Thursday, February 21, 2008

Paddle With a PFD

Light Paddling
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Some sad paddling news came in from Texas this week. Note: the Dripping Springs mentioned in the article is not the same Dripping Springs Lake area that I paddle in often here in Oklahoma.

Austin, TX -- A Dripping Springs man was still missing and presumed dead Tuesday night after disappearing on a kayaking trip in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.

Stephen Stafford, 19, was on a fishing trip with a co-worker when they decided to go kayak fishing early Sunday morning. Both kayaks were capsized by waves, and although Stafford's co-worker was found, the Coast Guard said Stafford got lost in the waves while yelling for help.

Stafford was not wearing a life jacket, something his mother and girlfriend want others to think about twice. Water safety is something everyone should take seriously. --

Shop Online for a Paddller's PFD

Speaking of Kayak safety, Yakker dropped a great comment on my recent posting about picking a out a kayak for Oklahoma paddling. Yakker mentioned another very important thing to consider: capacity. Every kayak is designed for paddlers of a certain weight range. if you are old and a bit heavy, like myself, don't assume that any kayak will effectively bear your weight. Whitewater kayaks are often for paddlers under two hundred pounds, so check the specs for Paddler Capacity before buying any kayak.

Then get yourself a PFD in a color that nicely accents your boat. Buy a kayak, don't buy The Farm!

Technorati Tags:  

Labels: .

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Reader Photography Showcase Contest.

Kayaking the Kiamichi River
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
The editors of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine are calling on Oklahoma sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts for entries in the annual Reader’s Photography Showcase contest.

Any Oklahoman with a digital camera and an interest in the outdoors is eligible to see their work published in this years Showcase edition of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.

Submissions are being accepted through March 31, and winners will have their work featured in the July/August 2008 issue.

Although the editors of Outdoor Oklahoma encourage readers to submit images including a variety of outdoor-related subjects, the magazine has been focusing on “faces in the outdoors” to show hunters, anglers, kids and other outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the outdoors.

Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. Slides and print images will not be accepted.

Hopeful photographers can mail a disk to:

"Outdoor Oklahoma" Magazine
Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation
P.O. Box 53465
Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Readers may also e-mail their entries to

Friday, February 15, 2008

2008 White River Canoe Race July 23 - 26

Ozark Area Scouts Prepare for Paddling Race

The time has come for area Boy Scouts to start planning their summer activities. A longtime favorite for area Boy Scouts interested in canoeing is the Annual White River Canoe Race. This year July 23 through July 26 will be the 42nd run of this great Ozarks adventure race.

If your Oklahoma scouting troop is planning on taking part, drop us a comment on the Oklahoma Road Trips Blog. Other Oklahoma paddlers will want to root for your victory!

The National Invitational White River Canoe Race will take you down some of the most scenic country in America. The race is an adventure of over a hundred miles from the heart of the Ozark Mountains near Bull Shoals Lake to the foothills of Batesville, Arkansas.

Participants must be at least 14 years of age at race time and registered members of Venturing Crews, Boy Scout Troops, Varsity Teams, or Explorer Posts.

Registration is $30 per racer and advisor if registered by mail before July 1, 2008. This fee includes the race entry fee, four evening meals, and camping. Prices have increase to also cover the cost of a T-shirt. Registration is $35 per racer and advisor at Bull Shoals.

Parents, adults, race observers and guests may pay the entry fee and receive the four evening meals, but the camping is free for all.

Note: camping for the scouts is in areas of the parks that may or may not have electrical hookups. If you require electrical hookups, you must make your own reservations at the campgrounds. Water, restrooms, and showers are available at all the parks.

Our White River Kayaking Outfitters List.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kayaks for Oklahoma Paddling

Lake Trees
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
The road trips have been few and far between these days. I've been paddling some local waters on brief sunset trips. Hopefully, I will be able to get out more as the weather improves.

Just this weekend Yakker and I launched from our river lot on the North Canadian River. Yakker lives nearby so i decided to give him a call before heading out for a little sunset chasing. He is a trooper and managed to make it up and down our treacherously steep, slick and muddy riverbank mostly without incident.

Yakker paddles an Advanced Elements Kayak. Although it is a Sit-Inside-Kayak that is about the same length as mine, Yakker's boat is a folding kayak. This makes it quite different from a rigid kayak like the boat Dianne and I paddle.

Folding Kayaks

Folding Kayaks are nothing new. In fact, the original kayaks the Inuit people built were a simple skin over frame very similar to today's folding kayaks. Of course, today's folding kayaks use high tech materials and often contain inflatable components to improve their bouyancy.

