Glassy water and uncharacteristically dry, chilly temps greeted 103 committed Pacific Northwest paddlers who competed on Jan. 7 for Seattle’s third annual New Year’s Challenge paddling race. The six-mile course started on Lake Union in the heart of Seattle and ran through the Montlake Cut to Lake Washington. All types of craft competed, ranging from SUPs and sea kayaks to canoes, OC-1s, OC-2s, OC-6s, dragon boats, prone paddleboards, rowing shells, racing kayaks, and surfskis.
We paddle through the night, guessing our direction from Orion reclining on the artificial canyon walls. Beyond the last portage in early morning, the water was salt, mussels clung to the rocks and seagulls took to the air at our approach. Beyond the breakwater, the sea pulses with the minute swell of diminishing energies. At this time of the year, titanic storms batter the coastline with 20-foot waves and driving snow. As we turn our tiny canoe north, the Black Sea extends to the horizon in glassy calm before melding with the clear, cold December sky. Fortune smiles.
The Deception Pass Dash is fast becoming a Northwest paddling tradition, and like holiday season gatherings everywhere, it attracts something of an odd crowd. Some 200 members of the extended paddling family showed up at the sixth-annual Dash near Anacortes, Wash. Dec. 4, bringing sea kayaks, surf skis, standup paddleboards, outrigger canoes, rowing shells and more.
Located on Delaware River shoreline in the industrial outskirts of Camden, New Jersey, my improvised site was the worst I had ever bedded down in, wedged between an oil refinery and a parking lot, directly under a freight train bridge. Life was not good where I was, 300 miles from the source, 60 miles from the sea. But with a successful run, I would have two rivers down on my quest to paddle the five longest rivers in the Northeast.
Long before the Lumpy Waters, Golden Gate and Rough Waters symposiums, sea kayakers gathered on Lake Superior’s Canadian shore for the Gales of November Rendezvous. The event was the brainchild of Detroit-based paddler Stan Chladek, which he named after Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot’s famous ballad of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the 729-foot ore-carrier that sunk on Lake Superior in a 1975 storm.
Sarah Outen may have been new to sea kayaking in early October when she completed a 40-mile crossing from Russia to Japan but she was no stranger to piloting small boats across lots of open water. In 2009, Outen became the first woman to row solo across the Indian Ocean, from Australia to Mauritius in 124 days.
I knew I had forgotten something when coming to Brazil. I realized what it was—to learn Portuguese—when I tried to ask how long the drive would be. Thanks to my book, Beginning Portuguese, which I’d glanced at on the plane, I could at least ask our driver where the laundromat was and count to 999 as his Land Rover bounced up the long, insanely bumpy driveway to his farm, Fazenda Bonito.
NAGS HEAD, N.C. — Urko Erasquin, a competitor from the Basque Country, has mostly praise for this year’s World Championships. The surf has been excellent, the organization smooth, and the competition first-rate. But the first thing he has to say about the event is this: “I was a little bit upset because there was not many people.” His concern is echoed by many others at the Worlds this year.
Outside a grocery store in Nags Head, N.C., a man is talking on the phone with his wife. “They’re surfing in kayaks down here!” he says. “No, both men and women do it. The women are just as good as the men!” Indeed, the town of Nags Head, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is stirring with interest in the ongoing World Championships of Surf Kayaking.
Over 400 whitewater boaters crawled out of remote creeks, deep canyons, and office spaces to converge on an abandoned Forest Service campsite, Sept. 23-25, in the California’s High Sierra to celebrate—heartily—the American Whitewater-negotiated release of the North Fork of the Feather River. The Chico Paddleheads club organized the 21st annual Feather River Festival…
Discounting Alert (pop. 5) and Eureka (pop. 0), Ellesmere Island in the high Canadian Arctic has one settlement that might be called a community, and that’s Grise Fiord (pop. 141), according to 2006 census figures. Located on one of Ellesmere’s southerly tips, Grise Fiord is home to at least one nurse.
Peter, Dan and Paul Bragiel are brothers from the Chicagoland area whose combined canoeing experience, prior to this summer, amounted to three days total. They all live in California—Dan, 31, and Paul, 33, are Silicon Valley Internet entrepreneurs, and Peter, 29, is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker with a strong chi for adventure. This summer, and thanks in part to a grant from YouTube, the trio recruited Tony Corella, a 25-year-old filmmaker from L.A., in order to attempt to canoe the length of the Mississippi River…
On a clear October day in the middle of the Ka’iwi Channel, the island of Oahu is a distant smudge on the horizon and 45-foot outrigger canoes, each carrying six strong men paddling full out, appear only as rocking torsos and slashing paddles glimpsed amid the swell rolling down from the north.