof is what you'll need. Keep in mind that super low flow over the lip does not mean the hole will be weak.

Hopefully you are lined up to land straight and with the ability to take some super quick turbo powered strokes to make sure that you maintain enough momentum to get past the boil line.

Jeff had a good boof, and was squared up to the drop enough to glide past the boil line with a smile on his face.

Everyone had good lines on this day, but even perfect boofs, in high volume boats were not enough to render this hole ineffective. Notice how everyone sinks into the super aerated backwash the moment they hit.

Everyone kept paddling, clawing, digging their way out. On this particular drop, there is an escape route to river left. There are also ways to boof or scrape over the extreme edges and (mostly) avoid the hole.

Here is Jimmy taking the safer (smarter?) route around the dam. Find a rock slide, some other route that will take you out and away from the hole when you land and you can reduce the risk. But, if you mess up and get kicked back into the hole you might be in for a huge beat down. Decide for yourself.

Like everything else in whitewater, deciding to run a low head dam is up to you, and only you. Hopefully, you chose a good line, and will stack the odds in your favor by paddling hard, having someone on the side with a rope (and a good crew who knows how to use such things)

Thruster demo for sale

more info at

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ice Blue and Pink boats

This week, someone asked me about an ice blue Stinger that he wanted to buy. Another customer was deciding between ice blue and pink for her slalom boat (she chose pink).

I did not have any good photos with those particular colors, so asked around on the DragoRossi message board and was reminded of this Madagascar trip posted by members of DragoRossi UK in which they had both pink and ice blue boats.

Critical Mass demo for sale

more info at

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pre order pricing and old 4 meter comparision

since some of the people who are interested in this plastic slalom boat are not currently competetive, I was asked to show a comparision of the DragoRossi plastic slalom boat, which falls within modern race dimensions, and one of the last competetive designs that used the older, longer dimensions.

3.5 meter SL350 on the top (new rules) and my old blue 4 meter on the bottom (old rules)

I dug out the last race boat I had before grad school got the better of me and I stopped training at the end of 2004.
Length restrictions were changed from a minimum of 4 meters to a minimum of 3.5 meters right after that time. So, the old blue 4 meter boat is obviously longer. Look how the designer has to make all sorts of strange features just to create a shorter rocker and make an easier turning boat. The new 3.5 meter boats can have the same rocker, or tighter rocker, without having to create odd tips on the boat.

If you have not tried a new 3.5 meter boat, and you used to race, then you really need to get in one of these new toys. They are more nimble, turn easier, and will make you feel like a champ.

For those of you who still compete or coach, you'll be happy to see a plastic teaching boat that is made with current design constraints in mind.

oh yea, this is an announcement about the pre order pricing too.
I got the factory to set their price for the half container being shipped to the U.S.
I'm putting up my money and credit to bring these boats over here so need to cover my butt.
The retail price will be $700.
However, anyone who gets an order in, by the middle of January, before the container ships, will be taking some of the risk away from me, and will be considered as a co-importer.
This means that you can get a boat at wholesale price.
see details here
Buy them for your club.
Buy one for yourself.
Buy them to sell.
Shipping can be arranged on an individual basis, but it starts to get expensive with FedEx, UPS, and the like. I suggest Forward Air. Better yet, if someone is travelling from one of the drop points on the east coast to your location, a little bit of gas money goes a long way.

Friday, December 05, 2008

St. Louis MO: The next whitewater frontier?

I have started a blog that will follow my progress in The Chain of Rocks River Project. Now, whitewater in the mid-west has been a black hole in the minds of most kayakers. But, I am spearheading a project that sets out to change that fact. Check out the blog, send me your thoughts, props, suggestions etc. I want to involve a large community in this because it will eventually affect a large community. Imagine, a world class river park with everything from small practice features, to 10 foot standing surf waves all at a park and play location. Imagine, a crumbling section of St. Louis, revitalized by a new source of revineau.

These are the visions of a successful Chain of Rocks River Project. Check it out.

oooooh new Critical Mass coming

Just spoke with Tony Z at and learned that my new Critical Mass is shipping very very soon. Sweet! New plastic for me. That means I'll put the old one up for sale. One friend expressed interest so he has right of first refusal, but if he doesn't take it then I'll let other know.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

yay. a photo of me

just excited to have a good photo of me because I'm usually behind the camera

This was taken by Jeff Paine (of American Whitewater) on Fall Creek this past October. Thanks Jeff!

Speaking of American Whitewater...
I know that the organization is not perfect, but I get concerned when people talk all sorts of crap about the organization while sitting on their own butts and doing nothing.

Either work within the system, start your own organization, or recocnize that you're just an unproductive complainer.

AW does what they can for ww boating. I would think that anyone's complaint would be better served if they joined up, volunteered, and let their voice be hear as a member. The only other option is to start their own organization.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mad Boy on the water with normal paddlers

not that Corran and the pros in Italy haven't entertained us with their "WTF were you thinking?" antics while designing the boat. But, the Mad Boy was designed for mere mortals, average paddlers (and I'm hoping for those who used to paddle alot but are not quite up to the same level they used to be... just like me) You know... the people who get out every weekend with no external rewards, just the pure joy of being outside and being on the water with good people. Good people like Rob, Wade, and Jeff.

Enjoy these pics from running the T'VILLE dam at about 2.5

Rob is in the yellow MAD BOY.

Wade is in an orange JEFE.

Jeff is in an orange REACTION