Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.

The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it.

Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both.

This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.
~Mark Jenkins

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Birthday Paddle

We finally had a break in the weather this last Saturday (4.21.12)and I took the boat up the Columbia River Gorge for a birthday solo paddle. Stopped for lunch on a lovely little sandy island named… wait for it… “Sand Island”. After watching the Ospreys fish while I ate my lunch, along with a celebratory Black Butte Porter, I hiked over the island to find this sign facing away from me toward the main channel.

As luck would have it, I had the place to myself and encountered no actual “wildlife”…


Wildlife Sign

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Safety First!

So I ordered some “Self Rescue” straps from Seaward Kayaks up in Canada and they came last week. I got them fitted to the boat, right behind the cockpit. I took some time to remove the deck bungees, which were rather worn, from that area and paint it with Rustoleum Truck Bed Spray.

The kit was very easy to install and you can see from the photos how it all came out. I will be pulling the black bungee off and replacing it with new lines in red which should be very nice when it’s all complete.

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And a rainy day project…

I have this great love for VW Westfalias. The ones between about 1975 and 80 really appeal to me. Jess and I owned a 76 westie named “Hobbes” due to its German Marigold Yellow paintjob. I loved that van but when we moved in 1995 and he went to a very nice young couple in Corvallis.

So, with that bit of history out of the way and us back in the PNW 17 years later, I would love to have another VW, but evidently they are hugely popular and really expensive now.

Instead I am opting to outfit my 2002 Xterra for more camping adventures. While digging around the web for more info I ran across a great project site called “Compact Camping Concepts”.  The site has some really neat ideas about how to make car-camping more interesting. I am particularly enamored of the DIY Explorer Box and have ordered a set of plans from the company so I can take a more in-depth look at building one.

I think it may be a great project to start on during all this rain!!  I’ll start up a build thread here when I get ready to move forward on the construction.

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Rain rain rain

I have been managing to get out occasionally. But the Columbia and all her tributary rivers are running very high. The water is looking like the chocolate river from Willie Wonka.

So, I am still modding the kayak. My latest is adding a water ballast system behind the cockpit. It is constructed around a 10 Liter MSR Dromedary Bag held to the hull with NorthWater’s Bladder Anchor System.

I’ll post some pics of the setup (and a bit more detail)  a bit later but for now its amazing how much less “twitchy” the kayak is even in minor waves.  I am so pleased that I have offset that problem!!

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Tripping out…

After putting the custom artwork in place and getting three coats of marine wax on the kayak, I am ready to take it out for a trial spin. Weather tomorrow looks acceptable so I am heading up to Rooster Rock SP to give it a trial run. I am very excited to be getting back into the water!

I really encourage you to check out “Broake & Thumb Studios” who did the custom graphics for my boat. It is also where I received some of the most awesome customer service I have experienced in years. Amy’s work is extremely high quality; all the art is all die cut marine/outdoor grade vinyl guaranteed for five years though I would not be surprised if it lasted longer than that!

In my case she made me a set of mirrored Sleipnir (Odin’s Horse) in 8″ size as well as a vegvisir compass talisman in a 5″ size to go on the upper deck.

Amy, you have a customer for life!       Thank you!

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Together Again

So, last weekend I completed re-installing the factory seat for my kayak. The seat cushionwas re-attached to the bucket using nylon “Variable Depth Push Fasteners” for Ford vehicles that I picked up at the local Lowes.

The bucket itself was glued to the minicell pads I had attached to the hull to prevent wear and tear on theKevlar. I also re-glued the bucket to the factory minicell column in the front of the seat where it had torn loose.

The bucket was formerly attached to the cockpit columns with pop-rivets. One of the reasons I disassembled the cockpit to begin with is that a couple of the rivets were missing when I got the boat. I replaced these with nylon “M-6 Motorcycle Faring Push Rivets”. They seem very strong, wont rust, and can be removed and replaced in the field.

I think they will work but I will have to get the boat on the water to try it out.

Here are a couple pics.

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The damage to the hull beneath the seat was pretty minor, just starting to cut into the fiber strands under the finish coat. So, because it was so minor, I roughed up the surrounding area just a bit and after cleaning any grease off , applied a coat of epoxy.

Its laid up in the garage and since its pretty cool out I have a workshop light keeping the area warm so it will cure properly. I should know tomorrow how she is looking.

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As you can see, I got the factory seat out and now have finished cleaning up the inside of the hull where the seat pan meets the boat. The pan, which is made of a nice thick piece of molded plastic (Kydex?), was originally stuck to the bottom of the cockpit with what looks to be a really strong silicone cement.

The glue fastened really well to the Kevlar but did not seem to adhere at all to the pan so over time the pan broke loose from the glue and managed to rub the topcoat of epoxy away from the fibers. I am going to re-seal that entire area now that I have it cleaned up and install a thin piece of minicell between the pan and the hull hoping that will keep it from rubbing.

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Cockpit Seat Retrofit

The factory seat in my kayak fits me, but is not the most comfortable so this is where I will be starting my customization. The backband is one of the smaller IR ( Possibly and old “Reggie”) and I have ordered a new IR “LoungeBand Backband“. Its a little wider, and a little taller. That should help my lower back support immensely.  In addition, I removed the factory seat which consisted of a molded Kydex bucket and a rather firm spandex covered pad.

When installed the seat tips upward at the front by means of a minicell block glued to the floor and seat. The side of the bucket is pop-riveted in-place but two of the rivets were missing and so the seat came off as a bit shaky.   I have posted some pics of the disassembled parts  here.


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