I'm really excited to let you know about an upcoming Paddle Canada Level-3 kayaking course being offered at the end of September here in Ontario.
Running September 25-29, the course is being organized by myself and Ray Boucher in partnership with White Squall Paddling Centre and will take place in Georgian Bay (just north of Toronto).
Paddle Canada Level-3 further develops your skills for undertaking multi-day trips in open water conditions. Some of the topics we will be covering include trip planning, rescues, towing, inaccessible shoreline launching, advanced navigation, weather mysteries revealed, risk management, decision making, leadership among peers and other nerdy stuff.
This course is going to be unique in that we are planning to work our way out to a very small set of islands in southern Georgian Bay collectively called The Westerns. They lie about 12 kilometers offshore. To accomplish our goal (and if the weather cooperates), we will work through the planning and the decision making process of undertaking a major crossing like that.
Speaking of the Westerns, they are easily the most remote group of islands on Georgian Bay and very few boaters and even less kayakers ever make it out to.
The price of the 5-day course is $595+taxes. We need at least 4 people to make it run so our cut-off go/no go date for the course is September 15th. If you are looking for a challenge, contact the White Squall office and they can get you signed up.
We hope to see you there!
You need to check out this absolutely gorgeous sea kayaking short film that was put together from the gang at Kaspi Arial Media. The film follows Christine Utas, one of the instructors from the White Squall Paddling Centre as she paddles through the fog at Killbear Provincial Park. I don’t think I have ever seen Georgian Bay looking so good.
Speaking of paddling films, the Reel Paddling Film Festival is now accepting films in the following categories:
- Best Whitewater Film
- Best Sea Kayaking Film
- Best Canoeing Film
- Best Paddling Documentary
- Best Adventure Travel Paddling Film
- Best Kayak Fishing Film
- Best Instructional Paddling Film
- Best Environmental Paddling Film
- Teva Live Better Stories Amateur/Short Paddling Film
- Best Stand Up Paddling Film
If you are thinking of entering, you had better hurry as the cut-off date is August 31, 2012. You can find all the details on their website.
I just got a sad email today from my friend Tim from the White Squall Paddling Center and I couldn’t resist posting:
Our best buddy checked out today.......surrounded by friends, he left quietly and happily - it was his time. All of you gave him a grand life – and he gave us a fine one in return. Long may he run.
tim & kath
That dog was wicked awesome and his ultra (put it mildly) laid-back personally was the perfect fit for the paddling school.
I’m going to miss that big lug...
Photo credit: whitesquall.com
The canoe and kayak industry is a pretty competitive world. Combine razor thin margins on boats and a small group of people looking to get a new boat and you need to be on your game to get people in the door buying your product.
I just got the monthly newsletter from my friends at White Squall Paddling Centre. They are one of the larger boat dealers here in
The problem is that they are located way out in the sticks. Folks from Toronto need to drive about 2.5h just to get there. Of course that was never a problem when gas was half the price 5 years ago. Now that it costs $37 to drive down the block to get milk, people are not as willing to drive so far.
So how do you tackle the problem? Pay for people’s gas when they purchase a boat. White Squall just announced that for the month of June, they will give you $1 for every 10 kilometres you drive to get to the shop. There is a cap of $100 but at the end of day unless you are driving a massive SUV you pretty much get a full tank of gas out of the deal.
Boat manufactures have also been forced to get creative as well. Jackson Kayak just a tweated that they are celebrating, “Lets Go Boating Month” and offering 10% off all new boats and 20% off blemished models. No word if you need to order direct from them or if it’s available 10% through stores.
For those looking to get kayaking instruction this season there are several very interesting courses taking place in my neck of the woods that I thought I would pass along.
Coming up this June here in Toronto, Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak center is running a pilot program partnering with SKILS to offer a Day Guide program (Guide Level 1) from the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC). This is the first time that this type of program has been run out of British Columbia.
The 5-day program looks pretty solid and would appeal to anybody who is taking people out on the water. SKGABC certification has international recognition including places like New Zealand, Denmark and South America so if you are the working/traveling type, the certification card has traction in those parts as well.
More info: paddletoronto.com (1/2 way down the page)
Paddle Canada Level 2/BCU 3*
If guiding isn’t your thing but you are interested in intermediate kayaking skills why not join Bonnie Perry and myself in Wawa, Ontario this August. We are putting on again a joint Paddle Canada Level 2 and BCU 3* program at Naturally Superior Adventures on the north shore of Lake Superior.
Bonnie and I were talking on the phone just the other day howling with laughter while remembering the good times from last year. Bonnie says that she has a whole new batch of jokes ready to go. I’m still on my jokes greatest hits tour so you are going to hear my recycled gems at least three times over the week.
If you interested the Naturally Superior Adventures blog has info as well as a great collection of photos from last year.
Paddle Canada Level 3
learntokayak.ca is hosting several exciting sea kayaking skill development courses this season including two Paddle Canada Level 3 courses running out of Byng Inlet in Georgian Bay. If you are taking vacation in Spring jump on their course in May or else ask your boss for extra time off in early October.
Level 3 is a fantastic course and is aimed at intermediate paddlers who want to develop their rough water paddling skills. It starts to get into topics with a lot more detail inclding incident management, leadership, multi-day trip planning and advanced navigation.
Here are the course details if you are keen.
Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor
Finally if you are busy in both June and August then book time off in October when White Squall Paddling Center in Parry Sound, Ontario will be offering a Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor course.
This advanced instructor course is being held in conjunction with the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering (which you should be coming to anyways!) and taught by two of Ontario’s best instructors, Greg Mason and Graham Ketcheson (who also happens to be Paddle Canada’s executive director).
If you are interested in signing up, contact White Squall and they can give you all the details about the course.
We have a guest blogger today. Tim Dyer, owner of White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario has contributed in the past so I’m excited to post this today.
For some reason this winter sea kayak rescue technique seems to be a real hot topic in magazines, blogs or internet forums so Tim asked if he could chime in with several random thoughts on the issue.
Give it a go. There is so much here that it will probably require 2-3 reads to get all the meat out of it.
What do you think? Post your thoughts below.
Staying Alive on the Water – A Critical Look at Rescues
By: Tim Dyer – White Squall Paddling Centre
I’ve been thinking a lot about rescues. Maybe it’s because every time I open a paddling magazine or view the list of topics for symposia, sea kayak rescue in all its guts and glory is dissected ad nauseum. To add to the nausea, I thought I would weigh in so here are some thoughts about that most humbling piece of paddling – saving a life.
Lemons Can Get You
If you haven’t heard of Jim Raffan’s model of lemons – it’s the simplest trick in the book, yet most people don’t use it near enough. Really briefly – every time you head out and forget to think about a possible risk and more importantly how you might lessen or get rid of it entirely – consider yourself in possession of a lemon. A common example is not knowing your paddling partner’s skills – that’s a lemon! Now imagine you’ve got yourself a couple, and you’re trying to juggle them. Two aren’t so bad, but hey – a couple more have just popped up. The juggling isn’t going so well, and you’re now in the land of accidents. Maybe you won’t have one, but the likelihood is strong – all because you didn’t destroy your lemons before they got out of hand. If all you ever think of when paddling is getting rid of these dastardly little fruits, your paddling life will likely last longer, which I imagine is a good thing.
Do No Harm
Don’t go in to rescue somebody with a heroic extrication if you’re not reasonably sure of staying on top yourself. This means hanging your ego on that clothesline in the sky. You’re likely not god’s gift to kayaking so don’t pretend. And you are no good to anyone if you’re upside down in the drink.
A Bird in the Hand
Get whoever else is still on top in a position where they’ll stay on top. It’s a pretty dumb rescue if you haul somebody back in, but while your back is turned, two others go in the drink. How do you stabilize? With a skilled group, have them maintain sea position with each other into the wind. We call it a “hover” and it can also work fine with stern to wind, depending on the situation. Last thing you want is a group trying to round up going broadside to waves and current. If they can stern hover quickly, that’s great – all depends on the wind and their skills. If you have an inexperienced group, it may be all you can do to simply get them to raft up. It won’t be pretty, but they’ll stand a better chance of staying right side up. The raft becomes a big sail, so you may have some chasing to do. If you’ve played your cards well, there’s someone else capable of managing the group while you work the rescue. If not, consider yourself in lemon city.
Make Contact and Don’t Let Go
Once you decide to go in, there are no half measures. Sometimes swimmer and boat are separated, and you’ll have to make hard and fast decisions. Most often, you need to get the swimmer first – but if you can just as quickly get the boat to the swimmer, then consider it. It’s not a lot of fun to deal with someone in rough water conditions if you don’t have a boat to put them back into. Conversely, imagine proudly tagging the boat and then looking around for the swimmer who has just slipped beneath the waves. Whatever you decide, go fast – and once you’ve got them – don’t ever let go.
Talk Loudly and be Tough
Think about it – as a rescuer you’re in wild wind, crashing waves and this sorry dude is thrashing about getting colder by the second. He is not going to listen unless you’re really loud, really clear and really direct. I’ve been on both sides of this and it’s simply no time for your kinder, gentler side.
The International REEL Paddling Film Festival Coming to Parry Sound is coming to the Charles W. Stockey Centre. Parry Sound April 2, 2011.
The Film Festival showcases the world's best paddling films to audiences in Canada, United States and around the world. The festival inspires more people to explore rivers, lakes and oceans, push physical and emotional extremes, embrace and appreciate the heritage of the wild places we paddle.
Come early for happy hour and see new kayak, canoe and camping displays as well as a spectacular Outdoor Gear Charity Auction starting at 5:30. Proceeds will be donated to Global Medic*, one of Canada's most dynamic and effective non-profit aid organizations. High school students are especially encouraged to attend with a special student rate of $5!
Date: April 2
Time: 7–10 pm (Happy Hour, Boat Displays, Charity Auction from 5:30 - intermission)
Tickets: $15./adult & $5./student 18 & under. Call Stockey Centre Box Office 1-877-746-4466
The past week and a half was absolutely crazy. I left town last Thursday to the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering which I organized followed immediately by a Paddle Canada Level 3 course that I co-taught. I got back home really late on Wednesday night and had to prep for a job interview on Thursday afternoon. After that, I took a couple evenings off and sat down for the first time in 2 weeks.
How was the Gathering you might ask? It was fantastic. For those who are not in the know, I partnered with White Squall Paddling Centre and the big event took place at Snug Haven Resort which had cabins right on the water.