Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wanigan Lid Tree Shelf

While dabbling around on the net, I stumbled on this thread regarding Lightweight Camping Tables on the BWCA forums. Seems like some folks have come up with neat plywood tables that setup on trees to get some basic gear off the ground...

  deancamp's camping table

okinaw55's suspended camping table

Turns out that there are some commercial versions out there including the Coleman Gear Station complete with lantern hooks...

I'm also familiar with the much more elaborate Mason Kitchen designed by Paul Mason. It's described on his site here.  Kevin Callan & crew often feature them in their many canoeing adventure videos. Here's a youtube video link of the gang using it in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.

Mason Kitchen

Anyway, while dreaming about future backcountry trip I thought about the idea multi-purposing the leather tumpline on the wanigan to suspend the lid as a sort of tree shelf. I'm sure seasoned trippers have done something like this before, but I haven't found any pics online showcasing this concept.

There's a spot on the cottage property that has some nice trees and I often set up my Hennessy Hammock to get a bug free afternoon snooze. This time I brought along the wanigan for the experiment. The leather tumpline was slipped off without untying all the knots. The headband was placed over the hammock's suspension straps around the tree. A low hanging branch could've also worked. The remaining leather loops which normally go under the base of the wanigan were used to support the wanigan lid and I ended up with a functional & sturdy elevated table.

Here's a view from the side...

Wanigan lid "shelf" suspended from Tump

Loaded up the shelf with some of the typical gear I might carry. On the left is a Trangia Mini cookset with an extra stainless steel bowl found at a thrift store. On the right is a separate SS kettle I like to use for the constant boiling of water for hot beverages. Can't tell, but there is a homemade alcohol stove underneath it along with the SS plate. My trusty flask of bourbon rounds out the shelf. 

Loaded up in the practice camp

Anyway, seems like a feasible way to temporarily rig up some usable work space in camp. Of course, the lid would have to go back on at night to prevent the critters from getting into the food supply. The lid can be easily removed to snap back on at night and the tied tumpline simply slipped back around the wanigan when it's time to break camp. One of the benefits of lugging a cumbersome wooden box on a trip is the flat surface in camp. Put it on the ground and you have an instant bench for food prep & entertainment. Now that there's this hanging shelf option, I'm looking forward to getting some backcountry time with it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Scalloped Grip Ebay Paddles

Another Ebay listing for a curious pair of paddles. Found at an estate sale in Maine, the seller believes they are from cedar as each is very lightweight (less than a pound).  They are just 53" long with 7" wide beavertail blades. The scalloped shape grips caught my attention...

53" decorated paddles

 Grip decoration

Wide blades with decoration

Don't know if the the seller has any other secret reason for the exorbitant price tag (currently at US $1,199.99). Maybe they got a whiff of the infamous eBay Poirier / Duluth Pack I posted on back in 2009 (then selling for $100 000 US). Apparently that seller has reduced the price down to $48 000...for one day only! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Wooden Canoe Assembly

Here's a visual treat of all the beautiful boats at this year's Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Assembly...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Book: 100 Canoe Paddle Designs

Master Paddle Maker, Graham Warren, of Moosehead Canoes & Paddles has released another must-have publication for anyone interested in this art form. Entitled,  100 Canoe Paddle Designs,  it features measured offsets and historical background for a wide array of paddles. Here's a glimpse of the cover...

by Graham Warren
March 2014. Raven Rock Books.
200 pages. A5. Spiral bound.
ISBN 0 9530352 2 0

Using digitized methods, basic outline sketches of the paddles have been rendered along with their precise measurements for anyone wishing to replicate the designs. Given the high cost of print media these days, the book is all black & white, but it isn't meant to be a coffee-table conversation piece, anyway. It was created by a paddle maker for other paddler makers!

Graham has meticulously documented a cross-section of functional paddles from around the globe. In fact, half the book is devoted to paddles outside my obviously Canadian-biased concept of "canoe country". There are fascinating examples from the Caribbean, South America and the Pacific Islands. For the history buff, he has included ancient paddles unearthed in archaeological digs in China, Denmark, The Netherlands, and the U.K. And, for owners of heirloom cedar canvas canoes, he has included offsets for famous brands like Chestnut, Peterborough and Rushton replicated from historic catalogs.

A few of the paddles in the book have been featured here on the site, including the c1878 Maliseet at the York Sunbury Museum, the Iroquois paddles at the Royal Ontario Museum, the c. 1860-1875 voyageur paddle authenticated by Canadian Antique Roadshow, and the "Northeastern Woodland" paddles at the British Museum.

