July 7, 2019

Jackson Nirvana review

Some thoughts on the Jackson Nirvana M. I've only paddled it a few times thus far. It's a very fast, very stable boat in the primaries. I still haven't tested its secondary stability. It has surprised me a couple of times. Once by flipping me in Entrance on the Ocoee for the first time in my life, second by getting me stuck in a pourover hole below Broken Nose river left, also a first for me in that spot. But - for various reasons, I was not paddling well that day and I don't - can't - blame the boat. I think the Nirvana is less forgiving of a slack paddling style than my Stomper, but part of that may be familiarity. The wide flat stern area is designed (I think) to propel the boat forward when landing on a boof. This is a creek race boat design after all. Well, the stern can load up whether you want it to or not. This requires adaptation because I think it is inherent to the design. 
That being said, I believe a key to doing well in this boat is to keep good posture and a cinched up backband. With so much rocker, it's easy to slouch and end up with the bow very raised. While that's a comfy position it can make for unpredictable moments. I do have the seat all the way forwards, and haven't tried any other seat positions. On bigger waves like Double Trouble and Tablesaw, the Nirvana feels like it is at home. This is kind of surprising for a boat designed to run creeks. When I've taken other creek boats down the New and lower Gauley for instance, the boats turn so easily that sometimes it can be a bit to handle in bigger wave trains or lots of crosscurrents. I suspect the Nirvana has an advantage, because it tracks well. How did they do that and put so much rocker on the boat as well? Magic I suppose!   It also rolls really easily. 
I took it down the Nantahala to give my hip tendonitis a break from the slicey boats, and debated whether it was going to be boring or not, and it actually was a lot of fun. The Nirvana makes catching eddies very gracefully an easy thing to do if that makes sense. With all of that rocker the boat boofs really easily too, evidenced by the boof in the photo below. At the Nanty Falls I caught some eddies and took the wildwater/racers line and it was so simple, again because the boat is fast and has so much primary stability.  (It was a fun day, but for class II and III I am going to grab the Antix every time.  The Antix is so much easier to transport, and is a better surfer, and has that playful stern too.) But on a creek, I can't really say how it will do yet. I have only taken it down the middle Tellico which was fine, but not on anything steeper or creekier. The last creek I ran was Greenbriar in my Stomper, and I am not sure anything could suit me better on such a run. But I look forward to finding out.
My stats: 5'6", 165 lbs, 32 inseam.  Previous creekboats:  Prijon Embudo, Riot Magnum 72, Liquid Logic Stomper 80.  My level of paddling tops out at easy class IV creeks such as South Sauty, Greenbriar, Lower Big Creek et al. and classic IV big water such as Lower Gauley, New, Ottawa Middle Channel.  20 years paddling.



My Boof on the Nantahala in the Jackson Nirvana.  
At 8' 11.5" and 86 gallons, the Medium Nirvana is a big beastie
Jackson Kayak Nirvana promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQBzL7CKHm4 

Some reviewers are saying the max paddler weight for the Medium Nirvana is around 190 lbs.  Some feel that the planing hull will mean the boat's hull lifespan will be lessened vs. a traditional displacement hull creeker.  Some are also questioning the secondary stability and suitability for beginners. Do a youtube search for Nirvana reviews and you'll see several different opinions.  YMMV.  

Jackson Antix Review

I demoed the Jackson Antix on the Nantahala July 3rd. I was interested in a boat I could have on the roof racks, suitable for whatever whitewater came up to paddle. Yes I have a lot of boats right now, but they are all pretty specific to either a creek or a playboat day. I had no "river runner". The Nirvana, which I am learning to like more, (and more about that boat coming soon in another review) is a 9 ft., highly rockered, fast creek boat and not something I would enjoy on the class II Mulberry Fork here in Alabama. It's also a big boat for me to load on the roof racks. I know some of you will roll your eyes about that comment but for shorter people like me the amount of PITA loading a boat will influence my choice. The slicy boats I have are fun but I wouldn't feel comfortable in them on a creek run.  I needed that river runner I could depend on for any day.  I put on the Nantahala in the medium Antix, with Joan S and Amanda F.  and immediately it just felt like the right size boat for me. It is surprisingly light. I was able to muscle it around, and the stern allows for slicing into eddies and fast ferries. I didn't stern squirt it yet. 

