Don’t Miss the “Blood Moon” Lunar Eclipse – April 15, 2014

Whether you are a night owl or an early riser, or just one who loves to catch a glimpse of astronomical rarities, be sure to catch an amazing spectical in the early hours of April 15th 2014.


This will be the first of four “blood moons” which will grace the night skies on April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015.

This event is known as a tetrad. “What is a tetrad? It’s four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons).” –

Blood moon tetrads are remarkably rare. From 1600 to 1900 there were no tetrads which makes April 15th the start of a very uncommon event in history.

The best viewing times for the East Coast will be between 3:06am and 4:24am according to NASA.

For more information regarding the Blood Moon phenomenon visit: What is a Blood Moon (Article) 

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Duct Tape Kayak Project – Schedule of Events for 2014


Get ready for another exciting paddling season with the Duct Tape Kayak Project!!!

This has been a busy winter for the entire team with Brett deeply immersed in his BioChem studies and both Alex and I taking jobs in education! Our passion for teaching and learning has spawned an exciting new direction for the Duct Tape Kayak Project that we plan to highlight this season. We believe that building a Duct Tape Kayak has a lot of educational value and can serve as a memorable team-building activity for both children and adults. That’s why we decided to spend the winter designing a “Mini”-DTK (only 10ft long) that can be build as a kit! Be sure to follow our blog for updates on this new DTK throughout the Spring!

We also plan to continue to support our partner charity, Heroes on the Water, by donating 100% of the monies raised at our two fundraising events to help with their mission to assist in the rehabilitation our wounded veterans through guided kayak fishing excursions!!!

Here is our tentative schedule of events which will be updated throughout the season. Please feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line on our Facebook page if you know of any other events that may be a good fit for the Duct Tape Kayak now or in the future! -Kayak Dave


Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire:


When: Saturday April 26th, 2014

Where:  Cape Cod Community College

The newest member of the Duct Tape Kayak fleet, our brand-new, 10ft-long “mini” DTK, will be making its debut at the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire this Spring! This faire promises to be a ton of fun and will be packed full of innovate ideas and creations spawned in local garages and basements!! Join us for a wonderful day of imagination and creative adventure and preview our plans for future Build-Your-Own DTK workshops and a Do-It-Yourself DTK kit!!!


Hanover Day:


When: Saturday June 21st, 2014

Where:  Sylvester Field in Hanover , MA

Our first fundraising event of the 2014 season will take place at the annual Hanover Day Celebration in Brett’s hometown of Hanover, MA! The red, white and blue DTK will be on hand to help raise awareness and donations for our partner charity, Heroes on the Water.  A donation will automatically enter you into a raffle for some amazing prizes! Hanover Day is a great family-oriented event that combines live music, artisan crafts, athletic events, and activities for all ages.


Plymouth Waterfront Festival (Tentative):


When: Saturday August 23rd ,2013

Where: Plymouth Waterfront

The Duct Tape Kayak team will continue their fundraising efforts at the Plymouth Waterfront Festival. Visit our booth to learn more about the important mission of the Duct Tape Kayak Project to support Heroes on the Water. A donation will automatically enter you into a raffle for some amazing prizes! We plan to take the Duct Tape Kayak for a “historic” paddle past the Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower at some point during the day. This is a can’t-miss opportunity to see what we’re all about!


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April Fools Day: Broken Kayak Prank

In the mood for a good laugh this April Fools day? Check out this hilarious “hidden camera” broken kayak prank played on unsuspecting kayak renters. Can you say, Smile…?!

Happy April Fools Day,
The Kayak Guys

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Spring Paddling is Just Around the Corner!!!

The weather (it’s a balmy 20 degrees here in Southern New England) may not make it seem like Spring is just around the corner. However, the calendar and the recent departure of the ice from the lake certainly (and thankfully) suggest that we’re headed in the right direction…

Beach Fence

I’m really excited that the 2014 paddling season is coming! This has been an especially long and busy winter for me with my new teaching job, focusing on a handful of exciting new projects, and preparing for the upcoming paddling season. I’ve really missed being in the cockpit and I’m ready to hit the water and the blog-o-sphere with renewed energy and passion!

