2012 Cape Falcon Kayak winter report

Between building and designing kayaks and building my off-grid organic farm,  the last four years have been a crashing wave of relentless productivity.   Occasionally a smooth carve and turn,  often a violent tumbling side-surf.    As I washed ashore and shook off the salt this fall,  I found myself wondering,  what next?   I saw lots of easy paths laid out,  if you're keen it's not that hard to see what is popular in paddlesports and chase the trend in search of a paycheck.  I've always been fortunate to make a living in paddling without having to do that.   Which is good because I can't do it.

I decided to take a long break from even thinking about my business and really just enjoy being a paddler in all of the various forms I enjoy.  After countless solo runs of our local coastal tributaries,  I came to a place where I realized that I was likely as strong and skilled as I'll ever be,  so I dusted off the creekboat and decided to give'r on a few of our Oregon class V classics.    This was a big step.   After nearly losing my life running class V in my twenties,  I've held the belief that it simply isn't worth the risk,  and if it were just for the thrill I'd still hold that belief.   There is another aspect to class V though,  and that is the fact that class V whitewater is created by the geology of some of the most beautiful places on earth,  deep mysterious canyons,  places I longed to visit.   I also simply had to level with myself,  as dangerous as it seemed,  the reality is that I haven't swam out of a whitewater kayak in 16 years and I almost always nail my lines.  

I won't bore you with the details but I did get on a few solid class V runs,  reveling in the beauty of nature,  the miracle of water,  and the singularity of pure focus that a consequential environment instills.  Unfortunately I didn't get a lot of photos because I was busy surviving,  but I did put together a page of some of the best shots of 2011 whitewater.   Although it was a pivotal personal experience to work through my fear of class V,  I'm still a class III-IV paddler at heart.   I like to know I can blow a line and not get munched.   I like to laugh and smile and relax on the river.

Go paddle,  come home,  take a bath,  read a book,  take a nap.     I burned up months doing this and by all accounts it was extremely pleasant.   My bank account dwindled and yet the persistant question whispered over my shoulder:  what next?   Build kayaks,  run the farm,  go surfing?   All of those things of course,  easily enough to consume ones' time,  and yet I couldn't muster the passion to begin again.   I was inhaling cash and producing absolutely nothing.  Something "else" needed to happen.   Something new...

It was about this time that I noticed that my body was starting to hurt,  all the time.   Things creaked and cracked,  I woke up tired,  I felt old.   I'm much too young to feel old.    I knew it was time to embrace my nemesis,  Yoga.    I hate yoga.   I hate sitting still,  I hate breathing,  I hate stretching,  I hate looking for the bright light within.   It's boring,  and goddammit,  I have things to do.   I've spent the last 15 years steadfastly avoiding becoming a yogi fruitcake,  and yet,  eventually there comes a point in all of our lives where the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing.  

A week later I felt better than I had in five years.   Those sorts of benefits are hard to ignore.   I even felt tiny bursts of that coveted mental silence,  the source of this supposed bright light.    It could have been that,  or perhaps it was getting pounded senseless at the base of a waterfall I completely missed the boof on,  but something started to shift.    The voice of inspiration echoed from within:

"Go forth and make videos."

"Dammit",  I thought,  in the voice that Indian Jones used when he looked down and saw all those snakes in the well-of-souls,  "why did it have to be video?"

Video is another thing I've avoided like the plauge,  a perfect hole to pour time into.   Nonetheless,  I love creating entertaining narratives,  I love organizing information and teaching,  and video is a much more dynamic medium for furthering these goals.   There is also my savant like ability begin teaching on the word "go"  and spit out something reasonably concise and professional.  I had to accept that I should be doing video,  and from that realization everything began to flow.   I bought a camera and began to force feed myself an editing program.

   Beginning late this spring we'll be launching Cape Falcon Video,  A video specific website where I can post entertaining paddling videos,  informational videos about the kayak building,  and a pay-per-download series of building and paddling tutorials.   There are a lot of things I teach that I think are worth money to learn,  and  I'm sure you'll agree that paying a buck to download a particular lesson is a lot less frustrating than two days of cursing at your skinboat in the basement.    I also just love to teach,  mingling a unique mix of politics, spirituality, irreverence, and humor with some top quality instruction.

It's a big project,  but it's one I'm excited to tackle.

In the meantime,  it's nice to be back in the shop,  cleaning up,  building things.   Believe it or not this is the first time in two years I've actually built a boat for myself and that feels really good.   What does the guy who can have anything he wants build for himself?    A completely standard F1,  albeit made out of completely out of kayak-salvaged wood.   Swift,  stable,  manuverable,  and fun,  I don't think I'll ever fall out of love with this little boat.   It's my idea of perfect,  and lifting it off of the sawhorses for the first time I realized how nice it was to not be lugging around a fifty pound creekboat and ten pounds of rescue gear.   28lbs will do nicely,  thank you.

I swear I could almost hear it groan though as I dragged it across the parking lot and threw it unceremoniously atop the pickup.   I am a registered boat abuser.    Our first day together was spent in a storm on the flooded bay chasing logs in a five foot wind chop with winds gusting to fifty!    Chainsaw on the back deck,  peavy on the front,  a pile of log dogs and a mile of old rope,  the boat behaved beautifully.  Together we grabbed and tied anything decent that was floating.   I nabbed a few nice saw logs,  the gorgeous firewood log you see above,  (photo from the following day) and sadly lost an AMAZING fir that broke loose from where I'd tied it.    It was fun to be in a sea kayak again,  and the F1 remains after all this time,  my favorite boat to paddle.

The days are getting longer,  seeds are starting to arrive in the mail,  and soon it will be time to fire up the table saw and prep for my first class of the year.   With the buzz of new projects tingling in my brain I'm finally excited to do it all over again,  to share the special magic that comes from building your own wooden boat,  in beautiful a setting where you can nibble on things growing nearby.    Until then,  I've got a lot to do,  ready,  set,  go!


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