Holiday Classic revised

December 20, 2016

wavetrainsup-holiday-greetingTwas the night before freezeup and all through the land
not a paddler was stirring – not even a kayaker
the paddles were stored in their cases with care
in the hopes that open water soon would be there
the children were nestled all snug behind the counter
while visions of paddling danced in their heads
with ma making dough and I behind the camera
we’d just settled down for a long night of cookie making
when out in the shop there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the kitchen to see what was the matter –
Away to the triple pane I flew like an overprotective father,
Tore open the insulating plastic screen and threw up the sash.
the moon on the edge of the newly cut cedar,
gave some lustre to the varnish on the paddles in the rack
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature paddleboard and eight tiny yoginis,
With a little old instructor so sunburnt and extroverted,
I knew in a moment s/he must be the saint of enjoying the water.
More rapid than downwinders his paddlers they stroked,
And s/he hollered and encouraged and hoped they all knew how to swim
“Now, Grom! now, newbie! now whitewater kitten!
On, rookie! on, funseeker! Wear your cold water mitten!
To the top of the wavetrain! to the top of the drop!
Now jstroke now jstroke now feather it all!”

– and that’s about it for my feeble rhyming abilities. Three daughters are home now. Two of them were the ‘models’ for paddles this summer. The oldest was off playing college soccer. They’re hunting for hidden presents, eating cookies for breakfast, and already getting bored. A true winter time family fest.

I hope each of you are finding joy in its many different forms here at the end of the year!

Sunset paddling in magic light

November 7, 2016

sunset paddling on the yahara river We decided to take advantage of the last night before Daylight Savings Time ends and it starts getting dark after lunch here in northern flyover country 🙂 We loaded and scurried and arrived at the newly redone haunted old Dyreson Bridge with the sun still in the sky. Just barely. For once, there were others on my favorite stretch of the Yahara, in fact there were even kids playing on one of the docks that has stood empty and forlorn for years. I guess we all knew that days are getting short and fun near the water is drawing to a close.

Magic light descended on us within minutes of getting on the water. The marsh grass lit up in a golden hue, my old beat up kaholo even looked good. My wife’s skin and hair glowed just right. The colors in the paddle blade emerged.  Magic evening light is really hard to beat. Every time I am able to immerse in it, good things happen. It’s even better when I throw in my good camera at the last minute.

Best of all though, were the reflections. The wind calmed, leaving glassy water and silence. btw, this stretch of water has enough current that geese tend not to like it, so the quiet was even deeper. Everything offered a perfect reflection, the grass, the trees, the people. It’s a beautiful thing.

Magic light. Quiet water. Perfect paddle.

Wood working. With Your Hands.

October 20, 2016

paddle-making-with-hand-tools

I enjoy, maybe even have some passion for, wood and paddle making. One of the many beauties of woodworking is the degree to which it absorbs all of your senses. It’s really cool. At least for me it is. The radio is on in the background, the cedar (or redwood and walnut in the picture above) smells awesome and the hand plane is making these neat little sounds. Bit by bit the shaft comes into the shape I want, time passes, and I am absorbed in what goes on in front of me with hand and tool and wood. For me, there’s nothing else like it. Exercise, reading, even paddling, all  come up short in comparison to the sheer multi sense pleasure tickle that hand tools and a piece of wood give me.

So next time the TV is on and yet you’re bored, or your home from work, the lawn does not need mowing and it’s still warm out, have a go with the stack of wood in your garage and the spokeshave that’s calling your name and patiently waiting to tickle. I think you’ll find your brain goes on auto-pilot and you are absorbed in the sheer pleasure of creating something by hand. Your hand.

Taking Time to Enjoy the Water. Simple.

September 20, 2016

happy-ghost-paddle-blog

Out on the edge of the continent, in that tiny little 100 yard strip of water in the surf zone there’s usually plenty of action with paddles and sup, etc. It’s easy to assume that because we see so much of that little tiny 100 yard strip that everything in SUP must be like that. Young blond women in bikinis, paddling hard to catch the wave while looking good for the front side camera.

It just ain’t so.

Young blond women, like my daughter here, can sit down on a paddleboard and simply look at nature and listen to the birds and sometimes even the silence. No front side camera. No furious paddling to catch the wave. No Beach Boys playing in the background about the eternal party ongoing in the 100 yard strip of trend setting Americana.

Someday I’ll do the math, but I’m sure the number is staggering. Inland water, flyover water, fresh, flat water like this stretch of the Yahara is the staggering majority of paddling water. I’ll bet 99.995% of paddling water is like this and excludes the surf zone. It’s not all about the frenzy of the surf zone. It trends followed the numbers, it would be about flyover water in all its simple and many beauties. Yet somehow, the gnat on the tail of the dog, wags the dog. That silly little surf zone makes the market so to speak, while we here in flyover country happily enjoy the silence and simplicity of good paddling water.

North Americans are blessed with an abundance of beautiful simple water to get out and immerse in. Feel the silence. Listen to the little waves hit the bottom of the board.

Flyover water rocks. I love it.