Anyway…I’ve decided to share a couple of instructional tid-bits in celebration of the upcoming return to the waterways. The first is an excellent reminder that came as a part of my ACA membership renewal package that highlights eight ways to paddle safe and have fun:


The second is a link to an excellent article written by our friend Byran Hansel at entitled “22 Ways to Improve Your Kayaking Skills Forever.” I don’t know if I could have made a more complete list had I tried!…

Happy and Safe Paddling!

-Kayak Dave

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Standard Horizon HX751 VHF Radio Review


standard horizon hx751


Brand: Standard Horizon

Model: HX751

Radio Type: VHF Floating Marine Transceiver

Weight: 10.8 oz

Case size: 2.44” x 5.57” x 1.61”

Ham & Noise Radio: 40 dB typical

AF Output: 700 mW @ 16 Ω for 10% THD (@7.4 V)

Transmit Power: 6-Watt two way

Features: Floating, Submersible, 1.7” display, Thermometer Sensor, NOAA Weather Channels

MSRP: $175.99 (in 2010)



I purchase the Standard Horizon HX751 VHF radio in August of 2010 for the primary use of open-water crossings and extended ocean travel in the case of an emergency.  After hearing several favorable reviews of the HX751, I purchased the Standard Horizon due to its acclaimed reliability and dependability on the water. Disappointment was soon to await (skip to Third Year section).

 standard horizon hx751


First Year: First Glance

Duration of Use (approx. One Month)

One of the key features which initially attracted me to purchasing the Standard Horizon HX751 was its ability to float and stand upright in the water in the instance of accidentally dropping it in the water. As a sea kayaker, it is great to have a VHF radio that will not sink to the bottom of the ocean like a rock and one that will remain visible in the water.

After purchasing the HX751 in August 2010, I used it through the remainder of the season (through September) in both fresh water and salt water conditions. I found that the functionality of the radio was great and its features were easy to use on the water. Its large, illuminated buttons make it easy to change settings and adjust the squelch and volume if needed.

The HX751 transmission power is very favorable- with the ability to reach crafts and stations up to 10 miles away. This gave me peace of mind on the water, having a stronger feeling of reassurance in the instance of an emergency situation or need for extraction.

I tested all of the features upon first purchasing the device and overall I was very satisfied with its overall quality, easy-of-use, and functionality. Although, one feature I was never able to use was the temperature feature. In theory, the HX751 is designed to read the water temperature when submerged until its thermo sensor was covered. Although the manual specified that the device may take several minutes to register- of the multiple times I tested this feature, the HX751 never displayed the temperature. This was disappointing as the thermo sensor is advertised as a key feature.


Second Year: Great Year

Duration of Use (approx. 3 months)

I continued to use the HX751 into the 2011 kayaking season, bringing it along several trips through the summer months. The radio performed well throughout the season, and while I did not have to deploy its use on the water- I found security in knowing I had the extra insurance just in case.


Third Year: Death of the HX751

Duration of Use (approx. One hour)

I did not use the HX751 until July of the following year when I went on a group trip through the Boston Harbor Islands. While I went kayaking several times prior that season, all of the trips were minor and did not require accompanying a VHF radio.

On the trip in Boston Harbor, I had my radio ready for action- on and scanning in the case of any small craft warnings. After about an hour on the water, the HX751 began to fade which I found odd considering I had just fully charged it the night prior. The LCD began to fade along with the volume which are all signs of typical battery drain. I did not think much of it, I was just glad that I did not have to use the device because I was the only member with a VHF radio and in this case, mine had failed on me.

After recharging the battery, the device failed to power on. I wrote the fade-away and die-off as a dead battery and decommissioned the HX751 for the remainder of the season. Battery replacements are not inexpensive for Standard Horizon products (batteries for handhelds can run in the $50 range), so I did not run out to replace mine that season.


