The Paddle In The Park Contest is back for 2015!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Fat Paddler: A Badger Book Review

Every Man Has A Story....
I remember watching an episode of the now defunct Oprah Winfrey Show where the premise of the installment was that everybody has a story to tell. Some more exciting then others, but interesting none-the-less. Oprah had an illustration board of her audience member's seating chart on display, and she threw a dart at it randomly choosing the person who's "seat" she hit on the board to tell their life story. By chance she struck upon a man who had narrowly escaped a war torn country as a child and later immigrated to the U.S.A. when he was a young man and continued his education, on his own, to become a Doctor. It was an unusual story, one that received many oooo's and aaaahhh's from the audience. Reading the newly released book, The Fat Paddler, reminded me of the hypothesis I witnessed on Oprah's show that day. But this time, Fate threw a dart and the incredible bullseye story is, indeed, Sean Smith's.

I have never met Sean in person but have been following his escapades, on his ever popular blog The Fat Paddler, for sometime now - with one of my favourite adventures consisting of a hefty secret agent man being chased down by an irate security guy for getting too close to the Plastiki during a "Stealth Paddle". So in his own way, Sean, had already been receiving a fair share of oooo's and aaahhh's from his own audience thru his online journal ( detailing his life's expedition as a big but encouraging man with a number of paddles and boats at his disposal.

The Fat Paddler Book by Sean Smith
A larger then life tale of recovery and inspiration!
So when the Fat Paddler (Sean Smith) announced that a book was coming out, I was keen to get my paws on one as soon as I was able. When it finally happened this past week, I excitedly cracked open my copy to find an unexpected and deeply moving tale that was full of honesty, humour and other significant messages. And while I was used to finding myself laughing out loud at Sean's words, I was surprised to find my eyes welling up with tears - on more then one occasion - entranced by his poetical ways, impacted by his ability to evoke such an emotional response from the reader. To be honest, I had a hard time putting the book down once I had it started. By the end of it, I had a new profound respect for Sean and his beautiful wife, Rebecca - and I wanted to read it again.

Having come awfully close to death on more then one occasion in his life, and living thru it to once again become strong in spirit and fat with personal growth, is a huge testament to Sean's spirit and appetite for life. His expressive descriptions of his true to life global experiences put you right inside of Sean's head, and the way he tells it will have you focused on every word. From two brutal vehicle accidents, to the tragic Bali Bombings of 2002, all the way thru to an Alaskan trip of a lifetime - including a wife and two gorgeous daughters that helped inspire him to become the man he is today - his story is uniquely and excitingly courageous and yet modest at the same time.
All in all, Sean's journey to becoming the Fat Paddler, thru much physical and mental adversity, is a story that is sure to inspire the majority of people - not just people who paddle. And while it is definitely laugh out loud funny, with many smiles thru-out, you will most likely come away with your own thoughts stirred and many deeper emotions having been evoked. With Sean's true respect for Love, Family, Nature, Charity, Humour (can't forget Rugby either!), Self Reflection and Life, his tale will be sure to resonate with the masses as, in a number of ways, many of his struggles are our own. Thus, if Oprah was correct and it is indeed true that every person has a story to tell, then Sean's tale is surely of epic proportions... And I'm not just talking about how much he eats or the awesome Fat Paddler's Favourite Recipes section in the back, either!! Tee Hee Hee

Not wanting the book to end, I've already started reading it again.....

To find out how to get your paws on a copy of Sean's book - visit the website: The Fat Paddler Book. To catch up with Sean and his adventures as The Fat Paddler, or to connect with The Fat Paddler online, check out many of the ways to do so below:

Fat Paddler Book Review Written by Fiona Westner-Ramsay

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Canoeing the Petawawa River à la Sub(urban) Tourist

The following article was written by sometime paddler and new Badger friend, Margaret Antkowski of The (Sub)Urban Tourist. It is entitled: CANOEING THE PETAWAWA RIVER, EARLY IN THE MORNING... where Margaret delights us with her beautiful photos and short journal of her paddling adventure one morning on the Petawawa with her man, Frank. Margaret has graciously allowed us to publish the following article, and thankfully accepted our invitation to be one of the first guest bloggers on Badger's Blog, as well as guest photographer!

Guest Badger Blogger, Margaret Antkowski,
The (Sub)Urban Tourist (Mississauga, Canada)

Margaret Antkowski, the founder of the popular and very creative The (Sub)urban Tourist blog, is a Toronto-based PR professional by day and outdoor explorer on the weekend. She has been described as a Renaissance woman with many interests. A few that stand out are a love of good food and dining, travel, history, the outdoors and Latin dance. When not getting hot on the dancefloor with salsa dancing or communing with nature, Margaret is learning to take pretty pictures with her DSLR. She lives with her family and dog in Mississauga, Ontario.

