Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Daze II

We have double digit temperatures... "Sweet Judy!!"

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."- John Muir

Para phrasing Mr. Muir;
Hey you, get outside!! - The Capt'n

--Not sure if I captured it like John Muir.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Daze

It is 1 degree outside, the furnace has been running non-stop for 45 days attempting to keep the house at a comfortable level.... Is 55 degrees comfortable? I'm ready for 30 degree weather and the rivers and lakes to open and the need NOT to wear mittens in the house.
With the winter daze my mind wanders a bit as I think of adventure. Ohhh this is going to be a fun year with Boo Hannah Tommy and Mark preparing for the MR340.
But I also wait patiently for my Balogh BOSS rig to arrive. If I am not on the water at the Paddle / Sailing Rendezvous this June 2009, I've heard rumor they may revoke my Captain's Licence! This would be bad for the Capt'n!
Now with February right around the corner, it's time to ramp it up. I'll start putting the hours on the Paddling Simulator, watching a bunch of news and tons of movies.
Koa has me out regularly trekking through the snow, our long walks are invigorating. It's nice having a designated driver - The Capt'n

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Little Capt'n and Koa

Koa is proving to be quite a little trouper, from her first paddling camp adventure on the Grand River to her long walks on the trail. At 12 weeks old she is quite the character. She loves the snow and hitting the trail.

When you're a puppy, everything is new and exciting. "I think she saw a leaf move in the breeze!" The weather has been in the teens and the sun has been out, so it makes for great times in the woods and on the trail.
Planning on paddling with her this weekend to keep her skill set and desire up, but 5 degrees forecasted is less then appealing.
Canadian Ckayaker has some good footage of his dogs in the snow skijoring. See you can enjoy the pleasantries of a northern winter. If it goes to he@@ in a hand basket, butterscotch schnapps and a warming fire helps.
Koa had her second pet therapy encounter yesterday afternoon. Nothing like putting people and pets together to make someones day brighter.
From frowns to smiles - The Capt'n

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beautiful Workmanship

Kialoa Hybrid Paddles

A visionary pairing of wood's natural flex and shock absorption with a durable, lightweight, wood-core composite blade, Dave Chun's original hybrid paddle concept is now the sport's standard.

KIALOA hybrids give paddlers a competitive edge with a 10-degree laminated Lo-Fat shaft and a hand-shaped Ergo-T top, weighing just 15-18 ounces.

Well Dave at Kialoa has out done himself with his response to support Boo and Hannah in the MR340. Dave sent us a full set of paddles, 4 in total for the girls to train and race with. The finish is the best I've come across in a laminate blade. Outstanding!!

I really like the metal flake in the finish which adds to visibility with night paddling. We've all heard the stories of the Huki outrigger / barge incident 2 years ago. Visibility good!!

A Big Super Shaka and Mahalo to the Dave and the staff at Kialoa Paddles!! - The Capt'n

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rants and Raves

Well, looks like AIT is not happening anytime soon. Sure was fun following along as the Nay-Sayer's, dreamers and skippers bantered their way to a no show for the start.

The "Bear" is a ten footer that was built and is on the water, but far from a reality to head around the world in a race. So to the "Bear" and her skipper, like so many adventurers before her, if your dream is to be realized. sailing blue water will be alone.

The website is calling for any skipper of any yacht size multi or mono to contact them if they want escort and support around the world. --I turn my compass bezel to and set browzer to "Eye on the World"

The "Eye on the World" is PEAK CAMP on steroids and then some. I urge you to look at their around the world adventure in the name of education and support them anyway you can.

Here is the teaser:

EYE of the World is an interactive traveling classroom. Through the use of modern technology, students at home will be able to follow and communicate with a circumnavigating sailboat in real time - and through this connection explore the world in a way never before possible.

THE VOYAGE BEGINS … NOVEMBER 2nd 2009 - The Capt'n

Monday, January 19, 2009

Old School - The writings of....

There are stories being told on the Kruger Canoes Adventure blog from author Jim Woodruff.

You can also see Mr. Woodruff's monograph on the internet thanks to Bob Coller's blog "River Thoughts".

We missed Mr. Woodruff on our winter paddle last week, the dropping temperatures and flow ice kept him from a most desired visit.

Additional reading can be found at:

To learn from the legends - The Capt'n

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge 2009

The board and friends of the Verlen Kruger Memorial Association and Kruger Canoes are pleased to announce the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge (UHHC) 2009.

