Monday, February 21, 2011

Marcus to Talk at Sebago Canoe Club

Marcus Demuth will be giving a presentation about his last two
paddling adventures.

When: Saturday February 26th at 6:00PM
Place: Sebago Canoe Club

The presentation will include details of his record 80 day Great
Britain circumnavigation and his attempt to circumnavigate Tierra del
Fuego with paddling partner Biff Wruszek.

For more details, check out his site at:

Bring your own drink.
Coffee, tea and water will be provided.

A shuttle from the nearest public transportation is possible. Email me
and we'll arrange to have someone get in touch.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sebago Canoe Club's Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center Pool Sessions 2010/2011 Season

Sebago Canoe Club is proud to announce the start of their winter kayak instruction program at the Aquatic Center in Flushing Meadows Park (next to Citifield). Easy walk from the #7 train or free parking is available.

Sebago Canoe Club membership is not required, but Sebago members will be given priority this year. Non-members will be allowed, but will be determined through lottery and non-members can not participate any two weeks in a row.

The sessions will take place most Sunday’s from 9am to 11am
starting December 5th, 2010 and will run until April 3rd.
There will be some cancellations and rescheduling of sessions, determined by swim meet schedules.

Sebago offers the ONLY program that allows full sized sea kayaks in the pool. Other kayak types are allowed  as well.
Our program usually has at least 2 ACA certified coaches each week.
The program is for people who have never been in a kayak or are new to kayaking and those who just want to sharpen their skills or learn to roll. Many sessions will have use of the diving area for those experienced kayakers who just want to practice. This is especially good for practicing rescues.

For the beginner: learn how to do a wet exit, learn rescues, learn how to do avoid a capsize.
For the intermediate paddler: sharpen your bracing skills, learn how to scull, learn advanced self rescue techniques and begin to master a roll.
For the more advanced: perfect your roll on both sides, practice your balance braces and finally learn to roll without a paddle.
Have more fun and be safe the first time you get back into the water this spring.

Sebago members will be given priority until the previous Thursday afternoon of each week. A lottery will determine which non-members can participate on the Friday or Saturday before each session.
There is no penalty for cancellation, but it is important to email Steve if you should have to cancel, even if it is Sunday morning. This allows others to participate in your place.

Boats, paddles, PFD's and all equipment provided if needed (see cost below).
Swim caps are required for all participants. If you have one, bring it. If not, one will be provided.

If you bring and share a boat $20.00
Without a boat $25.00
The standard ACA insurance fee will be required for non-ACA Members.(Sebago memmbership includes ACA membership)
You can also join the ACA at these sessions.

We'll be washing the boats out thoroughly before they get in the pool. A hose will be provided.
For those meeting at the Sebago Canoe Club to load boats and car pool, we will meet at at 7:30 AM. Others meet at the rear of the pool before 8:30AM to help move/prep boats and get ready for our time slot.

PLEASE be early, late arrival takes precious pool time away from others.

Reservations or questions contact Steve McAllister, preferably via email at If email is not an option call 917 496 1523.
Click for Directions. Be aware that we enter the facility from the rear entrance.

Thanks to Dorothy Lewandowski for this opportunity.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ultralight Shelter Comparisons

Ongoing comparisons of preferred ultralight shelters I have owned and used.

I am not a fan of your typical dome freestanding tents. They are heavier and less flexible compared to some shelters. A tarp with some kind of inner to protect against bugs, splash and ground conditions is my preference for a number of reasons.
I also use trekking poles when hiking and paddles on kayak trips so tent poles aren’t needed.
Most of my shelters are in stealth colors. I prefer stealth colors as I often have to camp in areas where I don’t want to attract attention.

Oware Alphamid 9’x5’x5.5’
All season
2 person
gray silnylon  
This is a new shelter for me. I have become a fan of pyramid shelters because of the way they handle extremes, their simplicity in design, flexibility and ease of setup.
The steep walls and high ceiling make for a shelter with lots of headroom. It can be opened up wide for summer shade and tight for cold winter wind.

