Archive for September, 2013

Essential Sea Kayak Weekend: Anglesey, North Wales, April 17 to 19

Date: October 17 to 19

Location: Anglesey, North Wales

Description: This event is open to sea kayakers of all abilities. It is designed as a 3-day celebration of the very best of North Wales sea kayaking. Based on the world-famous island of Anglesey, the event will offer an exciting range of coaching sessions, workshops, trips, tours and presentations, matched by lively evenings of entertainment.


Sea Kayak Improver Weekend: October 12 to 13, North Wales

Date: October 12 to 13

Location: North Wales

Description: This course provides the opportunity to discover the great variety and subtle pleasures of sea kayaking, while exploring the superb coastlines of Anglesey and the Llŷn Peninsula.

During the weekend course, the emphasis is on building upon your existing kayaking skills to develop confident boat handling in wind and waves. It is not possible to cover everything in a weekend, however coaching sessions can include improved forward paddling, safety and rescue skills, simple navigation, tidal and weather considerations, trip planning and possibly some surfing skills.

By the end of the course, you should have developed a good understanding of safe and enjoyable sea kayaking, and feel more self sufficient in your own paddling activities.

This course is not suitable if you are a beginner paddler.


Learn to Sea Kayak Weekend: September 28 and 29, Menai Strait, North Wales

Date: September 28 and 29

Location: Menai Strait, North Wales

Description: The aim of this course is to give you a safe and enjoyable introduction to sea kayaking with the emphasis on good coaching to develop your confidence and ability in this popular side of paddlesport.

You will spend the entire weekend in sea kayaks, developing basic boat handling skills, including an effective forward paddling technique and safety and rescue skills. You will also spend some time looking at how to interpret weather and tides in relation to planning a sea kayak trip.

Over the course of the weekend, you will paddle a variety of sheltered coastal locations, and by the end of the course, you will have gained the confidence to comfortably handle a sea kayak in calm conditions.


7th UK Storm Gathering – Are you going?

For the past few months, Greenland or Bust and Kayak Essentials have been putting together the 7th UK Storm Gathering. This open water symposium began in 2006 on the island of Mull in Scotland. Since then it has rotated locations, and this year it returns to Scotland, taking place in Oban from November 9 to 11. BCU Week follows it from November 12 to 17.


This year’s coaching team includes Tony Hammock, Carol Lange, Ken Lacey, Jonny Eldridge, Chris Lockyer, Steve Mills, Jim Wilson, Richard Cree, Jim Krawiecki, Nick Cunliffe, Matt Giblin, Mark and me.


Class offerings include Fun – Balance – Games and Rolling, Boat Care and Repair, Navigation, Effective Stroke Work, Leadership for BCU 3 – 4 Star Paddlers, Sea Kayak Journeys, Intermediate Moving Water Skills, Leadership for BCU 4 – 5 Star Paddlers, Fundamental Seamanship, Rough Water Boat Handling, Efficient Forward Paddling, Greenland Techniques and Traditions, Introduction to Moving Water, Incident Management, Moderate Water Boat Handling, Intermediate Tide Race Skills, Open Crossings – Tools and Tactics. Classes are listed by level, so as you can see, there’s something for everyone. If none of this sounds appealing, the Oban Distillery is just down the road…


The BCU week lineup includes a 3 Star Sea Assessment, a 4 Star Sea Training, a 4 Star Sea Assessment, a 5 Star Sea Training, a 5 Star Sea Assessment, BCU Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning, BCU Open Water Navigation and Tidal Planning and a Qajaq Immersion Day.


The base for the event is the Kilbowie Outdoor Centre, which has everything that a symposium could ask for, AND it’s right on the water!


We hope that you’ll consider joining us for this fun event in Scotland. For more information or to register, visit


The Traditional Paddlers Gathering

Last week I headed to Minnesota for the Traditional Paddlers Gathering. It was my fourth year mentoring at this fun event, and it was great to be back.

Lots of people worked on rolls in the warm lake.

Lots of people worked on rolls in the warm lake.

The warm weather made it easy to get wet.

The warm weather made it easy to get wet.

