May 28, 2014

Ditch Kit

Paddling survival kit 

A bailout bag, survival kit, or ditch kit is intended to sustain a paddler separated from her canoe for 72 hrs. The kit must be waterproof and compact. “If you don’t have it on you, you won’t have it with you”. A survival kit should help one accomplish the following main tasks during a survival situation. 

- Build a fire using more than one technique 
- Signal for help using more than one technique 
- Gather and purify drinking water and gather food 
- Navigate back to civilization 
- Construct a shelter in various environments
- Carry out basic first aid 

I’ve chosen the items for my kit based on the following criteria: 
Reliability, The items must be practical 
Portability, This kit will be carried on my PFD's hydration pack; therefore it’s bulk and weight must be minimal. 
Simplicity, As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “Perfection is attained, not when no more can be added, but when no more can be removed.” 
Circumstances, This kit is designed for remote canoeing, and the potential scenarios being: losing the canoe, and injuries etc. 

The kit must fulfil the following purposes: fire and light, signalling, navigation, water and food collection, shelter and personal protection, medical, knives, tools, and multipurpose items. 

Fire starting: 
4 - 2 Bic Mini disposable lighters (lightweight and reliable). Lights up to 2000 fires, usable as a flint sparker when out of fuel 
3 - 6 vaseline soaked cotton balls (easy and very flammable). Three for starting fires on difficult weather and 3 for signal fires 
5- Fresnel Lens (infinite, solar fire starter) 

First Aid: 
1 - Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight & Watertight .3

6 - e+LITE headlamp (practical, reliable and compact). Waterproof, 28 lumens, 70 hr battery life 

7 - whistle, integrated on the e+LITE headlamp pea-less can be used when wet, sound can travel up to 1.6 km 6 - e-lite headlamp strobe mode 
4 - 2 Bic Mini disposable lighters to light signal fires 
8 - ACR ResQ Link Personal Locating Beacon (waterproof, very reliable)

13 - Suunto Clipper Compass (most reliable button compass) 
9 - local map

10 - Buff bandana 

14 - small Knife  
15 - Snare Wire (24 gauge brass wire 3-5m 10-20 feet) 
11 - Duct Tape (5 x 127 cm) 
12 - Cord (2mm, 50 kg strength, 1m) 
2 - Photo + Survival Priorities 

Build the Perfect Survival Kit

May 22, 2014

Paddle Canada Instructor Course

This past weekend I completed my Intermediate Lake Tandem Instructor certificate with Paddle Canada. The course took place at Manitoba Pioneer Camp on Shoal Lake, it was the 25th year Paddle Canada has partnered with this camp to hold the course.

I learned many skills that will help me very much in the coming months and on the expedition. The weekend was packed with theory and practical lessons everything from pivots and side slip to portaging and canoeing heritage. My instructors were great and I was surprised to learn that they were all volunteers for the approximately 40+ hour course.

As Paddle Canada instructors a large component of teaching is detection and correction, determining why the canoe is doing certain things and how our students can modify their body position and movements to perfect the strokes and manoeuvres. For anyone hoping to instruct children or adults, I would highly recommend the Paddle Canada instructor course. It has given me the skills to confidently demonstrate and teach the foundations of canoeing.

May 20, 2014

Personal Locator Beacon

Personal Locator Beacon

A PLB is the most reliable GPS emergency signalling device; also called EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) these tracking transmitters aid in the detection and location of people in distress. They interact with the international satellite system for search and rescue (Cospas-Sarsat); when activated, they send out a distress signal that is monitored worldwide and the location of the distress is detected by satellites. The purpose of a distress radiobeacon is to help rescuers find survivors within the first 24 hours following an emergency.

We will be carrying a ACR ResQ Link PLB 

The reason we chose a PLB and not a SPOT or other similar tracking device is because PLBs are designed to be emergency equipment instead of a tracking device; they operate on a public satellite network and do not require an annual fee to function (except for tracking $60). It is like comparing a fixed blade survival knife to a swiss army knife; the SAK might have many features but the survival knife is much more reliable and useful.

A SPOT won't work if you don't pay the annual membership. It is like having a fire extinguisher that will work only if you paid your bills. And because a SPOT is designed to be used for daily tracking the batteries might run out. A PLB is more expensive in the short run, but it is a simple device designed for emergencies and used by boats, military personnel and SAR.

