If you have been looking for a good reason to be more afraid of the water then you currently are I think I finally found it: Monsters live below the water surface and they are getting ready to take us down.
Don’t believe me? Witnesses in Victoria, BC saw an almost one metre-long Great Pacific octopus attack and eat a sea gull. When I heard the news this is what I was picturing:
But of course it was more like this…today but what about tomorrow?
I’m pretty sure that the sea gull didn’t even see it coming so keep that in mind next time you are out paddling and decide to practice your rescues as there is a very, very high chance that you will end up just like this guy.
Also, if you don’t think that a bird eating octopus is bad enough, evil scientists (only an evil scientist could have come up with this) finally figured out a way to put lasers (yes, lasers) on sharks. Nature’s most efficient killing machine just got a whole lot scarier.
Is it time to re-enact that awesome Iron Maiden song and run to the hills? All signs point to yes.
As you may or may not know, Transport Canada puts stand-up paddleboards (SUP) in the same classification as canoes and kayaks so they are technically required to carry the same gear which includes PFD’s, heaving line, etc. You can see the full list here.
Of course, being safe is a good thing but much of the required gear just isn’t practical in SUP and could even be potentially dangerous in surf (eg. PFD’s).
With that in mind, a grassroots movement started last year to get Transport Canada and in particular, Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) to recognize the use of board leashes in place of a PFD.
In response, Transport Canada recently released a statement clarifying their policy on required safety gear and it seems to be a good compromise. Transport Canada decided to follow the lead of the US Coast Guard and said that as long as you are paddling within the surf zone, you are not required to carry all the gear which also includes a PFD. That being said, they did go on to say that if you are using your SUP for navigation (group crossing or solo outing) then the regular rules are in place.
The thing to keep in mind with the change is that if you decide to paddle around the headland back to the parking lot then you are no longer surfing and thus in line for a ticket if caught without all the required safety gear. Stories of this type of enforcement have been trickling out of popular surf breaks in California over the last year.
On the surface the clarification from Transport Canada seems to be a good compromise as it solves the real concern about putting paddlers surfing in danger due to a PFD (They could be in greater danger as a PFD doesn’t allow them to duck dive under an incoming wave when swimming).
I know that the compromise won’t make some people in the SUP community totally happy, but here is the problem from Transport Canada’s perspective as I see it. They have a hard enough time trying to convince everybody just to bring a PFD (let alone wear it) when in a boat that it really confuses the message to say it’s ok for one type of vessel but not the other. As far as I know all recreational, human powered vessels are required to carry a PFD except in a competitive match.
As far as the other requirements that SUPs are also required to carry (heaving line, etc.) a simple thing would be to reclassify SUPs and put them into the same category as sail or kite boards. In that classification, as long as you are wearing your lifejacket, you only need to carry a whistle.
I heard through the grape vine that Transport Canada is look into making the change and hopefully that will happen soon.
Thoughts, comments? Post them below.
These tubers from 1953 were all members of the Seattle Tubing Society.
Clearly they knew how to have a good time and look stylish even on the water. I love the guy with the top hat way in the back.
From the 3.2 minutes of research I did on this photo it's the Sammamish Slough floating down to Lake Washington in Seattle.
Professional photographer, Burt Glinn (who died in 2008) shot the photo along with several others here.
Photo credit: burtglinn.com
For many people working in the outdoor industry you need to be able to do many different things to either make ends meet or avoid job burn-out. One of these multi-talented people is Steve Weileman from Washington State. When not sitting in front a computer as a web-developer/database administrator for a small outdoor retail business he is off instructing or taking clients out on trips as a sea kayak guide.
Along with a passion for paddling, Steve is an amateur historian and film maker researching many of the small abandoned communities along the Washington coastline.
Over the next couple of months Steve is going to be putting his talents to good use as he was recently Steve was asked to join The Ikkatsu Project (which we highlighted here) to help document the Japanese tsunami debris which is starting to wash up on the Washington coast. Look for reports to be posted on the project website when the project starts in June.
I recently sat down with Steve to find out what his job is like and what makes it the greatest way to making a living ever.
