So you see, no matter how complex the Wiggle Test seems in print, it's
really as easy as
water rolling off a duck's back!
Water. We can't get away from it, can we? (What paddler would want
to?!) Clean water, though, is sometimes hard to find, and Tamia's
recent article on the subject elicited so much comment that we
thought we'd run a follow-up piece next week. One letter, however,
demands a more timely reply. Harlan Price directs our attention to the
fine print on a bottle of tetraglycine hydroperiodide tablets,
It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner
inconsistent with its labeling,
and asks if this doesn't mean that "it is against Federal law to not
follow the explicit directions on the packaging." Good question. When
Tamia described the low-dose water treatment regime that we've used for
more than 20 years, she certainly didn't intend to encourage anyone to
flout the law. Her article also pointed out the method's shortcomings and
outlined the dangers. Still, it can't be denied that prudent folks
always follow printed instructions. Those of us who are
occasionally imprudent must therefore balance risks and benefits as best
we can, and then resign ourselves to accept the consequences.
But the legal question remains. We've queried the EPA to see if we can
get a definitive answer. In the meantime, however, the best advice we can
give is, "When in doubt, doubt." And
alwaysalwaysfollow the directions on the label.
OK. That's the last of what the minutes of public meetings usually
call "old business." Now let's dip into the mail-bag and take a look at
some longer letters.
Both Tamia and I have brought old boats back from the dead, but here's
a question we can't answer. If you can, however, please let us know,
and we'll put you in touch with the writer ASAP.
Restoring a PuddleDippa
I was recently given a canoe. The boat is molded from fiberglass in
two halves, which join together with what look like hinge pins, one on
either side and two on the bottom. The maker's name on the canoe is
Aladdin Products, Inc., the hull number is PTRAP1551279, and the boat is
called the PuddleDippa. I believe there was originally a gasket of some
sort between the halves.
I cannot find any mention of this boat anywhere, and I've been unable
to locate a source for a new gasket and parts. If I have to, I will join
the two halves together permanently by fiberglassing them, but I would
really like to use the boat as its builders intended. The canoe is only
10 feet long when assembled. When broken down, it fits into the front
seat of my car.
Have you any information as to where I can find a gasket or parts for
my PuddleDippa? Many thanks!
I'm afraid I can't help you, Richard, but perhaps another reader
will be be able to. In any case, I wouldn't be in a big hurry to
fiberglass the two halves together. Any competent machinist should be
able to fabricate the missing parts, and your local marine chandler or
hardware outlet will have every type of gasket imaginable. One way or
another, you should be able to make your little boat seaworthy
in no time.
"Our Readers Write" was subtitled "Letters too Good to Keep to
Ourselves." That pretty much said it all, and a number of readers agreed.
Now here's another letter in the same category:
I just finished reading the April "Readers Write" column and I was
struck by the eloquence shared by these writers. It set me to wondering
whether the inclination to paddle is fueled by the same creative source
as the desire to write, paint, sculpt or photograph. I suppose my
question is really whether paddling, in and of itself, is a creative
Two years ago, I took a five-day solo trip in the Adirondacks. I
paddled just about every type of flatwaterriver, stream, pond,
lake, beaver meadow. I awoke before sun-up and was on the water early
each day. I made shore again just before sundown, having spent entire
days without seeing another human being.
When I packed my gear, I had taken along a CD player and the
complete cycle of Beethoven's string quartets. My thought was, "What
could be more wonderful than sitting in a kayak in the wilderness
listening to Beethoven's string quartets?" The answer came early:
"Sitting in a kayak in the wilderness, not listening to
Beethoven's string quartets"! There is a completeness, an organic
majesty, to being alone in sacred country without the distraction of
other people, that begs no enhancement; the experience is complete and
the introduction of any product of human effort, no matter how noble and
beautiful, is an imposition.
Years ago, I worked for a cultured, erudite man who traveled to Europe
every year. When I asked him why he never took pictures, he replied that
those sights worth remembering stayed with him forever, and those that
were less memorable weren't worth the film. So it was with my Adirondack
journey; I took some pictures and they sit in an album on the shelf, pale
by comparison with the memory of those warm summer days that has carried
me effortlessly through the past two winters.
I always enjoy Farwell's and your columns, and I look forward to many
more to come. The Internet is truly miraculous, allowing me, sitting in
New York City, to share the adventures of a writer in Texas. Isn't it
interesting that we can harness the power of technology to enhance
appreciation of the wilderness?
With best regards,
I'm delighted that you enjoyed the latest installment of "Readers
Write," Richard. So did we.
Is paddling "a creative endeavor"? I think sofor many paddlers,
at any rate. And, yes, Internet communication is wonderful.
Whatever its drawbacks, and they are admittedly legion, it still makes it
easier than ever before for like-minded folks to find one another and
exchange ideas, however great their geographic separation or cultural
differences. In the last few months, for example, we've gotten mail from
Brazil, India, Sudan, Germany, and the Netherlands. Opening the day's
letters has now become a welcome adventure.
And speaking of "like-minded folks," as luck would have it, I'm a
Beethoven fan myself. The symphonies move me most, especially the
odd-numbered ones, curiously enough. That said, I agree with you that
recorded music is best enjoyed at home. I'm also of the same mind as your
former employer. After twenty-odd years as a photographer, both amateur
and professional, I find that I agree with Colin Fletcher: the truest
images are those "fixed on the emulsion of memory."
