A Culture of Safety

We are talking about safety again!

Yeah, yeah, it may be boring to talk about, but we care about YOU and want everyone to enjoy the waterways safely so they can chat about their adventures later over a bonfire and s’mores, giggles and more!

Today we are going to focus on life vests [technically known as PFDs – Personal Flotation Device]. These things will save your LIFE – We always recommend wearing it! It’s like wearing a seatbelt in a car or a helmet on a bike!

Buoyancy is the force required to keep a person’s head and chin afloat above water. In general, adults need an extra 7 to 12 pounds of buoyancy to stay afloat [we recommend getting a child specific PFD for your little ones]. How much buoyancy you may require in the water varies depending on body weight and fat, lung size, clothing and water conditions (rough or calm).

Each PFD sold for recreational use is required to include a guide entitled “Think Safe – Choose the Right PFD”.  These pamphlets are tailored to the kind of PFD to which they are attached.

Not all PFDs are created equal. There are different classes for varying purposes. Check below for a quick break-down of the different classes!

Class I – Big and Buoyant

These “off shore life jackets” are bigger and bulkier than other PFDs, but they will keep someone floating face up for the longest period of time. They are designed for safety in deep, open waters before rescue teams can arrive.

Class II – The Industry Standard

The most common type of PFD. These are the standard life jackets that can be bought in many stores and are designed for use near shore on calm waters.

Class III – Floatation Aid

These PFDs are designed for boating and paddling activities. They offer buoyancy without sacrificing too much comfort and ease of movement. Recommended for use in calm waters.

Class IV – Throwable Devices

Cushions and buoys can be used as a backup PFD. They are useful to provide assistance to someone already swimming.

Class V – Specialty Devices

These are used primarily in occupational settings. Some incorporate buoyancy into deck suits or hybrid vests. Their designated use varies.

It’s not just about owning the right PFD, it’s also about wearing it properly! Always make sure that you follow the fitting instructions with your PFD, including fastening buckles, straps, and zippers. If you’re not wearing your PFD, it won’t do you any good.

PFDs can obtain natural wear and tear, so make sure you follow maintenance instructions, inspect it regularly, and test your PFD in a controlled setting.

Have any other questions? Check out our FAQ page or feel free to contact us!

Stay safe on the water!

Book Report: Blue Mind

Book Title and Author: Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols

Main idea of story:  This book dives into the fascinating emotional, behavioral, psychological, and physical connections humans have with water! Explore the world of water like never before!

Main characters in the book: Author Wallace J. Nichols guides you through the waves of research which provides insight into the powerful effects water has on our mind, bodies, and souls! He also presents compelling stories from athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists!

Something unique and interesting about the story/book for readers to know: The Author discusses the idea of ‘your brain on water’ and how merely being by, on, or in water can reduce stress, increase happiness, and overall improve quality of life! His approach incorporates varying sciences amongst other perspectives for a thorough discussion!

Favorite part of the story/book and why: The entire book is enthralling, but one favorite can be found on page 218-219. Here Wallace introduces the idea of ‘flow’. A beautifully articulated idea which we don’t consciously think about, but simply go with the flow.

Was this book entertaining, educational, amusing, etc?: Overall this book is very educational, but the approach is such that you are entertained throughout, with moments of wonder, shock, and understanding!

Would you recommend this book?: If you are passionate about water and want to learn more about yourself then absolutely, YES, read this book and enjoy!

Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols is a National Bestseller! You don’t have to take our word for it though! Check out what others had to say about the read below!


“Blue Mind has the power to reveal how your health and happiness are tied to oceans and waterways, no matter where on Earth you live.”

-Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue and Explorer in Residence at National Geographic

“A fascinating study of the emotional, behavioral, psychological, and physical connections that keep humans so enchanted with water.”

-Nicola Joyce, Washington Post

“Using a combination of anecdotes and hard data, Nichols makes a persuasive case for water’s healing power.”

-Amanda FitzSimons, Elle



Just as Wallace J. Nichols signed off at the end of his book we will bid the same – We wish you Water!

Freedom to Portage!

The locks on the Fox River are very popular to paddle through and enjoy (check out our Appleton and Little Chute Locks excursions, which are the most popular routes), but today we are talking about navigating around them!

No one likes to get “locked” in place and kayaking is all about freedom of flow! Our local locks are not operational all the time and many of them are not functional yet! No worries kayaking friends – we can always portage!

What is portaging? Portaging is the act of carrying a boat or its cargo over land to get from one navigable waterway to another.

Why might you portage? The most common reason to portage is due to an obstruction in a waterway, such as a tree, dam, or lock.

Some of the locks on the Fox River have marked portage paths, but if you come to an obstruction without a referenced portage path, on the Fox River or other body of water, your right to portage remains the same.

Portaging is a physical activity. With a lighter vessel, this can be done by oneself, but it’s always easier and more fun to share the load with a helping hand to cross the path! The act of portaging is as old as kayaks and canoes themselves [1000s of years old first done by the arctic inhabitants now known as the Inuits]. To hop across islands or cross a barrier to continue a journey is something special that can offer the feeling of traversing you to a simpler time. If you haven’t incorporated it into your kayaking adventure yet we recommend trying it!

For more information about portaging or if you have general questions feel free to reach out to us! There are many other organizations supporting paddler’s adventures out on the water as well!

Guest Blog – Surrealist Photography by Emily Showers

We welcome guest blog appearances from all walks of life. We are happy to feature artists, adventurers, writers, and anyone with a story to tell!

This week we are excited to give the spot light to Emily Showers! A local photographer with an eye for surrealism and an interesting perspective on photography. We hope you enjoy the work she created while joining us for our 4th of July festivities!




I enjoy shooting infrared photography because it is a way humans can perceive part of a world they cannot see. Viewing a rendition of an invisible world unearths subconscious thoughts and broadens minds. Our own limits close us off from a universal understanding. Art is a portal to expand our perception and power of observation.

Photographers, including me, like speed, but slowing down reveals transformation, whether it is clouds, boats or people. I superimposed fast images with long exposure infrared images in the gifs. It reveals an infinite number of events can exist in the same plane. Existence is not static. Instead it tumbles and morphs such as a lake’s surface.

Some of my favorite subjects in school were physics, genetics, mathematics, philosophy and art. I attempt to incorporate scientific principles into my work; such as the process of change. People often find those subjects daunting, but I feel as if all humans have an intuitive understanding of them; art helps open the mind to them. Infinite knowledge comes to those who are willing to open themselves up.


“Reflection Crash” Infrared gif superimposed over black and white photograph


“Neon Psychosis” Long exposure light painting superimposed over color photograph


“Round Trip Travel” Color photography gif


“Trembling Figures” Infrared gif superimposed over black and white photograph


“Infinite Synapse” Infrared gif


“Labyrinth’s Vector” Color photograph


“Rolling Kayak” Infrared gif superimposed on black and white still


“Tinker” Light painting superimposed on black and white gif


“How Many Thoughts Were Thought While This Was Produced?” Infrared gif superimposed over black and white still.


“Neon Quiver” Long exposure light painting superimposed over color photograph.


“Mechanical Spector” Long exposure light painting superimposed over color photograph.


Preserving Our Local History – River Time

We are honored to have the opportunity to preserve a small piece of local history! Below you will find a YouTube link to the freshly uploaded video we converted from VHS.

‘River Time’ is a short 30-minute video documenting the history of the Fox River and the surrounding area. Made by local volunteers and community leaders in the 90s, the clothing fashion may look a bit funny now, but the facts are very interesting and informative!

We would like to say thank you to Karen Laws, the Producer and Director who gave us permission to bring this video into the 21st Century! Thank you to Tom Frantz at University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley for assisting with the digital conversion.  Also a big thank you to the rest of the River Time team for providing inspiration for what Fox River Kayaking Company does today!


So dim the lights, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show!