Over the years I have met people who tell me how much paddling has changed their life in one way or another but it isn’t often that you find somebody who can truly say that kayaking saved their life. Well, now you can add author and friend of this site, Sean Smith to that short list.
To get the full story you are going to need to pick up his recently released autobiography, The Fat Paddler in which Sean tells the very inspiring story of recovery which includes not one but two severe motor vehicle accidents, the 2002 Bali bombing (which he was a witness to), post-traumatic shock, extreme weight gain, and depression. The Fat Paddler hides behind nothing and it’s a very honest account of his adult life and how he dealt with those struggles.
So how did kayaking save his life? Sean was introduced to the sport several years earlier but never really took it up until after one of the car accidents and he needed an activity that could accommodate his lower body injuries.
Of course Sean got hooked on sea kayaking right away which helped him focus and get back in shape and ultimately recover from depression and other physical injuries. In a short-while he leveraged his fantastic marketing skills to develop the highly successful blog, The Fat Paddler as a way to document his recovery.
I remember stumbling on his blog shortly after he started posting a couple of years ago and it’s been a blast to follow along with his adventures. I remember reading reports in the early days where he describes the massive waves that were at least six inches high; now that his kayak skills have considerably improved he is out on much bigger adventures.
The Fat Paddler is a very inspirational story and I suggest that you check out. It’s currently being distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand so if you don’t live in that area you will need to import it through your local bookstore. E-book readers will be pleased to know that it has just become available worldwide on iTunes via the iBook app so it might be easier to pick up there. Here are the direct iTunes links for Canada, United States and Australia.
Navigation, Sea State and Weather - A Paddlers Manual is a brand new instruction book on the market written by Michael Pardy, JF Marleau, Andrew Woodford & Piper Harris.
The goal of the book is to tackle some of the more complex theory topics that most paddlers have a hard time wrapping their heads around. Several of the topics include tides and currents, using a compass, navigation, and how weather works.
The authors of the book are all extremely well qualified instructors and authors. They are owners of the company called SKILS - Sea Kayak Instruction and Leadership Systems, one of the busiest intermediate/advanced instruction schools in Canada and they have probably taught more paddlers how to be instructors then anybody else in Canada. Michael Pardy is also a co-author of the book, Sea Kayaker Magazine's Handbook of Safety and Rescue so you know that the content between the covers is up to a very high standard.
Topics covered in the book include:
- Keeping navigation simple
- Decktop navigation
- Tides and decoding tide tables
- Introduction to maps and charts
- Buoyage & lights
- Dealing with poor visibility
Sea Kayak Strokes written by Doug Alderson is slightly different in that it only covers the foundation skills for paddling. By leaving out all the other areas of kayaking like rescues, camping or navigation skills, Alderson is able to focus and go into an immense amount of detail for each different boat-control skill or paddling stroke.
Doug Alderson is a very analytical thinker and it is very evident as you read through the book. In it, he has taken each skill and broken it down into key points, application for real life and exercises to work on common mistakes.