Saturday, 17 August 2013 16:24

2013 Georgian Bay Storm Gathering Update


Tim Dyer and I have decided that we are going to take a year off organizing the 2013 Georgian Bay Storm Gathering and likely switch it over to running every two years.

The reason for the switch is pretty simple; we are both super busy want to spend this October going on other adventures. Also, the Gathering has been running for 7 years so taking a year off so you can attend the many other rough water paddling events in North America is a good thing. The closest one to us is the Gales Storm Gathering taking place in the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin, October 11-13.

When we first started the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering, we wanted to create an event that was focused first on community building with a little bit of instruction thrown in and I think that we have accomplished that. We are pretty proud of it but no need to panic; it will be back for 2014.


Published in Events

Over the past two weekends I had the pleasure of attending both the Gales Storm Gathering in Wawa, Ontario as well as organizing the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering in Parry Sound, Ontario.

Gales Storm Gathering
This was the second year for the Gales Storm Gathering and since it rotates around Lake Superior from year to year this was the first time that it has run in Canada. That made for a bit of a challenge for organizers as it also happened to take place over Canadian Thanksgiving so sadly there were not a lot of Canadians registered. That was ok, the enthusiasm and excitement from gang who was there more then made up for the lack of Canucks.

The Gales had an absolutely stunning set of instructors brought in for the event including Nick Cunlife (from the UK), Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme (from Washington state, Christopher Lockyer (from Nova Scotia), Keith Wikle, Ryan Rushton, Sam Crowley, Erik Ogaard and well, the list is to long you should go to the website to see everybody.

Gales Storm Gathering at Naturally Superior Adventures

Anybody who says that the Great Lakes don’t get ocean conditions has clearly never been to Lake Superior in October or November. Throughout the weekend we were under a gale wind warning with winds around 25-35 knots and surf coming in around 4-8 feet for almost the entire weekend.

Because of the extra large surf at the mouth of the Michipicoten River on the door steps of Naturally Superior Adventures, we were able to make use of the several neighbouring beaches where the surf was a more manageable height of around 2-3 feet.

A couple of highlights for me included co-instructing a beginner surf clinic with Shawna as well as tagging along for an ACA Level 4 instructor assessment with Ryan Rushton and Sam Crowley. For the assessment we went on a downwind run south from Wawa to Old Woman Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park which was about 22km (13 miles) long. While out on the trip we experienced almost every type of weather condition including 25 knot winds, sunshine, clouds, rain, and sleet and finally snow.

As soon as I got home after driving 12 hours, I threw all my laundry in the wash with just enough time to pack it up again and head out on the road again. This time it was north to Parry Sound to the event that I run, the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering. Now in its fifth year the Gathering has become a southern Ontario tradition for intermediate kayakers.

Georgian Bay Storm Gathering
Now I’m totally biased but I always look forward to the Gathering as one of my favourite events of the year. This year we had instructors from across Canada and the US including Gary Doran (from Victoria, BC), Kelly Blades (from Michigan), Ray Boucher and Dave Wells (both from Wawa, Ontario). We also had a huge pile of other amazing instructors so check out the website for the full list.

The annual dock launch.

Weather wise, we had pretty good winds throughout the weekend but because the direction was from the NE, we didn’t have the largest conditions (not like the Gales that’s for sure). That being said, there was more than enough lumpy water to run clinics on surfing, rocks, rough water rescues, etc. Though I would have liked slightly larger conditions, it was ok as we know how to make our own fun. Highlights included the annual dock launch, paddling in pea-soup fog and a serious match of pumpkin polo. If you haven’t seen pumpkin polo before, picture a large group of kayakers driving over each other while tossing around a medicine ball. It got pretty heated at times.

So for me that ends the organized paddling season for 2012. We still have plans to get out and do a lot of paddling in November and December but I can finally take off my teaching hat and paddle for myself for a change.

See you out there.

Top photo credit: Karine Boucher
Middle photo credit: Meg Garnett

Published in Events

Did you know it’s the middle of August? I sure didn’t. That means that for most people, the paddling season is 90% over. Booo. Just because Labour Day is coming soon, that doesn’t mean you need to hang up your lifejacket for the season. There is a large pile of events taking place throughout the fall to keep your braining tricked into thinking its still summer.

Here are a couple highlights to start planning for in September and October:

Ontario Greenland Camp
If you are a skinny stick paddler you need to make room in your extensive social calendar to attend the Ontario Greenland Camp September 7-9 in Bracebridge, Ontario.

The line-up of mentors and instructors looks really solid with Cheri Perry, Turner Wilson, Dubside as the big names. Tom Froese and Jill Ellis are both coming to teach the paddle making workshops.

