Building a camera mount for a kayak

I wanted to shoot some video, but definitely didn’t want to hold the camera while paddling. I don’t wear a helmet, so a helmet mount wasn’t an option. Plus those show where your head is pointed, which is disorienting to watch.

So here is my spare parts – $10 solution.

Camera mount

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This is the mount, made of PVC pipe, cheap and easy to work with. Cuts with any old wood saw. There are three T joints. You don’t need caps on most of the ends, just the one with the camera. I didn’t bother to glue any of it together and you’ll see why below. Pushing it together holds it pretty well.

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I bought a bolt and nut of the right size to fit the camera. I then drilled a hole in the cap. You could glue the bolt right into the cap if you want. Even with the cap attached, this fits into a sandwich bag and my PFD  pocket.

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When I don’t want to use it, the mount folds flat on the bottom on the kayak and takes up no space at all. The width is set to fit inside grooves on the bottom, so that is lies straight. When I want to use it, I swivel the neck up, slap the camera on the top and start the video. Height and width will vary by type of kayak and this might not work well in a whitewater or sea kayak. If you have drains (for a sit on top) you could add two elbows and mount it on the drain holes.

Kayak-Cam view of the Plover River

I was out for a ride on the Plover on June 1 and took my camera along. I wanted to try out a camera stand I built out of spare PVC pipe. Water was over 3.5 feet, a nice height. This is my first attempt at video from a a kayak, but it’s not too bad for a first effort. This is the long version (15 minutes), but a shorter 5 minute version will follow.

Short version

Plover River March 19, 2012

Very early, in fact way too early by most measures. It is still winter by the calendar. But after a week of 70s and even an 80, scouted the river by biking the Green Circle. Water is high, just a touch of ice in the very shady backwaters. I couldn’t wait any longer.

Water is high right now, as it should be. The gauge says about 4.1 feet, which is down a bit from yesterday. That is about full to the banks and even a bit over. Could have paddled through some grass along the shore. That much water also flows fast. I took my usual quick route, putting in at Iverson and paddling upriver until I got tired, which is also about where there is some deadfall that is hard to navigate upstream. Not so hard downstream, but hard to work your way through under power. That took about 45 minutes, which was as much upstream paddling as I felt like doing for my first time of the year. I was also in my Swifty, which is a slower boat and harder to work upstream – but it is easier to transport.

With the water this high and fast, I looked for slack water and stayed out of the current as much as possible. When it gets lower later in the year, I will have to seek out the current to find enough water to paddle upstream. It takes a lot more to paddle upstream than it does to float downstream.

The woods are eerie quiet with no leaves on the trees. Did see some geese and ducks, but much of the land around the river is swampy right now. The lack of leaves made it easier to see just how close the Green Circle is to the river.

There is a big tree down between the I-39 and Hwy66 bridge, an old pine that had been hanging over the river for years finally fell in. There is a notch cut through, but it is kinda narrow and will be a bit scarey for those not familiar with it. Maybe when it dries out, I can shift the top out of the way, but right now the banks are too soggy.

Also in that area, the river splits to flow around an island. Never noticed that there is a small creek that flows in there. A hidden pond back out of sight, before the alders close over the creek. This may be a snow melt phenomenon, but I’ll look for it later.

Plover River 2011

Been out a few times, but the river was still blocked in a couple places by side to side trees. Still, plenty of water and only 2-3 places where a paddler needed to walk around a barrier. Always check the water level before starting, as really low water makes the river a lot less fun.

Be sure to check the map on the Plover River page, which has more detail that I will not repeat.There is a place where the river is cutting through a horseshoe bend. Do not take the shortcut yet. It runs through a former forested area and there are too many trees right in the channel for fun passage. Unfortunately, the alternative is low on water, but that is better than trying to run through what was recently a forest area.

Five lakes near Hartman Creek State Park and the Waupaca Chain

Right next to Hartman Creek State Park, there are five small connected lakes  – Pope, Orlando, Knight, Manomin and Marl. These five lakes are glacial in origin, so they are deep (Marl is 59 feet deep), but kayak sized. Being partially within the park, much of their shoreline is wild and undeveloped.  The landing is outside the park, so there are no fees. The main landing is first rate, with a honest-to-god parking lot, where I have seen deer walking around. They are slow / no wake lakes, so no speed boats or water skiers to mess things up. The lakes are connected by narrow channels, which further argue against motor boats and for paddling.  Being surrounded by tall trees, wind is less of a factor than it would otherwise be.  Especially scenic in the Fall, with a grove of tall pines that you can paddle through.

This is a great place for an easy paddle with friends, with no destination in mind but time well spent. If you want, the lakes connect to the Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes and even the Crystal River, but they are a destination in their own right. Even if you are not enamored of lake paddling, these are worth a look.

Lake maps (see pages 6 and 14). No water gauge, but these are lakes so that is less important. The channels (except for Beasley Creek) always have enough water for paddlers.

Lower Little Wolf River

Had a chance to run the lower section of the Little Wolf, a nice river for me at this point.  It is mainly just a pleasant semi-wild river, but includes a number of class 1 rapids, a number of lesser riffles and boulders galore. I grew up a flat water canoist in an area where there simply wasn’t whitewater.

The stretch should start at Manawa, but I could not manage that, setting off from Co. BB and paddling up river to the first rapids.  Had a nice time and got some practice running small rapids. Details are contained in the Google Map.

See the water gauge from Royalton, about half way through the trip.

Maps of all sections

I have added Google maps to all section, highlighting the launching places, landmarks, where conditions change, etc. I would be happy for any input of information to add to the maps. The section pages are what I will update, rather than posting a lot of entries.