Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Paddling the Clack

Kate's behind the camera. Phil Hadley, John Walpole, Jen Kleck, and Paul Kuthe at the put-in

I should have been responsible. I should have started my long trip home on Sunday night, or Monday morning at the latest. Instead, I went paddling on the Clackamas River with John Walpole, Paul, Kate, and Phil.
Phil's world is a happy place.
John and his wife Kirti put me and Phil up in their beautiful house near Portland, OR Sunday and Monday nights. They claim it has a great view of Mount Hood and a wall full of big windows makes me think this is possible, but the clouds never lifted enough to know for sure. At least it wasn't raining when we got our leisurely start to the day and headed to the river. Paul and Kate met us there with a truck full of kayaks and off we went.
Phil showing us a nice line down this one.
We paddled several miles of scenic river with lots of little class I-II riffles and regularly spaced class III drops. It's late season, the snow pack is mostly gone, and the river was low so it was pretty friendly and one really only had to keep a sharp eye out for rocks. This was a good thing for me since I've only had a couple of river days in the last year! It was a treat to paddle a new river in the excellent company of some very fine boaters - thanks guys!

John "whirlpool" Walpole shredding up a wave

LoCo Roundup and BCU re-education

The Kayak Farm....known as Slow Boat Farm on Puget Island, WA in the middle of the Columbia River

I've just returned home from a fantastic week in WA state on the Columbia River with a great gang of kayak coaches and students. The week was hosted by Ginni Callahan and her crew at her "Slow Boat Farm" on Puget Island and life on the farm was sweet! The daily rhythm involved eating amazing, fresh foods from the garden, expertly prepared by Head Chef Dave, paddling whatever paddle craft your heart desired, eating more great food, evening presentations, games, discussions, music, campfires, and (of course) beer. Life was good. The "unseasonable" pouring rain only made everything cozy and added to the ambiance.

Head chef, Dave

For me it was a primarily a week of re-orientation to the new BCU scheme. About 20 BCU coaches were subjected to a 2 day update led by the fabulous Phil Hadley, poster child of the "New" BCU and shipped over straight from England. Enthusiastic, entertaining, and a bit of a salesman, Phil soon had us all eating out of his hand and utterly convinced of the genius of the new awards......or maybe there was just something in the water. I spent 3 more days working on and observing the new 4 Star award and got to paddle some fun spots at the mouth of the river. I managed to weasel out of most of my coaching responsibilities and sponge off of everyone else which was a real treat (sorry Ginni and thanks Axel!) and spent every possible moment in a canoe (thanks Phil) - even passing my 3 Star open canoe assessment. It was great to be able to work with so many coaches: Shawna, Leon, and Matt of Body Boat Blade, the Alder Creek crew including Karl Anderson, John Walpole, John Wallum, and Paul Kuthe, Bill Lozano, head of BCU NA, Rob Avery, and Phil Hadley just to name a few!
BCU endorsed by Phil Hadley

On Saturday I ran a long boat surf session on the coast. All week the storm had been kicking up some big waves, but on Saturday the locals read the swell forecast with glee -"6 feet at 9 seconds - it doesn't get much smaller than that up here!" This southern California girl was wondering what the heck we were going to do with that mess! We had fun though, and nobody got hurt. Someone might have even learned something!
Camp life - big tents kept us dry and provided a great gathering space

Sunday I drove to Seattle to pick up a few new kayaks. I have Nigel Foster's new Whiskey and an NDK Romany Surf available for demo now! But here's the "funny" twist to the story....I was sure I picked up 2 Whiskeys at the warehouse. They were bubble wrapped, but the same length, the right colors, the right shape - I really didn't stop to ask. So this morning, after being on the road for 26 hours, I stagger to bed at 5am. Jake is up at 6:30 to go out with the Wed. morning crowd and asks which Whiskey can he put on the water. I tell him "the white one" and I'm comatose again. At 8:30 when Jake returns, he gives me the bad news....."it's a nice boat, but it's not a Whiskey." %$&@.

I'm off to the Rough Water Sea Kayak Symposium on the east coast tomorrow morning sponsored by Tom Bergh of Maine Island Kayaks (

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stand Up Paddleboards

Oh yeah, just a quick note regarding a new challenge....Aqua Adventures is now home to a bunch of stand-up paddleboards. It's a whole new perspective on the world and very fun. We're working on a lesson program and our demo fleet is already being well used. Jake, who does everything easily, started doing headstands on the boards by day 2. I'll try to post a photo of his technique soon - he doesn't have quite the finesse the Freya has, but I'm impressed! And yeah, he can do a headstand in a kayak too.

Columbia River Kayaking event Aug. 16-25

I'm driving up to Washington ths week for a kayak skills symposium and BCU week. You get to Level 5 and you think you can just take it easy for a while, but I'm back to being assessed! I'm going for my open canoe 3 *. I've really been enjoying canoeing - it's a fun new challenge and it's also made some things about kayaking (and paddlesports in general) very clear to me. I recommend it (but don't give up kayaking!). I also need to go through an update process so I can train and assess at the new 4 * level. There's a really great line up of coaches at the event and I'm looking forward to working with some new people as well as catching up with some old friends. Ginni Callahan runs an amazing operation and it will be fun to hang out at her farm on the Columbia River!

I decided to drive so I can haul some kayaks back down with me. We'll have a few new NDK kayaks and a new design by Nigel Foster (Point 65 "Whiskey") by the end of August. Visit and and come by the shop to try them out!

Busy summer

What a summer it's been! With all the talk of economic doom, I kept my staff very small this year - just half of what I had last year. Luckily, they are all great, hardworking, dedicated people and business has been strong. There's no real news to report regarding the summer, but lots of interesting things are coming up including Aqua Adventures' 20th anniversary on October 4! Leading up to that, it's going to get busy...Here's my confirmed schedule for the fall. I have a couple of tentative plans as well.
August 15-24
Columbia River Kayaking LoCo Roundup and BCU Week
August 29-31
Rough Water Kayak Symposium in Point Judith, RI
Sept. 25 -30
Photo shoot in San Diego and Baja
Oct. 4 Anniversary party!
Oct. 17-22
Sea Kayak Georgia BCU week
Oct. 24 - Nov. 2
Storm Gathering, Anglesey, Wales

I'll try to post a bit more often since there's fun stuff happening again!