Graham humbly mentions that he is no professional archaeologist or ethnologist but he does a marvelous job of providing the relevant background on each of the designs along with additional reading sources.

Most interesting and also very unique is the "Consensus Paddle". Offset data from 50 paddles in the book were entered into CorelDraw and a composite sketch created. I'll keep the surprise open for readers, but the blade design that resulted from this global pool of paddles is something that looked very appealing for a future carving project.

Between this new book and his previously publications - Making Paddles in Wood (see this post here) and Canoe Paddles: A complete guide to making your own, there are now more than enough plans to keep the enthusiastic paddle maker content for years to come.

Hat's off to Graham for doing a wonderful job in creating this outstanding paddle making resource.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lower Oxtongue River Day Trip

Have been absent for a while over-occupied with family obligations. Once again, overnight canoe tripping is not going to happen this summer. But thankfully, got to go on a wee little excursion with my son - an easy 3 hr day trip to a pretty waterfall on the lower Oxtongue River near Dwight, Ontario.

I've been here solo before and thought this would be an ideal introduction to future tripping with the boy. Up until now, he's been limited to about 1 hr of paddling time before wanting to get back to shore, so we've been puttering around the cottage lake.

This time, needed to make it a bit more interesting so I hyped up the adventure of going up a "wild river" to a "secret waterfall" where we could climb up the rocks and have a shore snack before returning. He helped pack his own gear but interestingly did not want to fish along the way, so the rod stayed at home. Matching Captain yachting caps (a gift from Grandpa) were necessary to complete the adventure wardrobe.

Young Captain looking inspecting our route

The only carry...across the road to the beach launch

Since this was a portage free route, I ended up packing the newly constructed wanigan  full of goodies as well as the packbaset with some dry clothes and other items in case of a mishap. The little man's custom cedar paddle is now too small for him so he used a left over from before my paddlemaking days - a small laminated Redtail Paddle to which I added some leather whipping.

Loading up the wanigan

Ready to launch

The trip starts with a about 1 km paddle along Lake of Bays to the mouth of the Oxtongue River. The little guy is getting the hang of paddling and prefers the right side which is great because I prefer paddling on the left.

Across Lake of Bays

Wonderful still-looking waters greeted us at the river outlet. I say still-looking because there was a noticeable current that was manageable to paddle up but it was at this point that the bow engine decided he needed a break. 

Mouth of the River

Shoreline reflections

I suppose at this age, there's only so much silence and stillness a 5 year can take, so it was time for entertainment. He had packed a bunch of small toys in anticipation for the trip and now took them out. One of the neat  things he discovered was that the space between the canoe ribs were excellent tracks for his race cars. He'd hold them up right below the gunnel and let go. Gravity and the deep, boxy canoe design would shoot the car across to the other side of the hull. There's Lightning McQueen about to race down steep slope. Plenty of paddling time was now spent setting up cars to drag race side by side. When he tired of this, his toy helicopter was used to chase away the dragonflies that would hover around the boat.

Drag racing between the canoe ribs

The anticipated shore lunch by the waterfall never materialized. He got too hungry and insisted on eating right away. The wanigan lid made a perfect tray for his lunch and beverage.

Lunch in the hull rather than on shore.

After seeing the artwork on the lid, he wanted to draw pictures on the flat surface too. So next time paper and crayons will be packed as an extra distraction. Who knows, maybe he'll end up being a modern day canoe tripping artist like Rejean Roy.  Soon the roar of the waterfall could be heard. Things were packed up and the little Captain took his place in the bow seat again. You can just make out Marsh's falls in the distance.

Water levels were high for this time in the season. Plenty of mist and spray. The waterfall is usually tame enough for people to swim in the pool that separates the upper and lower cascades - not so this year. There's private property on the left and the usual landing spot on the right was too flooded with strong currents to go on shore.

After dabbling around at the base of the falls and taking more pics, it was time to head back. However, after not helping with the upstream paddling at all, the Captain was informed of the need to help with the downstream propulsion in order to get a surprise treat. Did we ever start moving after that! While he was busy maneuvering the boat, some marshmallow treats were prepare on the wanigan lid.

On the paddle back he practiced some French songs learned this past kindergarten year. Singing helped immensely with the paddling rhythm. That's the secret to getting kids paddle harder, I suppose...singing and sugar! 

Since I've always been a solo paddler, it was great learning experience for both of us to see what worked and what didn't. I consider it a success because by the time we ended up back at the launch point, he asked about when we could go out for another canoe adventure again. Hoping that next year, we can do an overnighter finally. 

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