“There is nothing–absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” – Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Especially if that boat is a new canoe!

Today was the shakedown cruise for our new Swift Kipawa….it’s a little bittersweet to say farewell to Old Town, since those canoes got us started on this journey. But we had been looking (theoretically) at lightweight kevlar canoes….priced well beyond our Old Town Discovery and Camper canoes.  We lucked out…Craig came through for us again; we bought our first 2 canoes from his “list”, and recently located a kevlar canoe in Concord NH on his list. A bit of a hike, but conveniently, I happened to have family business near there yesterday, so off I went, spec sheets and measurements in hand.

The folks at Quickwater Canoe and Kayak could not have been more helpful; they even understood my taking measurements to be sure the dogs would fit!  So today, we had to get out to give it a try….

Weather forecast was iffy; super-dooper doppler radar indicated we would not have rain until at least 0900, so we were in the water by 0700. We had a carry of 1/3 mile to the put-in. The canoe is definitely easier to carry, but next time we will use our homemade dolly. If we do have a long carry, we’ll also put foam padding on the carry handles. But as far as car-topping it…our shoulders cheered in jubilation, as the 42 lb. boat flew up on the roof with much more grace than our 85 lb. canoe ever exhibited!

The walk-in was highlighted by our encounter with Bella, an 8-week old black lab puppy….cuteness to the max… Our guys were a bit confounded by this little baby running around them!

solo swift 3

The water was calm, we were alone on the water. The dogs hopped right in, just happy to ride in the canoe boat.  The compartment configuration is a bit different, but the pups adjusted well. We knew that the initial stability for this shallow vee hull would be different from the Old Town; however, once we got moving, it was smoooooth paddling.  The overall load capacity is a bit less than the Old Town, but we pack pretty light when canoe camping, and there is plenty of room for our gear in this boat.

We saw flocks of ducks taking off, a beaver swimming and diving near his lodge, and a solitary loon. On one shore, a majestic, very large heron stood at attention….didn’t matter to him that he was being watched with 2 pairs of K9 laser eyes.

solo swift heron 1

This canoe has a kneeling thwart; to check it out, each dog got a chance to be a solo pup….that was fun! I think soloing in this boat will be much more efficient than in the old boat. If dad and Edgar use our Kayak, then Griff and I can solo in the Swift…lots of fun to be had.

solo swift 1

solo swift 2

“To lose itself in a fog” …. Shakespeare, Coriolanus

Yep, we got a bit lost in the fog today….headed out at 0715, on a very familiar body of water. Fog was pretty dense, with visibility less that 1/10 of a mile. We followed the shoreline, ( or what we could see of it), recognizing familiar landmarks to get our bearings.

ImageThe only sound we heard was off in the  distance…the  muted roar of a lawn tractor, mowing the rolling hills of the day use state park. A few birds sounded the alarm, but we never saw them.  The dogs were well behaved, and relaxed during the peaceful paddle.

ImageThankfully, we encountered no power boats, and given the conditions, we stayed away from their usual areas. We made a sweeping turn, heading for the opposite shoreline ( or so we thought).  Somehow, we misjudged the peninsulas and outcroppings, and did not make a sufficient turn. So, in essence, we ended up making a large circle….it was actually quite funny, though neither of us was ever aware of our clockwise pattern….yes, we were disoriented and lost in the fog. Lessons learned!

“The Fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar)

As we pulled up to shore , a pair of loons appeared right off the take-out area…they separated, then rejoined in a moment that had us  saying ” awwwww” in unplanned unison.

ImageA Good day on the water…..

The Bailer Saves the Day …. Leading to a Wonderful overnight Canoe Camping Trip….


Yes, the bailer…the plastic milk jug/homemade bailer came to the rescue for the first time. No, we didn’t take on water, but we were certainly glad to have this simple tool with us. We had reserved our desired, prime, on the water campsite 2 months ago ( the prime sites go quickly at this lake), and we were thrilled that the weather forecast was perfect, the 2 dogs had done well in the loaded canoe, and the water was warm and calm. However, as we pulled up to this special site, we saw that a flock of geese had “squatted” ( literally and figuratively) on the site, and were basking in the sun, in no hurry to move off. Splashing paddles into the water finally encouraged them to slowwwwwly waddle off; as we got onshore, we quickly realized that MANY goose “land mines” had been left behind…okay, so we don’t want the dogs snacking, we don’t want to step on them, and certainly don’t want to pitch a tent on such a surface. Our small trowel seemed pitiful for such an endeavor, but alas, the use of the bailer worked wonders,and we soon had a cleansed area to pitch our tent!

GRR trip 2

Once we got camp set up, we took a lovely sunset paddle; the waters were calm and the temperature perfect. After the paddle, we had a dinner made via JetBoil stove, and settled in for a peaceful evening by the fire.

GRR trip 16

In the morning, the pups were up and ready to go, so we had a sunrise paddle, in the foggy, mirror-like waters of the reservoir. There were lots and lots of loons, we explored areas we had not paddled yet, and came back to the campsite ready for breakfast.

GRR trip 3

After breakfast, we packed up and headed in…on the way, we were escorted by a pair of loons who unexpectedly surfaced right near our boat. For once, I had the camera ready, as I had been photographing an AUTUMN (!!!) leaf floating in the water.

GRR trip 13

Not to overburden the posts, I have added a few photos to our photo page…we are so fortunate to have a gem like this only 30 minutes from our home..we’ve already made reservations for next months trip!

Quiet waters…early fog, watching the geese,loons, and ducks

We had a quiet paddle this morning…wind picked up pretty good, so we headed in to shore after only about an hour. We were watching a flock of geese, when a loon suddenly appeared about 50 feet from the boat…who is harassing who? We quickly moved away , letting the beautiful loon dive for fish, sharing the same lagoon with the geese.

Since we had not been paddling in a few weeks,it was a good refresher for the pups, as we get ready for canoe camping next week….

No Canoe this weekend…in and around water, not on it!

OHIO 21Long trip ( 1500 miles round trip) to visit family, so no canoeing this week, However, we did get a chance to take the pups to some different type environments, where they were able to play in waves and waterfalls. Actually, kind of a nice change of pace…..


We also did a bit of car camping on the trip, so we experimented with a few “camping hacks” that we had recently seen in an article….
The Ones we tried, and liked are :
#1. Foam floor tiles in the tent–we used cheap ones (2×2 feet) from a discount store, so a 6×6 area surface was only about 20 bucks or so…they worked great, and with two large dogs in the tent, seemed to be a nice protective layer. When stacked, the 2×2 pile is about 4 inches high…not sure how practical for canoe camping!
#6 ( sort of)…we used a thehomesteadsurvival.com recipe of lemongrass oil and eucalyptus oil with water…worked fantastic on us and the pups, against some swarms of mosquitoes ..we never saw any ticks on any of us,even though we were in tick country.
#25 Campfire starter–with easy light briquettes in egg-carton…we actually only used a “six-pack” for each fire. Worked well, even with some less than stellar quality firewood.
And our own “hack”..we bought cheap (3.00 each) “fleece blankets” in the discount store…sewed up one side of the folded blanket rectangle, to make a sleeve to slip over our inflatable Big Agnes and Nemo sleeping pads. Not only did this provide a layer of protection from dogs. it also eliminated the annoying “slip and slide” that can occur with the nylon sleeping bags.
This weekend, some prep and practice for our canoe camping trip in Mid-August.