I get a large number of emails asking me to suggest what kind of kayak folks should buy. Folding kayaks and inflatable kayaks offer great alternatives for folks that have very limited optons for transporting their boat to the water. My buddy Yakker drives a small Honda commuter car and flies back to California for vists regularly. Being able to check your kayak with your luggage at the airport is a huge advantage of buying a boat in a bag!

The downsides of folding kayaks and inflatables usually relate to durability, tracking and prep-time. The cheapest rigid kayak are made from rotomolded plastic. It is tough, longlasting and easily repaired. The rigid kayaks tend to track better (paddle straighter) than comparable skin-on-frame type kayaks. Finally, one should not underestimate the value of being able to just throw the boats in the truck and go. Expect an extra 20 minutes or more on the riverbank prepping your gear for a folding kayak. Currently, my lifestyle demands a rigid kayak, but if i ever have to start traveling a great deal for work, I will be shopping around for a baggable boat.

SOT Kayaks

Dianne has been looking at some Sit-On-Top (SOT) Kayaks, lately. Popular among kayak fisherman, a SOT Kayak is literally unsinkable. You might get wet paddling an SOT Kayak. You might even fall off your Sit-On-Top Kayak...but you will never see this kayak fill up with water and sink. These kayaks are usually made from rotomolded plastic, but they also include scupper holes. Scupper Holes are drain holes in the kayak cockpit that allow any water that enters the cockpit to immediately flow back out. In addition to the self-rescue benefits of an unsinkable boat, SOT Kayaks tend to offer higher max paddler weight, more stability and a much larger range of optional accessories.

Ultimately, I think any kind of kayak that gets you out on the water is a worthy investment. Just make sure you have a plan to get your boat to the water.

You can look at and price a wide selection of kayaks that include all of the types above in the Buy a Kayak section of our Paddlers Supply Store. Check out the Bic Yakka Kayak, an innovative rigid kayak that folds in half!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Two Kayaking Spots Near Okmulgee Oklahoma

Clovis Point Fishing Dock
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
More Winter Kayaking at Dripping Springs Lake

God Bless Oklahoma's weather roller coaster! In the last few days, we have seen temps as high as 80 degrees...not bad for early February (snow is forecast for tomorrow)! Dianne and I went kayaking at Dripping Springs Lake near Okmulgee on Saturday to celebrate the unexpected fair weather.

I hoped we might be able to paddle up on the pair of bald eagles that we have been seeing lately on the lake. When that didn't pan out, I looked for some nice spots to capture the sunset over Dripping Springs Lake. More shots of Dripping Springs Lake here. We like to park near the fishing dock at Clovis Point on the lake. It can be a breathtaking spot to watch the sunset, but this Saturday wasn't really cloudy enough to suit me.

As a novice photographer, a really don't know how to stage a compelling picture or how to effectively light a subject. This means that if I want to take beautiful pictures (I do), I have to get out and find something beautiful at just the right time when the light is lovely. It is just difficult enough to be an amusing challenge, but not beyond my capability.

I find it to be a nice way to get some exercise that always lifts my spirits.

Monday Afternoon Kayaking on Deep Fork River

After work on Monday, I managed to squeeze in a couple hours of solo paddling on the Deep Fork River.

The easiest, safest Deep Fork River paddling spot that I know is the boat ramp at the Highway 266 Bridge. This boat ramp is the only one I know of on the Deep Fork River. It is brand new area and offers level gravel in the parking area and plenty of deep water for miles upstream and downstream.

It has been tougher for me to take cool pictures of the Deep Fork River. Having grown up on this muddy red river, I think I have become too accustomed to her face! Here is a link to some of my Deep Fork River pictures.

More Okmulgee, Oklahoma area kayaking spots.

Did you manage to squeeze in any paddling during this fine winter weather? Leave us a comment!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Canoe and Kayak News for 2008

Kayak Photographers Start Your Uploads

It is time for the 2008 Canoe & Kayak Magazine online paddling photo contest.

The categories are whitewater and flatwater. Any type of boat can be used - kayaks, rafts, inflatables, fishing kayaks or canoes. Lots of great prizes are being offered in all categories. For more details visit their webpage.

Kayaking in Kansas?

In more good news for local area paddlers, the Wichita City Council in nearby Southern Kansas is also considering an Arkansas River Access Plan that includes about 20 new paddler launches from Hutchinson to the Oklahoma border! The vote is planned for Feb 5th.

The first weekend in February looks like a decent one for paddling. I think I may try to get the boats out on Dripping Springs Lake or maybe the Deep Fork River.

Got a favorite spot for winter kayaking around Oklahoma...leave a comment on the blog and share your knowledge!