What started out as a funny idea to get more people out enjoying nature and the wilderness, the Paddle in the Park Contest has blossomed into one of the coolest, awesomest, bestest contest I’ve read about in quite a while.

Now in its second year, the contest is pretty simple. Canoe paddle manufacturer, Badger Paddle partnered up with Preston of Portageur.ca to find a bunch of celebrity paddlers and authors to go out and hide six paddles along the portage trails in Algonquin, Temagami and Killarney areas. Between now and September 15th they will be sending out clues to help campers figure out where the paddles are hiding.

Find a paddle along the trail? It’s yours!

Just try to name a cooler contest out there, just try.

With the contest just getting going, I got in touch with co-owner of Badger Paddle, Fiona Westner-Ramsay to tell me all about it:

Bob Putnam, Owner of Deep Cove Kayak decided it was time to take his Epic V8 Surfski out on the famous Skookumchuk Tidal Rapids and they decided to bring along David O'Brian who works freelance as a videographer and digital animator. The footage turned out so good they decided to turn it into a mini commercial for Deep Cove Kayaks and Epic.

Jonathan Reggler shot this very cool piece of footage recently of at least two Orcas swimming through a group of sea kayakers while playing in the tidal currents of Surge Narrows.

Good thing the paddlers got out of the way in time.

It reminds me of kids playing hockey in the street and having to yell Car! every time when one goes by.

Facing Waves is a new paddling and travel web TV show that you should check out on the YouTube. Hosted by Ken Whiting, Facing Waves highlights some of the awesome places to paddle around North America such as the Ottawa River, up north on the Hood River, Georgian Bay and Baja.

I was really excited to hear that their latest episode features my buddy, Ray Boucher who was working for Naturally Superior Adventures last fall when the episode was shot. In the latest segment, Ken and Ray head out to explore the gorgeous coastline of Lake Superior Provincial Park but along the way they ended up having an encounter with a bear which almost cut their trip short.

This was shot on Mabul Island, Malaysia.

One point of interest. You will see around the 44 second mark the girl jump into the frame with what looks very much like a Greenland style paddle. Below is an overhead photo I found that illustrates it much better.

This past weekend I was invited to teach at the 2nd annual Pacific Paddling Symposium which took at Pearson College place just outside of Victoria, British Columbia and boy did I have a good time.

With just a few work vacation days left (it was poor planning as I have used up almost the entire years' worth already...) I flew into Victoria on Wednesday night with the plan to get together with some friends on Thursday afternoon and do some paddling in the tidal currents off Trial Island (map link).

Matt Nelson playing in the currents at Trial Island, BC.

Even though the locals said the currents were not as fast and gnarly as they often are, the 3.5-4 foot high surf waves were perfectly fun with lots of hoots and hollering from all 10 of us out playing in it.

The event started on Friday morning with an instructor training day for the coaches working the event. This year's guests included former Olympian coach, Dan Henderson who did a forward stroke clinic as well as Nigel Foster who ran a clinic in the afternoon on messing around in kayaks with weird and silly strokes.

The main part of the symposium itself took place Saturday and Sunday and attracted about 80-90 local, mainly intermediate paddlers who attended a wide variety of clinics covering everything from coastal exploration, paddling in currents, surfing, fitness paddling, Greenland rolling, and rough water paddling plus many more.

This year I was able to work with a pretty top-notch group of instructors including an introduction currents class with Kate Hives (from The Hurricane Riders), boat control with Nigel Foster and bracing and edging with one of the event organizers, Gary Doran.

I really enjoyed working with Kate's intro to currents class as she is a pretty fantastic instructor. She has a good ability to read nervous paddlers and make them feel like they shouldn't be worried and just give the activity a try.

Kate Hives planning out the afternoon with the group at the Pacific Paddling Symposium.

Since we had a full day to work with, we were able to get out of the bay and work our way up the coast with the students looking for current and eddies to play in. The class was scheduled to take advantage of the slack tide so it was probably 2 knots at the time we were out playing in it. It wasn't anything major so it was perfect for beginners. Later in the afternoon the same current was traveling along at a much more respectable 4-5 knots but we were back home by then.

The coaching list this year was a really fun group of people to work and hang out with including Matt Nelson, Blair Doyle, Erik Ogaard, Michael Pardy, James Roberts, Dympna Hayes, Rowan Gloag, Meaghan Hennessy, James Manke and my buddy, Costain Leonard.

You know what's also cool about British Columbia? It has a whole pile of nature and it's happy to shove it right in your face. I guess there is nature everywhere but let's be honest, I get excited at home if I see a perch in the water at home. Over the weekend we saw Bald Eagles, jellyfish, starfish, 7 deer, a huge number of seals, a mink and a military submarine. The sub was awesome to watch getting towed out to sea presumably on its way to attach some bad guys or to sneak a world-class spy into a foreign country.

Submarine at the Pacific Paddling Symposium

So, what are you doing this time next year? Make sure your calendar is clear and keep an eye out for registration dates. Did you know that the entire event sold out in 26 hours? Yes it did. Paddlers around here don't mess around when it comes to registration dates so make sure you register early.