It’s probably tight for two people and gear, but should be a luxury for solo trips.

It is too much shelter for solo use unless you plan on spending lots of time inside, like if you think you may have to sit out a storm or two. You could also justify it’s size for cool, wet paddle trips to allow room to hang paddling gear to dry.

Requires ground cloth, bug net or bivy in some cases.

Requires long pole, paddle, found stick, two trekking poles lashed together or can be hung from a tree.

Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter
white spinnaker
About the lightest all season full protection shelter made.
Very flexible design. Can be pitched tight for winter use and high and open for summer heat.
It is very roomy for one large person and gear. Not a lot of headroom when pitched tight to the ground, but enough to sit up in. Good for tall people. I know one owner who is 6’ 6”.
This has been my favorite solo shelter, combined with the Meteor Bivy, but the white color stands out too much for stealth camping.
Requires ground cloth, bug net or bivy in some cases.
I have tested with the Meteor Bivy.

Use trekking, two piece kayak paddle, two canoe paddles, other poles, or found sticks.

Golite Hut 1 (Now called the Shangri-la 1)
green silicone nylon
17 oz
All Season
Very similar design as the Spinnshelter above, but 7 oz heavier and more durable.
Otherwise the same.
This got a lot of use before I got the Spinnshelter.

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape
All season
gray silnylon
Pyramid design makes it reasonably good for winter camping.
Fairly easy setup. Good in strong winds. Combine with ground cloth, net tent of bivy for protection from bugs and to keep sleeping bag/quilt dry and clean
A bit cramped for tall people, but tall people may want to carry one as an emergency shelter and/or rain cape.
This has been one of my favorite stealth shelters on trips where I would expect to only use my shelter for sleeping. Otherwise I’d probably use the Alphamid for more room.

Requires one pole, either a trekking pole, paddle, other pole or found stick.

Six Moon Designs Haven with inner net tent
3 Season
brown silnylon
Two person
Easy setup. roomy. Floor size is a little narrower then a queen size mattress, but much longer.
Recommended for tall people. Has a high enough ceiling to allow two tall people to sit up.
Flexible design, can be well ventilated for summer use. Double side entrance.
You can just use the outer tarp alone, the inner net alone or combined for mixed seasons.
Can be pitched in the rain without getting the inner wet. Most double wall tents do not have this feature.
Some people have complained about splash entering the net tent in hard rain on hard ground, but not that much of an issue.
I avoid pitching on hard ground when possible.
This is currently Adele’s favorite two person shelter and we used it a lot in the last year.

Requires two trekking poles, or optional poles.
A bit pricey.

Six Moon also makes a one person version called “The Vamp” it looks to be a very similar design and roomy.

Tarptent Rainshadow II
3 Season
Two person.
gray silnylon
Two person.
Very easy setup. Roomy. Maybe a little wider than a queen sized bed.
Should be good for people up to 6’ 4”
Single end entry
Compared to the SMD Haven, it is cheaper, has less flexible pitch options, a little less headroom and only the one entry.
This was Adele’s favorite and got a lot of use in the past. She now prefers the extra ventilation options  and double doors of the Haven.

Requires at least one trekking or optional pole.

Oware FlatTarp3.5 10’x10'
All Season when used by skilled tarp users.
green silnylon
Roomy enough for three people.
Requires some skill to pitch for rough weather.
Very flexible. Many pitching options. Has many well placed tie-outs.
Requires ground cloth, bug net or bivy in some cases.
I have tested with just a ground cloth in winter and with Meteor Bivy and the Serenty Net Tent in warmer months.

Use trekking poles, paddles, other poles, or found sticks.

