Sunday, August 7, 2016

Maiden Test of the Playmate & Sassafras paddle

Got a few hours to dip the 14foot Chestnut Playmate / Peterborough Mermaid into some water after finishing the basic refurbish (read part 1 post here and part 2 here). We're lucky enough to live a quick 10 minute drive to Cherry Beach in Toronto, where one can access some protected waters and paddle around. The real point of the trip was to see if the re-sealing job on the canvas held up and if the boat had any leaking issues.

Quick access to the lake

This was also the first water test for the latest Sassafras paddle I've been  working on since last year. Also brought along the Birch Cree paddle as a backup.

Loaded up ready for the first dip

First impressions of the canoe were great. She is certainly deeper and narrower than the 14' built with Pam Wedd back in '08. The playmate / mermaid feels like it rides lower in the water and the shoe keel makes the canoe feel stiffer. Thought it handled very well heeled over too. The sassafras paddle worked really well. Feels lightweight but has a nice bit of flex, like ash. I've got 2 more paddles in the works from Sassafras that should be fun to paddle with too.

After confirming that no water was gushing into the boat, I proceeded to do a little tour of the bay. Instead of going over to the channels in the Toronto Islands, this time I just paddled the shoreline of Tommy Thompson Park. It's actually an urban dump for concrete construction waste and dredged sediment that has become a naturalized bird sanctuary. There is a healthy popluation of urban coyotes taking up residence here too.

Naturalized shoreline and shallow beach shore

Loads of ducks and waterfowl abound, but I was drawn to follow a pair of mute swans in the distance...

Mute swans and other waterfowl

Around one bend, I started to smell a strong fishy odour only to see this beast dead on shore. For size reference, there is a washed up can at the upper left. Some type of carp I suppose?

Right after I took the shot, I noticed two large bluish fish quickly shoot under the canoe. They looked to be the size of the paddle blade (27") and could be some of the Salmon being stocked into the lake for the sport fishery.

Anyway, more paddling and one quickly realizes that Tommy Thompson Park has become a huge nesting ground for Cormorants. Their guttural croaks silhouetted outlines make the whole area look pretty eerie.

Always reminding you that you are in an urban centre, started to hear an aggressive motor roaring. It was a Police Boat zooming off to an emergency call...

Eventually turned around and took a last look at the city skyline before heading back in...

Turns out there is a little bit of water seepage from the stern stem which can be easily dealt with some more sealant. Might have to remove the stem band to seal properly afterall, but I've confident I can get at least 2-3 seasons more usage out of her before the need to recanvas..

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