We May Not Have To Trade In Our New Canoe After All

As I mentioned in the discussion on our page for Royal Terns, I managed to flip our new canoe shortly after Nancy got that shot. Although I believe that was the first time I’ve ever done that to Nancy, it really damaged her confidence. She has been more hesitant about our canoeing adventures ever since. She has even been considering trading in our new canoe for another model. It might be too early to tell, but that may have all changed after our last trip out of Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Our New Canoe

We bought the Kevlar Flex-core Wenonah Escape, a 17½-ft, 53-pound canoe, because our old 75-pound, 17-ft, aluminum Grumman seemed to be getting heavier every time we used it. We got that canoe less than six months before our Cedar Key trip and had used it only about eight times. But we had already noticed that although our new canoe was faster in calm conditions, without the small keel of the Grumman, it was much more sensitive to weather conditions. Especially in a crosswind, the weight distribution of our gear was now critical; too much weight aft and the wind would tend to turn the vessel away from the wind, and having the center of gravity too far forward would turn the canoe into the wind.

The Cedar Key Trip

We were in Cedar Key for the 53rd Annual Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, but decided to stay around for a few days to explore. When we began the canoe trip that morning, it was a beautiful, sunny day. The winds remained about 5 knots throughout most of the day. Our first stop was on the first island, Atsena Otie Key, about a mile south, to get pictures of downtown Cedar Key. Then we were off to Seahorse Key, a couple of miles further to the southwest, to get lighthouse pictures and such. The “Royal Terns” was one of Nancy’s last photos, taken just before 5 pm. The wind started to pick up as we headed back to Cedar Key. By the time we passed Grassy Key (about 2/3 of the way back), winds were approaching 15 knots and we were in the trough of a chop that was higher than one foot. As the wind was picking up, I was spending more and more effort maintaining our course and less force was devoted to making forward progress. I was wearing out, so decided that I needed to shift some weight forward. That’s when I made some critical errors in judgment. Without alerting Nancy, I raised up just enough to lift a gear bag over the next thwart. But that was too much. I clearly overestimated the stability of the canoe and the seriousness of our situation. We flipped.

So how should we have handled these conditions? There’s always more than one way to skin a cat, but I should have first told Nancy what I was about to do. Instead of staying in the trough, we could have let the wind help us to a downwind heading (which is much more stable). Then Nancy could have stabilized the canoe with her paddle while I made the necessary ballast adjustments. And although I tended to attribute my lack of judgment to a lack of familiarity with our new canoe, I can’t guarantee the Grumman would have survived the original operation either.

Most of our gear was in dry bags but Nancy hadn’t put away her best camera and lens before we started the crossing. From the water, we righted the canoe, rounded up and returned most of our gear to the canoe, and from inside the waterlogged canoe, paddled or swam to shallower water west of Atsena Otie Key. There we could stand up and touch bottom, bail out the canoe, and continue to the Cedar Key harbor. From there, we immediately called Canon to see how best we could preserve the equipment. They said we didn’t need to do anything except mail it to them so they could take care of it. But they couldn’t. We had to buy a new Canon EOS 7D body and 100-400mm zoom lens. Oww.

Lake Kissimmee State Park

At Lake Kissimmee State Parkofficial website, there is the Buster Island Loop Paddling Trail, which winds over eleven miles. Nancy has brought her school camping club here before and they have canoed this trail. We planned to follow our traditional routine of launching just west of the bridge to the cow camp, heading west along Zipprer Canal into Lake Rosalie, then south to Rosalie Creek, where we paddle to Tiger Lake, then east-northeast to Tiger Creek.

For what it’s worth, on an earlier trip with Nancy’s school camping club, it was at a spot on Tiger Creek, just before you get to Lake Kissimmee, on a decent beach before the line of trees on the right (south) side that parallels the Lake Kissimmee shore, that they found the subject model for Barred Owl.

Tiger Creek leads to Lake Kissimmee, and then it’s a shorter paddle northwest to the east entrance to the Zipprer Canal. From there, the journey ends at the State Park Marina, just a short hike around the water structure from the starting point.