1) How long have you been working in the outdoor industry and what got you started?
I’ve been in the industry for 12 years and ironically what got me started was a mishap while kayaking onVancouver Island, which I wrote about in Sea Kayaker Magazine. That misadventure led me to start looking for advance training which in turn led to the BCU, which in turn led to my first job offer as a guide.
2) What’s the best part of your job?
There are many aspects of guiding that are rewarding but for me the most rewarding is when you see the excitement in someone who is experiencing the outdoors for the first time in unique perspective you get from doing so in a kayak and the relationships that develop as a result. I receive regular emails with either questions or trip reports from clients who I introduced to the kayaking from years back.
3) What’s the most difficult aspect of the job?
The long hours. Yes, you get to go to some cool places but you’re up well before the first client getting coffee and breakfast ready, and usually you’ll be the last to hit the sack. It can be a bit of an endurance game.
4) What are two tips you can give to somebody who wants to get into the world of guiding?
One, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. It has to be a labour of love; I don’t know a single wealthy guide!
Two, take the time to get a system down. When I first started I was putting in 18-20 hour days. Now, using a program to plan my meals, doing as much pre-trip prepping of food, gear, and such I’ve whittled that down to about 12 hours. Over a long multi-day trip that can make a huge difference in your energy level which in turn ultimately makes the trip more enjoyable for you as well.
5) What about your job do you think would most surprise people?
I think people have a misconception that guiding is all about going to exotic places and for sure guiding has gotten me to places like Alaska and Newfoundland but that’s only part of the equation. By far this is a service industry which involves taking care of and providing for clients; cooking, cleaning, carrying, towing, setting up tents, packing, etc. You need to have your eyes wide open if you really want to do this.
6) What was the coolest thing you remember finding when you were a kid out exploring?
In middle school I went to visit a friend on his family’s farm. We went exploring well beyond his fields into an area he’d never been before. We came upon an abandoned farm where I found a trunk up in the rafters. Inside were dozens of letters. Turns out they where letters written by a soldier to his wife while serving overseas in WWII. I spent most of that afternoon living vicariously through his letters. I really think that was the spark that ignited by love of history and explorations.
7) If you could tell something to your 18 year-old self, what would it be?
It would be simple. Don’t buy into someone else definition of success. Determine what your definition is, then make it happen.
Outdoor Research, a leading independent manufacturer of outdoor apparel and accessories, this week was named Washington state 2012 Innovator of the Year in the large company category by a panel of seven judges assembled by Seattle Business Magazine.
The award, which will be featured in the May issue of Seattle Business, is the culmination of the publication’s Washington Manufacturing Awards, which honors companies whose work results in growing or advancing the manufacturing sector in the state. Six winners were chosen in different categories at an awards ceremony Thursday night, April 26. Representatives of roughly 270 manufacturing companies located in the state attended the event.
The Innovator of the Year award recognized Outdoor Research’s commitment to operating a state-of-the-art apparel and accessories manufacturing operation just south of downtown Seattle that employs more than 160 people.
In choosing Outdoor Research for the award, judges noted that Outdoor Research has been growing its domestic manufacturing capability in recent years and hiring new manufacturing staff, the result of its success building gloves for the Special Operations Forces of the U.S. military; its work to improve the efficiency and quality of internal manufacturing processes; its strong product design and development capability; and the company’s overall management excellence, said Leslie Helm, editor of Seattle Business.
“There was strong consensus among the judges that this is a really well-managed company,” Helm said.
Demand for high-end, specialized products like the Modular Glove System – built for the Special Operations Forces of the U.S. military – has resulted in 38 percent growth in manufacturing staff at Outdoor Research’s domestic manufacturing facility. The facility is located in the same building as the company’s headquarters in Seattle. Outdoor Research also uses the operation as a prototyping lab for its consumer outdoor product division, which allows it to build and test new outdoor products with very quick turnaround times.
“Innovation is crucial to the success of Washington state’s manufacturing economy,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). “Outdoor Research is a great example of this American manufacturing success. I am particularly proud that America’s troops are safer because of new technologies coming from right here in the Northwest.”
