The past weekend I found myself at the SKGABC Guides exchange on Quadra island. I had been asked to come and present and talk on the Grand Canyon by Sea Kayak adventure from last Christmas, read more on that adventure here, this also meant a great social/ learning occasion with industry pairs, and of course surfing kayaks at Surge Narrows.
The event basically composed of two nights and two days. I got my big Van back on the road, cleaned out and loaded up with Kayaks, with my friend Arnaud on board and we chugged our way up the coast of Vancouver island in “The Portable Diesel Powered Kayak Shop” of a van that contained three full sized composite sea kayaks, 3 folding TRAK Sea Kayaks, and a white water play boat (not to mention a bed, clothes, kayaking gear and all the kitchen gear and food needed).
After crossing the 10 minute ferry to Quadra Island http://www.quadraisland.ca/, we drove to the spit campsite to meet up with all the other people attending. The campsite was an amazing thin spit of land with all sites looking into the sheltered lagoon it created, truly one of the most beautiful drive in campsites I have ever been too!
That night there was eating, drinking and socialising at the local Inn, that then lead to a campfire and movie watching back by the water, where we all got to see Justine Curgenven’s “This is the Sea 5”.
The next day everyone awoke to a rainy day after almost 6 weeks of sun on the coast, and the keen ones partook in self rescue training and rolling practice, while others toured the Nimbus paddle Factory or learnt about moving water theory. I myself spent the morning getting my talk finalised, and I ended up making it about more than just the Grand Canyon trip, I incorporated some of my best adventures to date and how I ended up doing what I am now doing for living.
That afternoon everyone headed onto the water to paddle in moving water, either learning basics on smaller side channels or attempting to shred the challenging Surge Narrows. Now I have surfed Surge probably 6 times now over the last 6 months, and every time it is different and throws new challenges of how to get on to the wave or how to stay on the wave. On this trip the wave had to be the hardest to have fun with I have experienced yet, to get on you had to navigate through an large space of swirling boils and cross currents from small channels, before pushing onto the wave, a wave which to start with was an angled wave that you had to fight with to stay on. As the flow increased it became more a big boiling hydraulic that took those who managed to get on for a bucking bronco ride, later in the flow it shifted in shape again and became slightly easier to get on, and lots of fun to play on, then from there it pettered down to a small wave only for fast boats. Luckly for me with the adjustable rocker of the TRAK Kayak I was able to adapt to the changing wave easily, though I still struggled to get good rides, and probably only ended up getting 4 good rides in the 4 hours we were there.
I was glad to have the chance to paddle with and witness the skill of Albert ____ who lives near Surge at Discovery Lodge. This young soft spoken and humble young paddler, is awesome and eats up the wave or foam pile with ease. The best thing I witnessed that day was albert pulling off a 360 degree spin in his 16 foot sea kayak, then continue surfing. Albert is also very skilled at staying on top of the foam pile, keeping the nose of the boat loose and getting some great aggressive turns out of it, where others (like myself) would drop in get our nose caught up in the current, then have our selves fired off the wave in whatever direction the nose was pointing on engagement, or bury completely and do a bow stand.
Tired and sore we all loaded back into vehicles with boats on trailers or roofs and headed to the Legion for dinner , prizes and off course my talk. I had managed to piece together a rough collaboration of photos and video about my journey of life change and embracing becoming an professional kayak adventurer. I spoke on my life changing Decision to leave my loving Fiancé, and risk everything to go back to NZ and realise my dream of an epic adventure by attempting to paddle the length of NZ down the east coast from North to south. Here is the the rough video I threw together for the presentation.
I then went onto discuss what I learnt, lost and gained from the trip. I learnt a power and humbleness of taking a step to a life I wanted, I learnt to find the success in perceived failures (eg I failed to paddle the length of NZ, though learnt the success of daring to live), I learnt what it was like to be put in hospital by a poisonous spider. I lost a love of my life (my Fiancé had moved on and found a new man, which was fair enough as I broke off the engagement to go do all this and had been gone for 6 months), though I gained a new job with TRAK kayaks and a new direction in life.
TRAK Kayaks had sponsored me with a boat two years earlier and I had done some fun things with there great performance folding boat, and now they financed me to make the video series I had wanted to make about the boat, and so began the TRAK Files series and many great adventures traveling the world to make it over three and a half years. Here is the episode I played that night
see more of the TRAK Files Here
From there I lead on to talk about the Grand Canyon trip, how it came to be and more importantly show images and film on the experiences. Read more about our “Project Grand Canyon” Trip here.
That night, after we returned to camp most went to sleep early, though I partook with a hardy few, nestled bellow a large tarp sheltering us from the light rain in the darkness by the waters edge, in some beer drinking, shit talking, