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Thread: New Canoe, Kenai Coast Trip

  1. #1
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default New Canoe, Kenai Coast Trip

    Well my oldest son and I finally got out of town and over to the Kenai Peninsula to pick up our New Canoe, a Mad River Explorer 14 we picked up through REI sale lately. Free shipping to the local store was a motivator and having a sister living in Wasilla who always needs some fresh Halibut for her family was the answer to getting the boat down to Homer where we met them with our big boat and after an afternoon of fishing, they drove off with a cooler full of halibut filets and we tied the Canoe down on top and headed out around the corner for some remote Alaskan paddling,



    That next evening found us in Chrome Bay, in water about as Flat Calm as it gets. I tried it solo a bit before the boy jumped in, and am very amazed at this boat. Initially it strikes as Very Fast. Keegan and I both felt like it took very little effort to get flying. Good initial stability also. Keegan, having never been canoeing before was not nervous at all. We had good life vests on and good paddles, mine was part of the initial purchase, $750 for boat and Bending Branches paddle on a good sale.
    Ohhhh it feels good to be paddling again. Been a couple years since my last canoe went down tied to the top of a sinking Fishing Vessel.



    So we explored the bay and slough there extensively. like a dream day.


    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  2. #2
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Survival Training

    I was very happy to get a "Low Stress" weather day for the first experience for my son, 8 yrs who is comfortable in the water as a swimmer but who also knows well how cold it is and that Alaskan Water has a tendency to hurt a guy if unprepared. So we went well prepared.



    We ventured further to the East, still inside some seriously cool coastal waters, saw another sailboat anchored in there with a kayaker venturing around one day but very remote otherwise. Yes, we carried a handheld VHF also. I found some nice float bags, or at least waterproof gear bags at Wilderness Way in Soldotna by recommendation of some Forum members, (Thanks, that was a great place with good quality gear) so we had changes of clothes and other essentials secured to the canoe for worst case scenarios. Those bags are really excellent, for that purpose.


    and day two we had to do the "Survival training day" requisite for a Commercial Fisherman and his boy. I should mention I have actually spent some vital time in a survival suit twice in my life so know very well they need to be experienced to be effective. Also my Dad always made us practice rolling a canoe before going very far in it to know what it would be like. Very Good Experience. So we donned our suits, (not as tough as I was when younger, we didn't have suits in Colorado when Dad taught us)
    and had to actually try pretty hard to get this canoe over. the Secondary Stability is PHENOMENAL. I had to force the rail under the water, a very majot roll, to get it over. Keegan and I didn't like the feeling, and it was clumsy doing it in Survival Suits but we know how far it will go and the confidence level is quite a bit higher, Like WAY HIGHER after this afternoon in the shallows doin some swimming.



    Then we felt released to go do some hunting, What a Beautiful area, Again

    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  3. #3
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default A few questions

    I do have a few questions for Canoe Folks about how to rig this boat for righting or rentry. My experience is mostly with Kayaks for many years and I am used to the idea of pushing the stern down and straddling it for a fairly easy rentry after rolling and exiting a Kayak. I used to have a Old Town Pack 12ft and 33 lbs that I could lift easily and after rolling it I could lift up the end and kinda dump water out then slide up over the side, even while suspended by only a lifevest and by myself.
    In the water with this 74 lb boat I found I could not get in without pushing the boat under the water and there was no way I could lift it enough to dump water out. So fairly disconcerting to realize that if it rolled I could not get it dry and myself back in to paddle home! Am I missing something here, tricks of the trade? It lays low enough in the water when swamped that the rails are under the water so there is no bailing it. I had bought two Dry Bags so I rigged them to be secured underneath the seats and full of some extra air as well as dry clothes with the idea it might float higher but haven't tested this yet. Any ideas?

    I've seen Whitewater canoes with Full Float bags rigged and may be interested in something like that if doing tough crossings or something. Where to find them? Need to be custom made?

