Welcome to retro whitewater kayaking week here at the Paddling Headquarters. I dug into the archives and found some real beauties that I will be rolling out all week. So let’s start with a big name first.
Anybody into downhill skiing will have seen or at least heard of Warren Miller and his yearly downhill skiing films dating all the way back to the 1950's. As a kid, I will always remember the thrill of watching skiers tumble off cliffs while at the same time managing to avoid being swallowed up by the avalanche following about 3 feet behind them.
While not as popular, Warren Miller also filmed lots of other extreme sports including surfing, mountain biking and for a brief time, whitewater kayaking.
Here is a short clip narrated in classic Warren Miller fashion. While I’m not sure of when it was released, looking at the boats and the liberal use of fluorescent colours on lifejackets and paddles, my guess is that it was in the early 90's.
Enjoy! Tomorrow we have some classic armature footage of the Ottawa River from 1988(ish). Oh the fashions...
Here are seven random fun-facts or stories related to kayaking that you likely haven’t heard of.
Kayaks have been used many times in battle
Back in World War II, the British Special Forces first conceived the idea of using kayaks during military raiding missions and they proved to be quite useful due to the fact that they were fast, quiet and easy to fold and store when the mission was over.
Jump forward to today and you will be pleased to know that, kayaks and canoes have been used for special mission by the US Marines, British Commandos, and the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
Some publically available examples of their use in military operations include early reconnaissance missions by the British in the 1982 Falklands War and a 1992 raid in Somalia where US Marines snuck into the country unannounced to set the stage for a full-force siege.
In 1932, Oskar Speck paddled over 50,000km in a kayak
Arguably one of the greatest kayak expeditions you have never heard of started back in 1932 when Oskar Speck decided to take the bus to the Danube River in Ulm, Germany and start paddling towards Cyprus. Over the next 7 years he continued working East paddling over 50,000 kilometers and eventually making his way to Australia where, September 1939, he was promptly arrested on suspicion of being an enemy alien (after all, Australia was at war against Germany at the time). He was sent to an internment camp where he stayed until the end of the war in 1945.
There is no word Oskar participated in any other major kayak expeditions after the war but several artifacts including compass, personal diary and video clips he took are now on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
Image credit: wikipedia.org
Pope John Paul II loved to kayak
Back around 1949, a young Pope John Paul II (before he was the Pope of course) was introduced to kayaking when he was working at Saint Florian's parish in Kraków, Poland.
He fell in love with kayaking so much that he quickly bought his own folding kayak (a Klepper) to take on vacations and meditation retreats. John Paul was also quite competitive and entered several downriver races including one on the Dunajec River in 1955 where his boat got a hole in it and promptly sunk just before the finish line.
Image credit: Fr. Rick's Sabbatical
Saint Innocent of Alaska: the patron saint of kayaking
John Veniaminov was born in near Irkutsk, Siberia in 1797 and knew he wanted to be a priest from an early age. Over the years he traveled between Siberia and what is now Alaska spreading the good word and it wasn't long however that he discovered the importance of becoming an expert in kayaking so he could travel solo during the summer months.
At six-foot-three inches tall, he was both imposing and highly respected by the local people for his skills. For example, there is a story of him traveling out to minister to his people in 1828. Things were going well as he kayaked his way out along the Aleutian Islands until trouble found him while he was between the Unalaska and Akun Islands. During that trip he was forced off the water twice due to storms and then almost capsized by a pod of whales. When he got back he told the story as if it was a routine trip.
He was canonized on October 6, 1977 by the Russian Orthodox Church and while "patron saint of kayaking" isn't his official title, I'm going to start lobbying that it should be.
The farthest distance paddled in a kayak by a female in 24 hours was how far?
Robyn Benincasea from the US of A currently holds the Guinness World Record for the farthest distance a woman has ever paddled in 24 hours when she paddled down the Yukon River in Yukon, Canada back in June 2011. Over a 24 hour period, she covered a distance of 371.92km (231.1 miles). Yes, she had the current helping to push her along but I'm 100% confident she went farther than you ever could.
The largest group of kayaks & canoes ever to raft up was over 1900
The official world record was broken on September 24, 2011 when 1,902 boats formed the world's largest raft of canoes/kayaks in Inlet, NY. That being said, the record might not stand to much longer as an attempt to break it was just held in Suttons Bay, Michigan with 2,099 people registered. They are still waiting for the official verification from Guinness.
The Guinness rules stated that the flotilla must be a contiguous floating raft of touching kayaks held together for at least 30 seconds. The count is verified using aerial photos.
Image credit: National Geographic
Remember that time somebody made a kayak essentially out of poo? Yep.
Kayaks have been made with a variety of weird things over the years including concrete, aluminum and even pumpkins but I think one of the weirdest has to be the kayak manufactured from paper that came from sheep poo. Back in 2009, Lez Paylor, a partner in the UK paper business SheepPooPaper.com took an old Folbot frame and replaced the standard canvas skin with the poo paper (which had been waterproofed soy based marine grade waterproof resin).
Sadly their maiden voyage didn't inspire confidence as it started to leak within about 5 miles and they had to make a quick dash to shore.
If you are anything like me, your mind wanders quite a bit when out paddling. For example, I often get stuck trying to figure out what exactly Eddie is singing in Pearl Jam's "Even Flow". I don't think we will ever figure that one out to be honest.
