A couple of days after returning home from Denmark, where Mark and I were running classes, I hopped in the car to make the three-hour drive over the mountains to Whiskeytown Lake for a couple of weekend rolling classes. At home the weather was cool and foggy, typical weather for a summer day in Humboldt, but when I opened the car door in Redding I was hit by a wave of heat… 111 degrees of heat that is. Throughout the weekend there would be record breaking temperatures and not a cloud in sight.
The water at Whiskeytown Lake was cool, which felt nice under the heat of the sun. Some people worked on first rolls, others on advanced rolls and others wanted to watch demonstrations from shore of some of the more complex rolls. I was happy to oblige, as being under the surface felt wonderful during this incredibly hot weekend.
This was year four of running classes for Just Kayak More, and each year I’m thrilled to see return participants and to see how far they’ve come. Thanks to Jason and Kasumi for hosting me!
After spending the weekend in Redding I had a few days home. During this time my son Alex graduated high school, which was wonderful to see. Congrats Alex, I’m REALLY proud of you!
My parents were in town because of the graduation, and it was good to catch up with them as well.
Before leaving for the summer I also had time to catch up with my good friend Michael Morris. We spent a morning at Trinidad, bouncing around in some choppy water. It was a great day, and a nice way to relax before heading off for the summer.
Now Mark and I are in Europe and about to begin our summer tour, which starts tomorrow in Copenhagen. We’re looking forward to a fun summer in Europe!
Photos by Jason Montelongo and Helen.
After leaving the West Coast Water Festival in Sweden, Mark and I made our way to Copenhagen. Copenhagen is a wonderful city and one of our favorites, so we spent a couple of days there between classes. Among the places we visited were The Natural History Museum and Tivoli Gardens. The Natural History Museum has a wonderful and extensive traditional qajaq display. No matter how many times we visit it, we always learn something new. Tivoli Gardens is good fun, and we spent an afternoon riding the roller coasters and playing in the fun house.
After leaving Copenhagen we met up with Michael Schuh from Kajakgaarden. Over the weekend we ran two Yoga for Paddlers sessions and four rolling classes. The weather was gorgeous, and despite a little wind and a thunderstorm or two, the sun dominated the weekend. When off the water we had a wonderful time hanging out with Michael and Jane, who took very good care of us. Thanks to both of you!
Photos by Michael Schuh, Mark and Helen.
Last weekend Mark and I headed to Tanumstrand, Sweden to instruct at the West Coast Water Festival. It is one of three symposiums that Outside Magazine organizes. This was the first year of this symposium and it was a fantastic weekend! The sunny weather, enthusiastic paddlers and superb location all added to the fun.
Throughout the three-day event I ran two Yoga for Paddlers sessions, and Mark and I instructed several rolling classes together. Mark also made his way around part of the archipelago during his Coastal Navigation class. Sunday afternoon we joined in the fun in Nigel Foster and Kristin Nelson’s “Fun with Foster” class, then we headed out for a paddle around the islands.
The event had demo boats to try out, as well as several vendor booths.
There was a full schedule, which included an on-water show.
There were evening presentations as well, which included an informative presentation by Adam Hanson of Greenland on the Greenland National Kayaking Championship.
Thanks to Glenn Mattsing and Ulrika Larsson for keeping us fed and watered and taking such good care of us!
Pictures by Helen and Mark.
At home, in Northern California, water moves up and down. Once past the surf zone, you can sit and “ride the elevator” as our friend Michael often says.
Mark and I have spent the past week paddling in Wales. From most launch points the water appears as flat as a lake, but don’t let it fool you, because this is where water moves sideways… and I’m starting to really like it!
Our week began with an evening canoe trip down The River Dee. Due to some recent rain, the river had a nice flow, and Ali Othen treated us to an evening of fun as we made our way down the scenic river.
The following day we drove to North Wales where we’d be conducting rolling classes over the weekend. Upon arrival we decided to squeeze in an afternoon paddle around Puffin Island. From the parking lot the water looked flat, and I was expecting a lazy paddle around the island. Once in my kayak however, I realized that crossing to the island had to be done with determination, and a little knowledge of moving water. We ferried across, and began the journey around the island, encountering several puffins along the way. At the far end of the island the seals made an appearance, and we were quickly surrounded by them. Their heads peaked out of the water, and it wasn’t long before they were swimming under us and touching our kayaks with their pointed noses.
At the back end of the island are some overfalls. On this day they weren’t very big, but we bounced around in them for awhile, enjoying the company of the seals, which would poke their heads out of the waves to watch us.
