If you have been a long time reader of the website, you know that I’m officially out of the kayaking business. After years in the canoe and kayak retail business, years of guiding and then years of owning a kayak guiding business, I got out of it — it is now a hobby of mine. As a hobby and as a business one of my main goals and beliefs is that we are in this sport together and if we work together as partners we can make the sport better. Like everything on the Internet and maybe in the world, discussion is devolving to the point that partnership is no longer seen as something to strive for. On the Internet, especially, it has become all about gaining a leg up, scoring points for a good insult or claiming a win on some silly argument. It doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to work together to make something better anymore.
PaddlingLight has always been the hobby side of my passion for paddling. I make a little money on it, but based on the amount of work I’ve done on the website what I make doesn’t come near to paying for my time. The kayak plan project in which I digitized historic traditional kayaks and give away the plans for free is what consumes most of my time. I get asked a ton of questions and hardly anyone buys the upgraded plans — heck, if I give away the drawings for free and it’s only slightly more inconvenient but also fun to covert the plans into a set you could build from why would you pay for the upgrade. I probably wouldn’t for a hobby, because I think doing that stuff is fun. But now and then people do buy the upgraded drawings and it does save time and frustration. In the past, I’ve wondered aloud on PaddlingLight if I should remove the plans altogether because the money I make on them doesn’t pay for the time — sometimes hours a week. I got lots of feedback about keeping them online and decided to keep them online for now. That is until it becomes overwhelming difficult for me to continue to offer it. And experiences like the one I’m about to describe make it more of a hassle than it is worth.
My actual profession is as a professional landscape photographer and photography workshop instructor. I sell lots of prints and lead workshops all over the United States. My workshops take place on the weekends and during the workshops, it’s common for me to put in 15 to 16 hour days organizing, preparing classroom space and leading instructional outdoor sessions. I’m lucky I get to do what I do and I love it.
Weekends are also the times when backyard boat builders like to build boats. If I get a questions from a builder via email while I’m running a workshop, I like to give the best answer I can by typing out a reply on my phone during a break in the day. Because PaddlingLight is a hobby, it isn’t something I have to do. I don’t provide support on the drawings. They are what they are and you are on your own when you use them. But, I like to provide feedback and answer questions, because it’s fun. And it helps support the DIY community of canoe and kayak builders. When I was building canoes and kayaks I got so much help that I like to pay it back. I have paid it back and then some.
So, this last weekend I’m in the middle of running a workshop and have put in an 11-hour day on Friday and am in the middle of at 15 hour day on Saturday to be followed by another one on Sunday. I get an email from a guy who actually bought upgraded drawings for $30. This guy has had problems in the past with the downloads, so I figure I’d answer him right away instead of waiting for Wednesday of next week which is really the next day that I’ll have anytime to do anything for him.
This interaction went like this with each bullet point a separate email.
- He ordered plans.
- He failed to download them in the amount of time specified on the website and in the download policy. Emails me that he can’t download them.
- I extended the period that he was allowed to download and increased the number of allowed downloads.
- He still had problems downloading them, because I pushed the wrong button when reauthorizing his downloads. Most of the time, people download the drawings right after they purchase them. So, I end up having to do this maybe three times a year. My bad for not remembering exactly how to do it.
- He emails me telling me it didn’t work.
- He emails me telling me he got an email from me and that the link in the email didn’t work.
- I fixed the problem and send him a link to the drawings.
- He emails me back saying it works and for some unknown reason says he supports Trump.
- I email back that I’m glad it worked and “You wish more for Trump than I do. I wish he’d drop off the end of the flat world that he imagines that he lives on.”
- This is the first email that I receive on Saturday. He wrote it at 6:48am. He found a problem.
Morning BryanSorry, but thought I’d better get back to you with a “wee bit” of constructive criticism re your Kayak drawings.You have a discrepancy in your “Lines Drawing” that does not reflect the stated Station positions.(Namely that Station 1 is 2 ft from stern and station 2 is 4Ft 4ins from stern, this means that the distance between 1 &2 must be greater than between the stern and 1.Your Lines drawings clearly show the opposite. There’s a greater distance from stern to 1 than from 1 to 2????????????????????????????Hope this helps
- At 5:48pm I check my email during dinner and I answer it. I emailed back saying I wasn’t around my computer, so I couldn’t provide an exact answer. I don’t understand what he is writing. I think he is saying that the station distances aren’t even. They aren’t suppose to be, so I email him back stating so.
I’m not at my office today to check exact distances, but the listed distance between stations isn’t even on the SOF version of the kayak. It was done that way for Yost-style builds to account for the cockpit placement. If you’re doing a different style of build let me know.
- About 30 minutes later, he emails back that he is getting frustrated for some unknown reason at this point. Maybe because I didn’t understand what he was saying. He tries to reexplain. I don’t understand what he is saying. In retrospect, I get it, especially after a clearly written response later in the night. He demanded money back which is against my policy on my website. Here’s the email:
This is getting very frustrating.
