Monday, June 29, 2009

Intro to Lake Superior Weekend

Every year in June we offer an "Intro to Lake Superior" weekend for people in the club that want to get out on the big lake for the first time. We use Basswood Island as a destination because its only about a mile crossing, and usually a very protected bay when the wind starts to blow. Unfortunately this time we had an East wind as an unusually strong low pressure weather system came through. We had some new paddlers on this trip so we elected to camp on the mainland for both Friday and Saturday night. We did to the normal clinics on Navigation and map reading skills, along with plenty of talk on weather. Saturday morning we wanted to get everyone out in the wind and waves to get a feel for the lake, and also to let people push their limits a bit. We headed along the shoreline into the wind first, did some turns and maneuvering to get the feel of the wind and waves from all directions. The lake decided to calm down a bit while we were out, so we turned down wind to visit one of the shipwrecks. How long the lake stays calm is anybodies guess, so we then decide to make the crossing to Basswood to maybe check out the sea stack at Basswood. A little more than half way across the lake decides to let the wind and waves begin again. Well, one capsize, and some directional control problems we changed plans and headed back to the mainland. A little towing involved and everyone got a real lesson on how fast Lake Superior can change her mind.Sunday brings about more of the same wind and waves. Everyone who knows the area and still wants to paddle can find a spot to go. It seemed everyone had the same idea. Bark Bay Slough is a secluded place to go when there are small craft advisories and getting on Superior is a bad idea. We did get out for a nice paddle, the wind though was still blowing hard. Along the way we ran across two people who were getting blown along the shore, one of them in a solo canoe. She had almost no control and was getting into trouble. Chris, the good guy he is offered to tow her back to the launch. I really don't know how she would have got back otherwise.

Even the lily pads were having a hard time hanging on!

Bark Bay slough is a great place to check out regardless of the weather. Birds, and other wildlife are plentiful in this hidden little sanctuary.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Greenland Thing

When I received my email from Gail regarding the classes and who was teaching what, she said there was some room to change things a little bit after things got going. Once the symposium started, it became apparent that changing things around was going to be the norm, and not the exception! The traditional classes were full up, along with rolling. Both of my favorite subjects! I had been first assigned to the beginner classes, and by all rights that was where I should be, given my short tenure as an instructor. But I couldn't help wishing I could have the opportunity to help teach the traditional classes with Doug Van Doren. I could hope, right? At the instructor meeting at 8am on Saturday morning, when it was asked if anyone could help teach the traditional classes I raised my hand and was ready to give it a go. but to be honest I had to tell the lead instructors that .. yes, I've been paddling with a gp for the last 5 years, but if you want me to teach high level skills, and the like .. I will be in over my head. Doug assigned me with Lynn and Lynn for the first half day. This was perfect! I had the opportunity to work with two skilled instructors, with students who were just getting into Greenland paddling. Fun stuff to see people start to understand how the Greenland paddle works! My teaching assignment for the class was draw strokes .. I think I did OK. For the afternoon class, I fully expected to again help with the beginner class. But to my surprise Doug had me tail along with him and Mark Rogers from Superior Kayaks to help teach the advanced strokes class .. was I over my head to teach advanced Greenland strokes? Maybe. I was there to observe, and help as asked. But with Doug leading the class I was able to model after him and things went really well. He is a skilled teacher! It is amazing how well he can hold the attention, and keep a large class together while we drift in the wind across the bay. What I found I liked about the class was the practical use of the paddle. Nothing complicated, just the common sense way to use a tool in the water, to its fullest potential.
What I do find interesting though is the use of the Greenland paddle in just about any kayak. My little blue skin boat with the little white globs of silicone sealant to plug leaks was the only one on the beach all weekend. With the exception of Mark Rogers display boats. Greenland paddling is becoming all about the paddle. I'm not sure if that's the right way to go.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inland Sea '09

Back from the Instructor Update and Inland Sea Symposium. Lots to talk about, and lots of photos to go through. Now next weekend is an intro to Lake Superior trip with small group from the club. Hopefully I can sit down soon and get some thoughts and words together from the symposium. I had the chance to work with some really great people last week!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Inland Sea

I'll be heading to Northern Wisconsin Wednesday morning. I hope to make it to Chris Gmeinders Grand Opening of his new shop in Bayfield .. "Boreal Shores Kayaking". He's been hard at work getting ready. Nigel Dennis will even be there for the opening. It should be a fine event, and a great addition to the town of Bayfield Wisconsin. Then I'm up for an instructor update, and a weekend of teaching at the "Inland Sea Kayak Symposium". Sunday seems a long way off right now, I'm sure the week will fly by.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Class of '09

Teaching kayak skills can be as difficult as it is rewarding. I had the pleasure to work with 4 great instructors this weekend with our "Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues" course. But the real stars of the show were the people who came out to spend a day learning as much as they could about strokes and rescues. I've not seen this much effort put out by such a large group of people for quite some time. I ended the day as tired as I was rewarded.