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Greetings from Down Under…

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Hi I am Spike, a newbie member from Australia. Thanks to @Jatfomike for suggesting I join the forum. Mike reached out when he saw my new Instagram and YouTube channel for ‘Canoe Down Under’.

If, like me, you enjoy watching other peoples canoe adventures, I have just added my very modest contribution into the YouTube mix… paddling my Wenonah Solo Plus from Paddle & Portage Canoes along the rivers and lakes of the Great Land Down Under, Australia. To Canoe Down Under is probably a very different experience compared to those of you in the US and Canada.

I am no Joe Robinet or Xander Budnick, in fact I am probably older than their combined age, but I have to start somewhere on this journey… and I have much to learn!
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Spike, welcome to site membership, mate! I can't recall offhand whether we have any other Downunder members, but we certainly will look forward to your participation in our canoe community. Feel free to ask any questions and to post messages, photos and videos in our many forums.

I like the way you are experimenting paddling ambidextrously on both sides of the canoe, with two different types of paddles, and with both the grip thumb-down (J stroke) correction and the grip thumb-up (goon stroke) correction. I recommend ultimately settling on the J correction combined with correction via an in-water forward loaded slice return (Canadian stroke).

Lovely canoe and camper van. I have slept in a van conversion while canoe vehicle camping for 40 years.

I also used to paddle with a tripod affixed in front of my seat with a video camera about 12 years ago. Took videos that way of many rivers and swamps around the U.S., but never edited or uploaded any of them. My computer then was too slow and I hated video editing. Your video has motivated me to start a thread on the topic elsewhere on the site.

I'm also going to take the liberty of posting your video in our Canoe Destinations and Routes forum, which is where I currently put videos of non-U.S/Canadian canoe trips. I believe your video will get additional views from being posted in that forum.

One last thing about your otherwise good looking gear. Those low top, open top rubber boots will fill as soon as you step in deep water or muck, and could also be a dangerous drag if you ever tip over in your canoe and have to swim. Tight fitting neoprene booties or low cut water shoes would be much safer—but you have to transition from a "dry foot" to a "wet foot" mentality when entering and exiting your canoe. Canoeing is a water sport, and wet foot entries and exits will save the bottom of your canoe from unnecessary scratches.
 
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Welcome from Pennsylvania USA Spike! Great video and great setup. The ducks got my dog all fired up. I liked the end when you got in the wrong side of van after signing off!🙂 Australia always intrigued me but after watching all those nature shows I realized that anything that is alive there has a potential to kill me. Kangaroo River is a cool namel.

Cheers!
Barry
 
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Welcome from Pennsylvania USA Spike! Great video and great setup. The ducks got my dog all fired up. I liked the end when you got in the wrong side of van after signing off!🙂 Australia always intrigued me but after watching all those nature shows I realized that anything that is alive there has a potential to kill me. Kangaroo River is a cool namel.

Cheers!
Barry
Thanks Barry, thanks for your welcome message. I will be sure to include 🦆 sounds in future videos to ensure your dog will get fired up enough to subscribe! Yes, there are some ‘dangerous’ creatures in this vast land… but I don’t need to carry bear spray Down Under. Spike
 
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Spike, welcome to site membership, mate! I can't recall offhand whether we have any other Downunder members, but we certainly will look forward to your participation in our canoe community. Feel free to ask any questions and to post messages, photos and videos in our many forums.

I like the way you are experimenting paddling ambidextrously on both sides of the canoe, with two different types of paddles, and with both the grip thumb-down (J stroke) correction and the grip thumb-up (goon stroke) correction. I recommend ultimately settling on the J correction combined with correction via an in-water forward loaded slice return (Canadian stroke).

Lovely canoe and camper van. I have slept in a van conversion while canoe vehicle camping for 40 years.

I also used to paddle with a tripod affixed in front of my seat with a video camera about 12 years ago. Took videos that way of many rivers and swamps around the U.S., but never edited or uploaded any of them. My computer then was too slow and I hated video editing. Your video has motivated me to start a thread on the topic elsewhere on the site.

I'm also going to take the liberty of posting your video in our Canoe Destinations and Routes forum, which is where I currently put videos of non-U.S/Canadian canoe trips. I believe your video will get additional views from being posted in that forum.

One last thing about your otherwise good looking gear. Those low top, open top rubber boots will fill as soon as you step in deep water or muck, and could also be a dangerous drag if you ever tip over in your canoe and have to swim. Tight fitting neoprene booties or low cut water shoes would be much safer—but you have to transition from a "dry foot" to a "wet foot" mentality when entering and exiting your canoe. Canoeing is a water sport, and wet foot entries and exits will save the bottom of your canoe from unnecessary scratches.
Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed welcome message Glenn. There are some very useful resources and discussions in the group, and I am just starting to find my way around. Thanks for reposting my first vid on the Canoe Destinations and Routes forum… I will link subsequent ones there.

