Friday, May 28, 2010

Kayak Immersion

After GalwayGuy and I completed our greenland sticks at the North House Folk School last Sunday at 5pm, we took off on the 4 hour drive to MSP. A very quick nights sleep and I was on my way to the St Cloud State University Center for Experiential Learning & Leadership Cell on the south shore of Lake Mille Lacs, 90 minutes to the north. I was to report at 8am sharp to begin the IDW/ICE to be certified as a coastal kayak instructor.

The Learning Cell, as it will henceforth be known, is a stylish '60s style single wide trailer, painted a striking beige, on a lovely lake lot on the south shore of Minnesota's most famous walleye lake. It's kind of an under the radar operation and even has the classic broken down Dodge pickup with peeling paint sitting next to it for camouflage. No one would suspect that this modest setup is a state of the art university classroom rather than the home of some toothless hillbillies with 6 ragamuffin kids and a couple redbone hounds. I rolled into the Learning Cell a tad late and the classroom session was already underway at 8:05am. MarkC, noted big dog kayak instructor from Vermillion CC up in Ely was the lead instructor and Ivan and the not yet present Evan were working on upgrading a level. The instructor wanna be's consisted of myself and Chuck as the graybeard part of the contingent, and Ivan's employees from the SCSU OE program, Zach, Max, Chelsey, and Winner. It was a diverse group as far as age, gender, national origin, and kayak experience but everyone was pumped to learn the skills.

Learn the skills we did. The nice thing about everyone staying in the Learning Cell is that we pretty much ate, slept, talked and drank kayaks (OK, we drank a little bit of beer as well) 24/7. It really was like immersion in a language and I felt that it really boosted the learning geometrically versus a setup where folks do the 9-5 stuff and then head back to their own place for the evening. The first nights instruction ended at 11pm and the second at a hair past 10pm. Long days but extremely productive. Improvement was startling in many cases and the cross pollination of ideas, techniques, and the inevitable war stories all added to the learning. Common meals including Chucks home made spaghetti one night and my infamous jambalaya with Selk peppers (a disturbing blend of the five hottest peppers on the planet, dried, crushed) made for continual kayak talk over the course of the 3 day event. I did warn a certain individual who shall remain nameless but whose initials are Max, that adding more peppers to the jambalaya could result in gastric distress on at least a couple levels but I was ignored. Those of us who lived through it know what happened but this is a family blog.

Personally, it was the most fun I've had sitting down in quite some time. I've always been able to perform most of the skills but imparting that knowledge to others in an effective manner has always been a bit elusive. Watching good instructors at various symposiums over the years has made me cognizant about how much I didn't know about teaching skills and this course has pointed out how much work I need to do before I even achieve that 'decent instructor' moniker. The one thing I excelled at however, was playing a crotchety old fart in the scenario simulations. I was the elderly community member that was too dumb to wear his hat and suffered heat exhaustion in one scenario. My Oscar winning role however, was as the domineering and over bearing father when my twin 9th grade offspring capsized. Chelsey, our lone female and soccer star from Omaha, NE and Winner, our lone Kenyan, played the twins with simulated whining 9th grade aplomb. When they capsized I ignored the instructions from Evan and Max to raft up and kept questioning their competence and letting them know that my poor twins were freezing in that 40F Lake Superior water and couldn't they get their asses in gear a little faster? I would have told me to shut the f**k up and get over with the others but they got it done and the 'twins' were back in the boat in fine form.

Now its time to practice imparting the skills. SKOAC has bi-weekly skill sessions and other opportunites will crop up over the summer. I may even sneak up to Ely in the fall to serve as MarkC's able assistant in one of his courses. I am definitely in the conscious incompetent quadrant of the instructor matrix and want to move up to the conscious competent quadrant over the summer. My classmates will have ample opportunity teaching in St Cloud over the summer on idyllic Lake George. Some of them may even drift over to the Traditional Gathering, held in the same spot the end of July. In another shocking development, I paddled the entire class with a Eurospoon paddle and have already had a comment or three on a photo on Ivan's Facebook page. I didbriefly introduce a couple of my fellow students to the dark side however, and believe that the photo below could be the only extant image of a native Kenyan with a greenland stick in modern history.

