Archive for December, 2014

Happy Holidays From Greenland or Bust – 2014

Calling all paddlers – FREE BEER and FREE DVDs at Storm Gathering USA

The biggest challenge about writing a blog is getting people to read it, and FREE BEER at Storm Gathering USA and a FREE DVD might be the way… If you’re a paddler, we want to convince you why you should come to Trinidad, California for Storm Gathering USA, and if you’ll stick with me for a few minutes, I think that we might just be able to do that…

Trinidad, California

Trinidad, California

I began sea kayaking several years ago in Trinidad, California with a group of paddlers from the local club, Explore North Coast. The Club organizes paddles that are always tons of fun to attend. Through the Club I met “The Paddle Pals,” a group of like minded kayakers that meet every Sunday morning for what we call “Sunday Services.” For years I’d look forward to Sunday, with each week bringing new adventures. I remember launching one Sunday and paddling to the front of Trinidad Head to sit in the 28 foot swell. The swell would lift us to incredible heights, and at the top, a strong gust of wind that was generated from the swell itself would blow over us, causing our chests to lift as we inhaled deeply before dropping down into the trough. I remember thinking how that deep inhale filled my body with so much energy that I felt like I was going to explode. It was that same day we watched porpoises dancing in the powerful swell under a double rainbow. Other days we’ve been followed by whales, Stellar Sea Lions, California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, River Otters, Harbor Porpoises, and once, a great white shark. The ocean is an incredible being, and Trinidad is where I fell in love with it.

Trinidad has the option of a harbor launch that allows paddlers to get into very large swell without having to negotiate a surf zone.

Trinidad has the option of a harbor launch that allows paddlers to get into very large swell without having to negotiate a surf zone.

When Mark and I became, well, Mark and I, he also became a part of my business, Greenland or Bust, and I began working with him on organizing the UK Storm Gathering Symposiums, which began in Mull, Scotland in 2006. I have been co-organizing that event with Mark since 2011. I remember the first time Mark and I paddled in Trinidad together, I told him that I thought that it was an ideal location to run a sea kayaking symposium, and he agreed. Time went on, and we began loosely organizing. About a year ago we took the plunge and decided to do it. Storm Gathering USA takes place from March 6 to 8, 2015.

"Smack Wall" is a popular feature among locals.

“Smack Wall” is a popular feature among locals.

The biggest challenge for running a symposium in this location, is that it is five hours away from the nearest major city. This means that people need to travel to get here, but we guarantee that it’s worth it. Trinidad is located in the coastal redwood forest of Humboldt County, which is home to the tallest trees on the planet. Standing under them is magical and an experience that you won’t forget, and paddling next to them is an adventure that few kayakers have had. If you’re coming from out of the area, consider bringing your non-kayaking family, because they’ll have just as much fun off the water as you do on the water. We’re a five hour drive north of San Francisco and an eight hour drive south of Portland. There is an airport 10 minutes from the event (Arcata/Eureka – airport code ACV) with United flights coming in and out several times a day. If you get to the airport, we can help get you to the event. P&H will be on site with kayaks to rent, and you can choose how much you want to spend on accommodation, from a cheap campsite, to affordable cabins, to The Lost Whale Inn – a FANTASTIC B&B that is a pricier option, but well worth the money if you want to splurge.

Being on land isn't so bad either.

Walking amongst the redwoods is magical.

The event is staged out of The Emerald Forest in Trinidad. The Emerald Forest has cabins, campsites and RV sites, as well as the “Celebration Hall,” a rustic community room with a warm wood fireplace and a kitchen.

Rough Water Boat Handling is just one of many open water classes.

Rough Water Boat Handling is just one of many open water classes.

There are many fantastic instructors out there, and narrowing it down to just a few was tough. The group that we came up with are all highly qualified paddlers and coaches, but more importantly they’re wonderful people who always put their students at the top of the learning experience. We have asked each coach what they want to teach, which means that when you take a class with them, you know it’s something that they not only excel in, but love teaching as well.

Three levels of rock gardening classes are also offered.

Three levels of rock gardening classes are offered.