Iprint the sheets of plans you send and on one sheet there’s a lines plan with no numbers on it but right next to the lines plan is “Plan Station Locations” with the stated locations measured from the stern. Those stated measurements DO NOT JIVE WITH THE LINES PLAN DRAWINGS – profile and deck.
I’m beginning to think I have wasted my money with you?So please return my money soonest.
Re Yost, I am not familiar with the term so do not understand what you try to tell me.
Kindly refund my money and I shall seek someone else’s kayak plan.
- Again, I state I don’t understand what he is saying. I tell him the return policy, which is no returns on electronically transmitted drawings. I ask him questions about what problems he is having trying to understand what is going on.
Many people have built from these drawings and had no issues. I don’t understand the problem you are having.As stated on website, there are no returns for electronic plans.Can you, please, describe what you are trying to do with these drawings so I can help you figure it out? Are you building a skin-on-frame kayak? Or some other style.
I got home after a long day doing my actual job and go back to this email chain. This is a hobby and I’m tired, but I want to figure out whatever it is that he is having a problem with. I reread it and think I understand his issue. I think he can’t figure out where each station goes. I’m not on my work computer, so I don’t have access to my CAD files. So, I download the drawings from my website and I mark them up in a way that addresses what I think he is talking about. I email him at about 7:40pm.
- He finally states his problem clearly, and I finally understand what he is saying. He found a minor mistake in my drawings. The station locations when measured and scaled on the linesplan didn’t line up with the stated station locations in the chart or on the full-sized stations. Everyone that has built it used the stated locations on the chart and full-sized stations instead of trying to measure and scale the location distance from the linesplan, so the scaling problem was never uncovered before. It stems from the drawings used for the prototype and the final version. After a few prototypes were built, one of the builders emailed me that he thought the stations should be in slightly different locations. I agreed and redrew the stations. Because this is a hobby, it took me several months before I completed the new station drawings. I forgot to change the linesplan to reflect the updated station locations. It was definitely a mistake and one that I’m glad someone found. It was a different problem than what I emailed him about in #11, but the answer was the same as that given in #11. Note: I haven’t emailed him back yet, but this is the first email where I clearly understood what he was trying to tell me.
- He sends me a picture of the print off of the drawings with no information listed about his problem.
- He sends me a second picture of the print off of the drawings with no information listed about his problem. It’s actually the same picture as the one he sent in #14. There’s a snide remark as well.
- He replies in a way that seems like an insult and reexplains what he did in #13. Here’s the the email:
GO to your Linesplan and you’ll see , as I explained earlier, more than once, that Station 1 in the Lines plan is not 2ft from the stern but rather more like 2.3ft. Your Lines plan needs to be redrawn to show the proper location of station 1. And possibly others -I have not checked as I quit after finding Station 1 not where it should be on your linesplsan.Rest assured I shall not be recommending fellow builders to seek your plansYou need to correct your Linesplan or your individual stations stated locations. Anyone with proper ship plans drawing training can see your Linesplan does not reflect what your stations say.
Maybe you need to take a course in Marine Drafting????????????
- I still want to help him (and I’m a little pissed by this point), so although I should be in bed I go into my office and pull up the drawings and the 3D model. I didn’t have time to check to see if the linesplans were actually wrong (I checked this later and they were — see #13 above). I deleted the linesplan. Slapped a regenerated new linesplan into the drawing. Regenerated the pdf. And attached multiple images, so he would understand were to put the stations. Emailed it all to him. And told him that lets not insult each other and have an adult conversation. At 10:08pm, I send him the following email. It’s probably a bit mean and includes unneeded info like my work schedule:
As I stated before, you use the numbers that are listed in the table and not any scaling that you are measuring on the linesplan. The linesplan in the pdf may or may not be up-to-date to reflect the placement of the stations. The station positions were changed after the first prototype was built based on performance and building feedback from the first builder. The correct spacing is listed in the table.I pulled up .dxf of the drawing package to check on the linesplan and fired up DelftShip Professional to show you to TRUST THE NUMBERS IN THE CHART (I provide and make these drawings as a hobby, and I wouldn’t normally look into this on the weekend when I’m running a weekend-long event for my real business after an over 15 hour long day. I’d rather be getting rest than trying to convince you to believe me to use the number is the chart. But you seem to be having an issue believing me and you stated you are getting frustrated (after one email) so for you I’m spending more time working tonight even though I’ll be working a 16 hour day tomorrow). I deleted whatever linesplans were in there a slapped in the newly generated linesplan from Delftship. Then I double checked each station from the newly generated station views from DelftShip Professional. Each station was 100% correct and the numbers in the chart were 100% correct.Many kayaks have been built using the full-sized printouts of the stations and the numbers in the chart. The numbers in the chart are the correct numbers. You can choose not to believe me, but as I have stated previously they are correct. I’m attaching proof that the numbers in the chart are correct.So, what I am trying to get through to you: THE NUMBERS IN THE CHART ARE THE CORRECT NUMBERS!Attachments:
- Screenshot of the 3D model of the kayak as modeled in DelftShip Professional. It shows where the stations are located and the distance from the stern as entered into the program. It shows that the numbers in the chart are the correct numbers.