After a brutal 1.75 day work week, it's time to get back on the water. The annual wood making at CampO will commence tomorrow morning bright and early and after that its paddle mania. Who knows, I may have a student or two in Lake O'Brian after the work is done. It's gonna be a great Memorial Day weekend. Drive and paddle safe.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Kiyi in Grand Marais

GalwayGuy, the VoiceOfReason, and I arrived in Grand Marais, MN early afternoon on Thursday and GG wanted to challenge the beautiful Superior National Golf Course. Mom wanted some quality time with No 1 son and I'd rather have outpatient hemorrhoid surgery than play golf so they left me on my own in Grand Marais for four ours. After exhausting the galleries, antique, and other cultural opportunities (and I can hear the GurneyGranny going "uh huh!" at this point) I found myself on my favorite comfortable stool at the Gunflint Tavern, deciding amongst dozen beers on tap. No Bud, Miller, Heineken, or light beer at the Gunflint which is not only refreshing but entertaining when the tourists stroll in and attempt to order one. I struck up a conversation with friendly neighbors at either elbow and discovered that the guys on my starboard side were county commissioners from Koochiching County up near International Falls, on their way to Grand Portage for a state conference. One of our favorite paddle spots, Voyageurs National Park is in their jurisdiction and they recounted some of the legendary battles between former superintendent Barbara West. I briefly stuck my nose in one of them and then retreated but the two succeeding superintendents have had excellent relationships with the locals, according to these two commissioners.

The fellow on my port side looked like a guy I could relate to, with a beard nearly as scraggly as mine and a penchant for some of the more interesting tap handles. He ordered a Summit Maibock, known as Mindblock by some of us, and I told him that might get him where he was going quicker than he wanted to get there. He replied he only had to walk back to the ship and pointed out the window to the large commercial ship tied up on the jetty. As it turned out, he was a USGS fisheries guy and the ship, the Kiyi, had been researching the Lake Superior fishery for the last 10 years out of the port of Ashland. He knew many of my buddies including RawhidePhil, noted front man for the Big Top Chautauqua and Tent Show Radio. Gary told me that the Kiyi circumnavigates the lake every summer with a trawl that can reach all the way to the bottom of the lake, 1300'down. There is plenty of life down there and lots of the big, fat siscowet lake trout, the most abundant species in the lake. These guys will apparently eat anything that will fit in their mouths and heard about finding some bird remains in some deep water trout. Apparently a spring storm during migration caused some birds to become disoriented and wind up splashing on the lake surface. The opportunistic lake trout ate 'em. The birds were pretty well digested but they were able to be identified by an expert at the Smithsonian who could tell from the leg scales what species they were. We chatted over a fine malted barley product or two and I was invited back to take a tour of the ship. It's basically a three story vessel, 107' long, with twin Cummins diesels and all the state of the art navigation, sonar, and communication gear. Working area on the main deck, ward room and some bunks in the middle, and the bridge on top. They sail on their annual trip around the lake the week after Memorial Day, going counter clockwise from Ontonagon, MI to Thunder Bay and back to Ashland. That would be a fun trip to take sometime and I understand they need a volunteer or two from time to time.

Friday found us up in the Susie Islands and the Grand Portage area and today was R&R and a bit of rolling in the harbor. Paddle making at the North House Folk School and then the IDW/ICE begins on Monday. It will be hectic but I'm just glad that the vacation started out in the Gunflint. I always seem to meet the most interesting characters there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Boat junkies

My TCS (Time Compression Syndrome) is flaring up again and I'm being prodded to get my ass in gear as the VOR, GalwayGuy, and I are headed for Grand Marais, MN and the Sauna and/or Susie Islands very shortly. I figured I'd better get a few sentences in on the new boat purchases however, before its actually an old boat. I'm tempted to call it a used boat since it really is a demo from last year. The main reason for that is when I tried to register the thing, the Minnesota DNR informed me that I owed them the difference in taxes between Wisconsin's 5.5% and Minnesota's 7%. Some sort of trade protectionism for MN dealers or, more likely extra dedicated funds to maintain and increase the extensive network of kayak launches on our 10,000 lakes. Yeah, right.