The classes we’re offering are designed for three levels of paddlers; advanced-beginner, intermediate and advanced-intermediate/advanced. Participants are asked when they register to assess their skill level and pick the classes that are right for them. Among those classes, we’re offering various rock gardening, surf, rolling and paddling technique classes, but we’re also offering specialty classes, such as Kayak Sailing and Fun with Foster. We’re handling registration a little differently than you may be used to, as we’re asking people to pick their classes, and then we’re setting the schedule. This way, if lots of people want to take the same class, we can offer multiple sessions of it at the same time. Classes with designated instructors, such as Simplifying the Roll with Helen Wilson and Fun with Foster, clearly have limited availability however.

Simplifying the Roll and Combat Rolling are also offered.

Simplifying the Roll and Combat Rolling are also offered.

There will be presentations at Trinidad Town Hall on both Friday and Saturday night, with Friday night being a report from one of our coach’s recent expeditions (more details soon) and Saturday night being an entertaining evening hosted by Ben Lawry. There will also be an auction with GREAT prizes from the event’s sponsors… and FREE BEER, also provided by sponsors.

Dinner is included in our “Option 1” registration packet, and although we’re still figuring out the menu, dinners will be catered by one of our local businesses.

The coaching staff.

The coaching staff.

Gift certificates for registration (of any amount) are available. Please contact us at info@greenlandorbust.org for more information.

Visitors to the area are often surprised by the abundant wildlife. Here a whale makes an appearance.

Visitors to the area are often surprised by the abundant wildlife. Here a whale makes an appearance.

All this said, are you thinking of coming? If so, drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you and are happy to answer any questions… And a little incentive to register early. If you register from now until Christmas you’ll receive a FREE DVD (a $29.95 value), either Simplifying the Roll with Helen Wilson or Yoga for Outdoor People. Of course, if you’ve already registered you’ll receive one as well. That’s our way of saying THANK YOU for registering early. We can’t wait to welcome you to our playground.

Here’s the website again: www.stormgatheringusa.wordpress.com.

We hope to see you in March!

We hope to see you in March!

Jamaica Circumnavigation Attempt

mp_Jamaica-BlI love the cold; the crunch of snow under my boots, the crisp clean air that leaves your nose tingling and the wonky smiles of snowmen. I even love the clothes that you get to wear in cold places; snuggly sweaters, fleece pajamas and hats… anyone who knows me knows that I love hats, especially bulky knitted ones. Cold climates are awesome, but occasionally you just need to warm up…

It was a cold afternoon in Wales and Mark and I had just gotten off the water. We were cold, and the gas fire and hot chocolate just wasn’t doing the trick. There was a map of the world in front of us and my eyes fell to Jamaica. I questioned Mark about why we never paddle in warm climates and neither of us knew. It was then that we decided to circumnavigate Jamaica.

Oddly enough things started to fall into place immediately. That week I met a woman who knew another woman, who I also knew, who had the contact information for a kayaker in Jamaica, and in no time at all we were talking, planning and making it happen. This was over a year ago, and on Sunday, Dec. 28 we fly there. We’ll begin paddling on Tuesday, Dec. 30.

The team consists of three of us, myself, Mark Tozer and Wes Moses. We’ll start and finish in the historic Port Royal and paddle counterclockwise. As far as we know, we will be the first people to attempt this circumnavigation, which totals 635 miles. As far as speed, there will be long days and there will be longer days, but we’re not trying to set a speed record. Instead we’re planning to enjoy the water, the sun and the Jamaican scenery as we paddle around a place that Mark and I have only ever seen in pictures. We plan to finish by the end of January.

As for gear, we’ll all be using gear provided specifically for the expedition by Kokatat, Snap Dragon Design, Barz Optics and WindPaddle Sails. I’ll also be using gear provided by the following sponsors: Outdoor Research, Gath Helmets and Joe O’ Paddles. Mark and Wes will be using paddles provided by Celtic Paddles (which is awesome, but I’m going to stick with my GP 🙂

Canoe & Kayak Magazine will be posting updates as we go.

For those of you spending the winter in a cold environment, please tell it “hello,” and throw a snowball or two for me. Wherever you’re spending the winter, enjoy it!

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