We invite experienced and adventurous paddlers to participate in the retracing of an historic 1790 canoe journey from Detroit to Chicago via the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Huron and Grand Rivers of Lower Michigan, and Lake Michigan. The trip will start at Detroit on April 17 2009 and end at Chicago approximately three weeks and 475 miles later.

The UHHC 2009 will begin at Belle Isle Beach on the Detroit River (a short way upstream of what was the Detroit waterfront in Heward's time - now under a landfill occupied by Hart Plaza), and finish at a marina close to the entrance of the Chicago River. This route differs from the 2008 challenge, which started at the mouth of the Huron and ended at Grand Haven. This time, UHHC pioneer Charlie Parmelee will have companions all the way – paddlers Mark Przedwojewski and Dan Smith are already committed. We believe we will have additional paddlers from as far away as Florida.

Last year's UHHC: On March 28, 2008 General Motors retiree and long distance canoeist Charlie Parmelee of Leslie started upstream on the Huron River from its mouth at Lake Erie in his Kruger Sea Wind expedition canoe. His intention was to duplicate Hugh Heward's epic 1790 paddle and portage across the Lower Peninsula from Lake Erie to Lake Michigan via the Huron and Grand Rivers. After much struggle and some set-backs (such as an unscheduled swim somewhere between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor) he finally arrived at Grand Haven on May 2 only to be prevented from reaching his Lake Michigan goal by an oil spill. It was mostly a solo journey. Charlie is the one who labeled it the ULTIMATE Hugh Heward Challenge to differentiate his journey from the annual Hugh Heward Challenge, a 55 miles-in-one-day canoe/kayak marathon run down the Grand River from Dimondale to Portland.

It is expected that the 2009 trip will take less time than Heward's, due to the advantages of modern gear and our superior knowledge of the portage route between the Huron River and Grand River watersheds.. It took Heward and his crew 47 calendar days to cover the distance, 24 of which were actual paddling days; we expect our modern day travelers will finish the trip in less than 24 calendar days, start to finish.

Heward's Journey: On March 24, 1790 Brtish trader Hugh Heward, together with seven French-Canadian paddlers in two birchbark canoes, departed Detroit on a trip that would take them to the Chicago Portage and then via the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers to the Mississippi. Instead of following the usual exploration and trade route north through Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac then south through Lake Michigan, the Heward party went downstream on the Detroit River into Lake Erie, then upstream on the Huron River. They eventually worked their way to the divide between the Lake Erie and Lake Michigan watersheds, portaged their canoes and goods into a tributary of the Grand River and then paddled down the Grand to Lake Michigan. In effect, they took a shortcut across Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Once in Lake Michigan they coasted the east and south shores of the big lake until they reached Chicago. The Heward party arrived at the Chicago River (which then flowed into Lake Michigan) on May 9, 1790.

For a preview of the journey, "fly" Google Earth to Detroit then use the direction and tilt arrows to follow down the Detroit River, up the Huron River and Portage Creek (through Hell) to the Portage Lake Swamp near Stockbridge, then down the Portage River and the Grand River to Lake Michigan, then along the Lake Michigan shoreline to Chicago.

This is not a trip for inexperienced paddlers. The Huron has very difficult stretches, as Charlie can attest. There are many dams to get around and the portages are not easy. Portage Creek is often called Hell Creek for good reasons. The portage between the Erie and Grand watersheds can be several miles long depending on spring water levels. Good canoe wheels are a must. The Upper Grand has many log jams. You can expect snow or rain and cold weather, especially in the early part of the trip. Charlie started out in the snow and ran into ice on Ford Lake. The Heward party had snow-day delays.

For paddlers going all the way Kruger expedition style rules will apply:
Expedition-ready canoes able to handle big open water and upstream travel
Self supported at all times
Carry all your own food and camping gear, including canoe wheels.
No shore assistance except at the two Check Points, Portland and Grand Haven
Sails and open water gear can be picked up at Grand Haven.
Challengers should discuss these rules with Mark when you register.

Casual canoeists or kayakers are welcome to paddle along for a couple hours or couple days or more. All are invited for beer and pizza at the Damsite Inn when the Challengers go through Hell.

Entry information: Due to the recent economic slowdown we are waiving any entry fee for this event. A trip like this takes a significant financial commitment due to gear, food and time off from work, we are inviting any and all that want to take part in this extreme event to use any moneys that would otherwise be spent on an entry fee to plan and execute a successful trip.

