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With summer slowly winding to a close is it time to put your sea kayak away for the season? Heaven's no! In fact, I would argue that early fall is one of the best times of the year to get out kayaking. Sure, the air is cooler (but you can dress for that) but there are less power boaters out on the water and with the fall winds blowing you will find waves and surf (if that’s your thing). For those who do love getting out in rough water (or those who aspire to) make sure that you get yourself registered for the Gales Storm Gathering taking place October 3-5 taking place in Munising, Michigan. Now in its 4th year, the Gales Storm Gathering has proven to be one of the premier rough-water paddling events in North America drawing paddlers from all over the country. Registration is filling fast so get on it pronto. Everything you need to know can be found here. Sadly I can't attend this year due to a new boss who has decided to follow HR's rules and actually keep track of staff vacation days but it's on my schedule next year for sure. Booo to following work rules... Photo credit: Gales Storm Gathering
Here is a tip to all you would-be kayak thieves out there. If you steal a hand-made wooden kayak, don't offer to sell it back to the owner when they approach you at your local beach. The Bellingham Herald has the full story: The kayak was stolen some time overnight July 7 from the roof of the [Washington state] victim's vehicle. The woman reported it missing July 8 and told police the kayak had wooden inlay all over it [similar to the kayak pictured above]. Then on July 27, the owner was at Howard Amon Park in Richland putting people into kayaks when she saw her own kayak on the water. The woman reported that Luke paddled up to the beach and offered to let her buy the kayak, court documents said. She identified the kayak as belonging to her, then asked someone to call Richland police. When officers arrived, she showed them a picture of the stolen kayak which matched the one that Luke was trying to sell, documents said. He claimed he had seen the kayak earlier on top of a car and wanted it, so he told a man named "Nick" to steal it for him and in exchange Nick would get a bicycle from Luke. Photo credit: Creative Commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by dwstucke: http://flickr.com/photos/dwstucke/163371145
Check out this super dramatic footage of two kayakers in a double kayak getting lifted up by a whale. You got to see it to believe it. According to the Youtube title this took place near Puerto Madryn, Argentina.
The short answer is yes.
Last Sunday (July 13) thousands gathered in Newport Beach, CA to pay tribute to Ben Carlson, a lifeguard who gave his life while attempting to rescue a struggling swimmer. The highly respected 15 year veteran lifeguard got the call and jumped into the water to save the swimmer struggling in the 6-8 foot surf waves. Both men were pulled back into the water by a large wave as they struggled to get back into the rescue boat. Sadly Ben was pronounced dead after an exhaustive 3-hour search. If you are unfamiliar with surf culture, when a fellow surfer passes away (either in an accident or non-surfing related cause), the community will organize a memorial service out beyond the surf. Typically they will form a ring, have a moment of silence and throw flowers into the center of the circle. It's been a tradition for years. Watching the video of the memorial for Ben Carlson above, it makes me wish that the sea kayaking community had a traditional way of mourning those who have passed away as well. I guess we tend to keep things more internal and that's ok but there really is something very powerful about getting the kayak family together and going paddling in someone's honor. I remember attending a memorial at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium three years ago for a fellow Great Lakes paddler (and former student of mine) who died doing what he loved.  Rev. Bonnie Perry led the short service and spoke about the impact he had inspiring others to get out and live your dreams. I got to admit it was pretty tough one to get through but even while standing on the beach, I remember thinking that this should have taken place out on the water. Bob would have thought that would have been even cooler. It might be a weird but maybe it's time to brainstorm our own method of mourning the loss of a fellow community member. Any ideas? Photo credit: Associated Press

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