More info: pacificpaddlingsymposium.ca

 

BCU Coach, Howard Jeffs recently rolled out a series of quick-repair kits developed specifically for kayakers. The nice thing about them is that they are individually packaged, sealed in plastic and ready to go when you...um...smash your boat and need to fix it, often right there on the water.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to teach at the 2nd annual Paddlepalooza sea kayak symposium in Parry Sound, Ontario. Located at the Camp Tapawingo (a YMCA girls camp), Paddlepalooza was a super chill weekend full of classes for beginners and intermediate paddlers.

This year I got invited to teach a couple on-water clinics including rescues and efficient forward stroke as well as navigation (for those who get lost easily) and weather forecasting which were really fun.

Over the years I've gotten a little jaded with sea kayak symposiums as they sometimes tend to attract the classic, old-man-in-a-beard-and-tilly-hat-who-has-been-paddling-for-a-million-years-and-knows-everything. Not that there is anything wrong with that but those types of events seem (to me at least) to be stuffy, boring and filled with same conversation we had last year. Paddlepalooza was a breath of fresh air with lots of young, enthusiastic paddlers looking to soak up some new tricks. It was also great to see that about 2/3 of the participants were woman. Like other symposiums there was lots of clinics to take, boats to demo and all that good stuff but unique to this was they organized a dance with a hired a local bar-band to come and play the classics. They also got great participation for the contest they organized for the best vintage rock shirt.

Kayaks ready to go...

So kudos to James and Dympna from the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre for putting on a fantastic and fun weekend.

So what's next on the calendar for me? I'm super pumped about flying out to Victoria, BC later this week to help teach at the Pacific Paddlesport Symposium. I guess it's about time I sit and look at the schedule and sort out what I'm teaching...but first I need to figure out how to pack all my gear and keep it under the weight limit so I don't pay extra flight baggage fees. That will be the real challenge!

It's been out for a couple of years since Birthright was released but I still think that this is one of the most inspiring kayak films out there. If you haven’t seen it before, now is the time.

Vimeo's description:

One man's struggle to transcend.

This humble film is about a friend of mine named Michael and his daily ritual to find his natural self through surfing.

Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

A Beginner's Guide to Kayak Fishing

Every once in a while I find a friend to write a guest piece about a topic I know nothing about. For a while now I’ve had an interest in kayak fishing but to honest I’ve never had the time and/or patience to really get into it. I decided to ask Joseph Dowdy from Austin Canoe & Kayak to give us some pointers on how to get into the hugely growing sport of kayak fishing.

 

by: Joseph Dowdy

Kayak fishing is becoming increasingly popular in the kayaking world because it incorporates two popular sports into one: fishing and kayaking. Both of these activities are inexpensive and allow you to set your own leisurely pace. That said, doing both at once can be tricky if you’ve never done it before and don’t have the right equipment on hand. Below are some tips for beginner’s to ease into the world of kayak fishing.

 

1. Consult a local kayak shop

While you are able to fish from a regular sit on top or inflatable kayak, more and more angler kayaks are appearing on the market, making it easier to pack more equipment and fish comfortably. Your local kayak shop will have information on the best deals for fishing kayaks, as well as equipment you can purchase to bring along on your trip. They will also be able to offer insight on kayak fishing techniques and popular fishing spots in the area.

 

2. Practice both sports separately

The key to being a good kayak fisherman is to be a good kayaker, as well as a good fisherman. Both sports take quite a bit of practice. If you’re a novice at one, taking on the other simultaneously could be quite the challenge. Practice fishing off land and practice kayaking in the area you plan on kayak fishing in. Once you’ve mastered the two, doing them concurrently will be much easier.

 

3. Pay attention to water conditions, weather, and seasons

Do research on the environment you plan on kayak fishing in. Fish are attuned to weather patterns. The ideal times for fish are on windy, rainy, cloudy, or front moving days. Wind often brings bait closer to shore, storm fronts make fish feed, cloudy skies make fish cruise for food, and rain helps hide your boat from fish. When you are saltwater fishing, it’s important to pay attention to the tides. Normal running tides are best because they cause bait to move. During colder weather, fish will be closer to the surface, whereas during warmer weather, fish prefer the cooler, deep waters.

 

4. Have the right equipment

Any fisherman knows that there’s no such thing as a “quick” fishing trip. Be sure to prepare a tackle box with everything you may need for your excursion. That includes bait, pliers, scissors, hooks, lines, etc. It is also recommended that you bring along a pair of dry clothes, a first aid kit, a map, and a means of communication. Since you’ll be traveling with more equipment than you would on a normal kayaking trip, bungee lanyards and leashes are needed. A good rule of thumb is that if it isn’t connected to the kayak, tie it down. You never know when a rollover or rough waters can happen. It is also important to buy a rod holder if your kayak does not come with one. This makes transporting your rod while paddling much easier.

About the Author:
Joseph Dowdy is an avid kayaker based out of the central Texas area. He has spent many a weekend and holiday on the Texas coast attending sea kayaking events or just having some fun with a kayak or paddleboard. He’s currently employed at Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK.com) and loves that he gets to spend time working with his favorite toys.

 

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