Archive for June, 2012

On the Road Again

Mark and I arrived in Amsterdam last Wednesday and were met by Mariette, a wonderful woman who lives in a houseboat on the edge of the fabulous city. I stayed with Mariette during my last visit to Amsterdam, and we had such a good time that it was great to be back, to catch up and also to have Mark with us. After two days of travel, we were exhausted, but with only one full day in the area we opted to explore the city instead of catch up on sleep, and by noon, we were all on a train to the heart of the city.

We explored by foot, as Mariette guided us around telling us stories about each of the districts. After a few hours of exploration we returned to Mariette’s for a nap and some home cooked food, then we were off again, this time launching from Mariette’s house and paddled through the city as the sun set. Thank you Mariette, and we look forward to seeing you again!

A canal in Amsterdam.

The following day we were picked up by Freek, the organizer of the event that we’d be instructing at the following two days. We drove to Het Sloeten Slagh for a weekend of Yoga for Paddlers, rolling clinics, strokes classes, rope gymnastics and harpoons. There were lots of familiar faces from last year’s event, and many new people to meet. In addition to the classes, the event hosted the first Dutch Greenland style championship. I judged the rolling competition and instructed in ropes while competitors tried out the moves for points in the fun competition.

Learning the Storm Roll.

A young Greenland style enthusiast.

Saturday evening consisted of a barbecue and an awards ceremony, with medals going to first, second and third places in rolling, ropes and harpoons, as well as three overall medals that were awarded.

The harpoon competition.

The "target."

The event was a success, and the weather cooperated for most of the weekend. Thanks to Freek for organizing the event and Arjan Bloem Kanocentrum and Tahe Marine for supporting it, and congratulations to all of the participants in the competition.

Lots of medals.

Happy participants.

The winners of the rolling competition.

Pictures by Helen and Mark.

July Newsletter

South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayak Symposium (SSTIKS) 2012

Last weekend Mark and I drove up the coast with our good friend Michael for the 11th annual South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayak Symposium (SSTIKS). We arrived Thursday evening, and spent some time catching up with old friends and making new ones before heading to town for some tasty barbecue at a local restaurant.

The event was a huge success, and participation was high. I was thrilled when 26 people woke up early to join me for yoga in the forest. Throughout the weekend I ran three morning yoga sessions, instructed three rolling classes and judged the rolling competition. Mark instructed Forward Paddling, Maneuvering Strokes and Core Strength.

Yoga in the forest.

Paddle making workshop.

Dubside’s evening presentation was insightful, and the auction was lots of fun. The silent and live auctions raise money for the following year’s event, enabling the SSTIKS crew to keep registration costs low, and sometimes unusual, but crowd pleasing items, are auctioned off. It was funny to see Mark’s voice auctioned off for someone’s answering machine in the live auction (which brought in $140).

Enthusiastic rollers.

Don demonstrates high angle hand position.

Other fun and engaging activities included a paddle making class, Greenland Rope Gymnastics and SSTIKS’s salmon barbecue dinner. It was a wonderful event, and we look forward to being there next year.

Salmon barbecue.

Greg relaxes between classes.

We ended our trip to Washington with a visit to the Space Needle.

After SSTIKS Mark and I hopped on a train to Seattle and spent a day exploring. We went on the Underground Tour, did some shopping and visited the Space Needle and Pike’s Place Market. Seattle is a wonderful city, and we had a ton of fun navigating it by foot. Now we’re on a plane on our way to Amsterdam and looking forward to a six week teaching tour of Europe, hosted by Tahe Marine.

Pictures by Helen and Mark.

Dancing on the river and rolling in the lake

Last weekend Mark and I headed three hours east for some classes in the warm and sunny Redding area. This was my third year, and Mark’s second, running classes for Just Kayak More.

On Friday Mark taught a canoe class on the Sacramento River, which was a real treat for me, since it was only my third time in a canoe. We had a wonderful time working on strokes in a flat-water pool and then heading down the river to play in current. I absolutely loved the experience, and have been on the hunt for a canoe ever since we got home.

Mark teaching the finer points of paddling a canoe.

And Donna trying it out.

A little moving water.

On Saturday and Sunday we ran three rolling clinics and a private skills class. It was wonderful to see how far people have come since last year, as well as to meet some new and enthusiastic paddlers. The sun shone the whole weekend, and the “somewhat” warm lake felt wonderful to play in.

Learning to roll.

A happy roller.

Thanks to Just Kayak More, and especially Jason and Kasumi for putting the weekend together. See you in October for the Kayak Immersion Weekend!

Thanks everyone!

Pictures by Mark Tozer, Helen Wilson and Jason and Kasumi Montelongo.

Just another headland…

One of things that I love about living in Arcata, California, is that it’s smack in the middle of the west coast of the United States. It takes twelve hours to get to Mexico, and about the same to get to Canada, which means that any spot in California, Oregon or Washington, is within a day’s drive.

Mark and I had been watching the marine forecast closely. We’d been looking for a day with winds coming from any direction but the south, and a swell of eight feet or less so that we could explore some caves up north. Our window came, and we hopped in the car, driving for several hours to an odd little play spot in Oregon.

This particular spot is a mile long headland. It juts out to the west providing shelter from both north winds and north swell. On this particular day, the swell was coming directly from the west, so we didn’t have a lot of protection, but at six feet, the swell was small, and the air was still and calm.

Our launch into the harbor was easy, and we paddled around the jetty to the start of the headland. At first glance, this place doesn’t appear to be very different from most headlands. However, paddling closer and hugging its steep cliffs, a sea kayaker soon realizes that they’re in paradise. Every crack becomes a cave or tunnel, and each small cove offers numerous rocks to navigate around or marvel at their beauty.

An easy journey around the jetty.

Exploring a cove.

A sheltered cave.

We made our way from cove to cove exploring every inch of the rocks until we finally reached the last cove. From here, it’s fun to paddle around the headland through a wind tunnel into the exposed cove on the other side and then to surf back over a shallow reef to return to the southern side of the headland.

Mark enjoying a hidden cave.

Sea foam on the northern side of the headland.

After hours of play it was time to leave, and we exited the final cove to be reminded that the car was less than a mile away. This is one of those wonderful places that only kayakers can really get to. The locals aren’t aware of the caves, and even other kayakers seem to be missing from this rare treasure…

Pictures by Mark and Helen.

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