We made our way through the overfalls and to the other side of the island, and enjoyed a leisurely paddle back, with a group of seals following closely behind us. The current had picked up, and the sideways movement of the water from Puffin Island to the mainland was now visibly noticeable. We ferried across, riding the front wave for awhile before landing on the beach.
Over the weekend we ran rolling classes on Anglesey, followed by a paddle to the rocky shore just west of Rhoscolyn Beach. Here we played in slots, tunnels and caves. At home I am very familiar with rock gardens, but here they are different. In Wales slots are often used as escape routes from tide races and overfalls. The water in the caves was flat and smooth, and it was easy to explore and enjoy the magnificent, and often colorful rock formations.
Our final day of paddling took us from Soldier’s Point to North Stack, South Stack, Penrhyn Mawr and back. We worked with the tide, hitting the overfalls at North Stack and the tide race and overfalls at Penrhyn Mawr. The tides weren’t running fast this day, but it was good fun, and a fabulous day to be on the water. The curious thing about surfing in a tide race or overfalls is that the waves stay in place. This took some getting used to because I’d see the mound behind me and paddle forward waiting for it to catch up to me. In reality, I was actually paddling away from it. After a few tries I got used to backing into the wave then moving forward with enough speed to catch it.
On the way back to Soldier’s Point the wind had picked up a bit, and wind and overfalls at South Stack made for an exciting few minutes going around the headland. From there back to the beach it was smooth sailing. After only paddling these waters a few times, I can see why Wales is a top sea kayaking destination.
Last weekend Mark and I headed to Southern England to run one of our Kayak Immersion Weekends at Swanage in Dorset. Although the weather was a bit gusty, we had a wonderful time instructing for the Chiswick Pier Canoe Club.
Both days started with Yoga for Paddlers, and throughout the weekend we took the group through Simplifying the Roll, towing exercises, Simplifying the Rescue, open water skills, exercises in group management, surf launches and landings and a few on-water scenarios.
On Monday we headed north to Liverpool to present for the Liverpool Canoe Club. The presentation included the Greenland National Kayaking Championships in 2008 (Qaqortoq, Greenland) and 2010 (Nuuk, Greenland) as well as an expedition that we guided in East Greenland in 2012.
It was wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic paddlers at both events, and we look forward to seeing you all on the water soon!
Between instructing at the East Coast Paddlesports and Outdoor Festival and running programs in the UK, which is where Mark and I are now, I got to spend a couple of weekends in our home waters of Northern California. Our local kayaking club, Explore North Coast, had lots of activities going on these two weekends, and it was nice to be around to join in the fun.
On a foggy Saturday morning I hosted Yoga for Paddlers and Paddle Day, which was a great physical and mental warm up for all of the activities that were scheduled to take place over the next few days. The following day Club members Georgianna Wood and Bruce Hales hosted a wild harvest paddle out of Trinidad. Those with fishing licenses harvested mussels, and everyone gathered seaweed and watched as crab pots were pulled.
We then gathered on the beach to cook up all of the goodies that had been collected. Additional ingredients had been brought by Club members in an organized potluck. As a starter we had kelp pickles. For the main course we had a seaweed and mussel based stir-fry over rice and a mussel based pizza. For dessert we had chocolate pudding, which was thickened with Turkish Towel, a strangely textured seaweed. It was wonderful to catch up with club members on the water and the beach during this tasty feast.
The following weekend was Explore North Coast’s Fourth Annual Social. This four-day event features paddles in several locations in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. The purpose of the non-commercial gathering is to bring California kayaking clubs together for a weekend of paddling and socializing.
The first day consisted of a paddle across Stone Lagoon to a sand spit overlooking the ocean. Once there we had a fantastic potluck while enjoying the unusually warm weather. The second day consisted of a paddle out of always popular Trinidad, followed by an evening barbecue. On the third day, some paddlers ventured north to Crescent City, others went out of Trinidad again, and a third group went for a relaxing paddle from Big Lagoon to Maple Creek. That evening the group met for dinner at the Seascape in Trinidad, which hosts a wonderful view of Trinidad Harbor. Binoculars hang over each table in case diners want to get a closer look at all of the fantastic marine mammals that live in the area. The final day was back to paddling at Trinidad, followed by surfing in Humboldt Bay. I missed most of the paddles because I ran private classes all weekend as part of the event, but I did make it out a couple of times and enjoyed catching up with paddlers during the evening gatherings.
