Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Good Weekend and a Good Day

This weekend, the class made some great strides on their boats. The kayak's interior was sealed for glassing, the trim on the Wee Lassie is well underway, three seat frames were prepped, bottom panels were scraped and sanded for installation, and a set of strips were ripped for a new boat.

Also, this weekend was also my birthday. Somebody let the cat out of the bag because my students had a cake, ice cream and balloon to surprise me - the cake even had a canoe on it! As we were eating cake I learned that one of my student's had her birthday Friday, another Saturday and mine which was actually Sunday - I wonder what the odds were of that!

Saturday evening we invited my father to join us for a birthday dinner with ribs, chicken, grilled asparagus and sliced Yukon gold potato and sweet onion with garlic, chicken stock and olive oil with a bit of parsley, salt, pepper and garlic. (Have I mentioned before that I'm a foodie? Who else could talk about potatoes that way?) The big surprise were that there were two more birthday cakes! After dinner we sat down and watched The Princess Bride. DS provided vehement opposition to watching the movie, but after he watched it decided that it wasn't that bad and would like to watch it again.

This morning I woke up and took DS swimming at our local YMCA and did the food shopping. This afternoon, I got to do something that I really wanted to - I went for a canoe paddle with my dad.

Out came an old paddle. This was my brother's paddle - when I was much younger, my entire Scout Troop made a paddle for a canoe trip that we took to Lake George, New York. Ahh, the memories.

I'm in this picture, but I won't help you find me in it!

The canoe that we chose to take has lots of memories as well - for both my father and I. It was a canoe that my father found for sale at a local lake that is overcrowded with summer camps. When he found it, it was in very, very poor shape. It had been left outside on the ground - for years and years apparently. He bought it anyway - I thought it was an irrational decision as the canoe was a wreck when he got it, but we started working on it. What was left of the rotten deck had a Chestnut Canoe logo on it:

What made his reasoning much more clear to me was when he was inspecting what was left of the canvas. He said, "I thought so." There was a bit of a color known as Chinese Red. Apparently, this canoe had been one my father had paddled as a boy on the pond where the canoe was found. I'm not sure but what the canoe had some age to it already when he paddled it as a boy.

We replaced stems, planking, decks, spliced in tips of inwales, re-caned the seats, re-canvased the canoe and replaced the stem bands. The result is below:

We're not sure what model it is, but it is a 15' canoe and is about 33" in the beam. She's not a beauty queen - the planking isn't really fair and has gaps. One of the ribs is broken and will need to be replaced the next time we re-canvas. (We've canvassed her twice since we got her...) It needs a coat of varnish and a new stem-band:

She's still one of our favorite canoes - it's light and is a nice canoe to paddle on your own or to paddle with others. I should probably take the lines from her.

The place we went to paddle was about a half mile from where I grew up. It is a 40 acre man-made pond but is called a "lake". It was originally built with the intention of putting up a development with houses around the lake. Fortunately, this never happened and the property
was ultimately purchased and protected as conservation land. The protected area is now about 625 acres in total. I referred to this place last year in this post. Like the river I posted about here, this is a mini-wilderness within reach of many people.

The walk in had some pretty wildflowers (and poison ivy!) along the path:

There was also a nice passage through a shady grove of pines:

What is truly amazing about this place is that it is a wilderness that has been made handicap accessible. There are board walks with small bridges that let those who are in wheelchairs get to the trails and get to the water's edge.

It was a beautiful, albeit breezy day.

This particular area has lots of wildlife - for an area that is so close to populated areas, and gets so much use, it is amazing how much wildlife sticks around. There are bears, deer, otter, muskrat, raccoons, skunks and other smaller animals around. There are also beavers. The beavers themselves were not in evidence, but several lodges that were either in-use, abandoned or being build surrounded the shore. The lodge below is an active one.

The "lake" isn't that deep in many spots. If you weren't drawn in by the boot-sucking mud at the bottom of the pond, there are some spots where you could probably walk from shore-to-shore. The lake is pretty well choked in spots with pickerel weed and lily pads. Algae is abundant as are the fish - mostly bass, pickerel and sunfish from what I could tell. Cat-tails and wild iris line most of the shore and in spring, the red-winged blackbirds are hanging out on last year's cat-tails chirruping to their heart's content.

We saw one huge snapping turtle in the water that I couldn't get a picture of - it looked for all the world like a large rock - it had a shell that was about 14-16" across if it was an inch. Painted turtles were sunning themselves in the shallows and on rocks and trees in the water.

We saw signs of spring everywhere - like these geese and downy goslings. They were very cute.

I think the family of geese were too close to another nest as the red-winged blackbird to the left of the next picture was harassing the parents by landing on them!

We also caught glimpse of a mallard and a string of downy ducklings following through the grass at the edge of the water, but they were too far away for a good picture. I don't know how many broods there were, but it seemed like there were 8 or 10 of the ducklings at the least.

We saw two other boats - one was a fellow my father knew who had just returned from a paddle in a new plastic kayak. He'd had a nice paddle but was looking forward to going home and taking in a basketball game. We also saw one other canoe on the water - fishing.

Our return trip back to the put-in was made a bit difficult by a freshening breeze. We had to work fairly hard to keep on a straight track into the wind to get under the lee shore. No whitecaps - just a stiff breeze that was turning over the leaves of the pickerel week that lay on the top of the water - it looked like we were being waved at by many, many hands. As we approached the dock at the put-in, we saw two young ladies in an inflatable plastic raft with stubby paddles who were headed out onto the water. I do hope they knew what they were getting themselves into with the wind.

The boat needed a quick was on the return home to get rid of the new "waterline".

We also seem to have disobeyed the paddler's mantra that my father taught me many years ago:

"A canoe's bottom only touches two things
- one is air and the other is water."

I think from the scratches that we found a little hard water...


Anonymous said...


Your canoe might be a Chestnut Bob's Special. Are the ribs 1/4 inch thick?


Canoez said...

I think the ribs are about 1/4" thick. It's a pretty light boat for its size. I don't think it is a Bob's Special as it isn't wide enough. (37", I think.)

I need to re-measure as it's been a while, but the canoe is ~15' long, ~33-34" wide with a very small amount of tumblehome. I don't know the depth. This canoe also has a river-runner's shoe type keel which I don't know if it is original or not.

I know that my father would have paddled this canoe in the late 30's or early 40's. From what I'd been told, if this is that canoe, it had been around for a while, but I don't know if it was a "pre-fire" or "post fire" canoe based on what Dan Miller has posted about Chestnut's boats.

BTW - looks like you had an awesome trip.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of Chestnuts on my list with similar dimensions. Maybe it is a Gooseberry? Chum was similar, but built in the 50's and later. That one typically shipped with a shoe keel.

Steve Lapey just finished restoring a Chum and he speaks highly of it. He crafted a sail rig for it too.


morag said...

I know everyone probably reads your blog for the boat information, but I love the nature observations and your obvious enjoyment of your family links.
Belated Happy Birthday greetings from the U.K.