In the nomination for the award, examples of innovation called out include the Outdoor Research’s ‘work smarter, not faster’ approach. OR developed a variety of sewing-machine modifications that save time and reduce the possibility for repetitive stress injuries among workers. The nomination also called out the company’s efforts to develop and/or employ the most innovative equipment and processes. Among other distinctions, its domestic facility pioneered the equipment necessary to build seam-taped Gore-Tex gloves, working in concert with W.L. Gore & Associates. It is the only facility in North America with certification from Gore to build seam-taped gloves and mitts.
“Having domestic manufacturing located in the same building as our offices gives Outdoor Research a number of strategic advantages, and we’re excited that our success with domestic production has also meant we’ve been able to help create new jobs in our home state in recent years,” said Alex Kutches, President of Outdoor Research. “We’re very honored that the judging panel for Seattle Business recognized what we’ve been doing on the manufacturing side as worthy of this year’s Innovator of the Year Award.”
Kutches said that Seattle has a long history in high-quality garment manufacturing, and the skills of the staff who work in its manufacturing operation – many of whom have worked there for much of Outdoor Research’s 30-year history – has been key to the company’s success in designing and building high-quality products for military applications. On average, employees on the manufacturing side of the business have been with Outdoor Research for more than a decade.
“Having a top-notch facility is important, but the biggest thanks is due to the incredibly talented staff that conceptualize, design and produce our gear,” Kutches said. “We’re certainly proud that their work helps support the work that our troops do every day.”
Technologies and manufacturing capabilities offered by companies nominated in this year’s awards ranged from medical devices, bio-fuels and steel manufacturing to lasers and heavy machinery.
About Outdoor Research
Based in Seattle, Wash., Outdoor Research designs and manufactures functional solutions for human-powered adventure. Outdoor Research offers technically innovative and superior apparel, headwear, handwear, gaiters, storage and shelter systems. Product testing and high-quality construction is backed up with OR’s Infinite Guarantee®. Outdoor Research enthusiastically supports the outstanding conservation, access, and educational efforts of a variety of organizations and encourages our customers to do the same. Outdoor Research – Designed by Adventure®.
There is a bit of an upset at the Outside Magazine Gear of the Year awards this year. Rather then awarding the best boat category to one of the major players (Confluence, Johnson, etc.) Outside gave the honours to the Sterling Reflection.
Haven’t heard of Steling Kayaks you say? I don’t blame you as not many have. Right now they are a small hidden secret amongst some rough-water paddlers on the West Coast of North America. Think of the Sterling Reflection as the cool hip band that your teenage nephew saw in concert nine months before they became popular.
The Sterling Reflection is described by the designers, Reg Lake and Sterling Donalson on their Geocities inspired website as a “playful multipurpose craft that will excel where control is the primary goal, be it in wind, currents, waves, chop, obstacles, explorations, instructional or teaching situations.”
I know it gets great reviews from Rowan Gloag from The Hurricane Riders as well as Warren Williamson who you have most likely seen on YouTube paddling with his Greenland Blade at DeceptionPass.
Posted boat specs:
Length overall - 15’ 11 3/8”
Beam - 23 1/8”
Cockpit size - 17 1/4” x 31 3/4”
Cockpit coaming height – Forward - 13”, Aft - 8 1/4”
Height of seat - 1 1/8”
Weight - 41 to 55 lbs.
In 1895, Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen abandoned his plan to reach the North Pole by ship and headed for the pole by dog sled. Nansen didn’t make it to the pole, but his journey and safe return became one of the poles most epic tales.
Nansen’s plan had he reached the North Pole was to head for Spitsbergen, the only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Arctic adventures Audun Tholfsen and Timo Palo just embarked on attempting this return route using Kokatat GORE-TEX® Expedition dry suits while navigating sections of open water and treacherous ice flows.