2013 and beyond

Duration of Use (Not used)

I did not use the HX751 throughout the 2013 season and it was primarily stowed away inside as I did not go on any trips where another group member did not have a VHF radio on hand. Towards the end of 2013, I decided I would purchase the removable battery tray for the HX751 since it was a less expensive investment. The battery tray allows for the use of replaceable AAA batteries instead of a rechargeable Li-Ion. Upon using five brand new AAA-batteries, the HX751 still did not power on. I moved to the conclusion that the issue was not the battery, but in fact the handset was the culprit.


Customer Service

I called Standard Horizon’s customer service line and explained my scenario- the customer service representative was very kind and respectful but notified me that the radio was out of warranty, and would not be covered under repairs and replacement without a service fee. To my dismay, I was very disappointed with Standard Horizon’s procedure and stance behind their product since they guarantee that “Standard Horizon is committed to ensuring your enjoyment of this high performance transceiver, which should provide you with many years of satisfying communications even in the harshest of environments. Standard Horizon technical support personnel stands behind every product sold…”

I would like to suggest several amendments to this statement: First, when they state “many years” they actually mean four and a half MONTHS of seasonal use… Second, when they state “harshest conditions” they actually mean light coastal kayaking with minimal contact with the water… Third, when they state “stands behind every product” they mean only on our terms and conditions.


**Granted, I did take longer than I should have to report the radio failure. In retrospect, I should have reported the radio failure in the beginning of the 2012 season when it first died but my own assumptions that a nearly $200 VHF radio would virtually breakdown under minimal conditions lead me to believe it was not a call for alert** 


Recommended: No

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The Most Interesting New Sea Kayaks for 2014

This year I was able to get a bit of a head start on demoing the latest and greatest kayaks in preparation for Spring 2014! Here are what I believe to be the six “most-interesting” new models and why they’re worth the time to seek out for a demo:


Wilderness Systems Focus 145

Wilderness Systems Focus 145 (Image Courtesy of Confluence)

Wilderness Systems Focus 145 (Image Courtesy of Confluence)

Looking for a sleek, fitness-oriented kayak that’s quick on the flats and capable of near-coastal day tripping at a price point that doesn’t make your wallet say “ouch”?!?! Look no further than the new Wilderness Systems Focus Series. We had the chance to paddle the Focus 145 at the dealers show this past fall (also available in the larger 150 and 155 sizes) and we were very impressed with this modern take on the light-touring kayak. Like most fitness kayaks, the Focus 145 sacrifices some primary stability for its speed. However, we found the secondary stability to be quite solid and were surprised by how well the Focus 145 maneuvers on edge and its quick response to brace turns. This should prove confidence-inducing for entry-level fitness paddlers and makes me believe that the Focus 145 would also be a great choice for near-coastal day trippers looking for a kayak that can tuck into the coves and cover some ground in between!

Click here for a full review of the Wilderness Systems Focus 145


Stellar Intrepid 18

Stellar Intrepid 18 (Image Courtesy of Stellar)

Stellar Intrepid 18 (Image Courtesy of Stellar)

Long kayaks may be out of vogue but if weight is your only hesitation then passing over the Intrepid 18 (SI18) by Stellar Kayaks could be a big mistake. At first glance, this ultra-light, full-length sea kayak sticks out like a sore thumb in the Stellar line-up that is known for its racer-inspired designs. You’re not seeing things! This is exactly what it looks like; an 18-foot long sea kayak that is designed to handle bigger conditions while retaining the speed and efficiency that Stellar kayaks are known for. The best thing about the Intrepid 18 is that it breaks the “long boats are inherently heavy” rule. Here we have an 18-foot-long kayak that weighs only 45lbs in the “advantage” layup (best bang for your buck)! 45lbs!…18ft!…WOW!!!

Click here for a full review of the Stellar Intrepid 18

Lincoln Chebeague LV

Lincoln Chebeague LV at EORA 2013

Alex Demoing the Lincoln Chebeague LV at EORA 2013

Lincoln has raised the bar with the addition of the Chebeague LV to their exquisite line of Maine-crafted kayaks! The 14ft-long Chebeague LV retains the incredible performance characteristics of the classic Chebeague (lightweight construction, true-to-form tracking, and solid primary stability) while enhancing the experience for the smaller paddler thanks to its newly designed cockpit. The slightly lower deck and keyhole shape combine to make the smaller paddler feel more connected to the Chebeague LV and allow for better control while maneuvering on edge. We were so blown away by this kayak what we gave it a Gear of the Year Award in 2013 to celebrate its awesomeness!