May 13, 2014



Winnipeg to Norway House (11hrs, 800km)

Cost $200 - 250 (Round trip fuel cost)

York Factory to Gillam

Cost $1785 (2 adults and a canoe)

Gillam Air Services 1985 LTD

Calm Air

Gillam to Winnipeg (1day, 11hrs)

Cost $423 (2 adults and a canoe)

VIA Rail

The Canoe

We got an Old Town 16ft Appalachian Canoe. We were glad of the good deal that we found; the canoe was here in Winnipeg, and we bought it for $800.

The canoe is made of Royalex one of the strongest canoe materials, and is designed for up to Class III rapids; due to the remoteness of our route we will need a very reliable material that won't give in even under the hardest conditions.

It is small for lakes so it won't track as well, but it has more manoeuvrability on rapids over a 17ft canoe.

Ours has skid plates and knee pads, but it has a lot of scrapes and bumps on the bottom.

The outer layers of a Royalex canoe are covered in colored vinyl to protect the inner ABS plastic layers from photo-degradation.
We will paint the hull with Krylon Fusion for Plastic Spray Paint as recommended by many canoe owners.

May 12, 2014

Whiteshell River, Lone Island Lake to Jessica Lake

Whiteshell River, Lone Island Lake to Jessica Lake
We paddled west 13km from Lone Island Lake dock to reach the shore of Jessica Lake and camped for the night. 
The wind was against us and the current in our favour; we paddled for 3 hours including a short break at the swimming truck to reach a great camping spot.

Eagle nest by the river

We were surprised to find a green truck underwater.
We had to explore it.

We found a nice place for our campsite at Jessica Lake.
A deer was swimming at Jessica lake when we arrived
 After looking for a spot for our tent I found a petroform. Archeologists believe that some of the local petroforms were created up to 2000 years ago before the formation of individual First Nation tribes.
The petroform is snake shaped; pretribal aboriginal people would signal a nearby river with a snake, and a lake with a turtle. Petroforms are features created by the careful placement of stones to form images that carry spiritual significance for the First Nations of the area. Petroforms can signify a lake nearby or portage crossing, among other things but were mostly created in remote places for the purpose of spiritual ceremonies. Creation of the petroforms was not intended as an art-form but as an act of worship, societal values and traditions that define the nature of one's relationship to the unknown. Petroforms were discovered most commonly pointing in the direction of the summer sunrise signifying the importance of sun to First Peoples.  Whiteshell's Sacred Stones

We set up camp and made a leave no trace fire. Careful not to mark any rocks with soot or burn the ground soil. We made sure that other visitors wouldn't have known that there had been a fire there.

We prepared our canoe for the return trip and decided to practice map reading and compass use.
 We reviewed orienting a map, and taking bearings on a map to transfer them to the landscape.

May 6, 2014

Hanson's Creek

Hanson's Creek

We were excited on May 4th to paddle for the first time of the season. We started our 12 km trip at 14:30 and paddled for 2.5 hrs and took our 30 min snack break and then paddled back for only 1.5 hrs. Riley behaved well, but we had to constantly remind him to sit down on the canoe.

The name of this route is Frances Lake located inside Whiteshell Provincial Park. The trip is 13 km to the lake  and 18 km to to the campsite on the lake; the route includes 4 portages. Unfortunately time didn't allow us to do the entire route. The access point is off Highway 44 starting at Hanson's Creek Dam, 17 km north of West Hawk Lake town site.

"We slept in the tent last night; mostly a good sleep and woke up late. We began on Frances Lake canoe route and paddled through the meandering stream surrounded by marsh with poplar and coniferous stands cradling the marsh and us. Wildlife included an eagle, many different kinds of ducks, geese and an otter." Jennifer

"The colours and contrast of the area are what caught me off guard and astounded me the most: blue sky, rich green and dense layers of yellow and gold, the first signs of life thriving. Also the mirror effect that the water demonstrated when passing the high rocks which were covered by trees was very humbling." Jennifer

I thought about the expedition of course. Thought about how with the website and people supporting us we are committed. Of course we won’t do any trip out of vain or pressure, but the support is definitely more reason to do it.

I observed how we paddled together, fairly well I would say. I felt a connection to my own control in the stern and brushed up on some of my skills in the bow. I didn’t feel frustrated a whole lot which is rare when I am paddling with someone else. We did have a small amount of tension but in general respected each other's ideas.

It was truly a beautiful afternoon exploring the environment in which I grew up but never really knew.