ChrisG of Boreal Shores Kayak up in Bayfield, WI offered RonO and I the use of an Explorer and Romany Surf a couple weeks ago over fishing opener. I think it was a cool, cold blooded, and calculated ploy to get us hooked. His insidious plot worked to perfection. We abused both boats in a number of different conditions and really loved the handling and stability. They both surf pretty good as well. Chris made us an offer we couldn't refuse, as Don Corleone would say, and we both decided to pull the trigger. I think they call that an impulse purchase. Both boats were tested once again, this time loaded, on the first Apostle trip of the season. They performed very well and no buyers remorse was experienced. The only couple of minor whines were that you can't see where your skeg is positioned by looking down because the skeg control is hidden on the left side. On the other hand, I never hit my thumb on the damn thing like I have on the Valley boats with my low profile Greenland paddling style. The knee bumps grazed a thumb or two but after about a quarter mile the muscle memory kicked in and I adjusted my stroke slightly to take care of that little issue. The main problem is those tiny 10" hatches. Anyone who ventures into the woods without a dutch oven for baking, roasting, and frying is a jack pine cultural barbarian in my opinion, but they make 8" ovens and I'm not adverse to placing my 10' oven in the cockpit.
Other than those minor things, we are both loving the NDK Explorer. The plan this weekend is to hit the north shore, an island or two, and maybe do a bit of rolling up on Devils Track Lake north of Grand Marais. More to follow on that and more on the boat as I put it through its paces. Pigeon Point has waves and nasty clapotis equal to Blake Point on Isle Royale. I hope to experience it sometime during the long weekend.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Apostles camping season opener

We love our 'openers' here in the Great Lakes states. Fishing opener, opening day of deer season, the ski areas opener, and even the famous Spanish Stew opener at Ray's Place Tavern in Eau Claire, WI. Maybe its a manifestation of the changing of the season or our desire to have an official start and end to the seasons. All I know is that it's tough for me to miss an 'opener' and this years first island kayak camping adventure was no exception.

Working late precluded our using Friday nights permit at the Oak spit. We got a call in to the Park Service at around 4:30 to let them know we would not be paddling out in the dark and executed Plan B, which was beer and pizza at the Thirsty Pagan, sleep at the deer camp, and then an early start for Red Cliff. Not unexpectedly, we launched from Red Cliff at the crack of noon Saturday and island hopped out to Manitou, the traditional spot for the first overnight of the year. We took the scenic route and headed around the south end of Basswood, lunched on Hermit, touched the SE corner of Oak, and made a stop at the Manitou Fish Camp before heading up the shore to the lone site on Manitou. The weather was sunny, the wind from exactly 180 degrees opposite of the Weather Service had forecast, and we got to watch spring come to the northland for the second time.

Due in part to the cold lake water, things are just beginning to bud out on the islands. The Pin Cherry trees have white blossums, fiddlehead ferns are beginning to stick their heads out of the ground, most hardwoods have a combination of buds and mini leaves, and the beach peas are just starting to leaf out in the sand. I don't know how many colors of green we saw in the hills on Oak Island, but you can start counting yourself in the image below. The bears are all wide awake as well and we saw bear tracks ranging from yearlings to the big boys, on every beach we stopped at. Mergansers were paired up, we saw three eagles in flight at the same time off Baswood, and the loons were their typical looney selves.

In addition to the annual island camping opener, it was also the annual ManFromSnowyLegs birthday. Since he is from Australia, we felt that starting the celebration at the Pagan Friday night was proper, since it was indeed Saturday in Adelaide. We also had the annual meeting of the Lead Bananna Corp, LLC over a trio of Surly Brewing products and fine Dominican cigars. It was agreed that new deck lines and Sealine rudder pedals were authorized on the Aleut II (the Lead Bananna) but, like most federal programs, this was an unfunded mandate. Dusk provided us with a spectacular sunset and a perfect rustlers moon and Venus popped out right above the sunset. Temps dropped into the high 30's F for sleeping and I can't think of how it could have been a more perfect evening.