More info:


Gales Storm Gathering
The Great Lakes is going to host to two fantastic rough water paddling events this season so book your work vacation days now. The Gales Strom Gathering takes place in Wawa, Ontario over the October 5th weekend. The event is going to feature a collection of fantastic instructors from around the world including Andy Stamp, Nick Cunliffe, Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme and Christopher Lockyer. That doesn’t include the crazy gang of local instructors who have last names like Wikle, Rushton, Crowley, Fairty, Blades and Bloyd-Peshkin. With so many people having so much fun, you need to be there.

The other cool thing with this event is that for the 6 days leading up to the Gales there is going to be a large collection of advanced instruction with courses from the British Canoe Union, American Canoe Association and Paddle Canada. It’s going to be a smack down of instructor nerds fighting for your love.

Check out the website with all the course and event details at


Georgian Bay Storm Gathering
The very next weekend after the Gales Storm Gathering is my event which takes place in Parry Sound, Ontario on October 11-14.

The Georgian Bay Storm Gathering is for intermediate paddlers who are looking for one good last kick at the can for some rough water paddling on Georgian Bay before winter sets in.

It’s a bit of a different weekend where we encourage people to come with their bucket list of things they always wanted to do but just haven’t got around to giving it a try. Want to work on your rough water rescues? What about surfing? Always dreamed of getting thrown off a high dock in your boat? This is the weekend to get ‘er done.

We got a pile of top quality instructors coming from across Canada and the US including Gary Doran, Kelly Blades, Erik Ogaard and Ray Boucher (that guys wicked awesome).

More info:


Lumpy Waters Symposium
If you find yourself in Pacific City, Oregon over the weekend of October 19th and looking for something to do, make your way to the Lumpy Waters Symposium. It’s a fantastic event for people interested in rough water instruction and tomfoolery.

The list of top-quality instructors is massive and includes Danny Mongo, Paul Kuthe, Steve and Cindy Scherrer, Sean Morley, Rob Avery and Christopher Lockyer (didn’t we see him at the Gales?).

It’s a key fall event for west coast paddlers so get yourself registered pronto.

More info:

Photo credit: Malcolm Taliano

Published in Events

 Battling the wind and rain at the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering. Photo credit: Virginia Marshall.

This is Dave Wells from Naturally Superior Adventures and Scott Ewart from 1000 Islands Kayak are getting a serious arm workout.

Virginia Marshall from Adventure Kayak magazine took this awesome photo at the 2011 Georgian Bay Storm Gathering last month. That’s 35 knot (70 km/h) winds and yes, the rain is coming in sideways.

Published in Photography
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 20:13

Georgian Bay Storm Gathering Recap [Wind]

This past weekend the 4th annual Georgian Bay Storm Gathering took place and once again it was a real blast. You might call me biased (as I’m one of the organizers) but my benchmark for a successful outing with my kids is the lack of crying and tears. Using that metric, I would say that the Gathering was highly successful.

If you have never attended before you will find that it is different then other symposiums in a couple different ways. Firstly, it’s all about having a good time; if you are not having fun then something is wrong. We also work really hard to make the learning sessions as informal as possible. It’s about what you want to learn and your chance to finally work on your rough water “bucket list” of skills.

Over the past several years the weather for the Gathering hasn’t been the best. Typically we would get at least one absolutely calm day where we need to make our own fun pretending we are out in raging surf or sliding down rock faces. This year things turned out to be quite different when a low pressure system formed over the Great Lakes bringing sustained 35 knot (40mph) winds on Friday and 40 knot (46mph) winds for Saturday and Sunday.

Wind and Rain

Of course high winds meant it was difficult to do any teaching as nobody could hear a thing. After a quick survey to see who had paddled in those conditions before (5-6 people), the goal of the morning was to take all who wanted to get out on the water to experience it. We split the group up into smaller working pods and found calmer places in the several different channels along the shoreline. Some of the keener groups jumped in and worked on surfing or boat control around rocks while other groups took their time sticking their nose out in the wind and quickly coming back to the safety of the channel.

At the end of the day it was exactly what the Storm Gathering is about, an opportunity to get paddlers out doing what they always wanted to do in semi-controlled conditions.

Below is a collection of photos I took throughout the weekend:

Thanks to David Unrau for posting the video above.

Published in Events

Getting started at the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering. Photo credit: Virginia Marshall

Summer has somehow slipped into history and the Fall paddling season is just ahead of us.

If you live in the Great Lakes area of Canada/US then you are going to want to look into attending one (or both) of these events this fall.

The Gales

The Gales Storm Gathering Logo

This is a brand new event being held in Marquette, Michigan on October 8-10.

It’s being described as, “a fun, invigorating sea kayaking instructional event for students looking to gain experience “in conditions” on the Great Lakes.”

