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Cottage Lake clean-up "tripping"

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Have't headed out on an over-nighter this season, but did experience a different sort of multi-day trip this summer.

The previous two summers saw a record number of Canadian tourists visiting our lake area. This was understandable given all the international travel limitations during the peak of Covid. This summer it seems that folks are travelling elsewhere and the lake isn't as crowded as it has been. Unfortunately, there has been quite the accumulation of human-created debris polluting the lake bottom and shoreline from all this usage. I ended up signing up for a program called Clean Muskoka Together, a district wide initiative where volunteers are provided with safety gloves and specially marked bags for collecting recyclables and litter. These bags can then be left at a municipal waste station at no cost for proper disposal.

So over a few weeks in July, I paddled a total of 66km around my cottage lake in the early hours or late evening on a hunt for garbage using my 14 foot cedar canvas canoe. As part of the kit to tackle the collection, I adapted a piece of homemade equipment to make extraction of items from the lake bottom a bit easier. Back in 2017, I had made a 12 foot, two-piece canoe pole out of some spruce lumber and a carbon-fiber ferrule.

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The top half of the canoe pole contained the hollow end of the ferrule with a roughly 35 mm inner diameter. This formed the basis for the spearing tip. The actual metal tip was created with an old pair of emergency ice picks like these...

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The straps were removed from the set and one of the ice picks jammed into the hollow end of the ferrule. The foam handle of the ice pick fit tightly for a secure friction fit but it can still be pulled out with pliers to restore the half pole to its original purpose. The second ice pick snaps in place to cover the sharp point so there would be no accidental puncturing of the canoe! The whole contraption worked great. Here it is in action collecting a sunken aluminum can...

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The spear has also been useful to extract plastic bags tangled up on shoreline rocks and branches as well as broken fishing lures snagged on rocks. I was also able to
extract a half buried, six foot long piece of vinyl siding from where a boathouse was under construction. It is likely this bit of debris was never retrieved from the lake when new siding was being put up. Here's a photo bringing the construction waste out from its watery grave....

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On subsequent trips I removed floating real estate signs which had been nailed to trees and broken off, 3 large buckets awash on the shoreline, a floating plastic kid's chair, multiple abandoned beach toys, discarded rubber dock edging and even some sunken scrap metal.

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Another disappointing find was the amount of golf balls simply shot into the lake. While there is a lakeside golf course at one of the resorts where a small bay forms a water hazard, these balls were found in areas no where near the course and had obviously been hit into the lake for just the heck of it. Scooping the balls out required a proper golf ball retriever tool. In the end, a total of 46 were removed from shallow areas of the lake. Who knows how many are in the deep waters slowly leaching toxic heavy metals from the core and shedding microplastics from the outer coating.

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As part of final message to our cottage community, I laid out all the debris onto a tarp on our property so folks could visualize the unnecessary amount of human created rubbish that was cleared from the water. The final tally of litter measured 69.75 pounds! That's over 20 pounds heavier than the 14 foot cedar-canvas canoe!

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Items included:
  • 3, five-gallon buckets
  • 11 pounds of sunken scrap metal
  • kid's plastic chair (returned to owner)
  • 6 foot piece of vinyl siding
  • 46 golf balls
  • 6 tennis balls
  • 35 sunken aluminum cans
  • 13 single use plastic bottles
  • 2, five-litre water jugs
  • 2 glass wine bottles
  • 31 feet of sunken line / rope
  • broken real estate signs
  • 2 abandoned & waterlogged PFDs
  • a punctured 2 person inflatable raft
  • broken 41" foam bodyboard
  • sunken buoys and rubber dock edging
  • numerous bits of food wrappers, plastic bags, snagged fishing lures, bits of dock foam, punctured inflatable vinyl floaties, plastic beach toys

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The items were sorted, bagged and left at the local transfer station for proper disposal / recycling.

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Anyone have any interesting / frustrating garbage finds when tripping?
 
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That's amazing and I really love your take apart pole!

DId you take any pictures of the build? I have some excellent, clear bass wood that would work very well for a canoe pole and using ferrule would be a nice way to make the thing easier to handle than my closet rod pole.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Wonderful community service, great photos and very creative tool making, Murat! And you possibly have the most beautiful "garbage truck" in the province.
 
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DId you take any pictures of the build? I have some excellent, clear bass wood that would work very well for a canoe pole and using ferrule would be a nice way to make the thing easier to handle than my closet rod pole.

Not that many photos about the pole build. All I did was rip some knot-free section of spruce and then rounded them pieces out with a crooked knife. Write-up on the two-piece pole is at this link:


It was inspired by this photo tutorial using a stainless steel ferrule:


The carbon fibre ferrule (large diameter meant for the loom of greenland style kayak paddles) was ordered from this link:

 
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It's amazing how far out you find garbage. I think my most interesting finds were a pair of boxers, obviously left by someone who soiled themselves while pooping in the woods, a three day paddle from everywhere. Those got burned in the fire and I wondered why the original owner didn't have the same courtesy.

And a plastic water jug, the kind normally used for water coolers, in the middle of nowhere. The only way that thing got out there was from a camp outpost that burned to the ground many years before. Sadly, that plastic water jug got burned - I wasn't going to leave it there, nor was I willing to pack it out.
 
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Not that many photos about the pole build. All I did was rip some knot-free section of spruce and then rounded them pieces out with a crooked knife. Write-up on the two-piece pole is at this link:


It was inspired by this photo tutorial using a stainless steel ferrule:


The carbon fibre ferrule (large diameter meant for the loom of greenland style kayak paddles) was ordered from this link:

Thanks!
 
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Great Job! Such a beautiful canoe too.

I think my most interesting finds were a pair of boxers, obviously left by someone who soiled themselves while pooping in the woods, a three day paddle from everywhere
Hey, where did you find those gitch? Asking for a friend.
 
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Well done Murat, hopefully, word of your efforts will get around and folks will treat the lake better. What kind of fool hits old golf balls into a lake?
 
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Oddest piece of debris I ever found paddling was the top 2/3’s of a very old tombstone in a lake in southern Michigan where a friends family had a cottage. It was not too far from shore in about 4-5 ft of clear water. I guessed it was discarded there since the lake bottom did not like a burial site.
 
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