Canoeing the Petawawa River,
Early In The Morning...

"Petawawa River early in the morning - mist"

There’s always somebody who has to be steering the ship, and in some cases, the canoe. 

I’m not much of a paddler, but I do enjoy getting out on a lake or river in a canoe, particularly in the early morning or late evening. 

"Frank in the morning sunlight"
Last year I had the opportunity to enjoy an early morning sunrise on the Petawawa River, where my boyfriend’s family has a cottage.  We rose early thinking that we would perhaps go for a walk, with my camera in hand. Instead we were politely but firmly told by Frank’s cousin-in-law that the best sights were seen from the river itself. 
The sun was just rising, and there was a slight mist coming off the river. The air was almost still, giving the water just a small ripple. With my camera slung over my neck, and paddle in hand, my boyfriend Frank and I started out, exploring the river.  

After a little while, I eager to take photos and had to stop paddling. Frank took over, keeping us moving along the length of the river. The one thing I quickly learned is that it’s not easy to take photos while a canoe is in motion. Even a slight bob in the water can affect the steadiness of your hand when trying to snap a photo in low light.
"Reflections Petawawa River"
"Still Waters"
Although it was a challenge, I did manage to get great photos of the sun rising over the Petawawa River, all thanks to the man steering the canoe – Frank. 

Written by Margaret Antkowski [of The (Sub)urban Tourist] for Badger's Blog, July 2011.


Thank you, Margaret, for being a
guest writer for Badger's Blog!
Thanks to Frank, the man in the stern, for keeping the canoe steady so Margaret could take so many great photos! And thanks to Margaret for sharing with us, her photo journal of amazing adventures and places to go, this paddle down the Petawawa River being only one of many similarly detailed on her illuminating blog, The (Sub)urban Tourist. One of our favourite blogs to follow and read, it is virtual travel-to-go with many beautifully magical pictures to entice you into any one of Margaret's adventures and chosen destinations. Her's is a blog that it is definitely worth the click! You can also follow Margaret (@OutdoorMaggie) on Twitter or find The (Sub)urban Tourist on Facebook. We know you will enjoy her and Frank's (Sub)urban escapades as much as we do!

Note: Comments and opinions of our guest bloggers do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Badger Paddles and are the expressed writings of the "guest" only. All content has been published on Badger's Blog with permission of it's author and is original to the guest writer. All copyright inquiries should be directed to the guest writer/blogger where necessary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Steve Johnston: Solo Tripping Meets Social Networking (An Oxymoron?)

The following article was written by avid paddler and Badger friend, Steve Johnston. It is entitled: SOLO TRIPPING MEETS SOCIAL NETWORKING (AN OXYMORON?) where Steve gives us his insights on "Facebooking in the forest". This post also marks the first in a series of articles to come from various talented writers with Steve being our very first ever, Guest Blogger!

Guest Badger Blogger, Steve Johnston (Thunder Bay, Canada)
Steve Johnston is an avid paddler who spends much of his free time on the water. He doesn't yet own a Badger Paddle but he would really like to. When he's not paddling you will find him blogging or Facebooking about it. Steve is engaged to be married and is also destined to be the first official Team Fat Paddler representative in Canada. Which he is understandably stoked about! Steve’s main stomping grounds are in the beautiful waters of Lake Superior where many overnighters and longer trips take place.  His long term goal is to explore and camp at as many lakes as possible in Northern Ontario and Minnesota.  You can join Steve’s adventures on Facebook or check out his blog


Ahhhhh....Solo Tripping, a chance to get away from it all, the traffic, the work, the house, the chores, the people,  the telephone. Wait a minute, back up, the telephone?

Like the popularity of the calculator when it replaced the slide ruler and or abacus, the smartphone is taking the world by storm. While having a mobile device is not necessary to live, living can be made easier by having one.

Never will I advocate that having access to the internet in your pocket is better than preparedness. Mobile technology comes with plenty of limitations. Battery life, reception, weather conditions, or the ability to simply use the device… just to name a few. 
Having a mobile internet device (like an iPad) can be
comforting when going solo into the wilderness.
Having a cell phone or mobile internet device can be very comforting when going solo into the wilderness, so can having a good sense of direction, maps and a compass or GPS.  I had my smartphone with me on my last solo trip and it alerted me that it was too hot to use and had to be cooled down before it would work (much like myself at that time).