The Trip

This trip started normal enough. It was mostly sunny at first and windy, but we didn’t feel the wind below the banks, and especially in the tree-lined sections of Zipprer Canal. Lake Rosalie was another story. By then, the wind was seventeen to twenty-four knots out of the southwest, which means its fetch was essentially the whole length of the lake. As we entered the lake we were paddling directly into waves of at least 1½ feet. We were paddling full speed ahead and Nancy was really getting pounded riding up (and down) in the bow. (Where I came from, you’d have to pay at least a quarter to get this much excitement). It was Nancy’s understanding that we should be hugging the shoreline where it would be flatter, a misconception apparently held by many people. It is only flatter near the windward shore, where there is no fetch, or distance the wind has blown over the water to build up the waves. On the leeward (away from the wind) side where we were, there is no relief; the waves are as high as they are going to get.

Protocol

Whether in the front or the back, a straight stroke along the side of the canoe will tend to turn the canoe away from that side. Normally, the two paddlers would be stroking on opposite sides of the canoe – one on port and one on starboard (right as you face forward) to cancel out their individual turning forces. You should change sides on a regular, but not too frequent basis. When one needs to change sides, they call out so both paddlers change sides together. The weaker paddler (or the photographer if they are not the same person) would usually be in the bow. The stern paddler is normally responsible for course corrections and casual maneuvering. S/he does this by adding a little side flip or “J” to their stroke as necessary. If the strength of the paddlers is the same, few “J”s would be necessary. In other circumstances, they may be required on every stroke. Tight curves, as found in many creeks in Florida (like the two mentioned below, for example), require turning effort from both paddlers. Nancy taught canoeing in her previous day-job. She knows more strokes than I do and is very good.

Since we’ve owned this new canoe, I’ve had to make modifications to the standard tandem canoeing protocol/etiquette. As a crosswind picks up, I’ve started making sure the stern paddler (which is I) is stroking on the lee side (or on the same side as the wind is trying to blow the bow) to better counteract that force. When the wind is really strong, I ask the bow paddler (Nancy) to shift so that we are both on that side.

Lake Rosalie

At first, we are paddling directly into the wind. Our next waypoint, the next creek entrance, hidden in the tall grass, is about 45° off the port (left) bow. The problem is, under our current wind conditions I soon discovered that if I let the bow get over 30° off the wind, then even with both of us paddling hard from the leeward side or even using one of the turning strokes, it takes quite a while (and a lull in the wind) to bring the bow back on course. Paddling in the trough of an occasional 2-foot chop isn’t something I was going to let happen. As we got into the middle of the lake (and the bearing to our waypoint approached the beam), the waves are slightly smaller and the wind shows signs of weakening (at least part of the time). We changed course so the wind came from about 30° off the starboard bow, which is as far off the wind as I felt we could reliably recover from. Then we eased off on the power a bit (when not recovering from a gust) and let our leeway (the sideways direction and speed that the wind is impacting us) make up the difference in course angle. We eventually find and enter Rosalie Creek.

Rosalie Creek is narrow, winding, picturesque, and protected for the most part. Nancy is able to photograph. There is some current, which makes station-keeping a little more difficult, especially since I’m already tired. We enjoy the view and the rest, and then we enter Tiger Lake.

Tiger Lake and Lake Kissimmee

As we enter Tiger Lake, we see an osprey catch a fish. Then an eagle tries to take the fish. We watched a remarkable aerial display that lasted at least five minutes. The osprey had a tighter turning radius but the eagle was never far behind. Finally, the osprey dropped the fish. Maybe it decided that it was expending more calories defending the fish than it would have gained from eating it. The eagle made a low pass looking for the fish, but unsuccessful, it flew off, as did the osprey in the opposite direction. Just a few minutes later the osprey flew by again and grabbed another fish (without interruption).

Although not quite as strong, the wind is still alive and well. But we are a little more rested. From Tiger Lake, our next waypoint, Tiger Creek, is close to directly downwind. The wind is now helping with our speed. But the waves, which are growing as we cross the lake, are trying to broach the canoe (turn it sideways to the wind, possibly burying the bow in a wave or capsizing the boat when it gets in the trough). This takes heavy corrective paddling from the stern paddler as every wave goes by until we reach Tiger Creek.

Tiger Creek is wider than Rosalie but still serpentine. Again, Nancy is taking pictures (including close-ups of a snail kite eating lunch).

In Lake Kissimmee, our intended track was to the northwest just off the windward shore of the lake, and the lake was full of water plants so the waves aren’t too bad. The wind had even started subsiding. We found our way to the canal entrance and then to the marina. Although we were completely bushed, we did manage to get the canoe secured back on top of the van right at sunset.