Click here for a full review of the Lincoln Chebeague LV


Venture Islay 14

Venture Islay 14 (Image Courtesy of Venture Kayaks)

Venture Islay 14 (Image Courtesy of Venture Kayaks)

The Venture Islay 14 proved to be yet another pleasant surprise at the 2013 dealers show! At first I was more interested in trying out the new P&H Hammer with the false expectation that it would perform much like its play-the-sea cousin, the P&H Delphin. The Hammer turned out to be a much more extreme chimera but I ended up finding what I was looking for in the Islay 14. In many ways the Islay 14 can be thought of as a mini version of the Delphin. It has a very similar feel with moderately aggressive rocker and that strange “self-righting” secondary stability that the Delphin are known for. The Islay 14 would be a good choice for paddlers interested in a variety of paddling from surf zones and rock gardens to day-tripping and quick overnights!

Full Review of the Venture Islay 14 coming soon!


Dagger Katana 9.1 & 10.4

Dagger Katana (Image Courtesy of Dagger)

Dagger Katana (Image Courtesy of Dagger)

One of the holy grails of our sport is finding that one kayak that can do everything. This endeavor has fueled a recent proliferation of the so-called “cross-over class” of kayaks supposedly well-suited for both flat-water paddling and mild white-water (class 2) paddling. By-and-large I have found that many of these corss-over models come up short in both departments being slugs on the flat-water and down-right scary to paddle in anything bigger than a mild class 2. The Dagger Katana represents one of the very few cross-over kayaks that I would consider adding to my fleet. Granted, it may still be a slug in the flats but its white-water-spec hull and superb outfitting would provide confidence in moderate (class 3) whitewater!

Full Review of the Venture Islay 14 coming soon!


Eddyline Denali

Eddyline Denali (Image Courtesy of Eddyline)

Eddyline Denali (Image Courtesy of Eddyline)

We all had our theories about the Eddyline Denali when we caught wind that it was in the works. Most of the speculation centered on the idea that it would essentially be a larger version of the Journey which gave us pause considering that the Journey suffered greatly from a lack of volume in the stern. Anyway, the Denali turned out to be much more than an up-scaled Journey; this is a boat for the big boys! We asked Brett (our tallest staff writer at 6’ tall) to take the Denali for a spin and he gave her good marks for tracking, stability, and overall cockpit fit.

Full Review of the Eddyline Denali coming soon!

Happy Paddling and get psyched for warmer weather!


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TRUE or FALSE: Eating snow in a survival situation can save your life.

In a life-threatening survival situation the body requires basic physiological needs in order to stay alive. Proper hydration, calories, sleep, and an adequate core body temperature are all necessary functions that need to be met for sustained survival.

eating snow

Winter conditions can make survival situations even more challenging; from crippling cold to a scarcity of food. But there is one resource which seems endless—snow. Here lies the question…

Q: Can you eat snow for hydration in a survival situation?

A: No. Eating snow possesses many dangers including induced hypothermia and dehydration. Due to snow’s below-freezing temperature status, consumption requires your body to go into overdrive to bring the snow down to a regulated body temperature. This process is strenuous on the body’s metabolism which creates a major caloric output. In addition, the introduction of freezing snow into the body can drive the body’s core temperature into hypothermic levels.  The bottom line—eating snow directly is a terrible idea and can turn a situation from bad to worse.

The solution: Melt the snow before you consume it. Using a container or empty bottle, one can stuff snow into the bottle and allow it melt (typically over a source of fire or the sun). Make sure to only seek out white, fluffy snow and avoid snow that is discolored. Dark, discolored snow may be routed with contaminates, bacteria, and debris—so make sure to treat/purify it prior to consumption.