Sunday found us also taking the scenic route back to Red Cliff since we needed to check out the collapsed Hole in the Wall. We also noticed that the large slide where the hillside gave way on Oak several years ago had expanded and several smaller ones had occurred on the north side of the island. We made it back to Bayfield about the time Boreal Shores Kayak was closing and manged to lure the President and CEO of the operation to Mortys for beer and fresh whitefish caught that morning before saddling up for the drive back to the cities. Our carbon footprint was minimal since we stuffed 4 guys and all the gear into RonO's Jeep and put the boats on the SKOAC trailer. We had two boats on the way up and four on the way back. More on that development in a later post.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Off to the Apostles

I have plenty of blog topics rattling around in my brain but very little time to post them. A couple new pieces of gear, the Real Time Wave Observation system that's being tested off the mainland sea caves, and the tardy realization by our US Senators, Klobuchar & Franken, that there is a potential Asian carp problem in the Great Lakes (the Lindbergh baby's been kidnapped! Alert the media!), are all great topics. There may even be a new boat review in the upcoming weeks, but for now I'm frantically packing and attempting to locate gear for the first Apostles overnight of the season. We have a foursome headed to Manitou Island, perhaps via Devils or Michigan if the mileage fever is as strong as all the big talk at the bar over the past few days. I can't find my butane stove but was happy to locate my new splitting wedges, which had been lost since I purchased them last fall.

There will be plenty to report on our return Sunday night but for now I just need to find that compressible dry bag that my sleeping bag goes in and folding chef's knife. That stuff's gotta be around here somewhere..........

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some customer service props

My healthcare post earlier in the week has resulted in lots of comments from friends and relatives about the 'extreme suction' treatment they have received in the jaws of the healthcare machine. The VOR finally got the insipid, cover-my-ass diagnosis that she needs to wear the air cast another month and they will repeat this process again. We can't wait........meanwhile, two companies in the kayak bidness have demonstrated superb customer service and rather than dwelling on the uninterested bottom liners in the healthcare field, I thought I'd offer some props, kudos, and recognition to a couple of small outfits that do it right.

I've done some tuliq upgrading recently. My Bughead tuliq fits my Q boat perfectly, but unfortunately it does not fit other boats in the fleet, especially the Aleut II with its ocean cockpits. To correct this state of affairs, I sold the Bughead to the Commish and ordered a Brooks tuliq. The Bughead was delivered to the FrugalFisherman at the BBI event last weekend; I can't remember if I've been paid for the tuliq or not, and squeezing a hundred bucks out of the FF would be like getting blood from a stone. I'll figure the complicated finances out. My Brooks search led me back to Lyle at Folding Kayak Adventures in Durango, CO, a short hop from where JeremiahJohnstone calls home. I've dealt with Lyle before when I owned the beloved Feathercraft Big Kahuna and after looking at a couple of online ordering forms on a couple other websites, immediately gave him a call. On the telephone. He answered it himself. I explained what I needed, told him the range of cockpits that I'd like this thing to work on, and gave him the credit card number. We emailed a couple times on the nuances, he gave me a ship date from Brooks since they had to customize the thing a bit, and the deal was done. The tuliq showed up a week early from the date he had promised, all measurements and dimensions perfect. As an online ordering Luddite, the best part of the whole deal is that you can just call Lyle. No endless string of emails and then the thing shows up wrong/late anyway. Lyle used to be up in Seattle and had a nice business renting and shipping folding kayaks directly to peoples paddle destinations. Eventually the combination of the plaintiffs bar and insurance companies made this business model cost prohibitive (imagine if someone was too lazy/stupid to put the boat together right and was then injured....oh, the humanity!) and they went to folding kayak and gear sales. I've had great experiences every time I've dealt with the company.

Sometimes a guy does need to suck it up and have the email conversation. My faithful Reed tuliq developed a seam leak in the neck. This was not an unforeseen problem since I have a giant size 7 3/4 punkin head that it needs to stretch over every time I pull it on. Which is very, very often from about May through September. I emailed Reed Chill Cheater in Devon, England and they informed me that the best way to fix it was to send it back and they would RF weld it, or what ever magical process they use to make the gear. Even though it was well out of the warranty period, they offered to repair the tuliq at no charge if I would pick up the shipping. The tuliq was shipped, repaired within a week, and I received an email from Sara that it was ready to go. I called with my card number and its on its way back. Timely, efficient, customer focused, and high quality gear.

