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, DaveFor 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 (http://www.maineislandkayak.com/).