Intergrel Designs 8’x10’ flat tarp
All Season when used by skilled tarp users.
gray silnylon
Roomy enough for two people.
Requires some skill to pitch for rough weather.
Flexible, but lacking tie-out points for strong weather use.
Requires ground cloth, bug net or bivy in some cases.
I have tested with the Meteor Bivy and the Serenty Net Tent

Use trekking poles, paddles, other poles, or found sticks

Campmor(Equinox) 8’x10’ flat tarp
All Season when used by skilled tarp users.
green silnylon
Roomy enough for two people.
Requires some skill to pitch for rough weather.
Very flexible. It has two side and one center tie-outs.
People have complained that it uses end grommets instead of tie outs. They are well reinforced so should hold up with reasonable use.
Requires ground cloth, bug net or bivy in some cases.
I have tested with the Meteor Bivy and the Serenty Net Tent

Use trekking poles, paddles, other poles, or found sticks

Mountain Laurel Designs Monk Tarp
Mostly summer use unless used with waterproof bivy or used by an experienced minimalist.
light green 9’x5’ spinnaker flat tarp
A great fair weather shelter, cook tarp or emergency shelter. It’s so light you can take it on day hikes or kayak trips.

Use trekking poles, paddles, other poles, or found sticks

Mont-Bell Crescent 2
Green Urethane coated ripstop nylon
Two person
Good all season shelter. Stands up to extreme weather when fully staked down.
Trekking poles not required.
It is a bit tight for two people.
Very comfy for me solo and all my paddle gear on gail force exposed beach.
I consider it too heavy for a solo backpacking shelter, but most people would disagree:-)
It may not have enough length and headroom for people much over 6’ tall.
People complain about the small doorway. I am fairly slim and didn’t have an issue.
It is not as well ventilated as a tarp would be, but easily as ventilated as your common dome tent.
No poles required.

Six Moon Designs Meteor Bivy

This is my most used inner under tarp shelters. It is much less claustrophobic than other bivys.
It is half water resistant bivy, half large bug net with ground protection.
It can be used alone when rain isn’t in the forecast, under a Monk(9x5) tarp if only occasional sprinkles are expected or under a more protected tarp in nasty weather.
It is roomy enough for a 3 season sleeping bag and sleeping pad to go inside. It seems to be long enough for tall people.

Recommend that the net be hung from above to keep the net off your face, I usually hang from a loop in the shelter, but can use poles, sticks, paddles, ... if using it alone.

Six Moon Designs Serenity Net Tent

Great alone or under a tarp. It was designed to work with the Gatewood Cape
Good airflow, bug and ground protection.
May be too cramped for tall or big people

Hang from a loop in the shelter or use poles, sticks, paddles, ... if using it alone.

Oware Draw Cord Bivy
Green top over black bottom with bug mesh at head

I haven’t had much time in this yet. It should be good when cool out and more protection is needed, like under a small tarp. I may try it with the Monk tarp. The bug net is a little too small for summer use in my opinion, but others don’t seem to mind the lack of airflow. I’ll have to get more experience in it
It is a bit tighter than the Meteor Bivy which means I probably wouldn’t want to put my sleeping pad inside with a winter sleeping bag, but that’s no big deal.
This and the Monk tarp would be pretty damn storm proof and have a combined weight of only 11oz! I like that idea.

Hang the mesh from a loop in the shelter or use poles, sticks, paddles, ... if using it alone.

Shelters that I would also consider and recommend:
Six Moon Designs Vamp with inner Net Tent
Tarptent Moment
Tarptent Scarp
Anything by Mountain Laurel Designs. The TrailStar or Mid series gets my vote

Tarptent, Gossamer Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs, Oware, and many others are good sources of ultralight shelters.

Here are some of my pictures:

Golite Hut 1(green) along side Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter(white) with the vestibules half open.
Very similar designs. The Hut 1 is made out of heavier, very durable material. The Spinnshelter is made out of spinnaker and is much lighter.
Normally I would use these with either a ground cloth and/or bug net or bivy.

My Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape with Serenity Net Tent in use.

Montbell Crescent2 all closed up for gale conditions off Montauk.

Integral Designs 8’x10’ tarp in A-frame mode with SMD Serentiy Net tent inside for bug protection. It still needs some tightening as the temperature was dropping and silnylon sags a little when temperatures drop.
Tom Jones shelter on Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail  in the background.