More and more I tend to gravitate to the smaller, more responsive, and some times local suppliers. In Malcom Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point, he talks about the ideal size of an organization being 130 people or less. This has been the size of an infantry company since time immemorial and is the point where organizations tend to begin losing efficiency, communication, and cohesion. WL Gore, makers of Goretex and other products, uses this as the maximum size of people for their business units. I don't know if its a valid theory but I do know that the more levels of managers, bean counters, etc, between the customer and the ownership, the easier it is for bad things to happen. In the case of the two companies above, bad things have never happened in my dealings with them and as a result I will continue to do business with them, and feel pretty damn good about the whole experience when I do. People don't need to have that tingling feeling in their 'lower swimsuit area' after they spend money with a company and I'm confident these two businesses will never leave you with that feeling.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Healthcare, Twin Cities style

As many blog readers have surmised, the Voice of Reason is on injured reserve. She has a broken fibula, near the ankle, as a result of a ski incident. She was skiing at Loveland, CO with her sisters, Jeremiah Johnstone and the Colorado Kid when she fell. She would have you believe she had just stuck and landed a jump involving a one and a half and a daffy and fell avoiding a kid on a snowboard. Uh huh. Anyway we thought it was a sprain and applied the RICE technique but the pain persisted after the normal two week sprained ankle window. My treacherous ankles have failed me in a number of sports involving leaping into the air then (this is the tricky part) landing. Both have been casted so, even though my medical degree is nonexistent, I know a thing or two about torn ankle ligaments. After another two weeks, (and a 20 mile kayak paddle) now 4 weeks removed from the ski fall, she went to her family practice doc, who x-rayed the foot and pronounced it broken. The VOR's dad, TheLegend, pronounced it as a classic case of Johnstone-itis, the tendency to ignore injuries and not go to the doctor until well past the time that a normal person would give in. Her GP referred her to the orthopedic specialist and this is where the fun begins.

Two weeks ago she managed to get an ortho appointment two days after the GP referral by offering to pick up her xrays and deliver them to the ortho office. The xray joint gave her a CD. I understand that people are actually able to use a miracle device called the internet to transfer information on a CD but I guess that was not the case in this instance. She saw the ortho doc, who consulted with her for 30 seconds, put her in an air cast, and told her he needed to see a CT scan. She was also given a prescription for inflammation which apparently took a week to kick in and was not compatible with Ibuprofen. When she complained to the ortho nurse she was told that she should have know that, and that her pharmacist should have informed her. But lets move on to the CT scan.

The CT scan got scheduled for 5 days after the ortho visit, rather than one day, because because of the impenetrable barrier of the Red River. Apparently the computers at Blue Cross/Blue shield of North Dakota don't speak the same language as the Minnesota ones, or got waylaid by the Red River, and approval was delayed. Once the CT scan actually took place, on a Tuesday, the VOR was told that she would be called with the results on Friday. The results would indicate whether the break was healing properly or surgery would be needed. This is obviously something that a patient would want to know but after no call on Friday she spoke with the nursing coordinator at the ortho joint, who told her that the very first opportunity that they would have to check things out would be Tuesday and that he would call then. That was yesterday.

No call yesterday. I've got a number of questions. The first one would be why the hell is the customer service so bad? Patty and Selma, Homer Simpson's sister in law's, who work for the Department of Motor Vehicles in fictional Springfield, seem to offer better customer service than these yahoos. I also wonder why the technology seems to be so lacking in the healthcare field. In the printing industry we exchange gigantic full color files as a matter of course. Can't a stinkin' black and white X-ray be sent electronically, rather than having the patient drive 25 miles during rush hour to pick up a damn CD? And why the hell can't the other players in the system just do what they say they are going to do? I've always found that if you gave folks a promise date that you knew you could meet and then bettered it, they were pretty happy. If you just pull something out of your ass and then ignore it, that tends to piss people off. How difficult can it be to look at an image and figure out what's going on? My guess is that they have only seen thousands of this very thing over the years. In the enlightened world of healthcare tranparency, how can a person make a decision on their care if they can't even get their own health information? I'd be tempted to grab the scan, tell both the ortho and the CT place to stick it, and start over with a clinic that has a proven reputation.

All the VOR wants is to find out when she can get back to yoga, bicycling, and proper kayaking. We have been removing the air cast, wrapping the ankle, and stuffing her in the kayak for a few weeks now. She can't use her left foot to push off on the right side paddle stroke and it has her imbalanced and is frankly driving her nuts. Being a vengeful person by nature, I'd like to figure out a bit of payback for these characters to even things up but nothing comes to mind. Suggestions would be appreciated. I would also like to hear the lame excuses for these failures but I don't expect that either. Overworked, understaffed, not enough time in the day, malpractice worries, blah, blah, blah.