Thanks to Mike Dedman for organizing this fun event!
A few days ago I returned home from the East Coast Paddlesports and Outdoor Festival, which is an awesome event that takes place in James Island County Park, located in Charleston, South Carolina. This was my second time instructing at this event, and both times I’ve found South Carolina to be unique and wonderful.
I arrived at the event early, and spent some time exploring. It was the first time in months that I’d been somewhere warm enough to wear shorts, and I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the park.
The event started on Friday, April 19, and after instructing Fun, Balance and Games in a warm lake, I made my way around the many vendor booths to catch up with people, meet people and check out the latest in outdoor gear. The event had some extra attractions this year, which included rock climbing, mountain biking and archery.
On Saturday I instructed Advanced Greenland Rolling with Dubside, and the class had a blast learning new rolls in the warm water. On Sunday I instructed Simplifying the Roll, and despite some wind, we were able to find a calm corner to roll in.
Evenings were spent socializing and eating tasty southern food, and there was no shortage of demonstrations and presentations to watch.
On Monday I instructed private rolling in the lake, and Tuesday was play day. Event organizer Diana Belknap took me and Dubside out for a really fun day. When asked what we wanted to do the decision was mutual… find alligators. Diana thought this was funny, but found us alligators, and we made our way around the rice fields, spotting 13 of the magnificent reptiles.
After a fun afternoon of alligator hunting Diana had more treats planned for us, and we ended up at the McLeod Plantation, which she is the caretaker for. We had the opportunity to explore both inside and outside the plantation, which is currently under study and restorative repair. It was wonderful to explore a place with so much historical significance.
Thank you to all of the organizers, and especially to Diana for taking such good care of us!
Pictures by Helen and Diana Belknap.
The following blog was previously posted on September 27. It is possible that these kayaks have been in hiding for the winter, and with warming temperatures they may just show up for sale in your neighborhood. Please keep an eye out. Thanks for your help!
I don’t think that there’s a person out there who hasn’t had one of “those” weeks. The week where everything seems to go wrong, and just when you think it can’t get any worse… it does. Mark and I are having one of those weeks, which compounded when we walked out of our hotel room this morning to discover a cut lock, cut cam straps and two missing kayaks.
The kayaks were stolen from our car sometime during the night of September 25 to 26 while we were staying in a hotel in Surrey, B.C., which is located just north of the U.S. border.
Both kayaks are Tahe Marine Greenland LC’s. Both are a carbon, kevlar, fiberglass blend, and both have black keel strips. The black one has (had?) large stickers on the side saying “Tahe Marine Expedition.” It is (was?) marked with Greenland or Bust stickers and is about three years old.
The second kayak has a white deck and a black hull which has the carbon fibre pattern on it. On the front of the deck it says TCI Lite. It is (was?) also marked with Greenland or Bust stickers. It is new. If you see these kayaks, please contact us at email@example.com (taking into consideration that they may have been sold to an unsuspecting person), or contact your local police department.
Please help us to spread the word to the Canadian and U.S. paddling communities.
Below are pictures of the stolen kayaks. Thanks for your help.
Helen and Mark
After several weeks of intense work on our upcoming DVD, Mark and I took a road trip to Scotland to work on logistics for the 7th UK Storm Gathering, which takes place in Oban on November 9 to 11, followed by BCU Week. We left England in the afternoon and drove for a large part of the night before falling asleep in the back of the camper van.
In the morning we opened the van door to an incredible view of the surrounding mountains. It really did feel like we had crossed into a different place.
Throughout the next few days we explored the area by both land and kayak. The air was crisp and calm, with an occasional gentle breeze winding its way around the islands. The potential for rough seas was there though, and this felt like the calm before the Storm Gathering.
We spent some time chatting with local paddlers, playing around town and tasting some of the local cuisine. An afternoon was spent touring a distillery, followed by an evening paddle from the Kilbowie Outdoor Centre, which will serve as this year’s home base. We got back just after the sun had set and enjoyed some tasty local seafood at one of the many restaurants in town. We also checked out the Falls of Lora, which will no doubt be a popular rough water feature during the event.
Our overall impression was that this venue really does have everything that the Storm Gathering requires, lots of exposed water, currents, tides, waves, an enthusiastic paddling community, tasty food, even tastier whiskey, and most importantly, it has a special vibe to it that confirms that this year’s Storm Gathering will be absolutely incredible.
Logistics are falling into place, and registration will open soon. So wherever you live on this watery planet, we hope you’ll consider joining us in Scotland.