I was pretty excited to open an email this morning from Aquapac and Sigma telling me that I was the grand prize winner for their annual photo contest.

Here were the judge’s comments:

Wilderness to me is about wide open spaces and our sense of scale in relation to that space. This image captures that wonderfully, you feel in awe of what the rower is doing and also slightly afraid for him as he looks so small against the menacing water.

This photo is of my kayaking buddy, Erik Ogaard on Lake Ontario on a cold December day a couple of years ago. I remember it being a pretty cold day that day with the temperature just above the freezing mark. The conditions that day were great for paddling with rolling south east swells and really good surfing closer to shore.

For the camera nerds out there, the photo was taken with my trusty Canon Rebel Xti and shot using the Aquapac SLR submersible bag. For me, the waterproof bag one of the key pieces of gear for shooting on the water and it’s always with me. The original purchase was the deal I made with my wife so I could take it paddling!

Here is the full list of winners on Facebook.

Expedition leader, H. G. Watkins climbing on floe from kayak.

Back in 1930 UK explorer, H.G. Watkins (the guy in the photo above) gathered a team together to see if a new air route between Britain and Canada could be established rather then flying across the dangerous ocean. The proposed route was to cross the Arctic via the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Baffin Island and Hudson Bay before reaching Winnipeg.

Along with figuring out the route, the 14-man team had a goal to map the very poorly understood Greenland shoreline as well as gather climate data of the icecap of Greenland during the polar winter.

All in all the year-long expedition was quite a success and it have some slow times allowing the team to take some kayak lessons from the local people living in Greenland.

The footage below was captured in the summer of 1930 and shows members of the expedition in the last half.

Two interesting observations from the film; first, it’s clear towards the end of the footage, it’s team members rolling and playing around in the boats so they must have had enough time (and willingness to get wet) to actually learn how to roll. Could these be one of UK’s first people to learn how to roll a kayak? Not sure.

The second thing I realized that even 82 years later, as soon as a group of kayakers who can roll get together somebody always wants to organize some sort of synchronised rolling demonstration.

Of course not everything on the expedition went smooth. During the winter of 1931, Augustine Courtauld volunteered to live solo at the weather station in the interior of Greenland for five months and take weather measurements.

Freeze Frame has a better description of his adventure then I could ever make up:

Having left his spade outside [the station], Courtauld had struggled with the snow, it had filled both the exit and the openings into the snow house and stores. He had also been troubled by the loss of paraffin from two slightly punctured tins, this resulted in a shortage of fuel and as he also ran out of candles he had to spend some time in the dark. He also ate his meals uncooked so that the limited supply of fuel could be conserved to melt drinking water.

More info and fantastic photos can be found here.

Update: Upon further investigation, I found out that expedition leader, G.H. Watkins went back to Greenland in 1932 on a second expedition which would sadly end in tragedy for him.

During both the 1930 and 1932 trips to Greenland he spent a lot of time with the local people becoming quite proficient at kayaking. In fact he fell in love with the activity and people so much that the expedition was one of the first to make use of indigenous techniques and methods. He and his men were so at hunting seals from a kayak that they planned on not bringing any food for their 1932 expedition but rather live off the land completely. At the time this was completely unheard of especially by citizens of British society who looked down at the people of Greenland as savages.

Sadly the method of travel for the expedition wasn’t to come about as Watkins drowned in his kayak while he was out hunting on his own one day.

G.H. Watkins legacy to polar exploration was a real shift in mindset in how future expeditions are carried out; as well he planted the seeds of respect for the local people. It’s best described on the very fascinating site, Freeze Frame:

This expedition marked a real shift in the way explorers viewed indigenous technologies. Apart from following in Nansen’s footsteps in adopting the sledge and snowshoe designs [Watkins] adapted from Inuit versions during the periods in which he overwintered with them, few explorers had wholeheartedly examined and embraced Inuit survival techniques. Watkins’ final expedition, for which the food source was based entirely upon Inuit hunting methods, marks the start of changing views with regard to the Inuit and their techniques.

It’s been a bad week for kayak thefts.

The Seaward Kayaks storage compound in Chemainus, British Columbia was broken into over the weekend and had six thermoform kayaks stolen.

This was posted on their facebook page:

Well, Seaward kayaks was broken into & robbed at the weekend. We have two separate fences, outer & inner, with barbed wire on them. Our compound is not easily accessed & is highly visible.