The seat was all the way forwards, so the seat pan was on the edge of uncomfortable. I was hesitant to change this at first as I didnt want to get backendered. But I decided to move it one notch back and it was fine. I may try one more notch back next. The stern never grabbed, but I was also being mindful of my posture. I'm sure putting the seat all the way back would make stern squirts easier. *stern squirt = standing your boat on the stern end on purpose.  *backender = standing your boat on the stern end by mistake...
I didn't boof it as it wasn't my boat (yet), but I will be boofing it a bunch in the future. I did catch some dynamic eddies including the left eddy at Patton's Run, and Root Canal. I also did some rock spins and hole spins and surfing.
I also caught eddies at Nantahala Falls; Billboard, tried for Rock Block, some river right eddies and then ran the Wildwater/Racer's line.  What a fun run!
I've griped about Jackson Kayak outfitting before.  Well I have changed my mind about it.  While I am still annoyed at times with the loose feel of the bulkhead, it is countered by the ease of being able to release the bulkhead tension to relax my legs, then tighten the tension back to run rapids.  I also thought the molded in thigh hooks would be less effective than they actually are; though they are not adjustable, they are comfortable for me as is.  The backband is effective and doesn't ride down.   Wave Sport remains my favorite outfitting but on the other hand the more elaborate outfitting WS and Dagger have means more weight overall.  I like Liquid Logic Bad-Ass outfitting as well, except for the backband sliding down.  My least favorite outfitting remains Pyranha, specifically the angle of the thigh hooks, but some people prefer them so a lot of this is simply body shape and leg position preference.


It rolls super easy; the boat being so light helps with rolling as well. I was worried that the Antix would feel wide like the Dagger Axiom does (to me), but it does not!  Again the medium Antix feels like it was made for someone my size, which is 5'6", 165 lbs, 32 inseam. 
I have only paddled the Antix once, and only on the familiar and friendly Nantahala, but so far I do not have a single negative comment about the boat. It may very well be my favorite design ever. Time will tell. I didn't really expect to like it THAT much, but for today at least I am smitten... my one regret is that I waited this long to try it!   This design came out in winter of 2016.  


Now, like I said earlier I don't have any negatives to report about the design but it is a lightweight hull, 36 lbs.  Let's see how it holds up to my tender mercies on rockier runs like Greenbriar. The light hull is something new for me; I've been driving tanks.
My first boat 20 years ago was a Dagger RPM; while they look similar superficially the Antix is quite different. The Antix is not as narrow, it has a higher leg position, and the hull is not as round - it is a full-on planing hull.

Here's a commercial Jackson Kayak made about the Antix: https://youtu.be/OdiYUvWNNb4
I had to laugh when I saw this video, because a lot of what they are talking about relates exactly to someone like me.  "If you're not 100% comfortable on a run in a playboat, but bored on the run in a creekboat" - yep this is what I was looking for and I believe it will fit that niche perfectly.

Fun Stuff 2019

Jan 1 Mulberry Upper and Lower.  LL Stomper 80.  BCC Feast On The Beach.  Air and water temps mild. Much nicer conditions than last year.   Level on Streambeam was 4.5 but bridge gauge was 3.5 feet.  I have a new resolution for 2019: no more dry hair days!  Rolling practice mandatory!
Folks at BCC Feast On The Beach 2019

Jan 2 Upper and Lower Mulberry.  LL Stomper 80. Trip report I posted that evening:  "Mulberry was a nice float today, raining, streambeam gauge was 3.2, gauge on the old bridge was just under 3, and new painted gauge on the newer bridge was 2.5. 
It was a bit higher than I prefer, as most of the features I goof around in were either not in at all, or munchier than I wanted to mess with.
There was nothing at Glen Clark Memorial, no wave at Training Wheels, Lunchstop was pretty big and dynamic, and 5-0 was a green wave and hard to catch.