Although there is no entry fee, we are asking participants to register by sending an Email with their contact information to Mark Przedwojewski, or by phone at 231-266-2089. We are requesting registrations by March 15, 2009. Late registrations will be happily accepted, but it is helpful to our planning to know the number of paddlers that will be participating.

The Verlen Kruger Memorial is still accepting donations towards the cost of installing the Verlen Kruger commemorative statue and plaza by the Grand River at Portland. Please forward any donations to the Memorial. For more information on the UHHC, the Memorial, or the annual 55 mile Hugh Heward Challenge, visit

We have available autographed copies of Jim Woodruff's narrative monograph "Across Lower Michigan by Canoe-1790" (the research paper that inspired the original Hugh Heward Challenge), for a small fee of $15, including postage. This is a detailed, illustrated study of the expedition based on Heward's own journal. All proceeds from the book will be donated to the Verlen Kruger Memorial. You can obtain a copy from Mark at Kruger Canoes. Mark can be reached by phone at 231-266-2089 or email at

You can also see Jim's monograph on the internet thanks to Bob Coller's blog "River Thoughts".

Paddle on.........
The Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge planning crew,

Charlie Parmelee
Mark Przedwojewski
Dan Smith
Jim Woodruff

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's a dog's life

Koa and Gabby at play

Koa settles in for a 4 hour paddle

We have a slide show of pics on the Kruger Canoes Blog. Paddle on over and take a look see. It's a dogs life out on the river in winter when you properly prepare and luck is with you. Today I awoke to minus 21 on the ole thermometer.
Throw another log on the fire - The Capt'n

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Creature Comforts - Part Two

The shore ice starts building and the flow ice grinds it's way down river. Early on Sunday morning we awoke to the sounds of ice scaring the shoreline as it moved it's way down stream. An erie moan; natures way of telling you, get off the river.

On our paddle to Portland we saw scaring 5' up from the present river level. 2 weeks previous to our paddle it had rained heavily and the Grand River was at flood level tearing down trees and sweeping away park benches. When confronted with fast moving ice, get out of the way.

Now this is country living. An Empire Canvas tent, large enough to stand up in and hang a drying line. The stick holding up the stove pipe is extra precaution for when the wind picks up.
Set up is pretty simple. Interior frame work (aluminium) clicks together, then the canvas goes over the top. raise the poles, pile snow on the skirt, set the stove... lay out the canvas ground cloth; you're good to go!

A nuclear reactor not, but this 3 dog titanium wood burning stove was the focus of many a conversation. It easily kept the interior above 50 degrees at ground level and I'd guess in the 70's at the peak. The key is keeping your sleeping platform higher then the stove, staying in the warmth zone.
Another important thing to remember is to seal the bottom of the tent from wind blowing in. This is done by piling snow on a nylon skirt that is sewn in like a shirt tail. You just pile snow on it and it gives you a great seal.
"Give me a tent and kettle, snowshoes, axe, and gun, head up into Grand River, steering by star and sun". - Elliot Merrick.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Creature Comforts - Part One

Mark makes 2 dozen eggs, toasted bagels...and what a secret sauce for the eggs... yummy!

Dan pulls out all the stops and breaks out the kabobs. We're talking fresh venison, veggies and garlic cloves... a 5 star meal.
Notice the cut wood behind Mark. Dan and Mike knowing there will be need for a lot of wood, ventured out early cut and split wood. Made for more free time around the fire... then the stories...
The creature comforts are important for a single digit temperature adventure. To feed a bunch of guys for three days, Dan broke out the super grill. The efficiency that I saw with this group was amazing. Everyone work together, doing the necessaries.
I don't eat this well at home - The Capt'n

Monday, January 12, 2009

Grand River

We had an outstanding time out on the Grand River this past weekend. Six Kruger paddlers showed and three dogs (One seasoned veteran “Daisy” and two pups “Gabby” and “Koa”) for a 3 day winter camp / paddle. The pups proved to be very entertaining in camp. Camp participants include Mark, Dan, Mike, Jake, Morgan and my self.
Between the dogs a raging bon-fire, the butterscotch schnapps and the non-stop buffet of venison and veggies, life is extremely good on the river.

