Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mexican Canoe?!!

Most people at work know me one way or another as the "canoe guy". When I am approached, its not "Hey, how's it going?", or "Did you see the latest movie?". Its usually follows along the lines of, "So where did you go on the latest trip?", or "Where are you planning on going next?". Yes, I admit I do talk a lot about canoeing, but that's not the only thing I talk about - really! (I know a bunch of you are already rolling your eyes.) Well, occasionally someone else actually initiates a conversation regarding canoeing as I'm innocently walking by. Such was the case at work not too long ago. So there!

A colleague I work with recently came back from a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and saw something really interesting. She follows my blog and obviously knows my passion for all things canoeing, so she was keen on relaying her story to me. Apparently one day as she was walking along the beach (Los Muertos) with her partner, she came across a wooden canoe. It was nothing like she'd ever seen before. She said it looked very old and in rough shape, but even more surprising, she said it looked like it was made from one tree! (Much like the big ocean canoes from the west coast of Canada that were craved from a single large tree too.) Immediately she thought of moi, and pulled out her point-and-shoot camera a took a shot. She knew I would be thrilled to see the picture - evidently so, she was right!

Come on, isn't she a beauty? A Mexican beauty at that! I was
quite surprised to see such a close resemblance
to the canoes we have here!
Photo: Johanne Denis

Canoes are usually not found plying the oceans. Sure they are versatile enough to paddle in the swells and surf too, but they are usually not the best choice. So it was a surprise when she told me what she did, and even more so when I received the pictures. The canoe is actually gorgeous! It actually has beautiful symmetrical lines with a shallow V, prominent rocker, what seems like a bit of tumblehome and quite the depth. (Probably for hauling in fish!) What is missing is the usual thwarts, but there really isn't any need since the sides of the canoes are self supporting. What also is neat is that even the gunwales are part of the canoe! Talk about all-in-one construction! For propulsion, there seems to be a combination of paddles and oars, although seeing how thick the shafts are, they must weigh a ton! (Or the Mexican's have big forearms!)

Made from one tree - talk about craftsmanship! Although the
thick shafts on those paddles could double as bats!
Photo: Johanne Denis

The canoe does look old, with several patches evident, but my colleague did mention that she did eventually witness the canoe in the ocean, so despite how it looks, it's obviously still operational. The only thing that had me scratching my head was in regards to where they got a big enough tree to crave this canoe from?! Does Mexico have trees this big?!? I've always thought of Mexico being fairly dry, but maybe I'm wrong? Maybe someone can pipe in under the Comments section, but I asked my sister as well who recently vacationed there and mentioned all the tree trunks were fairly small diameter-wise. Either way, if this canoe was not made in Mexico, it could have been transported from somewhere else - like the rain forest area further south, or even north from Seattle/Vancouver area. Although it is a pretty long distance either way! I would love to know the history behind this canoe, but I'm afraid this will remain a mystery. Fascinating. I know if I was there, I would have definitely not only inquired about it, but would have asked to paddle it! What else would you expect from me?!

Thanks Johanne for sharing this with me and all the other readers!

Remando feliz! (Happy Paddling in Spanish),

PS. I'll be at the annual Outdoor Adventure Show this weekend, working from the Johnson Outdoors Eureka booth Sat and Sun. Please come by and visit if you are around. It's a great show to get some deals on outdoor equipment and jump start your canoe trip planning for this summer!

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