Your generous comment about taking an ambidextrous approach is misplaced, as the ‘flips’ from side to side with one or other paddle are more to do with my being distracted whilst talking to camera and finding I need to change course quickly. However, I sense that the zero rocker and flatter tumblehome hull of the Solo Plus probably lends itself to this approach whilst learning, more so than a traditionally shaped canoe. It also offers a more stable platform for photo and video. It is nice to have the two different styles of paddle to practice with. The Grey Owl ‘Tripper’ is more enjoyable, but the Wenonah Black Lite Elbow is effective for getting me out of a pickle or moving swiftly.

The safety tip on the ‘Wellies’ is well made, but be reassured I do wear low cut water shoes in the canoe. It is winter here and we have had three almost biblical and definitely record breaking floods here in March, April and again in July… so ground conditions are not ‘normal’ during our colder wetter winter in this usually sunburnt land. Indeed, the river I paddled in my forthcoming video rose a full 17 metres (55 feet) two days later. Plus, as Barry (aka Waterdog) eluded to, there are a lot of dangerous Australians out there… including a whole ecosystem of spiders, leeches, ticks and snakes in the grass that would make short work of water shoes!

Maybe ambidextrous paddling, canoe choice/gear, and why I wear wellies would make for interesting, or at least vaguely amusing, future videos?
 
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Hi Spike, welcome to the forum. I was surprised to read Glenn's opinion on wellie type boots. I have been wearing them for years and never felt that there was a safety issue, but I don't swim much. My wife feels more comfortable with her pfd on when wearing them.
 

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Any footwear that is heavy and clunky and that will fill up with water has always been considered a canoeing risk, especially in whitewater, by making it more difficult to swim efficiently and swiftly to safety. Low cut water shoes with drain holes, sandals, and neoprene booties don't present nearly as much swim-bogging risk. Being a canoe kneeler, I find most sandals too inflexible and non-stretchy on top (the instep) to use comfortably in a canoe, so I've always used stretchy rubber footwear.

Cold weather footwear, such as tightly-laced leather or rubber boots that come up over the calf, or old-style Chotas with drains, or NRS Boundary Boots, are relatively safe from the swimming perspective. Again, the danger is higher in whitewater, where you may lose your canoe and go for long swims and be dragged beneath water in waves and holes.

Everyone takes various risks when canoeing. If I were positive that I wouldn't tip over and swim, I'd consider wearing open top Wellies. I'd also consider not wearing a PFD if I were that positive. Actually, I have felt positive enough to dispose of my PFD while paddling in warm shallow waters, but even in that case I wouldn't wear water footwear that would fill up if I stepped into 12'-18" of water.

Having different footwear for in-canoe wear and out-of-canoe wear (portaging, hiking, or in camp) is a common practice.
 
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I will have to try going for a swim with my boots on and then evaluate how unsafe I feel. In flat water with a pfd on I don't see it being a hazard. For me, the point of wearing knee high rubber boots is to keep my feet dry during the shoulder seasons, otherwise I would wear some kind of water shoe. If I was doing whitewater I would consider a neoprene sock with a wading shoe or old sneaker.

In over 30 years of wearing rubber boots and also 14" tall LL Bean boots I've never stepped in over the top. On one cold weather ww trip in the Brookes range where I knew there was a possibility that I might have to jump out of the boat, I taped the top of the boots tight around my leg. I did end up having to do some wading that went over the tops of the boots and my feet stayed comfortably damp.
 
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Hi Spike,
Too cool that you're from down under and end up here!
I have too many questions...
How hard was it to find/buy a Wenonah over there? Is paddling a popular activity?
I spend most of my paddling and camping in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, we have very limited number of rattlesnakes, black bears are not really an issue, but man oh man, you guys have all sorts of things out to bite, sting, poison you. Congrats on persevering,

Anyway, I'm anxious to hear more, welcome to the site.

Mike T.
 
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Hi Spike,
Too cool that you're from down under and end up here!
I have too many questions...
How hard was it to find/buy a Wenonah over there? Is paddling a popular activity?
I spend most of my paddling and camping in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, we have very limited number of rattlesnakes, black bears are not really an issue, but man oh man, you guys have all sorts of things out to bite, sting, poison you. Congrats on persevering,

Anyway, I'm anxious to hear more, welcome to the site.

Mike T.
Thanks for your message Mike.
I am happy with questions…
It was easy to order a Wenonah in New South Wales as they are imported by Paddle & Portage in Kangaroo Valley. The owner, Travis Frenay, hails from Upstate New York, having been born and bred on the shores of Oneida Lake. Ordering was easy… the challenge was with global logistics, so it took 9 months to arrive! Paddled & Portage had three containers on order each containing 40 Wenonah canoes… my Solo Plus was on the second container to arrive.
Here in Australia, sea kayaks and recreational sit on kayaks are far more common than canoes. Indeed all the ‘River Canoe Clubs’ seem to really be kayak clubs. I actually explain the background to in the third video in my Canoe Down Under series that I filmed earlier this week (but am yet to edit).
Yes, we do indeed have our share of dangerous Australians in terms of wildlife, but our bears (koala’s) tend to be cute and less threatening than some of yours!
Spike
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Here in Australia, sea kayaks and recreational sit on kayaks are far more common than canoes.

It's the same in the USA. SINKs and SOTs outnumber canoes probably in all states, although there is a relatively higher percentage of canoes in the states that border Canada and, less so, the states that border those states. (How many states altogether is that?)
 
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