Tag Archives: Kayak Symposium

So There I Was… In Maine

By Johna Till Johnson

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Every good kayaking story starts with “So there I was,” according to Carl Ladd (of Osprey Sea Kayak fame). In keeping with that adage, here goes:

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Setting off along the Maine coast

So there I was, bobbing up and down on the frigid waves crashing into the rocky coastline of Maine’s Sheepscot Bay.  The swells were substantial—four to six feet, big enough to rip someone from her kayak and deposit her and the boat on separate rocks.

That exact thing had recently happened, in fact, to another paddler.

Fortunately neither she nor her boat sustained damage, but it was a strikingly close call. One moment she was riding the surf, high over our heads, after a larger-than-usual wave broke suddenly. The next moment she was struggling in the water, and we all winced as we heard the hollow sound of her fiberglass boat crunch into the rocky shore.

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Putting the “Fun” Back Into Fundamentals: Sweetwater Kayak Symposium 2012, Part Two

By Johna Till Johnson

A short while ago I wrote about the first two days of my experience at this year’s Sweetwater Kayak Symposium in Florida. You can read about it here, but in sum: I learned more than I ever imagined, particularly about the “feel” of handling a kayak. Here’s what happened on the last day:

On the third and (for me) last day of the Symposium, we met up at the Weedon Island Preserve, a nature preserve just outside St. Petersburg. My paddling plans for the day included two courses: “Bracing, Sculling, and Rolling” in the morning,  then “Fun with Foster”, a mysterious course that course leader and kayaking legend Nigel Foster bills as “all the stuff the BCU doesn’t want you to know”. (There’s quite a lot. Keep reading!)

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Edging Into Artistry: Sweetwater Kayak Symposium 2012, Part One

By Johna Till Johnson

Note: What follows gets a bit “kayak geeky”. I’ve tried to keep things straightforward and ensure the story appeals to non-paddlers as well. But just in case I didn’t entirely succeed, consider yourselves warned!

Sometimes it’s best not to know what you’re getting yourself into.

If I’d truly understood the nature of kayaking in the beginning, I doubt I’d ever have taken up the sport.

When I first started paddling, I assumed, like most people do, that the primary requirement was upper-body strength.  And like most people, I was afraid of falling in. Not of actually being in the water (I’m a strong swimmer), but the falling-in part. Or more accurately, the loss of control and panic that hits when your boat tips over and begins to dump you into the drink.

So I figured the two main reasons for taking kayak lessons would be to build up my upper-body strength, and to learn how to keep the boat from ever tipping over.

Anyone who’s paddled for a while is already chuckling, because I couldn’t have been more wrong on those two points.

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