Conclusions

This wasn’t our longest paddle. We’ve done more than fifteen miles on a day trip on more than one occasion. The most recent time was around Snake Bight east of Flamingo (which is at the end of the road in Everglades National Park). And even though almost half of that trip was through water about two inches shallower than the canoe with a thick muddy bottom, the weather was mild and the trip wasn’t as tough as this one. (Interestingly enough, on our last trip to Flamingo, Nancy mentioned canoeing to Ingraham Lake, which is at least ten miles west of Flamingo. Now that would be quite a day trip for us.)

But more importantly, the wind and waves were worse on this trip than on the Cedar Key trip that caused us to capsize. I’m hoping that was enough to rebuild Nancy’s confidence. Stay tuned.

Tips For Setting Up Your Booth Canopy

We have a Trimline Canopy by Flourishabout, with lower StaBars and a small (30″) front awning. Although we’ve also heard good things about the Light-Dome canopywebsite, I don’t know how many of the following tips would apply to other manufacturers. Not all of these concepts are brand-specific, however.

This will not replace the setup instructions provided by the manufacturer. I refer to the latest information on the Flourish website as appropriate (I’ve noticed they have made a few changes since we bought our canopy in 2010), and suggest you read your instructionsFlourish and even watch their video (For ours it would be TrimLine Canopy Detailed Setup Video With Chris) before starting.

Storing Gear

We don’t completely disassemble our poles after each show. Since we carry all tent gear and art in our van, we follow something very similar to the “Fastest set up” on Page 8 of the “Trimline Canopy 10′ x 10′ Instructions for Assembly” (373.pdf). Specifically:

• The rafter base poles have rafter base joints and corner joints attached, as shown in Figure 1 above.
• The Ridge Pole has Ridge Support Joints on both ends. The Riser Poles get stored with the Rafters.
• The Awning Ells are attached to the long awning pole (described as the no-color 116½” pole in the “Trimline Awning Assembly Instructions” (394.pdf). The short poles for the side of the awning are stowed with the Rafters.
• The legs are stowed in the “Rest-Stop position” with the top half against the Rest Stop Button. The StaBar Ell or 3-way is attached, as is the foot and the LD (a.k.a. Awning Support) Ell (as appropriate). All of these attachments are locked in their base positions.

We store the tent walls and other small parts in a large tote box (outside dimensions 32″L x 20″W x 18″H).

Setup

We set up our canopy with the heat/wind vents on the sides instead of front and back so that I don’t have to reach over the awning to open the vent. The downside of this is that if the tents are too close together, I may have to open the vents from inside the booth.

When placing the roof in position, either while assembling or afterward, place the wall that will go up first exactly 24″ inside (toward the center of the booth from) its final position.

This is assuming a ten-foot tent with legs in the Rest Stop position (roughly 79″ long). It is based on the Pythagorean Theorem (Notice that in Figure 3 below, the roof poles, legs, and ground form a right triangle with the ground being the hypotenuse since the legs connect to the roof poles at a 90° angle. The general formula (in case you have longer roof poles and/or longer legs) would then be

$Offset = \sqrt{(PoleLength^2 + LegLength^2)} - PoleLength$

Its two adjoining walls should be in line with their final position. Which side of the roof goes up first may be dictated by the placement of neighboring tents and other obstacles. For example, if you are in a line of booths that are being set up with their back wall against the curb and both of your neighbors have already set up, you should place your back wall two feet from the curb, meaning the front wall will be 24″ further out in the street but the sides will in their correct plane (see Figure 2). As you tilt the top up and attach your back legs first, their foot will land against the curb (see Figure 3).

When attaching the roof to the frame, we connect the straps and buckles on the vent sides and the wide Velcro on the rafter sides. But if we were to connect the thinner corner Velcro straps at that time, they would get in the way of hanging the weights.

Leveling The Tent

Roof Poles

We don’t see many other artists do this, but we use a small level to make sure our walls, and subsequently our panels, are vertical (and our roof poles and StaBars are horizontal). As you can see in Figure 4, it is important to have your framed pieces against the wall and straight. With all four legs in their lowest (“Rest Stop”) position, find which corner is highest by placing the level along your roof poles on all four sides (and “follow the bubble”). Since the poles sag over time due to the weight hanging from them, you should take measurements at more than one location along each pole. The leg in the highest corner will remain in its lowest position. Lengthen the adjoining legs as appropriate. Since one can only raise a leg in 1¾” increments, it is possible that the ‘true’ adjustment will fall between two holes. Pick one.

