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:


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 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 ( and loves that he gets to spend time working with his favorite toys.


Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

SPOT Satellite Global Phone Review

When it comes to two-way communication in the wilderness, a satellite phone is one of the better items to have as it allows you to talk directly to the authorities during an emergency. One of the problems with sat phones is that they are expensive to purchase typically costing between $600-2000 for just the unit itself.

SPOT, makers of the very popular satellite GPS messenger, have just introduced the SPOT Satellite Global Phone and with a suggested price of $499, it's one of the first sat phones aimed (and priced) for the recreational outdoor enthusiast.

Buddies and fellow Canadians, James Manke and James Roberts are teaming up to travel and compete in the National Greenland Championships held in Qaqortoq, Greenland in this July and are looking for your support. The project is very cool and you should consider helping them out.

Getting people to wear lifejackets while on the water has always been a tough goal. Over the years we have seen all kinds of campaigns from boring government brochures to funny spoofs of old cop shows. Now things have taken a bit of darker turn with the new drowning simulator called, Sorte En Mer.

You need to try it but be prepared, it's pretty intense.

The simulator starts off with a video of you and a friend out sailing on a calm day then quickly turns into a disaster when you are knocked overboard and left watching your friend sail off into the horizon unable to control the sailboat. To keep your head above water you need to scroll your mouse wheel for as long as you can.

Drowning simulator capture

Are you able to stay afloat long enough until your buddy comes back? I couldn't.

Shock campaigns like this have been around for a long time and I’m sure you’ve seen posters with splashy photos of traffic accidents telling you to slow down, or reminders that you love your dog so don’t kill it by leaving it in a car on a hot day.

For a while now researchers have been looking into shock campaigns to see how effective they are. While there is an emotional reaction to seeing bloody car wreck photos, a study back in 2008 in the Netherlands showed that they had the opposite effect. In the study, some male subjects who saw the commercials judged driving fast to be less dangerous or trivialized the message that driving fast is dangerous.

I remember as a teenager our local high school used to arrange for a local wrecker to come and drop off a crashed up car to remind students not to drink and drive. Who knows how many students got the message but all I know is that a large group of us used to stand trying to figure out how to get in the crushed car so we could get photos of ourselves.

Another interesting study out of Belgium showed that campaigns based on fear tended have a short-lived effect on attitudes and opinions and that the public get used to the element of fear faster than a message based on a positive emotion.

So does that mean that this campaign won’t be effective in the long term? I don’t know. I’m not a behavioural scientist.

What does make this video unique (and thus possibility more effective) is that you need to interact with the video to keep the character alive. After my little index finger got tired of scrolling the mouse wheel and I drowned, the first thing I thought was, "wow, if I could only last 3 minutes and my finger was worn out, how could I swim longer than 5 in those waves?"

To me, it was a very different response compared to seeing a poster below put out by Life Saving Victoria.

Where's your child poster

Maybe that interaction element could be just the thing to drive home the message of Lifejacket usage while on the water.

Big news in the outdoor industry today with the announcement that Confluence Watersports has been bought up by private equity firm, J.H. Whitney Capital Partners.

Though you likely haven’t heard of J.H. Whitney Capital Partners you have likely heard of some of their other privately owned companies including, Eastern Mountain Sports, Pure Fishing (who make Berkley and Trilene fishing line and Igloo Products (makers of coolers).

So what does this mean for Confluence Watersports? Mainly a major cash injection into the company so they can move to the next level of their business plan which includes a planned name change to Confluence Outdoor.

"We are very pleased to be brought into the J.H. Whitney family," said Sue Rechner, who will continue in her role as President & CEO of the newly formed Confluence Outdoor. "Confluence has always been an active and invested member of the outdoor industry, and we are fortunate that our new partnership with J.H. Whitney will enable us to build upon our success in paddlesports as a platform for future expansion."

Terms of the deal were not announced as both Confluence and J.H Whitney are privately owned.

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