The event takes place at a communal camp in Lake Carlos State Park. The camp is very comfortable and right on the water.

There were lots of skin-on-frame qajaqs to try, including the Qajaq USA fleet.

There were lots of skin-on-frame qajaqs to try, including the Qajaq USA fleet.

Danielle demonstrates Greenland Rope Gymnastics.

Danielle demonstrated Greenland Rope Gymnastics.

The Gathering is a Qajaq USA event put on by the Inland Sea Kayakers. I find this group of paddlers to be fun, friendly and welcoming. Laughter could be heard throughout the full four day event.

Lots of people tried the ropes.

Lots of people tried the ropes during the interactive demonstration.

Tony prepares himself for the harpoon competition.

Tony prepares himself for the harpoon competition.

There were lots of classes taking place, but for my part I mentored rolling, skin-on-frame rescues and a class on teaching rolling. I also presented a slideshow on the 2013 Nordic Tour that Mark and I did this summer. There were lots of local mentors, and in the spirit of a Qajaq USA event, everyone had something to contribute.

Many people participated in the harpoon throwing competition.

Many people participated in the harpoon throwing competition.

Close... but no seal for dinner this time.

Close… but no seal for dinner this time.

One thing that really makes this event stand out is its harpoon competition. Jeff Bjorgo runs it, and every year the rules change. Participants wait in anticipation for Jeff to arrive and to hear the “new rules.” This year lots of people brought their own harpoons to the event, and throughout each day participants could be seen practicing their technique on the styrofoam seals that bobbed in the lake.

Watching the harpoons was a fun thing to do while taking a break from on water activities.

Watching the harpoons was a fun thing to do while taking a break from on-water activities.

All in all, the weekend was spectacular. Over the past few years I’ve gotten to know many of the Minnesota paddlers, and they’ve become good friends. Special thanks to Michelle, Jeff, Tony and Renee for taking such good care of me.

Kayaks sit in the grass while their owners sleep.

Kayaks sit in the grass while their owners sleep.

Pictures by Peter Strand.

Recovery from the Balance Brace

Question: My Balance Brace is now better, but I don’t always succeed in getting back up to the normal position. Are there any tips for this stage?

Answer: It’s great to hear that the Balance Brace is getting better for you. It’s very common to get “stuck” in it, and have problems recovering. Something that might help is to allow your upper body to drift forward (toward the bow) before driving back. Keep your upper body relaxed while doing this. Think of it as “winding up” for the recovery, and the more forward you are, the more power you’ll have to make it onto the back deck.

New DVD released: Yoga for Outdoor People

As kayaking instructors who teach rolling a lot, we often hear students comment on their flexibility. We all know that open hips and shoulders and a strong torso help with comfort, endurance and stamina while kayaking. Flexibility is also crucial for the Balance Brace and some of the more technical rolls. Flexibility in a kayak is helpful, and I can’t think of a person out there who would disagree with that point.

Several years ago I decided to make a yoga DVD, and the project sat on the back burner simmering, that is, until Mark, Bryant Burkhardt and myself decided to make the DVD a reality this past winter.

One thing that we needed to decide on was where to film. We wanted somewhere scenic, where kayaking and climbing were an important part of the community. England and Wales seemed like the perfect place.

We ran into several challenges along the way, with weather being the biggest of them. The UK had an unusually cold winter, complete with wind, hail and heavy snow, all of which can make filming a little challenging. We got through it though, and once the filming was done, we all relaxed a little.

The DVD is based on a type of yoga called Vinyasa Flow. It focuses on movement with breath. Helen has been practicing yoga for over 14 years, and is a registered yoga teacher. Mark has a bachelors degree with honors in Sports Science, Health Promotion and Physical Education.

The DVD contains three yoga sequences. Two are full-length, and one is a standing-only mini workout. They are multi-level, with both modifications and variations shown. There is also a breakdown section, which includes detailed breakdowns of some of the poses that require a little more explanation.

We are very happy to announce that the DVD is finished and available for pre-order! It will be shipped on Wednesday, Sept. 18. We hope that you enjoy it.

Following are the cover and trailer.

Yoga DVD

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