A Pitch for Voyageurs

I teach an intro to coastal kayaking class each spring with my friend Michelle Forseth. Often enough our students tell us that this week they’re taking the class, and next week they’re going to Lake Superior to paddle the Apostles. Depending on the weather, that may or may not be the greatest idea in the world. … Continue reading

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The End, in Sight

Six years ago my daughter, Anna, started building a kayak. She had recently dropped out of high school. She was taking some college classes, volunteering at Planned Parenthood and running cross country to fill up the days. But because she is a cunning creature, she knew that a sure-fire way to get me firmly behind … Continue reading

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Time for Another Boat

You would think that at some point you get the joke, and yet… It’s time to build another boat. This time I have in mind a baidarka, set up around the swede form lines of the Epic 18x. The Epic boat is notoriously fast. (At least to the extent that a craft traveling at five to … Continue reading

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A Transportation Trade

Can’t help but wonder what the native, kayak-building people would have made of this deal. Recently a friend of mine had his 1993 Miata (two-seat convertible sports car for you non-gearheads) slightly smashed up when he was going a little too fast and the car ahead of him stopped a little too quickly. Result: dented … Continue reading

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A Floating Experiment

My friend, Michelle Forseth, and I teach a couple beginning sea kayaking classes each summer. A question that often arises is, What kind of kayak should I buy? Often enough this comes from a female, in her forties or fifties, who has not spent the past 20 years pumping iron. I’m guessing this kayak will mostly be … Continue reading

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Fatman Returns

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I’ve got a Halloween tradition going — publishing a free serial novella featuring the exploits of Frogtown’s oddball investigator, Fatman. This year’s novella, Duke Is Dead, builds on Fatman Descends, a serial published last year beginning on Day of the Dead. In that story, Fatman discovers that light-rail construction has opened a portal to the underworld, where the vengeful dead … Continue reading

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Your kayak?

My wife points out that there are many things you can do with wood. Replace the kitchen counters, for instance. Build a tool bin for the porch. Replace the rotting back stairs. No denying any of that. To quote Andrew Marvell, there’s world enough and time for those things. Or maybe there’s not. I don’t … Continue reading

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Canvas, Reconsidered

It’s been years since I used canvas to skin one of my kayaks. Instead I’ve slipped into polyester, the venerable fabric of the leisure suit, which I then cover with varnish or paint. It’s light, it’s cheap, it works. But like almost everything, it has its drawbacks. It slackens a bit over time. And it’s … Continue reading

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Boat of Twigs

I started my latest kayak by strapping on a pair of snowshoes and heading for the shore of the Mississippi. I’ve got a spot not so far from my house where I harvest willow branches. I turn them into ribs for an Alaskan-style kayak — a baidarka to the Russians who once colonized Alaska, or … Continue reading

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The Four-Year Kayak

Here’s my daughter, Anna, with a kayak we started building back when she was in high school. She’s just about finished with college now, and we’re hunkering down to get this boat in the water. It’s probably safe to say that unlike most boat building projects, this one started with a high school philosophy class … Continue reading

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