The Maiden Voyage of the Canoe

The time came for us to break out the canoe, and take it out on its maiden (well, maiden to us) voyage.

I had planned to take it out the day before, but due to some forgotten events in the schedule (forgotten due to my excitement to get the canoe out on the water), the maiden voyage had to wait until Sunday.

After mass on Sunday The Mother of Five started prompting us to get out on the canoe.  I was feeling badly because I would have liked to have had her there with us, but unfortunately she had to work.  I would have also liked to have had the boys with us, but they were away, working at Scout Camp.

With the #2 and #3 of 5 working at Scout Camp, The Mother of Five at work, it left #4 and #5 of 5 (the girls) and myself to take the canoe out on its maiden voyage.  The canoe will only hold three or four of us at a time.  With a family of seven, not everyone’s going to make it anyway. 

cartopping the canoeI packed a “go bag” – consisting of a first aid kit, the canoe registration, my GPS, and a camera.  We also packed a cooler of bottled water, cut watermelon (thanks Mother of Five!), and some granola bars.

With the help of the Mother of Five (before she left for work) she and I strapped the canoe “cartop”, we loaded up the paddles, lifejackets, seat cushions, cooler and go-bag, and headed out!

My initial worry (being among the “tall and fat” members of society) was that with me in the “stern” of the boat, the “bow” would be lifted way up and out of the water. 

My solution was to put both the girls as far up front as possible, and then (since she was going to have to sit on the floor of the canoe, and it would add extra “ballast” – I was going to bring #5 of 5’s folding pink Disney Princess chair along for her to sit in.  The size and height was PERFECT match for the canoe!  

The canoe traveled perfectly.  We had no problems “cartopping” it. 

First time paddling in 12 years!We arrived at our destination – Fish Lake

We unloaded the car, loaded up the canoe, and headed out for the great open water!

It was the first time (well, actually third.  Best Bud Ed has taken me out on his canoe twice) that I have been in a canoe since 1989.  Even after 12 years, it immediately came rushing back to me, and it felt GREAT!  I suppose it’s like what they say about riding a bicycle.  Once you learn, you never forget!

We made our way around the perimeter of the lake.  About half way around we found a quiet little shaded area with a sandy bottom that we were able to wedge the canoe into while we ate our snacks.

Snack break!After our snacks we headed back to open water and continued our journey around the lake.

Once we made it back to the public access, there was a long line of cars (boats) waiting to get into the lake and a line of boats waiting to get off the lake.

We used that time to play around a little bit.  We canoed in circles for a while.  I traded off spots with #4 of 5 (who was in the front of the canoe earlier) – giving her a chance at steering the canoe.  (She’s gonna need a little more practice (i.e. – an excuse to get back out more often!))  Not bad for her first time out!

Then, I took #5 of 5 off her pretty pink princess chair (which fit perfectly in the canoe) and got her a paddlin’.  She too will need a little more practice (i.e. – an excuse to get back out even MORE often!) but also did well for her age and for being her first time in a canoe!

The time came that it was finally our turn to use the public access.  We pulled up the canoe – hopped out on the dock and (unlike all the other big motor boats), I was able to grab the canoe, and drag it off to the side of the landing so the next guy could load or unload.  I had the canoe out of the water and out of the way in (literally) moments! 

#4 and 5 of 5 sat in the canoe while I ran and grabbed the car from the parking lot.  We made quick work of unloading the canoe, and loading up the car.  We were back on the road and headed for home.

#5 of 5 with paddle in hand  Waiting for dad to return with the car

I could not have been happier with the performance of the canoe.  It glided through the water like silk, and handled like a charm!  It has been all I wanted (and more).  I have identified a couple of potential “needs” to accessories the canoe with – namely a couple of portaging pads for moving the canoe around, and a better “cartopping” system than what the previous owners used.  Ironicly, the portaging pads will interfere with the “cartopping”, so I will need a removable yoke for those portaging pads (when the time comes).   

Maybe some sort of fishing pole holder, and some kneepads for kneeling – but they are not “necessities” at this time   

Also, having the GPS with us while we are out makes for seeing how far we paddled, how fast we paddled, and how long we were padding very easy!  I upload the data to the EveryTrail website and plot it all out with charts and graphs!  I’m looking forward to using EveryTrail to keep track of my paddling exploits!  Be sure to click through and see a live demo of The Canoe’s Maiden Voyage!  