Recently in my neck of the woods, the cellular network was expanded so that no matter where I ended up, I had excellent service. I have the ability to play movies or music right from the net. I can play games, download new apps and keep in constant communication with whoever I need to. Which brings us to social networking websites. Some people are for them and some people are dead against them. I will sum up my thoughts about that very quickly. Social networking allows me to organize ( and waste ) my free time.  If I want company on a paddle, all I have to do is post where and when and people will show up. The key word is sharing. I love to share all the fun that I am having with as many people as I can.
One of Steve's extra paddles stays protected in a Badger Paddle Sock.
I belong to a couple of paddling communities here in Thunder Bay, Ontario. For each, there is a "group" on Facebook. New paddlers are joining the groups daily and looking for fellow paddlers to paddle with, do some tripping and/or learn new skills. There is a very strong sense of camaraderie amongst the paddlers both new and old.  Pictures and videos are posted from most events so that everyone can re-live their adventures. This is what seems to "drive the machine" for a lot of paddlers I know. It inspires them as they realize "Hey, I could do that!"
Steve looks relaxed & comfortable with his feet up on deck.
On the flip side, a lot of people are addicted to social networks, spending hours updating their status, posting photos and videos, sharing links and playing games.  As a social media commando, one often feels it is very important to be the fastest, sharpest or wittiest commenter out there in cyberspace. If you find yourself relating to this, you are missing out on the beauty that you came out to enjoy in the first place.

I use social networking sites for practical purposes as well as entertainment.

For example; THE TICK

Up until a few weeks ago, I'd never seen a tick. All of a sudden, I had to remove seven of the little nasties off me. I was a little nervous (ok a lot nervous) about the whole thing, having heard the most horrible terrifying stories about the deadly diseases they carry, so I posted my plight on Facebook. Within minutes, I found out the type of tick, and the many various ways of removing them along with a few jokes at my expense.  Even though I was in the middle of nowhere and a half day paddle back to my car, I knew I was going to be just fine.

Thanks to some Facebook Friends, Steve's mind was put to ease
so he was able to relax and enjoy his trip after removing
7 "nasties" (a.k.a. ticks) from his own skin while out solo.
So, assuming that you have the time, space and battery power to bring your social network with you..... I say "Why NOT"?

Written by Steve Johnston (of for Badger's Blog, July 2011.
A special thanks to Steve, from our whole Badger sett, for taking time out of his busy paddling schedule to accept our invitation to be a guest writer on Badger's Blog and for giving us his thoughtful (and entertaining) insights on the ways that mobile technology is changing the way we are exploring the out-of-doors. If you would like to be a guest writer on Badger's Blog, please contact us by email.

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Note: Comments and opinions of our guest bloggers do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Badger Paddles and are the expressed writings of the "guest" only. All content has been published on Badger's Blog with permission of it's author and is original to the guest writer. All copyright inquiries should be directed to the guest writer/blogger where necessary.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Badger's Tip of the Week to go Monthly

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.

Actually, this week's "tip" is, in truth, a bit more of a Badger update then a tip. Unfortunately, our Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week will be going on hiatus for the rest of July (as we will be spending more time outside and on the water and less time in front of our computer screens) and when we do come back online, there will be a few changes for this blog. So, while we love bringing you tips every week, we are going to scale back on the amount of suggested tips we bring you so we can make room for some other Badger features.

Not wanting to bombard your Facebook or Twitter feed with too much Badger (even though you do dig us!), we've decided we will be doing tips on a more monthly basis. That's right! We really don't want to badger you too much. But when we get back, we still plan to bring you lots of great content including a Badger's Tip of the Month, a few guest bloggers , and our newly planned Badger's Featured Paddler series as well as our not-so-regular items. So be sure to stay tuned in the future. And in the mean time, in case you missed any, here's our suggestion for this week: you can find all the past Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week posts here: Search Tag: Tip of the Week. We'll see you in a few weeks then. Safe and happy paddling everyone!!!

Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice - and if your tip is featured here - we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week - Think Of Your PFD Like A Bra

Badger Paddles' Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.
This week's tip is pretty obvious. And it's really more of a reminder then a tip, but here is is: WEAR YOUR PFD***! Hey, we told you it was obvious! But with so many people drowning in canoe, kayak and other boating accidents every year, it is also obvious that not enough of us are getting the message.

When out on the water, too many unpredictable circumstances can develop (such as getting cramps or not being able to swim because of very cold water, or even a serious head injury) so it is really important to remember: DON'T JUST BRING IT - PUT IT ON!

Look... whenever you go out in your canoe or kayak*, you really should wear your lifejacket. We know, we know.... not all of you want to... neither do we at times. But, really, it's not so bad! In fact, wearing a lifejacket or Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is a lot like wearing a bra!