5 kayaks were stolen - all new thermoform kayaks:

Intrigue - Mango - QKN03465 I 212
Intrigue - Red - QKN03466 I 212
Halo 130 - Yellow - QKN03420 G 212
Compass 140 - Mango - QKN03461 I 212
Compass 140 - Mango - QKN03405 G 212

So, if you are offered a new thermoform Seaward Kayak, please let us know - we'd appreciated it!

Helen Wilson and Mark Tozer's stolen kayaks.

Just as heartbreaking is news that Helen Wilson and Mark Tozer just had their Tahe Marine Greenland kayaks stolen from the roof of their car.

Mark posted this today:

Please be aware that two Tahe Marine Greenland kayaks have been stolen from the roof of Helen's car. One is the distinctive all black one featured in the DVD. The other is white decked and black hulled. The theft occurred on the Canadian side of the Peace Arch Border. Please spread the word!!!

I feel terrible about these thefts. If you live in the British Columbia/Washington State area keep an eye out on your local used gear bulletin boards as they are sure to end up there. It’s not like these are easy to stash somewhere...

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 09:35

Introspective Bears [Nature Photography]

introspective bears

I’m pretty sure this is what happens every September once all the people drives back to the big city at summers end.

Photo credit: imgur.com

The European Union has just launched the second of three weather satellites which should greatly increase the accuracy of weather forecasts.

The 3.2 billion Euro project called MetOp is a joint venture between the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and involves a total of three satellites. MetOp-A launched back in 2006 and MetOp-C is scheduled to launch sometime in 2016-2018.

The sensors on MetOp-B is considerably more accurate than before:

The [satellite] measurements slice the atmosphere into air columns measuring a single horizontal kilometre wide. Scanners measure the temperature and humidity to within 1-degree C and relative 10 percent, respectively. "These crucial instruments will be used for weather forecasting and to help us all gain a better understanding of the Earth's systems," stated Gene Martin, POES Project instrument manager.

With the massive increase in near real-time atmosphere data you can bet that the lonely weather forecasters in the Netherlands will be breathing a sigh of relief. Especially if local councillors get their way and pass a law fining them for every wrong forecast made...

More info: gizmodo.com & wikipedia.org

Isaac Levinson

Kokatat is proud to announce that professional whitewater kayaker and  2012 Canoe and Kayak Male Paddler of the Year, Isaac Levinson, has officially joined its team of elite athletes.

The twenty-three year-old Atlanta native began his paddling career as a whitewater slalom racer.  Levinson’s strong foundation of slalom skills has brought success on the extreme racing circuit, where he has been a fixture on podiums over the last several years.

“Everyday on the river is an adventure for me; I’ve been able to kayak in some amazing places and push my personal limits on challenging whitewater,” Levinson said. “I’ve always been a big fan of Kokatat gear, and I’m excited to be joining their team and representing the company.”

Most recently, Levinson was given the coveted Canoe and Kayak Male Paddler of the Year Award at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012.

He was the 2011 Green Race champion and North America’s top finisher in the inaugural AWP Whitewater World Series.  Keeping close to his slalom roots, Levinson competed in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and finished ninth in the highly competitive K-1 class.

Levinson will be wearing and providing feedback on various Kokatat products including the new Kokatat Maximus Prime.  The Prime is the Type 5 rescue version of Kokatat’s latest and most advance PFD platform.

Levinson joins Kokatat’s distinguished group of paddle sport athlete ambassadors that includes among others such luminaries in the sport as Dane and Eric Jackson, Jesse Coombs, Paul Kuthe, and Adriene Levknecht the Canoe and Kayak Female Paddler of the Year.

For the full roster of Kokatat athletes and ambassador team members visit http://www.kokatat.com/team.

If you are an adventurous soul living in the UK or Ireland and thinking of organizing a big adventure in 2013 you should make note and apply for the Kukri Adventure Scholarship.

The Kukri Adventure Scholarship is a brand new program aimed at providing up to £20,000 in funding to help get your trip off the ground. Along with the cash you also get a pile of free gear as well which is fantastic.

Entering into the contest involves first coming up with a fantastic idea then making a short two-minute video to sell the idea to the judges and the public on Facebook.

The cool thing about the scholarship is that your level of expertise or fame isn’t a factor in winning but rather your ability to think up a good adventure, able to carry it out and bring back a good story to tell the world.

