Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall-ness

Enjoying what fall has to offer, thus far. The fire pit comes in pretty handy in the weather we've had lately.

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After these were taken, I broke out the spotlight and let my daughter play lasers in the smoke above the fire. It was a huge hit.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Genuine Norlund Splitting Axe

As the weather cools, I'm trying to make the mental and physical transition to doing cool weather things. I've shelved the sailboat, but might get the kayak or canoe out a time or two before it becomes too dangerous to do so. I'm also thinking about hiking, backpacking and camping trips and preparations. After the first frost till mid spring, is my favorite time to go. Bugs start to go dormant and you can layer up to whatever weather the day should kick your way. Leaves begin to fall off the trees, opening up your view, even if it's a bit grey, brown and not very photogenic. The trails go relatively empty and all of the RV campers are pretty much done making noise in the campgrounds for a while. The only real worry is deer season, but that can be worked around with some planning and safety orange (theoretically).

Also, I'm kicking around winter projects. I've pretty much got all the boats I really need, but I may still do something I can drop in the water in the spring. Whether it's finishing the skin-on-frame canoe I started a while back, finishing out the 17' Grumman canoe for rowing or starting a stand up paddle board fishing platform. Not sure exactly the route to go just yet. I have gotten a little further on a hickory walking/hiking stick based on old scout staffs. It should have measurements up the shaft to gauge water depth easily. I've also been thinking of ways to lighten my gear load on the trail, see the post about the wooden backpack frame.

Saturday, I picked up a Genuine Norlund splitting axe for $10 at a local flea market. It'll be my first attempt at bringing one of these back to useable condition. The axe is wedge shaped and has a head that's 8.5" from bit to pole with a 5" cutting edge. I haven't weighed it yet, but it's pretty darn heavy. The handle is 31.5" long and I'm currently attempting to drill out the wooden wedge and pry out the metal cross wedge without damaging the handle itself too much. It's not the nicest handle, really. I doubt it's the original. So If I have to buy a new one, it's no big deal. I'll have to sand off the varnish, if I do keep it. I'd rather have an oiled finish. Less chance of blisters, that way. I'll probably also flatten the knob of the handle slightly. I'll post more, as I go.

Genuine Norlund splitting axe

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Primitive Wooden Frame Backpack

A friend of mine asked me if I'd be interested in doing some minimalist backpacking this fall and winter, I really can't afford a bunch of ultralight gear, so I'm making do and fashioning my own, to a point. Over the weekend I knocked out this wooden A-frame backpack frame based on photos and descriptions of a Roycroft pack frame found on many survivalist forums, blogs and websites. Rather than slap three sticks together in the woods, I used some off-cuts laying around the garage to laminate in some curve and make the frame look a little more permanent and comfortable.

Roycroft A-frame backpack

I'm not a survival-minded person. I've had a couple of basic survival and primitive skills classes, I like the outdoors, camping, hiking, knives, axes, shooting guns and heirloom technologies, but I have no fear of the government nor do I think civilization is going to collapse anytime soon. I just like learning new stuff and knowing how to put it to use, if need be.

Roycroft A-frame backpack

With the Roycroft pack, your shelter tarp, ground cloth, blanket or poncho, becomes the pack. It's lashed to the frame in a way that's secure, but easy to access. Essentially cutting some weight off of what you're carrying, since the pack does double duty. Normally your pack is something of a one-trick-pony.

Roycroft A-frame backpack

Roycroft A-frame backpack

As a nod to any survivalists that might read this, I did use my Mora camp knife to cut up the old sacrificial daypack I used for the shoulder straps and the paracord I used for lashing. I do have great respect for your skills in the field, even if I don't necessarily share the enthusiasm.

mora camp knife

Monday, October 14, 2013

2013 Sail Oklahoma Messabout

I had set my alarm for 4am, Friday morning. I woke up about 2am, sat there for an hour before committing to loading gear and the five hour drive to Eufaula, Oklahoma and the 2013 Sail Oklahoma Messabout. The drive was nice, initially, watching the sun come up through the Boston Mountains of western Arkansas. Just north of Fort Smith, I pulled into a gas station and gassed up. While standing at the pump I heard a hissing noise, looked back and found one of my trailer tires on its way to ground level. I pulled around to the air pump, ran in to get a tire gauge and aired up the spare tire. I blew up the first tire gauge when I checked the tire and had to run in for a second. I left the gas station for the nearest Walmuerto in Alma, AR. Of course they don't just sell trailer tires, but sell it on the rim. My $35 purchase went to $82. But, whatever, I'm on my way to sail for the weekend!

I made it to the beach at the end of Kiamichi Road, in Longtown, Oklahoma about 10:45am. Just in time to see the flotilla rounding the corner for the sail down to a lakeside restaurant a mile or two away. That's not a bad thing, as it was blowing really hard. 20MPH winds with higher gusts.

