Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Of Helmets and Reflective Tape

Everyone knows that you should add reflective tape to your gear and to your equipment to make it easier for other boaters to see you and for the Coasties to rescue you.

One of my Christmas presents that I received was a Pro-Tec helmet. Of course, I wanted to add reflective tape, but I didn't want to end up looking like a safety dork or like a Coast Guard Wannabe. So, I picked up some black reflective engineer's tape. In normal light, the tape looks like black electrical tpe. But, when you shine a light on it, it reflects back a bright white.

Definitely a safety dork. Note that this pic was taken with a flash, with no tape on the helmet.

Safety Dork in profile.

Black Engineer's tape applied, photo taken without a flash:

Same helmet, same black tape, only this time taken with a flash:

Note that you can get Engineer's tape in a number of different colors, so you add reflective safety tape to your helmet without fear of looking like a safety dork.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Safety First

Since we went down to Chicago in October for the Geneva Kayak KayakFest, we've been following the Chicago kayaking scene. Through links to Chicago area newspapers we received yet another grim reminder that our sport of choice can kill. A local man on his first paddle, in his first kayak, found that out the hard way at the end of October when he disappeared in Lake Michigan. His kayak and his PFD were found, but he was not.

Kayaking is an easy sport to get into. Naturally, we at Black Dog Kayaks encourage everyone to take up the sport, whether they buy one of our kits or buy another kayak. But we also cannot underscore enough the necessity of having the proper safety equipment and the training to use it.

No matter what your skill level, you can have an accident. The difference between the accident becoming a tragedy or just a thrilling campfire story is often dependent on prior preparation.

One more thing before I quit preaching at you - wear your PFD!

CASKA Safety Page

Sea Kayaking Safety & Rescue

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sea Socks

The Black Dog SeaSock is made from durable, waterproof, urethane coated packcloth. Features include sewn and taped seams and frame straps to keep the fabric off of your legs.

Whether you paddle a Skin On Frame or a rigid hull, the Black Dog Sea Sock also helps to keep your kayak clean. After a day of paddling, simply remove the sea sock, turn it inside out, and rinse it off. Sand and dirt stay in the sock, instead of in your kayak!

$129.99 plus shipping.

The Black Dog Sea Sock in its stock form fits cockpit coamings up to 34 inches long and 21 inches wide.

If you need a custom size, Contact Us and we will make a custom sea sock that fits your coaming at no extra charge! Other colors may be available, just ask.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Geneva Kayak October KayakFest

ChicagoMark and I attended classes at the KayakFest at Geneva Kayak today, beginning at 7am for their Saturday morning Kayak & Coffee paddle. They paddle a couple of miles up the river, have some coffee, then paddle back to Geneva Kayak. It was a good time. I met Bill from the QajaqUSA BBS, Mike, Dave and Tom, and several other enthusiastic paddling java junkies.

Then it was back to Geneva Kayak for classes at 10am. The first class we attended was on the water, Weird Strokes, taught by Jim T., a multiple whitewater kayak national champion and a judge at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA. This guy was just incredible on the water. He would drop his paddle in the water, do whatever it was he had to do, then somehow get the kayak back to the paddle and casually pick it up. The first time we saw him today, he paddled up to the edge of one of the Fox River dams and shoved a large tree branch, which had been hung up on the edge of the dam, over the edge.

Our next class was Kayak Safety, with Paul R., who is somewhat famous for his attempted crossing of Lake Michigan in 2006. I'll let you find the news story yourself. He and his paddling buddy completed the crossing earlier this year. It was a very informative class from a guy who had been there and back.

The next class, Stroke Analysis, was attended by ChicagoMark while I played hooky from the Dryland Rolling class. After that I hopped back onto the water to get ready for the Forward Stroke class, also taught by Jim.

Again, I can't say enough about this guy. He's an iron man. He was on the water for hours at a time teaching classes. During the class, the wind began blowing upstream, raising waves up to one foot and actually giving us some surfing pushes as we paddled upstream. Paul gave us some good tips and analysis on our forward stroke on the way back. Navigation Class with Chris followed that. We learned how to read charts and to triangulate our position using two compass readings and your chart.

Through the window, I noticed a young couple checking out the Greenland Style Kayak. I hoped that they wouldn't leave before the class ended. After class, I went out to find that it was a guy with whom I'd been emailing over the past weeks about our kayaks. We had some great kayak talk, then I had to run to the next class, Winter Paddling.

In Winter Paddling, Ryan showed us all the gear needed for winter paddling and gave us a lot of good tips on paddling in the cold. Mark and I had to leave after the last class, but everyone else enjoyed a catered barbecue dinner.

We had a great time at KayakFest. Thanks to Ryan and all of the instructors for providing us with great, FREE instruction.

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Greenland T-shirts

We've added some new t-shirts to our Cafepress site to mark the shipping of our Greenland Style Kayak.

Greenland Style T-Shirts

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Just added to the Catalog.

The Black Dog Backband is a great choice for any Black Dog kayak, as well as for traditional skin on frame kayaks. Black, waterproof 430 denier nylon, with polypropylene webbing, and velcro adjustment. Shock cords hook onto the frames or stringers of skin on frame kayaks to provide tension on the backband to keep it in place. The low profile fits just above the hips and, combined with the soft construction, permits layback rolls while still providing a positive lock for the paddler to push against while paddling.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Madeline 16

We had a great day today out on Lake Superior. No, we didn't take an epic journey. Instead, my family and some friends went to the beach with the Madeline 16 and the Greenland Style Kayak.
My family had all been paddling for the past year. Of our friends, one had never even sat in a kayak before and the other, their 16 year old son, had only been paddling once before. These two guys hopped in the Madeline 16 and loved it.

I spent the afternoon paddling around in the Greenland, practicing bracing, and racing with my 10 year old son, paddling the Madeline. I love how responsive the Greenland is to my movements. This could become my favorite, and, judging by the response of people that I meet at the beach, they like it too.

I'm still getting used to the Greenland and still feel like I'm just getting the hang of it. Before we left the beach, I took my old favorite girl, Madeline, for a spin. I am so at home in this kayak that I don't think that I'll ever get tired of paddling it. When I want a leisurely paddle, it fits the bill. When the weather gets rough and I get nervous, Madeline takes it in stride. If I want speed, Madeline keeps an even keel and stays rock solid when I get on the stick.

I'm currently working on the second prototype of Madeline, addressing the few things that need to be improved. The second edition is a bit more streamlined at the bow, with a slightly lower profile, following the lead of our Tandem/Triple Cerberus 21, which grew out of the original Madeline 16.

I can't wait to get this kayak on the market. It's going to be such an asset to the field of touring kayaks that are available. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddler, when you build one and paddle it, I know that you are going to love her as much as I do.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New News

The blog database on our server went away a couple of days ago, so, rather than wrestling with WordPress again, trying to get it reset, I decided to start posting our news here at blogspot.

Check back for news.