The Canoe's Maiden Voyage! at EveryTrail

EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking near St. Paul, Minnesota

I hope you enjoyed the story of our new canoe’s maiden voyage – because we sure enjoyed it!

Is the Beginning of a New Era

(This is a follow up to a previous post titled The End of One Era)

With the decision to sell the boat and use the funds to purchase a canoe made – it was time to put words into action.

I spent the better part of a day off breaking “The Boat” out from its five year slumber by excavating it from its burial spot in the garage.  No, not buried as in underground – buried as in under five years worth of “garage stuff”.  The boat (placed upside down on it’s trailer) became an all too convenient storage shelf for long boards and other hard to store objects.

On a side note, one added benefit to having the boat out of the garage was a bunch of newly established “real estate” space in the garage for “stuff”

Before being able to sell it, I needed to obtain a new trailer license sticker.  With the State of Minnesota’s Governmental Shutdown – that became a task I could not complete.  So I turned my focus on to craigslist – watching for a good deal on a used canoe.  (Actually, I had been watching (casually) for a couple of months now.  I wanted to get a vibe on what was selling, and for how much.)

I spotted many different possibilities.  Every time I found a canoe that met my criteria at or under my budgeted amount – it was sold (often sight unseen and within minutes of the ad going public).  After several failed offers, I expanded my search parameters.  I could make a “road trip” if the deal was good enough – and I could also recruit Best Bud Ed into being a set of eyes and ears for me if one were to show up on his side of the state.

Then, I spotted it.  It was actually listed in the wrong “region” on craigslist, but just so happened to be a few miles from my home.  The ad was for a wedding dress, a tiara, and a canoe.  The canoe portion of the ad read…

Canoe original over $1,000 asking $___/OBO only used a few times comes with paddles and foam for top of vehicle.  (Photo below is actual photo from craigslist ad)


Hmmm.  It was a little bit over my budget, but as you can see from the photo, the boat looked like it was in wonderful shape, and included a few “accessories”.  I sent off an inquiry email expecting to hear the typical “it’s already sold” message back, but in this case, I did not hear back from the seller (also not unusual on craigslist).  Several days pass, and several other possible canoes come and go.   Then, unexpectedly (having all but forgotten about this ad) I received an email that says the canoe is still available.  Over the next two days we exchanged some info and I make arrangements to see the canoe.  It looked even better in person than it did in the photos!

We settled on a price that fell right between my budget and their asking price, and made arrangements to pick it up the following day.  My Facebook friends were deluged with a nearly constant stream of posts sharing my excitement.

Osagian Canoe LogoHere are some details…

- The canoe is a 1983 17’ Osagian Classic.
- It is 17’ long – 36” wide – 13” deep.
- It is made with .050 Thick 6111-T6 (Aircraft grade) Aluminum.
- It weighs 79 lbs and has a 780 lb capacity.

Osagian offers optional built-in “sponsons” (those bulges you see on the side of the canoe).  They add stability and additional capacity.   

I was nervous about “cartopping” the canoe.  I knew it could be done, but with my smallish car, and this largish canoe – I did not know what to expect.  The night before, I received an email from a friend providing me some tips (which, by the way, worked out great).  When I brought the canoe home the following day, it rode “cartop” like a dream!  I set the cruise control at 60mph and neither the car or the canoe protested whatsoever.

Cartopping the canoe Cartopping the canoe


Pristine Hull!



It was unusually warm that morning.  Since I had a few hours before having to go to work, and the girls wanted to play on the “slip –n– slide” I decided to grab a bucket of soapy water and “detail” the canoe while the girls played (and helped). 

By the time I was done, I could hardly believe my eyes.  The hull was in pristine shape!



Osagian 17' aluminum canoe  Osagian 17' aluminum canoeOsagian 17' aluminum canoe  Osagian 17' aluminum canoe    

I was all amped up to take it out the next day, but quickly realized that I neglected to remember the pre-existing commitments that we have in our schedule.   The canoe’s maiden voyage would have to wait at least one more day.