Do me a favor. Start your timer and look up a name in your cell phone directory. Pretend to dial the number and when the pretend person answers, say "I'm sorry Ms VOR but the doctor has gotten a bit behind and hasn't had a chance to look at your CT scan. We will be in touch just as soon as he reviews it, which should be in a couple days". Then hit stop. It took me 36 seconds to do that. That's a pretty small amount of time to spend to make sure that your customer is in the loop and would also prevent the customers Significant Other from writing scathing, sarcastic, and critical blog posts about your organization.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Boat Fever

This years 23rd Annual Bark Bay Fishing Invitational was much like the others. Thursday night at the Thirsty Pagan in Superior, sleep at the deer camp, and work our way to CampO on Friday. A wrench was thrown into this well oiled procedure when we stopped in Bayfield to check out ChrisG's progress in remodeling his Boreal Shores kayak shop. As we rehydrated at the Pier Bar, he made the completely self serving suggestion that we leave our boats in Bayfield and strap on a couple of NDK's to play with for the weekend. Not realizing the full implications of our actions, we jumped on the offer, which ChrisG had adroitly worked into the conversation near the end of our 23oz Summit Extra Pale Ales. We rolled out of Bayfield with an Explorer and a Romany Surf on the roof of RonO's jeep.

The wind had been blowing northeast at 15-20mph for about 5 days at that point and was just abating in preparation for its switch to the south and ramp up to 25-30 mph again on Saturday. We launched at Saxon Harbor and headed east into Michigan along the high cliffs that stretched almost to Little Girl Point. We wanted to check out the boats in both the gentle swells and in the nasty clapotis along the cliffs. We were impressed. I was in the Romany Surf and it was as solid as a rock, so much so that I was able to take a few pictures. Ron said the Explorer was solid as well but maybe not as solid as the Surf. We headed back and attempted to surf but the swells just had too much wavelength and we couldn't paddle fast enough to get up on them. We both agreed that Nigel had made a couple of pretty interesting boats.

The BBI was going full bore when we rolled in around 8pm. The Karl O Rolich Memorial grill was full of Copper River Salmon and Cornish game hens for the traditional continental style 10pm supper and the Leinenkugels was flowing like water. Better than the water to the sauna actually, since there were some issues with getting things rolling after the winter. When I got up the next morning I was able to enjoy breakfast with the guys that were still up from the night before and then a couple hours later with the guys that actually went to bed before dawn. We fired up the sauna for some post rolling warmth and launched the NDK's in Lake O' Brien to see how they performed upside down. Once again we were impressed. I had played with a Romany Surf at the mentoring gig in St Cloud the weekend before. Its a big boat and even I had almost too much room in the cockpit at 6'4", 225#. That's why closed cell foam was invented however, and the boat rolled superbly on both layback and forward finishing rolls. The back rim of the cockpit on both boats is placed a bit farther back, which allows better lay back for a large, elderly, inflexible individual like myself. Ron reported that the Explorer was also an excellent roller. The KingOfIronwoodIsland joined us on the lake in his CD Storm for the traditional mile circumnavigation and was prepared for some rolling instruction, but was distracted by a golf outing with three Croatian gentlemen, and was not in any sort of rolling condition upon his return.

Sunday found a south wind gusting to 35mph. Tracking, turning, rough water handling, and back and forward finishing rolls had been tested but no real surfing tests had been performed. We notified ChrisG that his Explorer and Romany Surf would not be back just quite yet, and launched next to the ferry dock in Bayfield. It reminded me a lot of back country telemark skiing, the endless slog up the hill followed by the euphoric 5 minute run down it. We hammered into the wind and waves for what seemed like forever and then turned and surfed back. Both boats got up on the waves nicely and gave us some lengthy rides. The craft were then returned to Boreal Shores and performance was discussed over South Shore Nut Brown and the fresh Whitefish basket at Morty's, which had opened for the season the day before.

So.......anybody out there wanna buy a Q Boat? P&H Capella 169? How about a Nordkapp or a Posieden?? RonO and I both agreed that we absolutely need these Nigel Dennis kayaks but space and money constraints would force us to alter the makeup of the fleet rather than grow it. We have no threat of German naval expansion like the one that caused the rapid expansion of the Royal Navy before WW I, but I'm sure if you give us a couple days we can come up with some equally compelling arguments; they escape me at this time though. I guess the root of the problem is that we both have more kayaks than we need but not as many as we want. It is indeed a vicious circle.