After being air dropped at the geographical North Pole, Tholfsen and Palo will use skis and kayaks to cross the drifting ice floes and open water on their way to Spitsbergen. They will then continue across the fjords and mountains towards the south of the island until they reach Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Spitsbergen. The expedition team hopes to complete the expedition, unsupported and without resupplies, in 50 to 60 days.
Throughout the way the team will take in-situ measurements and will carry out scientific observations. With a light set of instruments they will regularly measure the snow and ice thickness and surface layer air temperature data and drift speed of local ice floes.
In 1893, Nansen embarked on a daring plan of sailing his ship, the Fram, into the Arctic icepack and using the natural drift of the polar ice to reach the North Pole. After several months in the icepack, Nansen calculated that it might take over five years for the Fram to reach the Pole and Nansen devised a new plan.
On the 14th of March 1895, Nansen and dog sled expert and ship stoker Hjalmar Johansen left the icebound Fram and set out on skis and sleds with kayaks and 28 dogs for the North Pole. After reaching a record mark of latitude 86°14 ′ North on April 7th, they abandoned the attempt and retreated southwards, eventually reaching the island Franz Josef Land later that year.
With some good fortune in June of 1896 they met up with an English expedition team and were reunited with the Fram that had emerged from the ice pack north-west of Spitsbergen, as Nansen had predicted. However, the ship never made it beyond 85° 57' North.
Norwegian Tholfsen and Estonian Palo have skied across Greenland and completed several mountain ski expeditions in Svalbard and Norway. The team spent ten months as crewmembers on Tara, a French sailing vessel that, similar to the Fram, froze into the Arctic pack ice and drifted across the entire Arctic Ocean. Currently, Tholfsen works to provide logistic solutions and field support in Arctic regions. Palo has been working in Spitsbergen providing logistics and field support, and currently works as a PhD student and field technician at the University of Tartu, studying polar meteorology.
To learn more about Tholfsen and Palo and their expedition visit www.arcticreturntour.com.
For details on this and additional expeditions Kokatat supports visit http://www.kokatat.com/expeditions.
About Kokatat Watersports Wear:
Celebrating over 40 years of innovation, Kokatat is an independently operated, US manufacturer of technical apparel and accessories for water sports. Handcrafted in Arcata, California, Kokatat employees are focused on building the finest functional product for people who work and play on water. Our gear is designed for paddlers, by paddlers, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water all year long and in all weather conditions. Into the water with Kokatat! Please visit www.kokatat.com and follow Kokatat on Facebook and Twitter “@kokatat”.
An interesting story is coming out of the UK this week. On the 19th of April, seven sea kayakers were out paddling in very rough seas when they got into trouble and had to be assisted by Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
What’s interesting about this is that they were all advanced paddlers and several of them were sea kayak instructors.
From the RNLI press release:
Initial reports indicated that there were people in the water. When the lifeboat arrived on scene it was quickly established that three people, one of which had been washed out of his kayak, were ashore on Porthmelgan beach. It was decided that St Davids inshore lifeboat should be launched to escort two of them back to Whitesands while St Davids coastguards brought one person to Whitesands in their 4x4.
I wanted to do dig more into this and went to my trusty UK news source, ukriversguidebook.co.uk/forum. There I found a forum thread with a more detailed report and discovered that the incident actually took place during a BCU 5* assessment.
Taran Tyla posted the following:
The incident happened on a 5 star assessment I was attending. One of the Guinea Pigs was struggling a bit with the conditions & had capsized a few times which were quickly sorted out. After one capsize it was decided that he should paddle into Gesail-Fawr, the last get out before St Davids Head, he was doing great considering he had a boatful of water but unfortunately he capsized again just before Penllechwen & got swept past that headland minus his boat.
Just prior to this I was told to tow his boat onto the beach which I did. This left the swimmer, assessor & the other 5 star applicant heading around St Davids Head whilst myself, two other Guinea Pigs & the Assessors assistant landing on the beach.
There is more to the story and you should read through the entire conversation thread. Taran also posted a detailed report on his blog with some amazing photos of the sea conditions, riding home on the rescue boat and close-ups of one of the damaged kayaks.