That night a thunderstorm hit, with the potential for “quarter sized” hail.  I had the canoe (belly facing up) up on sawhorses in the back yard.  The only thing I could picture that pristine hull looking like a golf ball.  I ran out (at 4:45am, in the middle of a severe thunderstorm) and carried the canoe under the safety of the deck.  

The plan was for set for Sunday afternoon.  The boys were working at Scout Camp, the Mother of Five (unfortunately) had to work, but I had her blessing to take the girls and navigate the canoe on her maiden voyage!

The End of One Era

I am a nostalgic kind of guy.   I get emotionally attached to objects when those objects are tied to memories (like any good hoarder does).  This post is about one of those objects.   It’s about an object that I have become so emotionally attached to that I have hoarded hung on to it despite my inability to use it for years! 

I’m talking about “The Boat”.

“The Boat” has been around as long as I can remember.  (It has, in fact been around longer than I have). 

My earliest memories of “The Boat” are as a very young child, seeing lying where my dad stored it.  It was kept chained to a tree on a "deeded access" boat landing on Lake Marie, near Annandale, Minnesota.  My parents had an old mobile home on a lot near Lake Marie.  We called this our “Choo-Choo-House”.   (One of these days I have to write a post about the Choo-Choo-House).  Anyway, the boat landing was semi-private.  It was deeded to the property owners in and around the Choo-Choo-House.

Another  very early and very vague memory I have is of taking “The Boat” with my dad and “Grandpa-Grandpa” (our nickname for my paternal grandfather).  We took the boat from the public access, all the way across Lake Marie, into Lake Louisa, and through a slough (I remember being scared by all the weeds surrounding the boat).  We crossed under the highway 24 bridge and pulled the boat up to a bait shop right along the creek at the far SW corner of the lake.    

Sometime after we moved to Bloomington (1977) my dad bought a trailer for “The Boat” and with the aid of the trailer, “The Boat” left the solitude of the boat landing, and arrived at it’s new home - a quiet little corner of our back yard.  And there, the boat sat… and sat… and sat…

About the time I graduated high school (1987) I had my own car that would haul the boat and had a place to take it (Best Bud Ed's cabin), so he convinced me to break it out, fix it up, and get it seaworthy again – which we did. 

Ed and I replaced the rotten transom board, greased the trailer’s bearings, got the electrical lights working, got it licensed, and took it out a few times.   It sat for another two or three years until I broke it out again to take my (then girlfriend - now wife) and her youngest brother out for a day on the lake (circa 1991 or 1992). I again got “The Boat” seaworthy, and took it out on Starring Lake in Eden Prairie.  After that trip it got tucked back into it’s hidey-hole in the backyard until (what I can only suspect to be) my Dad finally got sick of looking at it parked in his yard.  In 1998 my dad gave me “The Boat” as a gift.

When it came time that we moved from our house in Richfield to our new house in Jordan, the boat was “temporarily” returned to its “hidey-hole” in my parents back yard for a couple more years.  

I broke it out once again in 2002 for a fishing and camping trip with some friends.
(All photos found in this post are from the camping trip – Summer 2002)


After that trip, “The Boat” joined us permanently at our new house.  In addition to the camping/fishing trip, I took it along on a couple trips to Best Bud Ed’s cabin. 

The last time the boat saw water was in 2006.  I brought the boat up Best Bud Ed’s cabin for duck hunting.  The outboard motor gave me some serious troubles, and I could not keep it running and finally the pull-cord snapped.  Half way through the trip, I packed “The Boat” up, and when I brought it home it was tucked it into the garage where it has sat ever since.

Since it’s last trip, we have changed vehicles.  We do not have trailer hitches on any of our vehicles – therefore we have no way to haul “The Boat”. Yes, I could get a hitch installed, but the outboard will also be in serious need of a tune up – and after sitting in the garage for the past five years, it’s a little… buried.

Over the past two, maybe three years I have been seriously kicking an idea around – but before I “pulled the trigger” on this idea, I wanted to run in past my dad. The idea was to sell “The Boat” and use the proceeds to buy something a little more “practical” for our family.