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How to Prevent Blisters When Kayaking

Kayakers, especially folks new to the sport, are very familiar with blisters. Hand blisters typically form on the inside of thumbs, upper palms, and on the padding of fingers. This guide will give a brief insight on your first line of defense against developing blisters on the water.

Proper grip. Your first line of defense against hand blisters is through proper paddling grip. More times than not, I see kayakers gripping their paddle shaft with “white knuckle” strength. Much like little leaguers are taught in batting practice, holding a kayak paddle is more about finesse than strength. Gripping the paddle shaft lightly will reduce friction and heat, allowing more air through your hands during each paddle stroke.

A smooth shaft. A smooth kayak shaft is important to ensure the least amount of friction as possible. The constant sliding of wet, soft palms over the kayak shaft creates a one-way ticket to blistered skin. An easy to reduce friction and sliding on the paddle shaft is through the addition of Yakgrips, soft neoprene pads which fit over the paddle shaft in the hand position. Yakgrips are a great companion for kids and new kayakers who are still learning proper paddle grip and position.

Hands covered. Paddling gloves or pogies are a smart investment for those looking for a way to prevent blisters. Available in various designs, colors, and styles; paddling gloves are great for paddlers of all skill levels. Gloves prevent rubbing and friction on the palms, fingers, and inner thumb areas. In addition, gloves can help keep your hands dry while wicking way excess moisture.

sailing gloves

Word of caution: Be aware of sand! Loose sand can become trapped behind glove fabric which can spell disaster for blisters. Make sure to remove any sand from your gloves prior to hitting the water.

Preparing hotspots. I’m not talking about Wi-Fi here. Hotspots are localized areas of the skin which are prone to inflammation. Some kayakers are more prone than others at developing blisters due to skin sensitivities. If you fall in this category, it may be a smart investment to purchase a preventative pre-bandage such as Moleskin or anti-blister pads.


These can be found at various pharmaceutical shops and outdoor retailers. Look for waterproof or water-resistant variations as you will be using these primarily on the water. In addition, it is best to garnish Moleskin with additional wrappings along with paddling gloves.

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Categories: Outdoor Safety, Virtual Instruction | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment Gear of the Year Awards 2013

KayakDave Gear of the Year Stamp

With the end of a great 2013 season comes the second annual edition of the Gear of the Year Awards! We had the opportunity to review all sorts of mind-blowing outdoor products throughout the year thanks to our many generous sponsors. As always, these awards represent the most exciting, innovative and utterly amazing paddling gear that we were able to get our hands on! Without further ado, here is the “Gear of the Year”:


Kayak of the Year:

Lincoln Chebeague LV

Lincoln Chebeague LV5

There was one kayak that stood out above all of the rest for our staff this year and frankly it was a huge surprise! The new-for-2014 Chebeague LV by Lincoln Canoe and Kayak blew both Alex and I away when we got the chance to give her prototype a whirl at the EORA show this past summer!! This 14ft-long, 37lb (32lb kevlar) light touring kayak echoes the brilliant, hand-laid hull found on the classic Chebeague with a slightly lower deck and updated key-hole cockpit layout. Smaller paddlers should rejoice as the Chebeague LV was made for those of you looking for a classic, Maine-made day tripper that behaves as well in the flats as it does on edge. Alas, a kayak in the Lincoln line that fits wee paddlers well!!!

Full Review of the Lincoln Chebeague LV


Paddle of the Year:

Aquabound Stingray Hybrid Paddle w/ Posilock Ferrule


Aquabound Stingray Hybrid Paddle (Image Courtesy of Aquabound)

The Stingray Hybrid by Aquabound may not be the lightest or most flashy paddle on the market but it may just be the best bang for your buck at $140.00 MSRP! This paddle is an excellent choice for the average, everyday paddler thanks to its lightweight construction (30.5oz), moderate blade area, and smooth-padding blade shape. However, the feature that really blew us away was the updated posilock ferrule system. This may be the best ferrule on the market due to its ease of use and minimal failure points (zero metal parts)! This paddle is so all-around awesome that we almost had to give it a “Gear of the Year” award!