As I was putting in, Gene Berry was pulling his Michalak V-Fly ashore. Having just capsized and been rescued by Bill Nolan. Gene promptly hopped aboard my heavily reefed Sea Pearl and we sailed out and around the lake in front of the beach, trying to figure out if we should bother to follow the other boats or not. Deciding prudence was the way to go, we beached the boat and waited it out.

The winds eventually died down around 4-5pm and we had a couple of good hours of sailing without worry. I got to show off how nice the boat sails by itself in light air by walking up and standing on the middle deck while letting it do its thing.

With Friday's overnight forecast for heavy rain, I opted to sleep in my car just up the hill from the beach and my boat. I'm glad I did, since the storm that rolled through about 3:30-4am was an electrical one. It had cloud to ground lightning strikes about every second or two for almost an hour. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Saturday, we awoke to a better day. Winds were strong, but quite doable for sailing. Everyone got a lot more boat time in throughout the day. At night, there was a chicken dinner followed by door prizes and a touching memorial for a passed Sail Oklahoma attendee and all around decent fellow, Paul Helbert. In the door prize lottery, I won a free set of plans for the design of my choice by Dave Gentry, the designer of my 12' Chuckanut skin-on-frame kayak.

Sunday, up early and sailing again. I got a couple of hours in before having to call it around 10:30-11am. I said my goodbyes and thank yous, then hit the road back to Springfield.

Frank Baedke stands on the bow while By Miller sails his Sea Pearl 21 in the background. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

By Miller's Sea Pearl 21. It was great to talk with By. And if you read this, thanks again for the GPS! I really do appreciate it! Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sea Pearl 21s Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Gene Berry and his V-Fly 12 Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Boats on the beach Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

V-Fly 12 and Mayfly 12 Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Mayfly 12 Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

V-Fly 12, Mayfly 12 and Mayfly 16, all Jim Michalak designs Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Dave Gentry, designer of my skin-on-frame kayak, sails my Sea Pearl. I really like Dave. He's very laid-back and approachable. If you're ever wanting to build a boat that isn't difficult to put together, but looks amazing, check out his designs. Chances are, you'll also be able to lift it with one arm. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Kenny Giles' Mayfly 16 Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Frank Baedke's 24' Wa'apa outrigger canoe Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Kenny Giles, Chuck Leinweber (of Duckworks), Hajo Smulders and By Miller. Hajo just bought Chuck's stretched Welsford Walkabout. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

A Sunbird, I believe. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013 A Strike trimaran. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Gene Berry's junk-rigged PDGoose, "Andy's Junk". Drawn by the infamous sailing enthusiast, Andrew Linn. He was also in attendance. It was cool to talk with him a bit about his work with the Toledo Community Boathouse. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

More boats on the beach. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

My SP21, all cleaned up and ready to be shelved for the winter. Sail Oklahoma Messabout 2013

A special thanks to Mike and Jackie Monies, hosts of the Sail Oklahoma Messabout and the glue that holds the small boat community together out here in the middle states. You guys are great.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Find magic in the little things.

Back when I was in second grade, before my mom got remarried, we weren't real high on the economic ladder. She was working, going to nursing school and trying to raise a seven year old boy in a crappy little apartment. I remember only getting a few small things for Christmas that year, one of which was a flashlight. It was slightly L or gun shaped and turned on by a slide switch you operated with your thumb. Ever since then, a flashlight has been one of those timeless treasures for me. You have the ability to make the unknowns of the night go away at the flick of a switch. Something man probably dreamt of since he could stand upright.

I recently bought a spotlight for my sailboat. It's L or slightly gun shaped and pretty much holds the same magic for me as that first one I got 34 years ago.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake with Brian and his dad.

Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, I took my buddy Brian and his dad sailing out on Stockton Lake. After a quick bite to eat at a mom 'n' pop in Willard, MO, (just outside of Springfield) we made it up to the lake about 9:20am. I think we got on the water about a quarter till ten.

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

The weather was cool, in the 40s-50s much of the day. The water was still much warmer, so we didn't feel too threatened to be out on such a gusty day.

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

I think the winds were 15-20MPH with some heavier gusts at times. Enough that after we snacked in a leeward cove, we pulled the masts to row out of it. We couldn't fly enough canvas to safely go to windward at the time. Things died back enough once we were out in the main channel that we popped the masts back in and got back to sailing.

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

I got to learn a lot about reefing the Sea Pearl early and how it handles in heavier wind and waves. We surfed white caps with the sails wing on wing, got to experience being blown onto a brushy leeward shore and filling the boat with spiders from the half submerged bushes. We figured out how much effort it would be to row into a strong headwind and got to pull and place the masts while underway. We also saw Canada geese make a huge splash landing, purple martins skimming inches above the water, osprey hunting, blue herons loping through the air, and bald eagles chasing each other across the lake. And at the end of the day, we ran into Tom Parker and his daughter, who as far as I know, is the only other Sea Pearl 21 owner in this part of the state.

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013

Before heading back to Springfield, we hit up this BBQ joint in Stockton. Highly recommended.

Sailing Stockton Lake - Oct 6, 2013