-- Last Updated: May-26-14 2:26 PM EST --
In Eckilson's thread "First Swim of the Year", I reminisced about watching Stew Coffin in the early 80's paddling an unbagged composite canoe effortlessly through the class 4 Funnel on the lower Millers River in Massachusetts, using the classic (but now moribund) OC1 water avoidance techniques of angling and upstream heeling.
Stew is still around. Here's a video lecture by him filmed last year, the first 25 minutes of which are mostly devoted to his paddle and canoe making business:
Stew, who lived in Lincoln Mass. for many decades, made his first canoe trip with the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) in 1954. He was then made a leader for his second trip, on which he met his wife of 40 years.
In 1964 Stew began making what became Iliad paddles out of fiberglass. He did that until 1968 when he sold the paddle business to Iliad. He made about 1000 kayak and 2000 canoe paddles during those years. He was also a prolific wilderness paddler in Canada.
In addition, Stew made hundreds of canoes of his own design, and the first composite whitewater kayaks ever made in the USA.
All on his nursery farm in Lincoln, Mass.
The AMC's river running "bible" is the New England Whitewater River Guide. Stew wrote the first edition of that in the early 60's.
In the video, Stew shows lots of slides of his paddle and canoe manufacturing.
He began making mechanical puzzles at the time he sold his paddle business to Iliad, and has become one of the world's most famous mechanical puzzle designers. He hints that Rubik actually copied one of his designs. The second half of the lecture is about his puzzles.
I still remember how elegantly he ran the Funnel dry, which I had portaged that day with my brand new Millbrook ME. Stew discussed with me on the river bank the virtues of proper OC1 water intake avoidance technique and lightweight canoe hulls, which he preferred to paddle unbagged.
The next year I ran the Funnel dry on a Saturday, and so also Freight Train on the Contoocook River in NH the following day -- a great paddling weekend.
I even recognized Stew after all these years, having only paddled with him once or twice 30 years ago, which was at least 30 years after he began serious whitewater paddling.
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Funnel and Freight Train...|
Posted by: eckilson on May-26-14 9:56 AM (EST)
Funnel; video of Freight Train|
Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on May-26-14 2:14 PM (EST)
One could run an OC-1 right down the middle of the Funnel, but not in a wet boat.