So How is a PFD Like a Bra**?
•First off, just like a brassiere, a PFD or lifejacket must be fitted properly to do it's job right. And it really doesn't work if you don't do it up and wear it correctly!

•At one time in history, bras were limited in colour choices (boring beige or white) as were lifejackets (bright orange, anyone?). But both today's bra styles and PFD choices are limitless in the number of colour choices and designs available for numerous types of activities.

•Back in the day, bras, corsets (and yep! Lifejackets too!) were big, ugly, and pretty uncomfortable. However, with modern technological advances, both the bra and the life jacket have come a long way. Brassieres and PFD's are cut and styled for more comfort now, are more lightweight and technically advanced.

•Just like life jackets, there are rules and different bra styles for various occasions. Buying a PFD for whitewater kayaking is different then shopping for a life vest for a fisherman/woman - just as you wouldn't buy a jogging bra to wear with a strapless dress!
Unlike the old orange Life Preservers of the past,
today's Life Jackets are much more technical with
many added safety features and specifications
like this North Water Pro System Rescue PFD.

•As with a bra, when it comes to PFD's, it seems most men don't like wearing one! (In Canada, 90% of boaters succumbing to drowning were male and 78% of those who drowned in boating incidents were not wearing a lifejacket or PFD at the time of the incident). But we know that there are men who wear them.... and yes, that goes for both bras and PFD's!!!

•Just like a good brassiere, a good life jacket must be washed with care, usually by hand.

•Interestingly enough, and for the Clifford C. Clavin in all of us,  Playtex and PFD's are more originally alike then one would think. The inventor of spandex and owner of Playtex supplied materials for the war effort in World War Ⅱ. When the war ended, apparently the company used the materials developed for life jackets (yep! lifejackets!) for other purposes, particularly for intimate apparel and other garments such as girdles and bras (yep! bras!). (Source:

•A bra and/or lifejacket is a personal fit. If you gain or lose the right (or wrong!) amount of weight, this could render your bra or PFD as unsuitable. Make sure your life jacket (and brassiere, if applicable!) is sized properly and is appropriate for the chosen activity.

•Let's face it, as most ladies would know, when you first put on your brassiere - or lifejacket - you become very aware of it. But once you get used to it, you don't even think about it anymore. And once it becomes your routine, you may even feel a bit weird WITHOUT it!

•"And, just like a bra, wearing one should be voluntary, not mandatory." From Daniel Pike, a paddling dad from Ontario. Good one, Daniel! Very funny!!!

•For some women, they must wear a bra for support and to help prevent back pain. For EVERYONE, wearing a lifejacket could help prevent death.

Hey - don't think we are too weird for coming up with this correlation as we are obviously not the first to put the idea of brassieres and life vests together. The "Bay Watch" bikini life jacket concept by Bernstrand & Co. certainly takes the idea of bras & PFDs as far as it could ever go! (Source:, something about it's design makes us think it probably isn't Canadian Coast Guard Approved!!!
Image source:
Now for the REALLY serious stuff: 
According to, over one half of all recreational boating drownings, in Canada, occurred in lakes. About 39% of drowning victims were fishing from a boat or canoe and another 9% were canoeing. And another Canadian Red Cross study covering 15 years of boating deaths in Canada (1991 to 2006), stated it was found that of 2,232 people who drowned or died of hypothermia, only 12% were wearing a life jacket properly. And out of the 94% of Canadians who drowned, 90% of these boaters were found NOT wearing a lifejacket. Those are some scary statistics!

Too many of us think that we can find our lifejacket in an emergency and put it on if we fall into the water. But we aren't being realistic. With pre-existing health problems like low blood pressure or a sudden heart attack, an unexpected head injury, or even just the shock of cold water, could make it extremely difficult for anyone to follow thru with this plan. Already having your lifejacket on BEFORE you end up in the water will definitely make it easier for you to rescue yourself or, at least, be more able to remain floating until someone else can find and help rescue you if needed.

REMEMBER: DON'T JUST BRING IT - PUT IT ON! IT'S NOT ANY WORSE THEN HAVING TO WEAR A BRA, AFTER ALL! And remember fellas, if us girls can do it... then you can too!!!

*There are circumstances where wearing a PDF is not considered mandatory (i.e. racing)

**Because not all who paddle have worn a brassiere in their lifetime (although let's face it - there are a lot more men who have had on a bra for a lark then who would be willing to admit!), we felt we should explain ourselves more....

***Note: PFD, Life Jacket and Life Vest all refer to a Canadian Coast Guard Approved Personal Floatation Device for the purposes of this article.

Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice - and if your tip is featured here - we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.

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