“Any fool can be uncomfortable in the woods” – Paddling and Projects lessons learned (6)

This story happened before I joined this core group of canoeists, but it probably gets re-told every year.  Early in his camping experience, my friend Graham was surprised when someone brought out a down vest on a camping trip in the late summer. It was getting cooler as the evening came on and he wished he could have one.  When Graham asked about carrying winter clothing on a canoe trip on a summer day , the answer was ‘any fool can be uncomfortable in the woods.’

The down vest is light, it can be rolled up and used as a pillow.  It’s a great tradeoff.

The point here is that there are many tips and techniques that can make canoeing more comfortable. If you follow the process properly, you can be comfortable regardless of whether it rains or shines, regardless of the temperature.  Like you were born to it.

We’ve brought hammocks, inflatable couches, and enough tarps to keep the wind out and the rain off the kitchen area at the same time. Layers that allow you to keep warm or cool off.  We plan our route so that we avoid big open water or make sure we hit it early in the day when the wind is usually lighter.  There is a right way to pack your knapsack and canoe so that everything fits and is easy to get in and out.




The analogy in IT projects would be method.  We have methodologies that help make the journey easier.  Are we following them?  Or are we stumbling around, shivering in a t-shirt on a cold and rainy day?

Like method, the right tool for the right job is just as important in canoeing as it is in consulting.

When camping, we have dedicated stoves, pots and pans.  A saw that collapses into a tube to be carried easily in a pack.  A water filtration system that cleans the water before drinking.

Even our canoe. The Voyageur is an example of the right tool for the right job. It’s based on the  Prospector hull style and it is one of the most popular type of tripping canoe’s.  It has a high gunnel (the side of the canoe) which makes it great for carrying lots of weight and still be safe if the waves get high.  You can see it cut through the water more easily than the rentals we sometimes use.  A Voyageur can carry large amounts of gear while being maneuverable enough for rapids – which we mostly avoid. This makes it a superb large capacity wilderness boat. But those high gunnels also mean it can get blown around a lot if you are paddling by yourself on a windy day. No tool is perfect for everything.


Other people would choose the ultra-light 35 lb canoe.  But they are constrained in the amount of gear that they can carry and we’ve seen those boats with a hull cracked as they went over a beaver dam.

So make sure you have right tools for your project. And be wary of all-purpose tools that have breadth but no depth…. If they’re not the right tool for a single job, they are the wrong tool for every job!


Published by

Mark Dymond, P.Eng

With over 20 years of consulting experience I've worked with clients in the banking, retail, travel and government sectors. Based in Toronto, Canada, currently I lead the Cloud consulting team for IBM Canada. I've led successful project and program teams in Canada, the US, and Europe of more than 200 people. Thoughts, comments and mistakes are most definitely my own!

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