I’m wrapping up the year at PaddlingLight and like I did last year, I’m looking back to see if there were any themes (In 2012, I got philosophical). This year, I didn’t really have a theme. I attempted and got close to my goal of a blog post a week, but summer was difficult. I was guiding trips, running my guiding business and teaching lessons about six days a week on average and that didn’t leave time for anything else, plus I wrote a lot of articles for magazines this year, which put Plight on the backburner. Mainly, my thought process in 2013 was pretty disjointed when it came to paddling. I was much more focused on photography. But I still managed to kick out articles nearly every week. Here are the highlights of 2013 on PaddlingLight.
PaddlingLight’s First Product Introduction
This year, I finally got around to making Kayak Deck Slates. Kayak deck slates are vinyl stickers that go in front of your cockpit and allow you to take notes while on the water with a grease pen. I use them for navigation and to write down haiku. They run $20 without a pen and $25 with a pen. I also have wholesale options for stores. The first batch went quickly and I sold out in about a month. I got the second batch a little late for the kayaking season, but I now have plenty for next year.
I wrote a bunch of how-to articles in 2013, but my two favorite are these:
- Print BSB Raster Charts the Easy Way: NOAA Charts for Free
- Navigation: Leave Your Compass at Home and Use Handrails and Fences
I like to print my own NOAA charts for free and I like to print them from Photoshop, so I can get the exact area I want, but not everyone wants that, so this is an easy way to do it. NOAA is testing out a system in which it offers pdf versions of the charts for free right now, which makes my process unneeded, but it’s worth checking out if you want to make your own. The Navigation article joins a bunch of other kayak navigation articles, and it helped see a new magazine series to Ocean Paddler.
Kayak and Canoe Controversy
I caused a little bit of controversy this year in my passionate defence of the paddle float rescue. Much of the conversation happened on Facebook, but here’s the article about it. I also called out a SUP company for showing a photo promoting unsafe practices on cold water and for making light of it.
- The Paddle Float Rescue: Why is Everyone Down on It?
- Cold Water SUP and a Paddlesport Marketing Fail
Most of my kayaking this year was guiding, but I did get out on a few trips. I joined some friends in the Florida Keys at the end of their 11,700-mile kayak, canoe and dog sled journey across North America. I also wrote about a trip I took to Norway a few years ago. This year also bookended with icy personal trips. Generally, except for the Florida trip, the year was cold. I usually wore my drysuit — even mid-summer!
- Kayaking Norway’s Lofoten Islands
- Spring(?) Kayaking on Brule Lake in the BWCA
- Getting Icy: The Last Winter Kayak of the Year
Kayaking and Canoeing Humor
I thought I had a great April Fools joke with a great setup and then punch. Some people actually thought I was serious when I posted the first article.
- Press Release: Kayaker to Attempt to Circumnavigate the World for a Cause
- Press Release: Attempt to Circumnavigate the World Suspended
Picking a campsite usually sucks, because you want the perfect campsite. I designed a flow chart about How to Pick the Perfect Campsite.
2013 Wasn’t All Rosy
In the Florida Keys, we ran across the worst campsite ever, and I wrote about it in Kayak Camping: A lesson in leaving no trace and how to poop in the woods. We were in expedition kayaks that were jammed with gear and couldn’t clean up the mess from the powerboats and then someone in the comments basically called me a creep for leaving it. I left a note out of the article about how we arranged to get it cleaned up by people in powerboats.
I also had my tow rope knot come undone at the worst possible moment. I write about it in It’s All in the Knot.
Kayak and Canoe Product Reviews
This year I hooked up with a PR company that sends me products. I review them and get to keep them, so I reviewed a bunch of products this year. These are a select few.
Worst Product of the Year
- Solo Stove: a Lightweight Cooking Solution: I thought I was going to like this wood-burning stove, but I can’t stand it. It’s a pain to use and a pain to start on rainy days.
Best Product of the Year
- Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review: Throw all your other water filters away and go buy the 1.6-ounce, $24 Sawyer Mini water filter. Think NO more pumping! You can just screw this onto a soda bottle, water bladder, splice it into a hydration pack or use it as a gravity filter. Get this: It’s rated for 100,000 gallons. It’s likely you won’t need another filter and at this price everyone can carry their own.
Best Video of the Year
- Review: Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 3: Do yourself a favor and buy it.
Best Kayaking Product of the Year
- Comfort Paddling Tuilik Review: I love tuiliks and this waterproof-breathable tuilik is so comfortable and the hood is so dry that it seems like a miracle of science. It’s custom made to fit your kayak and your body. Well worth your money.
Worst Kayaking Book I Read of the Year
- After reading Around Madagascar on My Kayak Book Review, I coined this phrase:
Adventurer Savant: Someone who completes an expedition despite a serious ineptitude in both the physical and mental skills required to succeed at the sport and an inability to properly judge risk thus putting him or herself into serious danger.
And that’s the Best of PaddlingLight in 2013.