Some time ago, in another place, I wrote a short article on "Becoming an
Expert." Here's what a reader who read that piece has to say about a
particularly testing day in her own paddling apprenticeship. Hers is a
cautionary tale, to be sure, but it has a happy ending.
"There I was
Do you know the difference between a fairy tale and a kayaking
"adventure" story? A fairy tale starts out "Once upon a time," and an
adventure story starts out "No s***. There I was."
. No s***. There I was. It was a lovely warm day on Fuller
Lake. My paddling partner Chris and I spent the early afternoon at
PaddleFest 2002 in Ladysmith. After watching some demos on the water I
had all sorts of questions about boat handling. Chris decided that
today's lesson would focus on loosening my hips and learning about
different areas of hull stability.
At first we started with Chris holding the bow and tipping it over to
the side, instructing me to do whatever it took to keep the boat upright.
Either by bracing with my paddle or using my hips. It's amazing how
instinctive hip snaps are. I hadn't been able to figure out how to use my
hips on a conscious level but when I needed them
there they were!
Then I was left on my own to practice. I kept to the shallows because I'm
Soon I'd had enough of practicing and wanted to explore. I worked the
length and width of the lake for about half an hour. The water was
beautiful. I was quite a way out from shore when I decided to take a
break from paddling and see if I could lean the boat a little while
maintaining stability. (Not so sensible!) I did fine in three or
four trials on each side. Then I got a little cocky. (Shades of "Hubris,
Nemesis, and the Kindness of Strangers"?) Well, Nemesis stepped in
and dumped me good and proper.
This wasn't just a little tip-over on my side like my first time three
weeks ago. This was a full fledged 180-degree DUMP! I snapped the
sprayskirt and did a decent wet exit. (More on this later.) My PFD pulled
me to the surface on the shore side of the kayak. I gave Chris the thumbs
up to let him know I was alright. He was standing calmly on the shore
watching. At this point I realized that I was in deep water and my paddle
float was on the shore. Oops! Still, it wouldn't have done me much good,
as we hadn't done enough work on self-rescue for me to be able to use it.
So I lay on my back, hooked my toes over the bow and undid the bow
line. I turned and started for the shore. I had a long way to go. I'd
never tried swimming in a life vest before. It sucks. Halfway to shore I
looked up to see Chris turn and jog over to the van. I was a little
confused but had other things to think about. I scanned the shoreline and
noticed that there was a dock much closer than the beach. I turned
and headed that way. Phew! I was a little winded by the time I reached
it, but I took a few moments to gather my energy and consider my
I could see Chris had returned to the shoreline and was watching me. I
dumped as much water as I could out of the boat and tried to figure how
to get in with nothing handy to brace the paddle on. Eventually, though,
I got back in the boat
with a fair amount of water for company. I
think I lasted about 30 seconds before going over again. I didn't have
the skirt secured yet, so it was a quicker exit. I got back in again and
managed to stay upright. (I was prepared this time for the instability
caused by the internal water slopping about.) I brought the kayak along
the shoreline and landed it safely. I got out of the boat and then the
realization started to sink in of just what I'd gone through.
Chris and I both asked each other at the same time, "Are you OK?" My
concern was that I'd worried him. He asked how I was feeling. I looked up
at him and said one word: "Sheepish." He smiled and nodded his
understanding as he handed me the towel he'd gone to the van for. "Do you
want to go out and paddle some more?" I didn't think so. I was pretty
tired. He checked to make sure it wasn't fear that was keeping me out of
the water. It wasn't. There was no question of getting back up on the
horse that had thrown me. I had successfully managed to reenter and
return the boat to shore. I wasn't afraid.
OK. What happened? What did I do wrong? What did I learn?
To begin with, I chose a bad place to dump. I shouldn't have been
practicing so far from shore. I learned that upon wet-exiting in deep
water the PFD is going to drag you to the surface whether you're ready to
go that way or not. This can result in banged-up hips and legs as you
exit the cockpit. The good news? Bruises and bumps heal. I learned that
it's way past time for me to be practicing self-rescue techniques. I also
learned that I have a great kayaking teacher and partner. Chris showed NO
sign of panic during my adventure. He didn't make a fuss over me once I'd
landed. It wasn't until we had the kayak stowed on the van and he was
handing me trail mix and orange juice that he confessed he'd been afraid
the incident might put me off kayaking. Not a chance! We talked about it
quite a bit. He explained that with the amount of room I had on the dock,
I would have been better off to haul the boat out of the water to drain
it. I could have emptied it completely that way. Chris also reminded of
the part in one of my kayaking books that shows how to make a large loop
to put over the shoulder for towing the boat rather than trying to haul
it in hand. Live and learn.
I've still got a lot to learn, of course, but according to Farwell's
"Becoming an Expert," I'm on my way. I survived my mistakes and I learned
some valuable lessons in the process. Most importantly, during the whole
experience I never felt any fear or panic. I think there's a sea lion in
my ancestry somewhere!
All the best,
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
A selchie, at any rate, Tia. Just another branch of the extended
family to which we all belong. And congratulations. You've traveled
several strokes further toward every paddler's goal of becoming an
expertand you've brought each of us along with you, too!
That's all for now. Look for "Our Readers Write" again in October. In
the meantime, keep paddling, keep reading, and keep writing!
Copyright © 2002 by Verloren Hoop Productions. All rights