On Saturday afternoon, April 19, Polish adventurer Aleksander “Olek” Doba officially completed his second successful trans-Atlantic crossing by sea kayak. We go behind the scenes of the 67-year-old’s eventful waterfront landfall in New Smyrna Beach Fla., to hear from Doba and his closest team of closest supporters to get some questions answered about the 167-day, 6,000-plus-mile crossing.
If nothing else, 2011 proved to be a landmark year for paddlesports media presented from one important perspective: the paddler’s. Advances in waterproof camera technology and dropping price points have made it easier than ever for paddlers to bring back high-def reels from spots with real high-death potential. Here, Shon Bollock from Shasta Boyz Productions takes us behind the scenes of his latest release, Slippery When Wet, with a highlight segment shot entirely on the original GoPro Hero.
For Tart, an upstart long-distance kayaker and recent college grad who sketched out the Paddle For Wells expedition as a 15-month paddling and fishing epic in support of World Vision’s clean water initiatives in Africa, the shakedown on the Ohio was unraveling fast. “This whole thing is new to me,” Tart said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “A lot of professional instructors set out on these trips and they’ve got a system down and can really cover the miles. I’ve been hunting, fishing, canoeing and kayaking most of my life, but I’m a total amateur at something like this. The fun has been getting out there and learning.”
Google has spoken (or at least its analytics widget has). We tracked the data, looking back at the year that was, and we found the best stories on CanoeKayak.com decided by you, the reader. So here’s our Top 10 Stories of 2011, determined by number of page-views, with a few noted honorable mentions that cracked the Top 25, also listed by number of views.
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.
After its six-annual running on the weekend of Dec. 3-4, it’s clear that the Deception Pass Dash—a two-day, northwest Washington paddling festival centered around an all-craft, six-mile race through the fickle tidal currents of Deception Pass—has become one of paddling’s best, and most eclectic holiday gathering traditions. Check out this video, with some feisty bluegrass from The Pitchfork Revolution, that captures the festival, and explores what makes this unique race so many things to so many different types of paddlers.
Last year, Florida State Park Ranger and lifelong paddler Rick Storsberg, 63, was planning his retirement. “I was going to travel around the U.S. and visit all the National Parks and do a little volunteer work,” he says, smiling. Then he pointed to his chest. “But when I went in for my physical they found a big black spot on my lung.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, USA Canoe/Kayak, the governing body for competitive paddling in the U.S. announced that it is moving its long-time headquarters from Charlotte, N.C., to a new state-of-the-art training and competitive facility on the banks of the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma, City, Okla. C&K caught up with CEO and Olympic gold medalist Joe Jacobi for his take on the move and what it spells for USACK.
Tyler Fox grew up in small-town Ontario (Marmora, that is), but currently splits his time between the Ottawa River and Okere Falls, New Zealand. “Doesn’t everyone have a Northern and Southern Hemisphere home?” he asks. Umm, if we could only be so lucky. At least we can live vicariously through the 29-year-old on the bleeding edge of freestyle kayaking, watching his latest video edit. We caught up with Fox to get some answers, and to have him weigh in on where he sees the sport of freestyle kayaking now, and where he sees it going.
Leaving Belgrade, we charged downstream on the Danube as the Serbian national police had given us seven days to leave the country or face imprisonment. We had made it past the gate, literally: As we crossed into Romania, we were emerging from the Iron Gates, the Portile de Fier, a gorge that stops and starts for over 100 kilometers, and in places shows 3,000-foot granite faces soaring from the water’s edge.
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.
I’ve been in Mexico 13 days and haven’t been tired, hungover, sore, or nervous on the way to the river. Today I am all of those things as our driver, Israel, nonchalantly guides our rented SUV through the clogged main artery of the bustling Veracruz capital of Jalapa. Finally, it feels like a kayaking trip. I find the words in Spanish to ask Israel to stop for a lechero at the edge of the big city, a last-chance caffeine break before we enter the sparsely populated countryside where the Rio Alseseca and its narrow bedrock slides await.
Southeast boaters have been watching Noccalula Falls for years. The 90-footer flows through a park in Gadsden, Alabama looked clean, but rarely had enough water to contemplate a run. When whitewater stalwarts Pat Keller, Isaac Levinson, and Chris Gragtmans met at Noccalula on the rainy afternoon of Nov. 28, the river was bank-full. Noccalula was good to go.
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.
Alexander Martin, 25, completed the first modern-day canoe expedition across America last year. This fall, Martin has been reporting from the field on his latest continent crossing — a two-man, 4,000-km journey across Europe. Martin sent in this correspondence from Belgrade, on the Danube River in central Serbia, at Kilometer 2,800.
Presenting a paddling gift under the tree is never easy. There’s no good box or bag to conceal a boat or a paddle—and picking the right size, fit, and outfitting is often is best left to the discerning user anyway. Let’s make this easy. Here’s our picks for the easily stuff-able, box-able and shippable paddling items that work for any single- or double-bladed paddler on your list.