- Measurements of the linesplan exported from DelftShip Professional.
- An updated pdf with the linesplan that was originally in there deleted and the newly generated linesplan shown in screenshot3 scaled into it.
It is not helpful to say, “Maybe you need to take a course in Marine Drafting????????????” when I did NOT understand what you were saying because it was NOT clear in your writing. If you want help, please, refrain for insulting me and let us continue this conversation as adults. If you insult me one more time and if you are unable to continue this conversation as an adult, I will not continue to have this conversation with you.
I’m going to bed now as it is 10PM. If you have further issues, I will address them at my leisure sometime in the next week.
- On Sunday morning at 6:32am, he emailed me back telling me what Trump would have to say about my mistake. Insulting me. Referencing the issue in #4 above. Telling me that if he ever helped me again I’d have to pay him money. Tells me he slandered my reputation on the web and he carbon copies multiple people into the email and email chain (while editing out some of the replies in the email chain). Here’s his email exactly as he sent it minus his name:
You finally got around to admitting your plain Linesplan drawing should not be used to check scale or accuracy of Station Locations. . In your 16 hour workday you forget that it was YOU who had to send me a link to your plans because ,in. Your own words,” MY BAD” for me not being able to download the proper drawings due to your own foul up.((As Trump would say “You were stupid to post an inaccurate Linesplan without drawing attention that it was inaccurate to the customer.” You need to amend the lines plan so it jives with the stated locations, Cause it does not – and you admit such is the case.))Thanks for admitting your error. ( all you have to do is find time in your 16 hr workday to make the change or simply print “Not to proper scale” on the lines plan drawing
If you need any further advise just call only it will start costing you $$$
(Just print “NOT TO SCALE) where it needs to be to steer customers away from using the lines plan for other than a rough image of what you are trying to sell and you won’t have fellas like me who check for accuracy and discover your shortcomings.
You can do better and you need to get at it if you’re going to continue the Paddling Light Site to sell stuff As you can see above your reputation is now out on the web – Start FIXING IT
- Before I email him back, he emails, “Don’t you feel better now that you’ve posted an “Accurate Linesplan”” I can’t be sure what he is saying here. Something about my website? I haven’t actually updated the website, but will do so soon.
- I write back and I’m kind of pissed:
Dude, it wasn’t about admitting anything. It was about looking at the drawings and trying to decipher what you were writing and figuring out what you were trying to say. I have no issue with admitting a mistake when I make one. Like you, I’m human and we both make mistakes — it’s best to drop the holier than thou attitude and the world is a better place. I like to think we’re in this together and can work together to make the world and the paddling world a better place. From your emails, it seems like you’re more about gotchas and winning an imaginary argument that you think you are having with me.I’m not here to argue with you. So, feel free to gloat or whatever if that makes you feel superior.
I may turn this entire email thread into a blog post because it proves a point of mine: people on the internet are now about gotchas more so than understanding that working together is how we achieve greatness.
- He emails me back again. I’m not sure what to make of this one. I will say that the claim that it “took days for you to put right” is absolutely false. He emailed me at 6:48am on Saturday. By 10:08pm that same night, I had sent the fix to him. If my math is correct, he had the fix in under 16 hours on a weekend. Here’s the email:
The fact remains you finally corrected your errors only after being prodded to do so. When I pay good money I don’t expect to have to put up with inaccurate drawings that took days for you to put right only after I pointed the error out. (What imaginary argument? The error was staring out at you for god knows how long)
Your Siskiwit plan site is now looking a lot more accurate than before I entered the scene, feel free to put it all on the Blog.
Glad to be of assistance.
- I email back saying he didn’t prod me to do anything because I’m always happy to fix a mistake and include this list to this point.
- He emails me about Trump and carbon copies several people into the email. This is a new email thread.
- I tell him to “Please, do not email me again.”
- He writes back:
Your wish is my command.
I’m giving a talk in a couple weeks to budding Naval Architects at Dalhousie University on “How to Draft Marine Plans” Your style of Marine Plans will come in very handily.
- I block him. His replies are now sent directly to spam.
Over 28 emails over a couple of days about a mistake that I didn’t notice, that didn’t affect anyone’s build and that I was more than happy to fix after I understood what the guy was saying. Maybe I’m totally in the wrong here. I don’t know. Maybe I said something that justifiably made him mad and frustrated.
What I do know is the $30 that he paid for the drawings wasn’t worth the abuse or hassle. I know that most people in the paddling world are great and willing to work together, but I’ve seen so many thing on the Internet that turned, as they say, mole hills into mountains when it could have been so simple just to work together. This is a sport. It’s an outdoor recreation and for most of us it is a pass time that is suppose to be fun.
Let’s all lighten up already when it comes to kayaking and canoeing. We have bigger problems in the world to spend our energies on and paddling should recharge us instead of draining our energies.