I decided to highlight this incident not to pass judgement or play the old, you-should-have-done game like so many currently are in the forum. I wasn’t there and not positive that my decisions would have ended up with a different result. What this is is a good reminder that that incidents can happen to anybody. Even when you are on the water with some of the most highly trained instructors in the world.
Update 9:30pm: Reading through the thread since I posted this, Douglas Wilcox has brought up a couple of very interesting points in his comment on the forum and is worth a read. I agree with his point that peer review of all incidents is critical in making sure that we learn from our mistakes so the patterns don’t repeat again. Here is the link.
Photo credit: Taren Tyla
I just got a sad email from my friend Tim, owner of the White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario. Due to recently announced Federal Government budget the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve found out that their funding was cut for 2012-2013.
Here is the email:
Sorry to bother you, but the Biosphere needs your help. They have had their core funding cut to zero – effective this year. It means Greg and Becky don’t have funding to continue unless something happens. They have come up with an innovative and simple funding effort called the $57K campaign. Basically, they need $57,000 to get through this initial crisis – and they are asking for donations of $57 in the hopes that 1000 people will heed the call. It’s not huge for each of us, but will make a huge difference for the continuing of their work.
Designated by UNESCO in 2004, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is an area of 347,000 hectares that stretches 200 km along the eastern coast from Port Severn to theFrenchRiver, in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, also known as the 30,000Islands. The unique geography and geology of the area create more than 1,000 distinct habitat types which support a variety of rare species, including plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
So far they have been able to raise $2,000 but still have a long way to go. The GBBR is a fantastic organization and have been extremely supportive of the sea kayak campers who use the area. I’m opening my wallet, are you able to help?
You can learn more as well as contribute here.
I recently had the pleasure to watch Becky Mason’s new instructional DVD, Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing.
Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing builds on the foundation strokes that were taught in her first DVD, Classic Solo Canoeing. This time round Becky covers a wide variety of intermediate and advanced strokes including the Canadian, Indian, Sculling Draw, and the Running Draw Slideslip. Most of them are practical but some like the Low Circle are only practical to impress your friends. That doesn’t mean you should learn it. In fact it should be moved to the top of your stroke list for that reason alone. Never underestimate the importance of impressing friends.
From an instructional point of view I have got to say that this is easily one of the best I have seen. The narration shows right from the start that Becky has been teaching this stuff for a very long time. She has a great ability to take very complex maneuver and break it down to 3-4 key points making it easy to remember.
It’s clear that a lot of planning went into the production of the video and the proof is that all throughout the film the narration describing the fine details of the stoke actually matches up with what you are seeing. It might sound simple but it’s actually very a tricky thing to do and requires a huge amount of pre-planning long before production starts.
I think that Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing will be appealing to students as well as instructors and dreamers. If you are an instructor this is a good opportunity to watch a pro on the water teaching. Make notes of how she demonstrates the skills, steal the ideas and use it the next time you are teaching. You will be a better instructor for it guaranteed. Just don’t take all the credit.
If you are a dreamer I think you will also enjoy this DVD. Yeah, it’s an instructional film but it’s easily the most beautiful thing you will watch this month. Picture your perfect day out canoeing on the water. It likely involves paddling around on a very small lake in the early morning. The water is like glass and there is still a hint of morning mist hovering over the water. That scene in your head is pretty much 80% of the film. You are going to love watching it just for that.
I could keep going on about nerdy things like the excellent sound editing and the subtle sounds of the canoe moving through the water or the great selection of overhead and underwater shots to tie it all together but this is clearly a film the you need to see for yourself.
A couple of extra treats do come with the DVD including a full copy of her first instructional film, Classic Solo Canoeing as well as a beautiful canoe dance video set to the music of Ian Tamblym.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing won a bunch of awards at both the Reel Paddling Film Festival and the Waterwalker Film Festival? Yes it did.
You should be able to get this DVD at your local paddling shop or from Becky Mason directly via redcanoes.ca. For a limited time canoe and kayak instructors can get a 20% discount. You just need need to be a paid-up member of your local or national paddling body. Here are all the the details.