SMD Haven pitched for summer heat with forecast for strong wind and rain that night.

Tarptent Rainshadow II with vestibule tied back while setting up camp.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Sledding/Paddling

A couple weeks ago Pete, Phil and I(stevie) paddled out to the Warf for lunch.
We spotted a lone seal near Ruffle Bar, probably the same one we saw a couple weeks ago. It was too far away to get a decent picture.
The wind picked up and we had a real workout returning into a strong headwind.

Here's some videos of Phil and Pete testing out the new dock:



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Amazon Reviews

I haven't posted in a long time and I have to post off topic, but this is just too important.

A while back I was comparing products on the web and came across a product on Amazon that you wouldn't think would receive a review, but sure enough it did and what a review.

I looked up the reviewers profile and found that he had a lot of other reviews. His earlier reviews were more serious, but most were a fun read.

He reviews items like "Snickers" bars, Wite-out, Crocks, toy swords, ...

His profile on Amazon:
Gr33n4blu3 "La leche se arde."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Exped Wallcreeper 2006

Expedition Paddle Gear Review - Exped Wallcreeper 200623oF, Goose Down 90/10 700 fill spring/fall sleeping bag

Picture courtesy Exped

Most camping paddlers tend to avoid down sleeping bags because of the tendency of down to absorb water and paddling tends to be a wet activity. Down looses it's insulation properties when it gets wet. I have experienced my own horror of a wet down sleeping bag and have heard many others as well.

Synthetic sleeping bags don't absorb much water and when damp, they still provide some insulation and dry faster than down.

The problem with synthetic bags is they take up more than twice as much space in the kayak hatch, too much space to consider anything warmer than a 45 degree F USA rated summer bag on a long expedition.

I had always been a big fan of the concept of the down bags with waterproof breathable shells, like the Exped WB series that I had mentioned in an earlier post.
The problem is, these waterproof breathable down bags are out of my price range and often don't breath well so condensation can be a problem. Besides, how waterproof does your sleeping bag need to be when used in a tent? You just need a bag that repels any water that should happen to splash on it in extremely wet conditions. A well designed tent should keep the splash to a minimum.

After spending a couple of cold autumn and spring nights in my summer synthetic sleeping bag, I decided that I had to save up and get something warmer that would not take up much room in a kayak hatch.

One bag that caught my attention was the Exped Wallcreeper series. This design seems about perfect for me and the type camping I do, in particular the 23 degree 700 goose down version should cover me for all the three season camping that I do.

Most people think the design gimmicky, weird looking and a bit silly. I think it is a great multi-use design and I found a place that had the 2006 models on sale so I snapped one up at a very good price:

This place is a good source for quality camping gear as they are are a no-hype company and publish their own honest reviews and details of the gear they sell. They carry good gear for serious outdoors people.

What this Wallcreeper apart from other sleeping bags:
1) Water Blocking breathable Pertex Quantum shell - Pertex Quantum is not as waterproof as Gortex, EVent or other waterproof breathable materials, but is more breathable, so helps keep condensation from reducing the insulation factor. It is also soft, very light, durable, airs out better and should be more comfortable in warmer weather.
Pertex Quantum is a popular material for top of the line ultralight sleeping bags, sports windshirts and jackets. It is highly breathable, light weight and repels a light rain.

2) Converts into a rectangular comforter - Means you only need to carry one bag for two people in the summer and sometimes a comforter is all a solo paddler needs.

3) Converts into a warm sleeveless jacket/vest with hood and hand warmer pockets - This means that you don't have to get out of your sleeping bag when you leave the tent for a pee or on cold mornings to make breakfast.
It's also a warm addition on cold nights before you go to bed. Reduces pack size by substituting as a thick down hooded vest when needed.

4) The big storage bag that it comes with is made of light no-see-em mesh - use the storage bag as a bug shelter with or without a tarp, when you really want to cut down on your weight and don't need a tent.