More info: Kukri Adventure Scholarship
Photo Credit: kukrievents.com

Tuesday, 18 September 2012 21:26

Kayak Mainline Episode 6.5 Streaming Now!

kayak mainline logo

Kelly Blades and I are very happy to announce the 6.5th episode of Kayak Mainline. We named it 6.5 because it’s an update to the 6th episode we pushed out the door last week before discovering that the sound quality wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. Sorry about that. This one is much better.

On Kayak Mainline episode 6.5 we learn about monster crocs, monster sturgeons and a crazy beaver attacking kids. KIDS! We also discover that Netherland weather forecasters might get in trouble if they are wrong. Plus your kayaking questions answered.

This one was actually recorded several weeks ago but August was so busy that we haven’t had time to publish this until now.

There are several different ways to get our sweet voices directly into your ears:

You can stream it live in your browser here:

 You can mp3directly download the mp3 (Right click and select, "Save target as..." or "Save link as...".

Subscribe via iTunes Subscribe via Stitcher

iTunes user? Subscribe and get each new episode downloaded directly to your iPhone/iPod as soon as it’s uploaded.

 

itunes podcast icon

Not an iTunes fan? We distribute Kayak Mainline also via Stitcher. They offer a free fantastic podcast app for both iPhones and Android and you can search and subscribe there as well.

 

stitcher logo

Sorry it’s been so quiet over the past couple of weeks. Life has been way to busy to do any writing.

The above image floated across my desk today and I couldn’t help but post it.

If these sleeping bags were available today I would get one right away (for the kids of course. Yes, for the kids).

Photo credit: voicesofeastanglia.com

Thomas Magnum on the phone.

Outside of Bo and Duke, Thomas Magnum from Magnum PI was the coolest guy and television when I was a kid growing up. I jealous of both his Ferrari and moustache and couldn’t understand why my father didn’t have either of them.

Besides the car chases and bad-guy brawls, I thought it was awesome that he got to spend spent a lot of time out on the ocean in his kayak (or more specifically a surf ski). Throughout the series Magnum got out paddling in nine different episodes which is quite a bit considering he lived in Hawaii and didn’t really surf. Also remember that it was 1980-88 and hardly anybody in North America kayaked in those early years so it’s interesting that the writers kept the character involved in such a local, niche sport.

As far as what he paddled, there isn’t a lot of specific information but throughout the series Thomas Magnum used several different models including a custom designed kayak which was manufactured by Hayden Surf Ski. Most of the other episode stills with his boat don’t show any logos so it’s harder to tell the specific manufacturer.

Thomas Magnum on his surf-ski.

I’m not sure if Tom Selleck gets out paddling today but he did use his surf-ski quite a bit to relax in-between takes during shooting. I found an old news report of him getting in a small bit of trouble one afternoon when he got caught in the surf and almost got washed over a reef. The April 7, 1981 edition of the Weekly World News carried the story of his brush with death at the hands of 6-foot monster waves. That being said, the Weekly World News loved to be a bit over-dramatic as shown by the other headlines in that issue including, “Bee Gee’s visit brings child’s miracle recovery” and “Girls tortured in satanic rites in castle of horror” so I’m sure he just got pushed around a bit in the waves then went back to the set to sign more autographs.

The headline, “Magnum star Tom Selleck beats death in terrifying ocean ordeal” sold a lot of papers at grocery stores across America.

Thomas Magnum kayaking.

Thomas Magnum kayaking.

As the series went on the writers started adding more kayaking to the show peaking with the fourth season opener as an all surf-ski episode called, Home from the Sea. Magnum battles for his life when he falls off his surf-ski far from shore. Here is the description:

“Magnum's tradition of spending the Fourth of July alone at sea turns to a life-and-death battle when his surf ski capsizes from a reckless boater and a strong current takes him further and further from land. Forced to tread water for hours in shark-infested waters, Thomas uses his memories of his mom and dad to keep himself alive while Higgins, T.C., and Rick begin a frantic search for him.”

To be honest, it isn’t really that good of an episode. He just treads water for and hour and has a bunch of flashbacks. No car chases or bad-guy fights.

So this leads me to think about the influence that Magnum PI had on the world of kayaking. While I don’t think that Hollywood’s hairiest chest and sexiest moustache brought surf-skiing specifically to the common man, I do think it showcased kayaking as another form of exercise and excitement while making the sport look awesomely cool. I will say though I do know for a fact that he made a whole generation of 12-year-old boys want to become swim instructors.

magnun teaching swimming

Here is a great compiled clip somebody put together of Magnum paddling along with some other surf-ski racing footage spliced in for good measure. Enjoy!

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