A Canoe!

A canoe can be carried “Cartop”, can be loaded up in a moment’s notice, can be in the water in a moment’s notice, offers a little more “exercise opportunities”, can be fished from (one of my primary desires)… With the boys coming into “driving age” they could (if they wished) pop a caone on their car and take it out for the day.

What really pushed me over the edge was a canoe trip #3 of 5 took with the Scout Troop down the Cannon River. I was unable to go (due to work schedule conflicts) but thought there is no reason why I could not take that trip myself, or make a triumphant return to the BWCA at some point…

I was a little worried about asking my dad, since he had the boat for so long, and it was sort of a part of our family’s history… But once I told him about the idea – he loved it! He thought it was a GREAT idea!

So, I spent a day digging the boat from it’s home in the garage (no small feat in itself) and am cleaning it up preparing to end an era for our family. 

I am ending the era of “The Boat”.

BoysatBoatIt was a hard decision to make for me.  

The boat has had such a long enduring part in our family history.  It almost has it’s own persona.  It may have not been used a lot, but it has provided some fond memories.

It was comforting to me, knowing in the back of my mind that if I really wanted to or needed to, I always had access to “The Boat”

In many ways, I am sad to see it go.  I had hopes to use it more that we have.  I wanted to make more of our own new memories for the kids with the boat - but alas, hopes and dreams are not always based in reality.

I take comfort in knowing that by ending one era, I hope to be starting a new one. 

I am starting the era of “The Canoe”

In the above photo #3 of 5 (age 5) is sitting in the boat while #1 of 5 (age 14) and #2 of 5 (age 6) are standing on the dock waiting for me to take them out fishing.  See what I mean by memories?  These three boys have all grown so much since this photo was taken.

Here are a few more details and photos of “The Boat”

The Boat: 1968 16' aluminum Chrysler row boat. (I even have the ORIGINAL owners manual.)
The Trailer: 1974 Sears Boat Trailer
The Outbard: (I am keeping this) 1955 Evinrude Fleetwin 7.5hp Aquasonic Model 7518
(I have the ORIGINAL manual for the outboard as well)

44F02-7-11(10-42) 49F02-7-11(10-43) 51F02-7-13(9-37) TableandBoat

Thank you Mémère

I lost my Pépère when I was twelve years old.  Afterwards I spent a lot of time with my Mémère

mpAfter Pépère passed, one thing I heard Mémère repeat over and over again was how she could not wait until I got my drivers license.  She frequently told me how she was going to “make” me come pick her up and take her to the grocery store.   

She came from a generation where women did not have drivers licenses.

One could argue that she was only looking for a driver, but it was more than that!  She enjoyed pending time with me (and I with her). 

Mémère passed away two years later - when I was only fourteen years old.  

I never got that chance. 

I believe that sometimes we do not fully understand how some things may be a blessing in disguise.

Two years after Mémère (and four years after Pépère) passed away (at the ripe ol’ age of 16) I got my drivers license. In the twenty-six years since - I have been pretty lucky.  I have had a couple of (small) accidents, and had a couple of close calls, but nothing that anyone would consider “significant”. 

I have also been able to (for the most part) maintain good driving habits as a teen (not always the easiest thing to do) and have kept my cool and have used a level head even in the most difficult and stressful driving conditions.

I have always felt as if I had a “guardian angel” looking after me while I was driving. 

Since she never got the chance to let me “drive her to the grocery store”, I have never had one single moment’s doubt that when it came to all things driving - Mémère rode with me as my guardian angel instead. 

The feeling has been so strong, that I can say this with 100% certainty.   

Last week, #2 of 5 took, and passed the Minnesota written “permit” test.  He is now the proud owner of a Minnesota “Instruction Permit”, and will soon be spending more and more time behind the wheel and on the roads.


Today I am officially thanking my “guardian angel” for her past twenty six years of dedicated service, and am asking her (through some special prayer requests) that she now take up the cause of helping me by watching over #2 of 5 (her great-grandson) with the same vigilance as I know she did with me.

He may not feel it, or understand it, but I am comforted knowing that she will be looking after him as she has done for me all these years. 

I have no doubts. 

Thank you Mémère

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