StaBars

Since the lower bars are only held by thumb screws, positioning is continuous (no 1¾” increments), so we could do an even better job of leveling them than we do with the top bars. But because of the way our panels hang from the horizontal bars (see www.beehappygraphics.com/panels.html), it is more important to get the lower bars parallel to the top bars than it is to get them level. After measuring the change in length of the leg (which should be in agreement with the formula

$HeightDifference = AdjustmentHoles \times 1.75"$,

move the StaBar joint up accordingly. After measuring each leg for each festival for about nine years, I came up with a shortcut.

Notice in Figure 5 that I labeled the holes in the top section of the leg and pre-measured, marked, and labeled the correct adjustment distances on the bottom of the leg. This has already saved me much more time than the time I invested in making these improvements. The figure also mentions my suggestion for Version 2. Although the important measurement is the distance from the bottom edge of the StaBar Joint to the top of the foot, it would be better to have the markings and labels on the top edge of the StaBar Joint so you can read them without having to bend over so far to look under the joint.

Weights

Trimline canopies come with Ground Screws and 10” Steel Spikes for anchoring the canopy to the ground. These are almost never allowed at the art festivals in Florida that we attend. We can use weights anywhere. Flourish has their GreatWeightsabout, heavy-duty vinyl bags that will allegedly hold up to 40 pounds of sand or pea rock, at an additional cost. We built our own from parts readily available at any hardware store, namely a 30″ section of 4″ PVC pipe with a flat endcap, a bag of cement, and an eyebolt with nuts and washers. Ours weigh 34 pounds; some festivals want more, but our panels and art hanging from the roof make up the difference. Construction details for the weights will have to wait for another day (in the meantime, email me or comment below if you need details). We hang the weights from the canopy with ratchet tie-downs and strap them to the leg with a bungee cord at the top and bottom. It is very important not just to have them dangling but to have them held firmly in place (so they don’t turn into wrecking balls in heavier winds). If you look closely, you can see our weights in action in the picture at the top of this article.

Our Skirt

Typically, the bottom of our walls are less than three inches from the ground, so we were amazed to see how far up from the ground our panels (and art) got wet after a rain. To solve this, Nancy got some clear plastic sheeting to wrap around the bottom of the tent before the walls go up. The plastic should come at least 24″ up from the ground, plus a couple of inches extra on the ground. Ours is at least 4 mils thick. We need about 42 feet to go around all four walls. We use the clear 2″ shipping tape to attach it to each leg (which works much better if you get the skirt up before it starts raining). Start with one of the front legs, and then go around past the back legs to the other front leg. At this point, there should still be about eleven feet of plastic to go across the front, but while the tent is open we roll up the extra and stow it behind the nearest weight. When we close up, we pull out that last bit of skirt, stretch it across the front, and tape it to the last/first pole. Then we lower the front wall and secure the tent according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Instead of using the skirt, we recently considered extending the walls about 18″ and including straps to keep the bottom of the wall lying on the ground under all circumstances but Nancy decided it wouldn’t keep the walls as clean as our current method does.

The Awning

Occasionally awnings are not allowed, but we usually put up a front awning. It doesn’t go up while setting up the tent, and it is the first thing to come down after closing on Sunday afternoon so that it is out of the way of other artist vehicles coming in to drop off or pick up their supplies. We also take it down Saturday night so that we don’t have to lose sleep over the weather or other artists driving to their tent. The awning zips to the same zipper the front wall would use, but there is another zipper on the bottom edge of the awning for attaching the wall.

Daily routine

Our procedure Saturday and Sunday mornings would be to unzip and roll up the front wall, unzip it from the roof and set it aside, attach the awning poles, zip on the awning to the roof, and attach it with the bungees to the awning poles. Then we would zip the front wall back up to the awning and leave in the rolled position (on immediate standby in case of sudden severe squall). Finally, we would reconnect or adjust the Velcro at the top edges of the front walls and the corners of the canopy. Saturday and Sunday evening we would reverse this procedure.

In Case Of Rain

During light rain, we would stay open and continue working with customers. I would move the LD or Awning Support Joint on one side, which is normally at the top of the leg as described in Step 3 of the “Trimline Awning Assembly Instructions”, up as high as I can get away with and lower the joint on the other leg a couple of inches or as much as it takes to stop the water from forming a puddle in the middle of the awning that would ultimately spill over onto unsuspecting customers. If the rain became too severe, we would drop the front wall and hang out with whatever crowd needed a dry place in the middle of a storm.

In Closing . . .

