Sep 02 2017

Notice to Mariners: We’re Back In the Same Boat!

New articles are posted below this Notice to Mariners, which is a “sticky.” It will remain at the top of the TNO home page for a while yet.

15 November 2017.  You’ve come to the right place for news about In the Same Boat, the weekly column by Tamia Nelson and Farwell Forrest. After 18 years at, we picked up a new mooring. We’re now Back in the Same Boat, having set sail in late October. Thanks to everyone who helped us launch afresh. And welcome aboard!

Dec 15 2017

How to Know a Canoe When You See One by Farwell Forrest

We recently launched SameBoat Shorts, a series of three‑minute reads for people who are new to canoeing or returning to the sport after a long time away. But before we go too far, we thought we ought to make clear exactly what “canoeing” embraces. And since Farwell had already addressed that question in one of his first In the Same Boat columns, we figured we’d dust the old column off and put it back online, in a new and improved version. Here it is.

For the better part of two decades, Tamia Nelson and I have written about canoes and canoeing — and kayaking, too, of course.* It’s a subject close to our hearts, and for good reason: We fell in love in a canoe. But before we write still more on the same subject, perhaps we ought to review exactly what we mean by “canoe.” This may not be as simple as it seems, however. Suppose you had to explain what a canoe is to someone who’d never seen one — to a recent visitor from ‘Oumuamua, for instance. He — or she, if you prefer (‘Oumuamuans, like the banana slugs they resemble, are simultaneous hermaphrodites) — has no idea what you’re talking about. What do you tell him/her? Read more…

Canoe Broachng To - 1821 - George Back - Engraving on

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Dec 12 2017

SameBoat Shorts: Canoe or Kayak or…? by Tamia Nelson

“What kind of boat is best?” That’s one of the first questions new paddlers ask, and if the offerings at the local HyperMart are any indication, kayaks and sit‑on‑tops are now the people’s choice, with canoes a distant third. But what if you’re still undecided? Then you’ll want to take three minutes to read Tamia’s latest SameBoat Short.

Canoe or a kayak? Which is the better boat? That depends. It’s your call. What works for me may not work for you. What do you want? More to the point — what do you want a boat for? That should be an easy question to answer, but maybe you’re having trouble making up your mind. Need some help getting your thoughts together? OK. Here goes…

Most of us are really two people. One half of us is practical, pragmatic, and down‑to‑earth. Our other half is a bit flash, a tad wild, and flamboyant. But which half do we cater to when we choose a boat? THAT is the question, but is there an answer? Sure there is! Read more…

Dec 08 2017

A Paddlers’ Code of Conduct by Tamia Nelson

Last week Tamia described the rules of the “match game” by which canoeists and kayakers find compatible paddling partners. But that’s just the start. Something more is needed — a “code of conduct” for groups. Have your trips occasionally resembled an episode from Game of Thrones? Then here’s some good news: It doesn’t have to be that way.

There’s safety in numbers. Or so the experts say. And I agree. Up to a point. But like most wise saws, this one is missing a few teeth. Safety in the backcountry isn’t simply a matter of arithmetic. It’s a matter of balance, and striking the right balance begins with choosing the right paddling partners. I described my approach to this vital preliminary last week. Now I’m going to take the next step, outlining what I call the “paddlers’ code of conduct.” It’s a summary statement of the rights and responsibilities of paddlers who choose, quite sensibly, to travel in company with other like‑minded souls.

Let’s begin with the responsibilities of the group to each of its members. A paddling party is a collective enterprise, and the first rule in the code of conduct is therefore the easiest to state: Nobody gets left behind… Read more…

Dec 06 2017

Why You Need a Camera in Your Toolbox by Tamia Nelson

You don’t think “camera” when you draw up a list of essential bike tools? Well, maybe you ought to think again.

You won’t find a digital camera in most bike mechanics’ tool kits, but maybe it ought to be there. This is especially true if the mechanics in question have a little trouble seeing things close up. My misadventure with sweat-etched bar-end shifters — also called “barcons” — really brought this point home. Even with the help of my reading glasses, I couldn’t see the extent of the corrosion. In fact, I didn’t realize that what I saw was corrosion until I brought a 10-power hand lens to bear. But it was only when I turned to my camera that I got a really good look at the problem. And there was an unexpected bonus: My digital photos were easy to share round, which helped me get some badly needed advice from more experienced mechanics.

Barcon Corrosion Revealed by the Camera Photo on (c) Tamia Nelson - Verloren Hoop

A digital camera also makes it easy to document complex procedures like swapping handlebars. Then, once the job is done, I have a permanent reference. So the next time I have to tackle the same chore, I won’t have to struggle to remember how I did it. (I won’t repeat any earlier mistakes, either!) The EXIF data embedded in each image is useful, too. It tells me how much time has passed since the repair or modification. And by comparing the time stamp on the first and last photo, I can also tell how much time it took to do the procedure.

Pretty neat, don’t you think? But there’s more. I collect my shop photos in an indexed file on my computer. The result? Over the years I’ve built up a fairly comprehensive album of repair and maintenance procedures, and that album keeps getting better. It’s like having a repair manual written just for me and my bikes. Which is why a digital camera is now a permanent part of my tool kit.

What about you? Have you been wishing that someone would write a better manual for your bike? If so, why not make your own? It’s easier than you might think. Just point and shoot and save. The camera and your computer will do the rest. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, isn’t it?

This article is an update of one originally published on 8 November 2011.

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