Saturday, November 24, 2007

First Paddle as a family of four

One of the things I have missed most in the last few years is canoeing. Being out on the waves, pulling ourselves through the waves, with the sun on my face and the water lapping all around. We just haven't gotten much chance since the kids came around.

Well, my uncle Dave recently completed building his own Kevlar canoe. Yeah, you read that right. He made the canoe pictured here by hand. And was gracious enough to let us take it for a paddle around the lake. We were so excited and awed with the privilege, we were holding our breath as we set out from the dock, but oh! it was wonderful.

He designed her very thoughtfully. Note the snappy cord to hold the bowline? He made similar features to secure the paddles while portaging, and the yoke is possibly the most comfortable I have ever used. (The yoke is the piece of wood that sits on one's shoulders to carry a canoe.) Dave said he had the wooden features made out of white cedar by a local craftsmen in his area. I guess the Kevlar is made by building a frame and layering coats of polyurethane over canvas? I'm guessing at remembering what he told me. Also note the ruler on the inside of the gunnel for measuring the catch!
The whole thing weighs remarkably little; I was afraid I would be too out of shape to carry it by myself, but imagine my suprise when I rested that yoke on my shoulders, and found it felt like nothing at all! I think Dave said it was about forty-five pounds. Later I put it together that my two kids together weigh at least fifty pounds and I carry them all the time, so now that makes sense!

Paul obligingly sat in the bow (the front) so I could take stern. He held Ezra, who was overdue for a nap, until he konked out. Then he paddled with me. Gibbie was duffing in the middle. He had a paddle too, but was mostly interested in dipping and splashing his hands in the water and eating the snack we brought for him. Never forget the snacks!We thoroughly enjoyed the view and the quiet time together. At one point, we met a little black, bright-eyed weasel, running along the shoreline, poking his head up to watch us.We saw lots of beautiful old snags, and one amazing, ancient-looking dead tree, weathered bright white by the wind and water. We passed a big roost of blackbirds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands, it sounded like, all calling and starting up from the branches of a young forest, flying in lines and swoops between one tree and another. What is the word for a lot of blackbirds? There is a murder of crows, and where herons roost is a rookery, right. What do blackbirds make? A mass? A swarm? A crowd? A legion?
I like to go right through the reeds sometimes, to let the kids feel and hear them along the side and bottom of the boat.
Thanks, Dave. Nice work.

No comments: