Ask Eddy: Can I paddle naked yet?

You've got questions, Eddy's got answers

Illustration by: Aaron McKinney

Illustration by: Aaron McKinney

Is skinny dipping illegal?

According to Nude and Natural editor Mark Storey, there are no federal laws against swimming naked. However local and state laws take precedence even on federal land, and nudist-nazi national park and forest supervisors are free to make their own freedom-hating regulations. State laws also vary; California and Florida have lots of public nude beaches, whereas the Dakotas, Montana, and Idaho have stronger laws.

"Still, run-ins between naked people and the law are rare in those states because there's so much open space." That's the key to naked recreation, Storey says: Stay away from people. "When the public complains, the rangers have to respond," says Storey, who has paddled many a nude mile. Another secret: bring naked women. "If I'm kayaking naked with my wife, I'm less threatening, and never get any trouble," says Storey. Would Eddy like to join the Seattle-based Storeys for a nude paddle of Puget sound? No, no he would not. Eddy is not a "naked person," at least not since that awkward fifth-grade year when Mother home-schooled Eddy at local nudist colony Happy Acres.

Can I make wine from blueberries?

"You can make wine from most any plant," says Homemadewine.com's Scott Freedman. "I've even heard of onion wines." Freedman makes blueberry wine at home by stewing a batch of flavorful wild berries, adding yeast and sugar, and then letting the mixture ferment for at least 30 days. "It's actually kind of hard to screw up," he says. Prisoners notoriously make wine in their jail cells with stuff like raisins and sugar smuggled from the kitchen. Of course, Eddy drinks nothing but mead, or honey wine, the traditional drink of the Viking warrior, which he makes at home the old fashioned way— blending a jar of Busy Bee with a fifth of yukon Jack. It pairs very well with pemmican or pork rinds.

Is it safe to paddle downstream of sewage treatment plants?

Water discharged from treatment plants is supposed to be clean enough that it doesn't push bacteria levels above the state's "recreational" clean water standard threshold, which is measured in part by the bacterial count of E. coli. The feds draw the line at 126 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water, though some states allow more (hello, Michigan). So it should be safe to paddle and swim (yes, even naked) downstream of a plant.

But you might want to avoid the outflow pipe itself, says American Rivers' Stacey Detwiler, since that effluent might have high bacteria counts if the river it's flowing into is particularly clean—and assuming the plant is functioning as it should. States often have hundreds of plants out of compliance, not to mention the biggest problem: overflows after rainstorms. Or,when inmates dump gallons of prune wine at cell inspection time.

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