Keith Wikle from Go Kayak Now! has partnered up with Downwind Sports and the Geneva Kayak Center to put it on so you know it’s going to be top notch.

The list of guest instructors is quite impressive and represents some of the best instructors in North America. The list includes Shawna Franklin, Leon Somme, Ryan Rushton, Keith Wikle, Sam Crowley, Scott Fairty, Kelly Blades, Alec Bloyd-Peshkin and Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin.

Session topics throughout the weekend include surfing, long boats in current, open water navigation, rock gardening, rough water rescues and incident management.

If you are thinking of going then you had better jump on it today as it’s over half sold out already.

More info:


Stuck on a rock at the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering


Georgian Bay Storm Gathering

georgian bay_storm_gathering_logo

The Gathering is taking place for the fourth year on October 13-16 in Parry Sound, Ontario.

I will come clean and tell you that this event is organized by me in partnership with White Squall Paddling Centre so you are welcome to take it with a grain of salt when I say that this event is awesomely awesome.

Like the Gales we will be working through a wide selection of rough water paddling skills including working with waves and surf, towing & open water rescues and rough water paddling.

We have a whole pile of facilitators coming in from across Canada who are there to make sure you get a chance to work on those skills you always wanted to try out in rough water. The list of leaders include, Tim Dyer, Gary Doran, Ray Boucher, Charlotte Jacklein, Myself, Graham Ketcheson, Greg Mason, Erik Ogaard, Liz Burnside and David Wells

The Georgian Bay Storm Gathering dock launch throwdown.

Finally, we will also have our infamous dock launching competition once again. The dock launch never fails to provide a lot of laughs in the audience towards to those who land on their heads. Good times.

It looks like registration is going quite well and there are only 5-6 spots available so get on it if you haven’t already.

More info:

Photo Credits: Top photo: Virginia Marshall, Middle Photo: Rob Dale, Bottom Photo: Virginia Marshall

Published in Events

Adventure Kayak - Spring 2011

I recently got the latest issue of Adventure Kayak and was pleased to see the article I had written on expedition kayak modifications for weekend warriors made it in. It was a fun article to put together as Justin Curgenvan, Bryan Hansel, Derrick Mayoleth and Serge Savard all provided some great tips on pimping your boat.

Turning the page I found what I was really looking for. Adventure Kayak editor, Virginia Marshall wrote a piece on the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering that I co-organize each Fall. I knew she was writing the piece as we did an interview when she attended the event back in October but I hadn't seen anything until now.

Adventure Kayak Storm Gathering Article Adventure Kayak Storm Gathering Article

I'm pleased the way the article came out and the photos really capture the essence of the event which is all about getting out for some rough-water paddling and actually having fun doing it.

You can find the latest issue of Adventure Kayak online by going here.

Published in Industry Stuff
Friday, 31 December 2010 11:48

Sea Kayak Photos of the Moment: Playtime

The 8 Person Kayak - Photo Credit: David H. Johnston

The 8 Person Kayak

Upside Down Kayaking - Photo Credit: David H. Johnston

Kevin Utas ahead of the trend on a hugely growing sport - Stand-Up Paddling on an upside down sea kayak.

Over he goes.  - Photo Credit: David H. Johnston

He didn’t last long.

All were taken in Parry Sound, Ontario at the 2009 Georgian Bay Storm Gathering.

Photo Credits: Myself

Published in Photography

Standing Around Waiting to Start - Flickr Credit: akasharkbow

This past weekend Tim Dyer from White Squall and myself hosted the 3rd Annual Georgian Bay Storm Gathering at Snug Haven Resort just outside of Parry Sound. 55 intermediate and advanced paddlers from all over Ontario came together to play in the lumpy, cold waters one last time before the season wraps up.

Snug Haven Resort is a great location to host an event like for several reasons. Firstly it’s located in a sheltered harbour in Georgian Bay making launching and landing easier. It allows instructors to find the perfect location for their lessons as teaching in high winds isn’t optimal. The location is also perfect as participants can run back to heated cabins with showers at the end of a long, wet day.

Of course running an event with the word "Storm" in it on the Great Lakes is always a gamble. Those who participated in last years Gathering will remember fondly the ultra smooth waters of Georgian Bay the entire weekend. It was great news to finally saw, “Small Craft Wind Warning” come up on the marine forecast as we got closer to the weekend.

Published in Events
I finally got my computer fixed this past weekend and I can now import video without it starting to smoke and buzz under the strain.

Since then, I have been editing like mad and threw together this short little highlight reel from the 2008 Gathering a couple of weeks ago.

All the footage was shot out on a really cool set of shoals just east of the snake islands on Georgian Bay.

Published in Events
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