If you have a weekend free this summer and looking for kayak training in a very relaxed environment, make your way to the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre, located 2.5h north of Toronto in Parry Sound.
For the first time they are offering a series of theme weekends covering a wide variety of topics including Greenland Paddle building and rolling.
Paddle building and rolling is fine and all but I want to highlight two other programs also going on. The first is that I'm teaching a navigation and weather themed weekend coming up in just a couple of days. We will be covering stuff like trip planning, on-water navigation and the basics of weather forecasting as well as getting out and checking out the sights and sounds of Georgian Bay’s 40,000 islands. In the past have you gotten lost listening to a friend trying to explain the wonders of navigation? I will try to sort it out for you. It will be practical, nerdy but certainly not boring.
Another weekend that looks amazing and you should for sure think about attending is the leadership and risk management weekend hosted by Alec and Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin of Have Kayaks, Will Travel Paddlesport Coaching in Chicago.
Over the weekend they will be covering the latest and greatest kayak rescue techniques as well as how to manage incidents on the water. Of course it won’t be all rescues all the time and they will also be working with students to improve strokes and paddling technique. With a small class there will be lots of one on one time. I know these guys love having fun on the water so I know you are going to have a great time.
Looks interesting? You can find more info about the training weekends here.
Some interesting news from the map world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that effective April 13, 2014 they will no longer print paper nautical charts.
For those readers who are panicking and already drafting a letter to congress, there is no need to worry as you will still be able to get paper charts via print-on-demand distributors.
According to the NOAA, the decision to stop production of paper maps was due to several factors including the decline for paper charts, the increase in both digital and electronic charts and finally, federal budget realities.
The big change here is that the NOAA is getting out of storing a huge stock of charts that often take years to sell through. By fully switching over to print-on-demand charts, the NOAA is able to push out updates to distributers significantly faster (with monthly updates) and thus you are ensured that you have the most up-to-date version when purchased.
If you use digital charts you will still be able to get them from the NOAA in a variety of formats including electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC), raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC) as well as full-scale PDF charts as part of a brand-new pilot project.
The new NOAA PDF pilot project looks very interesting. For the next three months they are offering 1000 of their most popular charts available in PDF format. They want to guage popularity and collect user comments before rolling out the entire catalogue. The biggest appeal of PDF charts is that they are easily viewable on many different platforms including phones, tablets and computers as well as easily printed out at home (though they are technically for reference only, not for navigation).
Bing just rolled out a huge stockpile of new high resolution imagery for their mapping software so I decided to click and zoom around to see what new areas I can see.
They rolled out updates along the north shore of Lake Superior which is nice because the old images used to be pretty low quality. Not sure when it was taken but looks like earlier this spring just as the ice was breaking up. At least with the lakes frozen they really stand out and it’s easier to follow the rivers.
The particular map area above is False Dog Harbour where I got wind bound once during a trip. Good memories.
Feel free to explore yourself and take a tour of all the new areas just added.
Google had a press conference yesterday (June 6) announcing several enhancements to their popular Google Maps system. There are a bunch of new changes coming our way including vastly improved 3D mapping of cities and offline maps but to me the coolest part of the announcement was the display of a new piece of hardware called the Streetview Backpack.
Weighing 35 pounds; it comes with 15 five mega-pixel cameras mounted on top. Most of the backpack weight is from the several small motorcycle batteries to keep running all day.
Google has plans to use it for mapping out hiking trails (eg. the
Google has already shown that they are willing to map rivers when they rolled out streetview sections of the Amazon River. Could your favourite campsite be showing up on the internet soon? Time will tell I guess.
What do you think? Is it a good think that Google has plans to branch out and start mapping more remote areas?
More info: gizmodo.com
Not quite the clearest directions but would you believe I have friends who would do a poorer job while out on a canoe trip? It’s true.
I recently stumbled upon what looks like a good navigation resource that just came out and wanted to pass along.
Amazon is selling a brand new book called Understanding a Nautical Chart: A Practical Guide to Safe Navigation by Paul Boissier.
Here is the book description on the site:
[blockquote]Whether they are paper or electronic, charts are the most fundamental navigational tool. Making the best use of them requires a great understanding of symbols and abbreviations, as well as an awareness of the limits of accuracy in positions and soundings. Understanding a Nautical Chart not only helps you to read a chart, it allows you to understand that information and use it to navigate safely. Learning the abbreviations and symbols are critical to anybody using a chart and before you can use one, you must know them or at have easy access to the definitions, all of which are included in a full copy of the key to UKHO charts (Chart 5011).[/blockquote]
The book is written a former Royal Navy Deputy Commander in Chief, Paul Boissier and is 200 pages long.
It also covers the following topics:
Chart Number, Title, Marginal Notes, Positions, Distances, Directions, Compass
Natural Features, Cultural Features, Landmarks, Ports, Topographic Terms
Tides, Currents, Depths, Nature of the Seabed, Rocks, Wrecks, Obstructions, Offshore Installations, Tracks, Routes Areas, Limits, Hydrographic Terms
Aids and Services
Lights, Buoys, Beacons, Fog Signals, Radar, Radio, Electronic Position-Fixing Systems, Services, Small Craft Facilities
Index of Abbreviations, International Abbreviations, List of Descriptors, IALA Maritime Buoyage System
Understanding a Nautical Chart: A Practical Guide to Safe Navigation should be avilable at your local bookstore, sailing shop or online. Its published by Wiley and sells for around $25.
Navigation, Sea State and Weather - A Paddlers Manual is a brand new instruction book on the market written by Michael Pardy, JF Marleau, Andrew Woodford & Piper Harris.
The goal of the book is to tackle some of the more complex theory topics that most paddlers have a hard time wrapping their heads around. Several of the topics include tides and currents, using a compass, navigation, and how weather works.
The authors of the book are all extremely well qualified instructors and authors. They are owners of the company called SKILS - Sea Kayak Instruction and Leadership Systems, one of the busiest intermediate/advanced instruction schools in Canada and they have probably taught more paddlers how to be instructors then anybody else in Canada. Michael Pardy is also a co-author of the book, Sea Kayaker Magazine's Handbook of Safety and Rescue so you know that the content between the covers is up to a very high standard.