There is a tree with branches hanging down on the river right side of the surf wave on the other side of the island from Glen Clark. Andy Lee and Lynn had cut out some of the branches last year, and the ones there now may not be in play at lower levels. At the level today, they made it impossible to get in the only surfing spot.
A blue Perception Blast sit-in rec kayak is river left on the shore below Lunchstop. We had seen it pinned in some trees there a couple days ago at the level of 4.5 on the streambeam gauge. It was mostly submerged in the eddy when we arrived, and Joel pulled it out of the water and drained it. We stashed it where it *might* not get taken downstream again unless there's another flood stage. It has a big hole in the side and a small hole in the hull; it could be repaired."
Jan 3 Ridgewalk above Skyline. 
Jan 5 Upper and Lower Mulberry. 
A blue Perception Blast sit-in rec kayak is river left on the shore below Lunchstop. We had seen it pinned in some trees there a couple days ago at the level of 4.5 on the streambeam gauge. It was mostly submerged in the eddy when we arrived, and Joel pulled it out of the water and drained it. We stashed it where it *might* not get taken downstream again unless there's another flood stage. It has a big hole in the side and a small hole in the hull; it could be repaired."
Jan 3 Ridgewalk above Skyline.  With Dave H., his daughter Shay, and her boyfriend Kristopher.   Mild temps, very productive ridgewalk, several great leads!  Then a visit to Unclaimed Baggage where I miraculously didn't buy anything (too tired to shop).
Jan 5 Upper and Lower Mulberry. 
LL Stomper 80.Level was just under 4ft. on the old bridge gauge, which I believe was accurate for the conditions observed.  Warm day, mild water temps, 22 people in our group and there was another group meeting a hour later! Unfortunately a car was broken into at the Upper Mulberry putin (CR 10).  My car was at the BCC beach parking and was spared.
Jan 6 Cahaba Lovick. LL Stomper 80.   Warm day in low 60's, bright blue skies.  Water temps brisk.  With Vander H., Joseph and Emma W., and Kent M.  Level approx. 875.  Class II, no wood, all drops went without bony spots.  Trip took us approx. 3 hours, perhaps less.  And that was with a lot of lazy flatwater paddling.
Jan 12 Mulberry.  LL Stomper 80.  1.5 on gauges.  Warm, wonderful day soul surfing.  Joel and Janice, Kent, OC1-Kanubi and his friend visiting, Riley in the triple X.
Jan 19 Mulberry.  LL Stomper 80.   Warm day, around 60.  1.5 on gauges.  Tomorrow supposed to be very cold.  With Andy and Lynn, Joel and Janice, Riley, and Bill.
Jan 24 High Museum Atlanta, Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors Exhibit.   With Josh, Li, and Donna.  Photos here.
Jan 27 Archery.  At Hoover tactical, with my new bow,  with James and Shahn. 
James made a string and silencers for me

Feb 2 Stephen's Gap. Several friends celebrating February birthdays together.  I got to visit with Joy C. as well.  Pics here.

Feb 3 Tellico 1.8.  In the LL Stomper 80.  Weather temps mild; water temps cold!  With Steve I. and Wendy A.  Turkey Creek to Pylon.  There is a tree blocking the bridge rapid putin.
Feb 4 Walls of Jericho ridgewalk.  With Dave H.  We found some interesting leads, including a sink with two leads that I checked online later to find they were already reported on the survey.
Feb 15-17 Grotto Getaway.    At Camp Maranatha.  Ridgewalk on Saturday was the least productive I've ever been on.   Not a lead, sink, doline, or IKF.   Well, now we know.
Feb 23 Ridgewalk.  With David H. and Matthew K.   We dug open a blowing lead I found the previous year, but no luck.  Had some fun in briars and brambles afterwards.
Feb 23 Kelly Creek.  In the LL Stomper 80.  One lap with Ming, Lynn, and Barry.  Level 2.5.
March 2-3 Mulberry Fork Canoe and Kayak Races.  I was the Gate Judge coordinator for the second year.   We had a mud waller... level Saturday was in the 3.5 foot range and Sunday 3 foot.
March 9  Greenbriar 1.4.  With The Lost Tribe.  In the LL Stomper 80.   We drove there from a cabin in Tellico Plains, with the belief that 1.5 was the minimum, but it was 1.4 when we got there.  We went anyway.  Great time in one of my favorite runs.  No flips on my part but a few of the canoeists had some swims.  I agree that 1.5 is a minimum.  Pics HERE.
This weekend is Ain't Louie Fest but unlike past years I only got to paddle one day. Tellico is blown out 4 + feet, Whites was 5.5 ft. this morning.
March 23 Tellico 1.8 ft.  In the Jackson Nirvana.  I demoed this 9 ft. creeker and found it much different than any other boat I have ever paddled.  So... I bought it.

March 30 Locust Fork.  2.2 ft.  In the ProjectX 56.  With James H., Peggy R., Vander H. and Ming S.   Low but very pleasant, water temps mild and weather around 70F.  We took out at Swann.
March 31 Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve. 
With Dave H., Matthew K., Jeff H., Tawnya and Lee.  To the Christmas Tree.
April 6 - 7 Locust Fork Canoe and Kayak Races.  I was a spectator.

My beautiful new RivrStyx paddle, and Necky Chronic playboat, photo cred Peggy Robertson

April 13 Mulberry Fork.   Level 1.3.  In the Necky Chronic.  Excellent surfing day.  With Joel and Janice, Peggy, Joseph, Emma, Wendy and Russell.



Peggy Robertson's great shot showing the joy of paddling, as a bunch of us try to surf a wave together

April 14 Locust Fork.  Level 2.7 climbing to 3.06.  In the Necky Chronic.  Warm weather and water, windy.  With Hayward, Rebecca, Carin, others.

April 20 Calvert Prong.  In the Jackson Nirvana M. 
Warm weather, kinda high level (I forgot to make note of USGS Locust level).  With Joel and Janice, Andy and Lynn, Mark E.

