Events

Over the past two weekends I had the pleasure of attending both the Gales Storm Gathering in Wawa, Ontario as well as organizing the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering in Parry Sound, Ontario. Gales Storm GatheringThis was the second year for the Gales Storm Gathering and since it rotates around Lake Superior from year to year this was the first time that it has run in Canada. That made for a bit of a challenge for organizers as it also happened to take place over Canadian Thanksgiving so sadly there were not a lot of Canadians registered. That was ok, the enthusiasm and excitement from gang who was there more then made up for the lack of Canucks. The Gales had an absolutely stunning set of instructors brought in for the event including Nick Cunlife (from the UK), Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme (from Washington state, Christopher Lockyer (from Nova Scotia), Keith Wikle, Ryan Rushton, Sam Crowley, Erik Ogaard and well, the list is to long you should go to the website to see everybody. Anybody who says that the Great Lakes don’t get ocean conditions has clearly never been to Lake Superior in October or November. Throughout the weekend we were under a gale wind warning with winds around 25-35 knots and surf coming in around 4-8 feet for almost the entire weekend. Because of the extra large surf at the mouth of the Michipicoten River on the door steps of Naturally Superior Adventures, we were able to make use of the several neighbouring beaches where the surf was a more manageable height of around 2-3 feet. A couple of highlights for me included co-instructing a beginner surf clinic with Shawna as well as tagging along for an ACA Level 4 instructor assessment with Ryan Rushton and Sam Crowley. For the assessment we went on a downwind run south from Wawa to Old Woman Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park which was about 22km (13 miles) long. While out on the trip we experienced almost every type of weather condition including 25 knot winds, sunshine, clouds, rain, and sleet and…
Did you know it’s the middle of August? I sure didn’t. That means that for most people, the paddling season is 90% over. Booo. Just because Labour Day is coming soon, that doesn’t mean you need to hang up your lifejacket for the season. There is a large pile of events taking place throughout the fall to keep your braining tricked into thinking its still summer. Here are a couple highlights to start planning for in September and October: Ontario Greenland CampIf you are a skinny stick paddler you need to make room in your extensive social calendar to attend the Ontario Greenland Camp September 7-9 in Bracebridge, Ontario. The line-up of mentors and instructors looks really solid with Cheri Perry, Turner Wilson, Dubside as the big names. Tom Froese and Jill Ellis are both coming to teach the paddle making workshops. More info: ontariogreenlandcamp.com.   Gales Storm GatheringThe Great Lakes is going to host to two fantastic rough water paddling events this season so book your work vacation days now. The Gales Strom Gathering takes place in Wawa, Ontario over the October 5th weekend. The event is going to feature a collection of fantastic instructors from around the world including Andy Stamp, Nick Cunliffe, Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme and Christopher Lockyer. That doesn’t include the crazy gang of local instructors who have last names like Wikle, Rushton, Crowley, Fairty, Blades and Bloyd-Peshkin. With so many people having so much fun, you need to be there. The other cool thing with this event is that for the 6 days leading up to the Gales there is going to be a large collection of advanced instruction with courses from the British Canoe Union, American Canoe Association and Paddle Canada. It’s going to be a smack down of instructor nerds fighting for your love. Check out the website with all the course and event details at galesstormgathering.com.   Georgian Bay Storm GatheringThe very next weekend after the Gales Storm Gathering is my event which takes place in Parry Sound, Ontario on October 11-14. The Georgian Bay Storm Gathering is for intermediate…
Last week I had the pleasre of attending the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium which took place in Grand Marais, Michigan. It’s a fantastic sea kayak symposium that attracted 146 students and instructors this year from across the US, Canada and international. A couple of highlights for me included helping to lead a day-trip to the fabled Picture Rocks on the south shore of Lake Superior . If you haven’t been there before, it’s well worth the journey as the 200 foot tall sandstone cliffs have leached out iron, copper, manganese causing the rock face to be streaked with many different colours. It’s gorgeous. As a paddler, you would like the pictured rocks due to the numerous sea caves and arches scattered throughout. Some were only big enough for one person while others could handle 30 or more kayaks no problem. The weather was on our side that day and with little wind we were able to get in really close to the rocks. Friday, Saturday were typical classes that you would find at symposiums and they were all really fun to teach. Friday I got to help out with an all-day rough water kayaking clinic with Danny Mongo from Werner Paddles, Mark Pecot from 41° North Kayak Adventures and Ray Boucher from Naturally Superior Adventures. Even though there was absolutely no wind we decided to make our own fun and with a lot of imagination, the water was really rough... Saturday I had the absolute joy to teach with my new found friend, Andrea Knepper who runs an at-risk youth program in the Chicago. We had a great time running several, stability and bracing courses on Saturday. I’m not sure if the students in our classes had fun or not but we sure did so I guess that’s what really matters. Here is a quick slideshow from Flickr highlighting some of the shenanigans that we got up to this year.
I just got an email about a very cool event taking place here in Toronto in a couple of weeks. They are looking for volunteers (or donations) so if you are available, get in touch and help out. The event:  Nine kayakers with disabilities will be paddling sections (like a relay) of waterfront from Port Credit to Harbourfront, Toronto, a total of 25 kms. When:  Saturday July 14th, 2012  (raindate 15th). Why:  We are raising awareness of kayaking for people with disabilities and fundraising so our programs can be developed further in Earl Rowe Provincial Park, Alliston and Harbourfront, Toronto. We Need:   support kayakers to paddle with our disabled paddlers.  The support paddlers must be competent, able to tow and do rescues. Who to Contact:  Bert Miller:  905-648-9851 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . This event is to raise awareness of what opportunities people with disabilities have, what they can do. It is also a fundraiser so we can develop our programs. Update: Check out their website at handsacrossthewaterinitiative.com
This past weekend was the annual MEC Toronto Paddlefest and once again it was a hugely successful event with over 618 people pre-registered and approximately 120 people walking in and registering on the spot. That doesn’t include the 60 or so instructors, boat helpers and staff running around keeping the machine running smooth. With those numbers, it’s easily one of the biggest events of its kind in North America. This year I had the pleasure to teach a bit on the water but to also teach a bunch of on-land sessions including weather, navigation and technology in the wilderness. Over the years I have taught lots of symposium kayak sessions so it’s sometimes a nice change for me to get out and stand on dry-land every once in a while. This was the first time that I was asked to run a session on technology in the wilderness and they wanted me to talk about personal locator beacons as well as more recreational focused devices like the SPOT or the Delorme inReach. I decided to expand the session topic a bit and try to put this technology in a bit more context by also exploring the Canadian Search and Rescue (SAR) system and explain to people how that monster works and what exactly happens when you hit that SOS button or activate your PLB. It made it a bit more interesting then just listening to a sales pitch about gear as you could get that by going to your local store and talking to the sales lady. Of course teaching and running clinics are fun; but for me the real attraction of the weekend is hanging out with the other instructors who come into Toronto for the event. This year we had a bunch of out-of-towners including my podcast partner-in-crime, Kelly Blades, Michael Pardy, Sharon and Alec Bloyd-Peshkin, Paul Mason as well as my local Ontario friends who are always supportive and make their way south to Toronto. Special thanks for Mountain Equipment Co-Op for putting on the event once again. Here is a mini slideshow of some of the…

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