Summer Day on Flyover Water

September 13, 2016

flyover-yahara-flyover-pine

It’s gorgeous this time of year. At least to my eyes, the light is starting to seem a bit different as we approach the autumnal equinox (9/22 this year btw). Trivia question for the day – what is an equinox? Bonus point for difference between equinox and solstice. I offer no answer, save to write that relief for this burning unanswered trivia is but one easy Google search away.

Anyway, it’s gorgeous out. The geese are just starting to fly overhead and we just had our first ground fog morning. No color yet, but it is coming soon! Our middle daughter and I managed to make it out for a paddle before she left for college. Wish there had been time for more. Oh well. I’m guessing when you want to see your kids more and not less it must mean you are getting old?

It was a perfect day for simple flyover country water – For those of you near Madison, WI., the stretch of the Yahara river between Lake Kegonsa and Mud Lake is superb simple wild water, just a stone’s throw from an urban area. Easy access at multiple points and you hardly ever see other paddlers.

My own youthful years had a fair amount of wild water out on the Salmon and other western rivers. Even with a brain full of those cherished memories, I find myself hugely enjoying the simple act of paddling flyover water like this. Stunning. Gorgeous. Simple.

Canoecopia in rear view mirror

March 14, 2016

Just like so many of the other CC events, this year’s version of Canoecopia hummed with energy and good stuff. For me it’s fun just to see aisles packed with people all revolving around paddling – one way or another. After talking with so many other enthusiasts, now more than ever I really enjoy the neat place that paddlemaking occupies. The combination of making something with your own hands that you then use with your own hands is a great feeling. Lots of good vibes.

CC2016  was wavetrainSUP’s jump into offering complete paddles in addition to the paddle kits that have long been our standard fare. Building paddle from concept through completion was what got me started with wavetrainSUP in the first place after all. Creating Happy Ghosts, Solid Citizens, Knotty Farmhands, and Old School Reds puts me right back in the mindset of making something. It’s all absorbing. I love the place I find myself in when I am making a paddle. There’s nothing quite like shaping a shaft or finishing a blade that offers such an absorbing combination of physical work and mental focus. I love it.

There’s lots of updating to the website. If you came by the booth you saw all the paddles as well as the parts and pieces. Now it’s time to go into camera mode and refresh the website with imagery that matches everything in the booth.

Happy paddling! Jeff

PS – I hope you will sign up for our newsletter!

 

Free copy of book **

February 16, 2016

A few years back I wrote a book about making bent shaft paddles. It was a version 1 book. A couple years later it is in dire need of refinement and updating. So don’t buy this current version. Wait for the update. It’ll be out shortly after Canoecopia.

If you already purchased the book, I will give you a free copy of the updated book. Sorry about the timing, if you’ve already made a paddle. Hopefully the updated book will inform a bit more for your second paddle.

To get your free copy just take a picture of you and the book or the paddle you made based on the book and email it to paddle(at)wavetrainsup.com

SUP in a lake, simple paddleboarding

January 18, 2016


It’s been awhile since I surveyed the “industry” that wavetrainSUP seems to be in. In this case, I searched Twitter for the keyword “paddleboard”. Wow. Either wavetrainSUP is an outlier or…I don’t know.

I found nothing about the simple pleasure of paddleboarding. It’s not all surfing and racing after all. There’s plenty of space for getting out on a nice summer day. Of course it’s winter now, so the above shot reminds me of what is coming in just a few months I hope.

So here’s the thing – my background is all freshwater and simple pleasures, like paddling one of the many lakes here in Wisconsin. Usually that paddling includes a paddleboard I built myself and a paddle I made myself as well. Some fishing, lots of picture taking, sometimes I even take our little dog along on the paddle.

I almost always have the water to myself. It’s quiet, there’s lots of birds, and looking down into the water is kind of mesmerizing.

Shaping Paddle Blades

November 25, 2015
working on the blade for a paddleboard paddle

One step in the life of a new paddle blade is the process of removing any rough edges or spots. I also thin the blade a bit, as in the picture above (btw, the shavings are from a whole batch of blade pieces). Using a plane makes for a great smell as paper thin shavings come off the cedar blade.

Once the blade blank is smoothed and checked, it’s ready for life as part of a paddle, a paddle built by you, on your table or counter.

Blade pieces in a wavetrainSUP kit are vertical grain clear western red cedar, unless you want something different like walnut or redwood, or a piece of knotty cedar.

Each kit contains enough materials for two paddles. That means four big blade pieces, enough for two paddles. This gives you a ‘warmup’ paddle to learn on or experiment. Once that first project is complete and your paddle building instincts are warmed up, you can take what you learned on the first one and build the second paddle.

A day in the sun watching Floatzilla

August 16, 2015

Floatzilla is River Action’s annual attempt to break the Guinness World Book of Records entry for number of canoes and kayaks in a single free floating raft. This year RA added a costume contest to FLoatzilla. This pair of paddlers had two of my favorite costumes. Look out for it next summer, it’s a fun way to do some Mississippi paddling and maybe be part of a record.