That’s about everything we’ve learned so far. I hope it helps. If you have a better solution, or a solution to a different tent problem that could save our readers some grief, please explain in the comment section below. Thanks!

revised 6/12/2020

Some Blog History

The story of our first 200 blog articles is chronicled in an earlier postblog. Since then (August 2018) I’ve redeveloped and described our twelve blog categories in An Explanation Of Our Groups, and have made it easier to subscribe to any combination of blog categories a la carte (notice column to the right of this article). This last season, I even started putting out a clipboard at our booth for those who wanted to sign up. When you sign up, you will receive an email with a link to each new blog article in your chosen category as it is published.

Now we have created five different RSS feeds, each targeting a different audience.

The feeds are:

• Bee Happy Graphics for Art Lovers, which includes mostly articles from categories Images, Nature & Wildlife, Promotions, Upcoming Events, and Recognition;
• Bee Happy Graphics for Photographers with articles primarily from categories Photography, Post-processing, Business, Images, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, and Other topics;
• Bee Happy Graphics for Printers & Framers, bringing the Business, Printing & Framing, and Other topics categories;
• Bee Happy Graphics for Teachers, focussing on categories Applied math, Nature & Wildlife, Promotions, and Travel; and finally
• the Bee Happy Graphics blog, which will bring you everything.

What You Get (and Don’t Get)

First, what you don’t get are ads or other promotions.  Our website and blog have hundreds of pages, but not one single ad.  We will not sell or give away your address or other information, and it will be used for no other purpose than providing you with the latest information from Bee Happy Graphics.

So How Many Articles Will I Get?

Just to give you an indication of what to expect, here are the number of articles you would have received had each of these options been established and had you signed up for each option for the one year ending April 18, 2020:

Keep in mind that an article may fit into more than one group/category and could appeal to more than one audience (that is why the sum of the feed totals and the sum of the category totals are both more than the total number of articles).  That total number of articles in a year is typical for us, and I am happy that I was able to keep the number of non-‘Upcoming Events’ articles at or above 50%. My ultimate goal of 60% could be tough, however.  For one thing, it has so far not been my policy to discuss an idea that has already been adequately covered elsewhere.  And during the art festival season, I have little time to develop the ideas that do occur.  It was also good to see that there was some balance; no category (besides Upcoming Events) hogged too much attention and no category was ignored. I might need to give Printers & Framers a little more love, but already have a few ideas and have already made a few promises for articles that should keep them happy.

In Conclusion . . .

Go ahead and sign up for whatever you think might be helpful or interesting. If you have a question or an idea for an article or even a new category, leave a comment below (or private blog comment by following the link at the top of the right column). Thank you for reading this far.

Certificates Of Authenticity Shipping This Week

Although it has been four years since our last updateblog, we have not been idle. I had a campaign the first quarter of 2017 and another one that October to create certificates, but most of those efforts were geared toward having the certificates available in our booth as a picture was sold, and neither campaign was completed. In April 2018 we did improve the design of our certificates.

But now it looks like God has gone to great lengths to eliminate distractions (with the current COVID-19 policies), so I feel confident we can finally finish this project soon. Only Nancy can stop me now! 😎 Certificates will start going out today. First, we are mailing the ones we have already printed (but overlooked), then we will mail the rest of the certificates for images already sold, and then we will finally complete the certificates for the work we have in stock. If you don’t get your certificate by the end of the month, let us know. And again, thank you for your patience!

More Cancellations Due To The Coronavirus

Our next two festivals, the Santa Fe College Spring Arts Festival in Gainesville,Announced scheduled for the last weekend in March and the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Keyannounced the first weekend in April have both been canceled. We will be back in Cedar Key next year, specifically April 17 & 18, 2021 (if the one that was canceled was supposed to be the 56th Annual …, what will next year’s festival be called?).  We are still negotiating our future appearance at the other three festivals canceled so far (Pembroke Pines, Winter Haven, and Gainesville).

Although I hadn’t announced it yet, we were also scheduled to travel to India after the end of the Florida art festival season this May with Natural Habitat Adventures (our second-favorite tour company) to photograph tigersdetails. We have also pushed that trip back one year. There may still be room available on that trip; contact us (or Natural Habitat Adventures (tell them we sent you)) if you are interested.

Our last two festivals this season (Melbourne and Fernandina Beach) are still on, starting the last weekend in April. While that might change, I don’t expect to hear from them for another couple of weeks. Stay tuned.