Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Homemade Portage Pads

My 14 foot Chestnut / Peterborough has a basic centre thwart instead of a carved yoke which makes for some rather uncomfortable portaging. I've dabbled with some traditional paddle yoke methods (described in this post here) but found that with my habit of taking two very different blade designs when out, the resulting yoke would always be uncomfortable on one side.

While not too commonly used here in Ontario, clamp on portage  pads seem to be quite popular in the Boundary Waters region. I picked up a pair of Stewart River pads back in 2011 and they have been used on the 15' Langford with modest success.

Stewart River pads 

I like repurposing whenever possible and the opportunity came up to make use of some free discarded stuff. During an end-of-season shoreline cleanup on the cottage lake last fall, I came across a barely used kid-sized, keyhole style lifejacket tangled in some reeds. There was no name on it and a listing on the lake association's lost and found page has turned up no claimants.


The foam inserts seemed perfect for this project so it was cut up and the innards removed. The orange nylon will be re-purposed into some rope bags or sacks for tent pegs.  

Anyway, I searched online for a tutorial on making pads and came across this very descriptive writeup here. Many thanks to the author for outlining the necessary hardware. In my case for the wooden base, I used pine cutoffs from the recently completed plank seat experiment. These were originally slats from an IKEA bed that someone discarded on garbage day.

Discarded Ikea bed slats

I basically followed the tutorials instructions but used 2 1/2" carriage bolts simply because I had them. For the metal bar, I used a 4" straight steel brace commonly used in shelving. The holes in the brace are offset which explains why the carriage bolts don't look aligned. Here is a picture of the wood bases (3.5" wide by 8" long) along with the foam from the lifejacket.



The foam was easily trimmed to shape but before wrapping in canvas, I wanted to test how many layers would be suitable for the pads in order to be comfortable but also reduce the bulk. The Stewart River pads are 4" thick. After temporarily wrapping the wooden bases with foam and rubber bands, I attached them to the canoe for a test run.

 Testing out the foam

After tinkering by removing or adding foam layers, I settled on 5 pieces per pad which worked out to about 2 1/4" of padding. With the 3/4" wooden base that worked out to  3" overall height for the pads.

The wooden base was laid down onto some brown  material (left over from a weather treated canvas tarp). Here you can see that the metal support bar was also wrapped in black duct tape to avoid scratching the wooden thwart when attached.


I differed from the original tutorial in the fold up technique to minimize the folding. Started by stapling the top and the bottom.




Then the edges were tightly brought in and stapled for a more square effect.


Here's a final pic of the underside. Certainly not professional but good enough for the job, especially for an area that won't be that visible in the end.


Attached to the centre thwart, the pads should make this relatively heavy 14 footer a bit easier to manage





Sunday, July 9, 2017

Craig Johnson's Quetico Commemorated Paddle

Issue 200 of  Wooden Canoe features a lovely article by paddle maker Craig Johnson  discussing his many trips to Quetico Provincial Park. After seeing JClearwater's post on the WCHA forums regarding a paddle decorated with a mystery map, Craig decided to commemorate his most recent trip with similar route decoration on a repaired spruce paddle.

It turns out that after laying the paddle over the tripping map, the blade covered nearly their entire route without having to change the scale. After burning the outlines of the lakes and rivers, he proceeded to paint the lakes a dark blue which unfortunately obscured the lines he had just burned.

Outlines burned onto blade


Dark Blue Paint


The waterways were repainted with a light blue to match the color on the original map and with the dark blue layer slightly showing through, it added a wonderful sense of depth to the bodies of water.


Repainted with light blue map color

The shaft was similarly decorated with the park name and year for a lovely effect...



Congrats to Craig for making such a special piece. Perhaps his work will inspire more people to document their trips with paddle maps!



P.S. Many thanks to Craig for mentioning my blog site in the article as well.



Thursday, July 6, 2017

2017 Wooden Canoe Assembly

The Annual Assembly of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association is coming up on July 11-16 at Paul Smith's College, New York. Rather than select a particular historic canoe manufacturer, this year's theme is "Paddles and Accessories".

Unfortunately, circumstances prevent me traveling to the U.S. to attend but I'll be watching out for pictures and videos of the displays with much interest. More details about the many programs and events can be found on the Assembly page here which includes a great video of the 2014 event captured with footage by an aerial drone.




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Paddles Across Canada site

Recently received a link to a new organization - Paddles Across Canada -  a national national network of paddle making workshop celebrating the role of paddling in Canada’s past and present.

Image Source: Paddles Across Canada

With their growing number of partners (including the Canadian Canoe Museum and Lee Valley Tools), they have organized carving workshops through out the country.

I've been routinely asked about locations of paddle making workshops and Paddles Across Canada has the most current and detailed list of programs happening across this wonderful country. To see the full list, click here...





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