    Here it is being towed at faster speed than normal, nearly fourteen knots, I'll never do that much, but thought it made a good picture, and yes, it did want to dive off that wake after a few minutes. It did tow really well at 8-10 knots and we towed often with confidence



    On our return we spent a few days off the North Shore of Shuyak island of the Kodiak Archipelago, If you haven't experienced that area, it carries a pretty high desirability rating for a paddler. This is Bluefox Bay just over into Afognak Island waters. Real happy also with the hull material, not Royalex like my last but definitely tough enough to handle barnacle covered beach rocks. Even though it is a lot heavier than the Pack I had no trouble pulling it up the side of my fishing vessel, about a 6ft plus lift to the rail where I could get it a bit higher and "break it over the rail" if that makes sense and pull it aboard. Then on up to the top of my deck shelter where it fits perfectly and rides nice.
    Perfect Shore Recon Rig for my ventures out west.



    More of the lines of a Nice boat, can you tell we Love This Canoe? Also the Bending Branches paddle is pretty darn nice also, very light weight and I love it, Keegan actually liked the spare aluminum "beater paddle" I had laying around on the boat more than the wooden I had found for him. His wasn't a designer wood one though and I think a bit heavy maybe.



    and on the crossing through the Barren Islands from the Kenai Pen to Kodiak Arch, we experienced a some kind of fairly clear "Message from God, Himself." I believe, I mean how can this be missed?
    "Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight" that's even in the Bible, but what about "Fire on the Water at Night?" this is right about midnight, a day or two after Summer Solstice. Any of you Prophetic Types feel like taking a shot at interpreting that sign in the heavens? It was intense. Considering the calm of the water in the Barren Islands region, that sure speaks Favor to some pretty high degree. We'll take it.


    Thanks to all the Forum members who helped with this purchase decision on other threads, also to the REI guys who helped my sister load this thing up when she showed up a few minutes before closing on a fri night. You guys are COOL in my book.

    Happy Paddling to All this summer, Isn't Alaska the BEST?
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  4. #4
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default WOW!

    What a great story and adventure.
    I so much enjoyed your visiting the safety and survival portions of this post.
    It not a matter of IF,,, Its a matter of When!!!!
    Prepared and schooled..
    one note,,
    you can rig your canoe for better towing by making a yoke and pulling it that way instead of from the end of the canoe.
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=65815

    Thank you so much again for a great post, great pictures and great memories for all of us to enjoy.
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  5. #5
    Member cristancanoe's Avatar
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    Default

    Great pictures! Thanks for sharing.
    We have a Mad River Freedom which is essentially the same hull with the bow widened out to shed waves better for whitewater. I agree the secondary stability is awesome in these boats!

    As for reentry, I can lift the upside down boat just a couple of inches from one end and throw it to right it. It takes practice, but can be done. I tend to get some water back in when I climb in, but I can pump it out pretty fast with the hand bilge pump.

    I do have airbags that we use for whitewater and sometimes in rougher water. Air bags are your boats lifejacket!
    We have mad river bags bought from the company, check out their website. NRS sells them as well.

  6. #6
    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    Default

    Good for you showing a young man the right ways to do it. So many kids growing up with no one to show them how to do anything. Great story and wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for sharing the trip and the photos. Very nice,
    Wasilla Real Estate News
    www.valleymarket.com

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    Default

    Wonderful story and nice writing. I am considering a Mad River Explorer at the moment and enjoyed your review. Thanks.

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    Member Sterlingmike's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Quite a nice trip

    Thanks for the information and especially the photos. Nice job and nice trip with your son. Good for you. Makes me want to take the canoe out this weekend. Have fun with yours.

    Mike

  10. #10
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Good Tips, Thanks

    Thanks for your reponses folks and the tips on towing and bags etc. I'll get on that website to see what I can find for float bags.

    There's just something about a boat that is so time tested and still being proven effective since the beginning of time or so, eh? Amazing how, in a good boat design, how effective the ole J-Stroke still is.

    I seem to always harken back to boyhood dreams of being a Beaver Trapper when I'm in a canoe.

    Anyone have any tips on other great coastal areas to paddle around or "trips that can't be missed" up north. I have a feeling this boat will ride cartop pretty well and may be coming over to the mainland sometime to do some rivers.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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