April 27 Mulberry and Locust-to-Swann.  In the yellow Necky Chronic.   Mulberry was 1.18, Locust was 2.9.   Great day, lots of surfing.  Too low for 5-0 but Training Wheels and Lunchstop were sweet. With Joel and Janice; when we got to the Locust we met up with Russell B., Hayward and Rebecca.  


April 28 Mulberry.   In the yellow Necky Chronic.  Level was .88 on the Streambeam gauge.  With Andy and Lynn, Russell B.  Training Wheels and Lunchstop still good, nothing at 5-0 to surf but the little ledge below was surprisingly good.   I keep forgetting to bring a camera.

May 3-5 SERA 2019.  With the Birmingham Grotto.  At the Lazy G Wedding Chapel in Union Grove.  Pics here.

May 11 Paddling 101 class.  At Oak Mtn. Swimming Lake.  9 students.  cloudy but didn't rain on us.  Nice day.


May 12 Locust to Swann... then Calvert Prong.  In the Jackson Nirvana M.  Locust was approx. 4 ft, Calvert was up a bit more than preferable for surfing.  On Locust there is a sweet wave that forms river right downstream of Whoop-te-do/Riley's Rapid.  With Joel and Janice, Vander, Peggy.  Awesome day.

May 18 Paint Rock River Float With the Birmingham Grotto.  Level was low, but floatable; in a couple of spots we had to drag boats, and Moe's sit-on-top kayak was cracked so we had to stop periodically and dump the water from inside the hull.  Lovely, long day.   From Estill Fork church putin to County Road 507 crossing.  We went under two bridges, after the second bridge the run was slackwater and a bit of a chore.  Pics here.

May 25 Hiwassee.   With the TVCC.  In the yellow Necky Chronic.  Said Hello to the Hiwassee on it's first official release date of the season.  Sunday I went on a hike from Thunder Rock to the Whitewater center with Kathy K.

May 27 Memorial Day West Blocton Coke Ovens and Cahaba Lilies.   With Susan and Donna.  Pics here.

June 1 Ocoee.  In the Jackson Nirvana M.  With members of the Lost Tribe.  Great day.

TVCC paddle school auction and party that night at AU.  I camped near Pat C.'s family.  

June 2 Ocoee.  In the Jackson Nirvana M.  With Mary Mills.  Had two moments of carnage, took out at Go Forth.  A very different experience from the day before, I must admit.

June 9 Mulberry.  In the blue Wave Sport EZG - 50, my latest addition to the $100-$250 slicy boat fleet.   Summer rainstorms brought up the Mulberry and it was 1 foot on the bridge, but at the playspots the level seemed more like 6 inches.  Displacement from all the plants in the river?  With Tim R., Carin B, Hayward W. and Chuck N.  The EZG-50 is a really fun design.


June 17 - 22 NSS Convention.  In Cookeville, Tn.  Photos Here:

June 29 - July 4 Week of Rivers 2019.  At Smoky Mtn. Meadows campground in Bryson City, N.C.  With the Carolina Canoe Club.  Amazingly no rain on the campground!  Photos Here:

Sunday June 30Lower Nolichucky, class II with one -III.  In the Wave Sport EZG-50. My first descent.  Scenic, peaceful paddle.  With Lisa H. as trip leader, Linda D. in her open boat, many others.
Monday July 1Nantahala.  In the Jackson Nirvana.  I thought I would be bored in the big boat, but my hip tendonitis was bugging me from being in the playboat, so I chose the Nirvana.  Good choice - it boofs like crazy!  With Joan S., Tim R. and Chuck N., others.

My big BOOF on the Nanty in the Jackson Nirvana.  Photo credit Chuck Neese


Tuesday July 2:  Tuckaseegee.  In the Wave Sport EZG-50.  Nice day but my hip bugged me again.  Getting old ain't for sissies.  
Team "J" members Judy Joan and Jade
This photo captures how much fun kayaking is!  Spin spot on the Nanty, left of Pyramid Rock.  Photo by Chuck Neese.
Wednesday July 3:  Nantahala.  In the Jackson Antix.  Demoed it, bought it.  lol


May 2, 2019

Karma Chameleon

This is a really good song, that suffered from a really bad production when it came out.  Though it was a huge hit... so what do I know?   This is a very nice version of it.
Weird thing is I heard this song several times on the radio in Ecuador.


March 14, 2019

Alabama Morel Mushrooms

Finally, with a little help from my friends in the Alabama Mushroom Society, I have found wild morel mushrooms!  They are very hard for me to spot, and I am still learning to find them. Jefferson county Al., 3-13-19