Our longest paddle was 17 miles from our base camp at Deer Camp Island. We did a leisurely paddle down to Portland. Very scenic and conditions perfect as we were nestled in the high banks of the Grand River.
With six paddlers it made shuttles to and from quite efficient, as we could load everything up on the Team Kruger trailer.
Our last day was quite precarious as the heavy snow fall now turning a free flowing river into a slushy – creating floating ice chunks. We got pushed around and were at the mercy of the flow. It was easy to make the call to pull out early on Sunday for safety.
The shore ice made for some excitement as well. It took a good 30 minutes to clear ice at the put in to make a safe entry to the river. Note: Puppies don’t understand a whole lot about icy water and free flowing ice. Mark had a nice save of Koa and Gabby as they ventured out exploring the shore line. Nice save Mark!!
I must say the highlight of the trip was meeting the Smith Brothers. Mike and Dan have done some amazing trips with Verlen Kruger and on their own. A wealth of knowledge and some very entertaining stories shared. It is not uncommon for Mike or Dan to do a 200 to 500 mile canoe trip at a drop of a paddle and a wink of an eye. These are some hardcore dudes. Also…
A shout out to Scott Smith, who ventured out to replenish our depleted stock of schnapps late in the evening; I don’t know too many people that will drop what their doing go to the store and paddle out in darkness in January for the shear pleasure of doing so.
Photos and more info to be posted as the boys send me their pics on the Kruger Canoe Adventure Blog in the next few days. – The Capt’n

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Michigan or bust!

Well we're out of here! Off to Michigan for some winter camping and paddling on the Grand River.

The Grand River and its valley were formed by the melting of the continental glacier that retreated from this area some 12,000 years ago. Known by Chippewa Indians as Washtanong (further country) and by the French as le Riviere Grand, the Grand is Michigan's longest river. From its headwaters in northern Hillsdale and southern Jackson counties, it flows 270 river miles and drops 460 feet in elevation before entering Lake Michigan at Grand Haven. Together with its tributaries, it drains a 5,570-square-mile water shed, including all or part of eighteen counties. Lansing is located in the upper portion of the river basin where the Grand changes direction from northward to westward. The Red Cedar River, one of seven major tributaries, enters one mile upstream from here.

The Grand River has been an important resource and travel route throughout Michigan's past. To the Indians, the Grand River provided a route for travel and trade and a valley for hunting and agriculture. Seventeenth-century French explorers were the first Europeans to see the river. In the eighteenth century French, British and American fur traders canoed the Grand and its tributaries. The journal of Detroit fur trader Hugh Heward, who passed by this site in 1790, is thought to be the first written record of travel near present-day Lansing. In the mid-nineteenth century the Grand became an important means of transportation for logs and lumber. In the twentieth century the waters of the Grand have been used for industrial and agricultural production, as well as recreation.

As for me... time for relaxation, cards cocktails and paddling... and of course a tall tale or two from the river and beyond - The Capt'n

Sunday, January 4, 2009

MR340 and...

Well... the Missouri 340 is posting some big numbers for entry. As of January 2, 2009 Scott race director stated on the forum they had 98 boats registered. Outstanding!
On other news
The mild weather we are experiencing is out of character for January. The Grand River is proving to be a good choice for of winter camp / paddling experience. By moving the event farther South in Michigan it has opened up the opportunity for more to participate. Looks like we have 10 signed on with a couple still pending.
We may even have an honored guest Jim Woodruff the author of "ACROSS LOWER MICHIGAN BY CANOE". Plans are being made to do a shuttle paddle out to "Deer Camp" (an island) for Mr. Woodruff. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Woodruff at the Hugh Heward 2007 finish line. A wonderful man who's historical knowledge of the rivers of Michigan goes unmatched. Mr. Woodruff spent many a night with Verlen Kruger discussing routes, dreaming of adventure. This should make for some great camp stories.
It's all good - Balogh Sail Designs has contacted me and said my BOSS Rig will be shipped shortly. Pretty excited about that, as paddle sailing is my passion.

New paddling partner "Koa" has joined the ranks and our family. She is a 10 week old aussie / water spaniel / lab (we think) mix. Koa has some brown and merell feet and white on her chest not seen in the picture.


Koa is a rich hard wood from the Island of Hawaii, the name fitting for our new addition. All of her brothers and sisters 9 in total are all different colors, brown, merell, black and white. Our Koa will be a medium size dog, her mom "Corkey" is a rescue from a puppy mill and is 40 pounds and 19" at the shoulder. The pups were unexpected by the rescue.


It will be nice to have Koa around. It has been approved for me to take her to work with me. I am working with two mental health consumers who's recovery plans include a therapeutic approach involving animals. My H.O.T. Dog program ( Helping Others Train Dogs) has been revisited by our department. It's a go.


See ya on the pond or the dog park - The Capt'n