Bending Branches Balance SUP Paddle

Balance SUP Paddle (Image Courtesy of Bending Branches)

Balance SUP Paddle (Image Courtesy of Bending Branches)

SUP is all about being one with the water. In a sense, you’re literally “walking” on it which invokes a sense of connectedness and appreciation for this surreal experience. All of this may seem a bit existential to some but, trust me, the Balance paddle lends itself to this perspective. This paddle really has it all; a strong carbon shaft, a nicely balanced feel in hand, and blades that are beautifully-handcrafted from black willow and red alder. It’s everything that you can ask for in a SUP paddle and we’re thoroughly in love with it!

Full Review of the Bending Branches Balance SUP Paddle


Paddling Apparel of the Year:

MTI Slipstream

MTI Slipstream Lifejacket FrontBack

This may come as a surprise to those readers and clients who have heard me rant and rave about how much I love my Astral Greenjacket! I figured that the Greenjacket gets plenty of love and it’s time that another great PFD receive some of the “Gear of the Year” spotlight. This year, the award goes to the MTI Slipstream. This is a great choice for men and small-chested women who are interested in an athletically-cut lifejacket.  When it comes to fit, everything (mesh airflow system, z-straps, ect) adds up to make the Slipstream incredibly comfortable to the point where you forget that you’re wearing it. We were also impressed the assortment and layout of accessory features; especially the inclusion of a radio pocket as this is something that most “high-end” PFDs lack!

Full Review of the MTI Slipstream Lifejacket


Astral Brewer Water Shoes

Astral Brewers 2

Astral also deserves some love in the form of a Gear of the Year award for their amazing Brewer water shoes. Most water shoes are down-right awful; few are made for walking in, most let all sorts of sand in to violate your toes, and the vast majority make you look like Goofy! The Brewers defy this trend and are by far and away the best water shoes that I’ve ever owned. They’re wicked comfortable, highly functional, and have style to boot! So far, I’ve been most impressed with the durability of the Brewers, the gripiness of their “stealth rubber” soles, and the fact that they actually keep the vast majority of sand and muck out.  The Brewers are the type of water shoe that will make even the most fashonista of teenagers think that wearing water shoes is cool!

Full Review of the Astral Brewer Water Shoes


Paddling Accessory of the Year:

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

GoPro Hero 3+ Camera (Image Courtesy of GoPro)

GoPro Hero 3+ Camera (Image Courtesy of GoPro)

GoPro cameras have changed the way that we view the world by providing us with vivid imagery from the once-elusive Point-of-View perspective! We were lucky enough to get our hands on a Hero 3 Black Edition toward the end of the summer and it has made paddling that much more exciting for me! Rare are the days that I leave the GoPro behind. Bringing it along means that there’s a good chance I’ll capture that off-beat moment in vibrant colors and high frame rates. In the very least it gives me the chance to share my adventures with our readers in a way that a brick and mortar trip report never quite could. I doubt that even the sky is the limit when it comes to shooting with a GoPro! Check out our videos category to see what we’ve been up to so far.

Full Review of the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition is in the works :)


Camping Gear of the Year:

Power Practical PowerPot V

(Image Courtesy of Power Practical)

(Image Courtesy of Power Practical)

The PowerPot V by Power Practical represents a quantum leap forward in backcountry power generation technology. This little pot is unlike any pot that you have ever seen before; it’s really a thermoelectric generator disguised as a regular old backpacking pot! Simply boil water in the PowerPot and it will convert heat into electricity to charge your small electronics including cell phones, GPS, iPods, and battery packs via a standard (5V) USB port! It’s by far the most stable and reliable power generation unit that we have tested and should be a big hit amongst tech-savvy outdoor enthusiasts and kayak campers!

Full Review of the Power Practical PowerPot V


Thus concludes our 2013 Gear of the Year Awards! We’re always looking for exciting and innovative outdoor gear to test out and review for our readers so if you have any ideas feel free to send them our way!

Happy New Year!

-Kayak Dave


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Happy Holidays from!


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