One day earlier this summer while out on a day trip I got to thinking about the clouds in the sky and trying to imagine now much water is up there. So imagine my excitement when I found the video below that answers the question, how much does a hurricane weigh?
Spoiler alert: they weigh a lot.
Does trying to learning about knots get you all tied up? (Sorry about that.)
Dave Wooldridge from Ridge Wilderness Adventures just released a short and sweet clip demonstrating the three key knots you will end up using 80% of the time. They are the Bowline, Truckers Hitch and the Half Hitch.
You can view the video below:
Over the years we have covered several examples of shady people using kayaks for shady purposes including using their kayak as a drug mule, a get-away vehicle, a transportation method for border jumpers or a method to fake your death for insurance fraud.
What could be a first for kayak related travel; deputies in Wahpeton, North Dakota believe that a kayak played a key role in helping a burglar steal a safe on from the local bar.
It seems that the thief used a stolen kayak to help float the safe across the local lake to his waiting car.
The article doesn't make any mention to the size of the safe but our crack investigation team put together this artist's representation of how it could have looked from shore. Thank goodness the thief had the foresight to wear a lifejacket.
When it's your third full length sea kayaking instructional DVD what's left to cover? I'm sure that was going through Gordon Brown's head had when he sat down with producer, Simon Willis to plan out the third volume of their highly successful and award winning series, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown.
But really, what's left to cover? The first two DVD's covered off all the foundations skills of sea kayaking including paddling forward, corrective strokes, rock hopping, rescues, towing and looking competent in tidal races (to name a few).
Volume 3 takes us way beyond what would typically be expected from a kayaking instructional DVD and breaks away from just covering actual kayaking hard skills. Over the course of four short films, they cover more advanced topics such as navigation, first aid kits, handling emergency situations and kayak rolling.
I remember when we were kids on a family vacation in Nova Scotia once we found ourselves wandering the harbour docks at night (to this day I don't know why since it seems like a really sketchy activity). Well, we were walking by a large freighter that were loading provisions on board and I have no idea how, but we were invited by one of the crew members onboard for a tour of the ship. I wouldn't be surprised if my father started yelling from the deck asking for one as he was that kind of guy.
So next thing you know we are getting the full tour. We visited the galley, bridge and even got to meet the captain who was really excited to meet us and show us around. For us it was easily the best part of our vacation meanwhile my mother was terrified the whole time and was convinced that we were going to get kidnapped.
Anyways, ever since that day I have loved big ships. I love everything about them and fascinated by their mysterious inner workings. I mean, who really knows where all the pipes that you see actually go? Nobody knows, that's who.
So you can imagine my excitement when Google announced that they have rolled out a Google Streetview tour of the Schmidt Ocean Institute's new 272-foot research vessel, Falkor.
The tour is awesome. You can wander through all nine levels starting with the engine room and all the way up to the crow's nest (do they call it that on a research vessel?).
You might be wondering why this boat in particular has received the full Google tour treatment. Well, the Schmidt Ocean Institute was founded by Dr. Erik Schmidt who is both the Chief Executive at Google and quite the philanthropist. gcaptain.com has the full backstory.
SOI bought the vessel from the German government in 2009 and recently completed an extensive three year, $94 million conversion of the ship from a fishery protection vessel to the high-tech research vessel it is today.
"Falkor's biggest goal is to help change the public conversation about ocean health," said Ms. Schmidt at the Exploratorium, "We're living on a planet where we really don't even know most of what's here. So, we would like to say it's time that we did understand."
Following her San Francisco debut, Falkor left the City by the Bay for British Columbia on two expeditions in Canadian and U.S. waters, before making her way southwest for several months conducting oceanographic research in the Central and Western Pacific.
Check out this crazy footage from the Discovery television show, North America which features footage of two sea kayakers who got the the thrill of their life when several Humpback whales broke the surface about 20 feet away to feed (not on the paddlers luckily). All this footage is shot somewhere in Alaska.
I can confidently say that I would freak out in this situation. How do I know you ask? I get scared startled seeing a floating stick on the water and think it's a giant snake going for my throat.
Click through for the video below:
This is easily the craziest story I've read so far this September.
A young New Zealander who the press is only identifying as Ryan got trapped on Governor Island in the north end of Western Australia for two (yes two) full weeks because a six-meter (20 feet) salt water crocodile would stalk him every time he tried to make a break from the island. Yes, two weeks…
Luckily when he was originally dropped off he had lots of water and food since his original plans were to explore the island for a short while then paddle back to the mainland. Once he discovered the giant monster stalking him the situation changed.
He was finally rescued by Don McLeod who was passing the island on a fishing trip and found Ryan with no food and only 1 liter of water left.
Mr. McLeod told ABC Radio yesterday: "I saw a flash in the scrub. I went across and Ryan came out looking a bit distraught. He came down the beach. He said he'd been there a fortnight and he came to the conclusion very quickly that he couldn't get off there without attracting this crocodile.
"He was relieved and shocked, and thankful someone had come along."
Mr. McLeod went on: "He said every time he got in his little kayak, this crocodile – who has lived there for many years and is a monster – has chased him.
"That croc is a very, very big crocodile. One of the biggest I know of around here and it followed him around for a while. So Ryan headed back to get under cover and left his kayak up on the rocks about two kilometres from where his camp was.
"I've seen that crocodile come past me quite fast a few times," Mr. McLeod said. "My boat's 20-foot long, so I know he's well up towards the 20ft mark."
More info: scotsman.com
Flickr Creative Commons photo credit: BMaco