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.
Squatting in the rain on the banks of Washington’s East Fork of the Lewis, MacGyvering a drain-plug from a rotten stick and duct tape, it hit me; creekboating is an odd human behavior. The practice pushes the limits of what’s possible in a small, plastic boat, and challenges manufacturers to make reliable kayaks that paddlers can trust.
This new dog knows all the old tricks, and does them well. Britain’s fastest-growing kayak manufacturer designed this high-volume displacement hull beast with a long waterline for speed and highly controlled, confident paddling. “It’s perfect for tight lines in big, pushy water,” one tester said. “It would be great on the North Fork Payette-anything large and continuous.”
Like to bomb the big stuff and play along the way? Imagine a creekboat with a playboat hull: That’s the Detox. Aptly suited for tearing up big green waves and dropping waterfalls, the Detox is the missing link between Fluid’s playful river-running Spice and its creek-specific Solo.
Bombproof. The blow-molded, high-molecular-weight plastic in this new, plus-size downriver tank could likely survive a direct hit from a howitzer. We didn’t actually put a bomb in the German-designed creeker, but our testers did slam it into a rock or two.
After setting the creekboat design bar high in 2006 with the release of the lightning-fast original Burn, Pyranha has managed to make it better. Raised front rocker makes for easier boof strokes without sacrificing speed, and the redesigned Burn’s slightly raised carving rails still provide precise maneuvering for quick eddy turns without getting hung-up on low-volume slides or while skittering over rocks.
Professional kiteboarder Tonia Farman launched Athletes for Cancer in 2007 in response to her brother’s yearlong battle with leukemia, the disease that ultimately took his life. While her brother was subject to a suite of medical tests and treatments, Farman resolved, “We needed to do something other than just sit and watch.” The result: a fundraising and athletic challenge that’s evolved into the annual summer Tenacity Games.
The late Bill Mason famously said, “Anyone who tells you portaging is fun is either a liar or crazy.” But in the same breath, the iconic canoeist and filmmaker would note that a little suffering goes a long way in escaping crowds of people, making the portage a gateway to wilderness paddling. It’s this element of portability that makes the canoe so perfectly suited to traveling lake-to-lake or descending wild rivers—or for going from the roof rack to the beach.
Once again I find myself at Gloucester (Mass.) High School, home of the Fighting Fishermen, bearing up beneath dark storm clouds and a gale of calendar pages. I’m staring down the barrel of my 56th birthday and Father Time’s itchy finger grows heavy on the trigger.
n July, the Midwest kayak race calendar is dominated by the Missouri River 340 (aka the MR340), the longest river event in the U.S. that runs from Kansas City to St. Charles, Mo. But with the Missouri breaking its banks at numerous points and the high tide obscuring dikes, buoys and other obstacles, founder and organizer Scott Mansker was forced to postpone the contest until September.
Last Thursday, July 21, Skip Ciccarelli set a new standard for the fastest through-paddle of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Ciccarelli, a high school shop teacher from central Massachusetts, completed the 740-mile route across parts of four northeastern states and one Canadian province in 25 days—besting the previous record by a full seven days.