5) It has very good/warm draft tubes and hood. Keeps cold out very well on the neck, sleeve zippers and head. No drafts and that is important when the temperature drops.
Some have complained that there is a slight draft at the foot opening, but I find no issue when the foot opening is tied properly.

My short term tests

I consider it warm down to 30 degrees F, (-1 degree C), warm enough for most three season trips.
On a very windy low 20's night I started to feel a bit cold, but not shivering, but I woke up a few times. I am sort of a warm sleeper. I would compare it to a good USA 30 degree F rating.

I don't do much winter camping, but when I camped in my secret NYC camping spot in December, I combined it with another bag. I used it layered with a light and inexpensive down hood-less Campmor sleeping bag. This allowed me to sleep warm to below 20 degrees F and I'm sure would have been fine down to 0 degree F or lower.

I'm sure the newer model Wallcreepers are even better in some ways, but probably more expensive.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rolling a Kayak

Photo By Tom Klinger

It is pool kayak rolling session time so I thought I'd post a link to some rolling hints that I have gathered. I keep them in google docs format so I can change them and add more as time goes on:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Custom Made Paddle Gear in the US

For those that have considered a tuilik or akuilisaq, but have been put off by one thing or another, check out the new kid on the block:
Bug Head Tuiliks

Custom made gear to fit your requirements and size.

As an example, I never liked the tunnel on modern style sprayskirts, they restrict movement and rotation. But, I don't like the way an akuilisaq can implode when launching in surf.

So Bug Head made me an akuilisaq with a modern hard gripping bottom casing, the best of both worlds. It is very well made and more comfy than a sprayskirt.

They also have lighter neoprene tuiliks. Easier to paddle with as you don't have so much weight on your arms and you can hear much better with the hood on than a 3mm Brooks.

They make other items, some you may have not thought of before or some you may have wished somebody made.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Flushing Pool

Sebago Canoe Club's Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center Pool Sessions
Dec 2008 to April 2009

Photo by Bonnie Aldinger

Sebago Canoe Club will be sponsoring kayak pool sessions again this year
at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center.

They will take place every Sunday from Noon to 2:00PM starting on
December 7th and continuing until the last Sunday in April.

It is open to all paddlers, Sebago CC membership is not required.
This is for ALL skill levels, including beginners.
It is for people who would like to practice kayak and possibly canoe
skills. There will be skilled paddlers to help you work on what ever you
like or work on nothing at all.

You do not have to own a kayak nor have any experience.

We will bring as many kayaks as we can car-top and we will all take
turns. There will mostly be sea kayaks, but white water and
others can be brought as well.

We'll be practicing beginner to advanced skills and/or just have fun
messin' around in boats.

RSVP IS REQUIRED, preferably by email, at the bottom of this page. The earlier the better, we do have a limit.
Also, please notify me if you will be canceling.

The cost is $20 per person. No cost if you just want to watch.

There is an additional ACA insurance fee for those that aren't already ACA members.
Seabgo members are already ACA members.
The ACA is allowing a one time $10 introductory membership good for all ACA activities for the next 6 months. Or you can just pay an individual
fee of $4 for a single event participation.

We'll be washing the boats out thoroughly before they get in the pool. A
hose will be provided.

For those meeting at the Sebago Canoe Club to load boats and car pool,
we will meet at at 10:00 AM. Others meet at the rear of the pool before 11:30AM to help move/prep boats and get ready for our time slot.

Please be on time
as it takes away from other peoples pool time if your late.

*Changes this year*

Swim caps will be worn by all this year. There will probably be loaners available courtesy of Phil Giller.

We will usually be limited to 12 people per session and will only have 6 boats in the pool at one time.
So we will all be taking turns.
The diving pool will not be available on most days this year.

Info about the pool:

For pictures from the first pool session, check out Bonnie's post on the Sebago CC blog:

Directions. Be aware that we enter from the rear:

A map can be found at this link:

Thanks to Dorothy Lewandowski for this opportunity.

stevie --at-- brooklynkaya
(Replace the " --at-- " with "@"

917 496 1523 (If email is not an option)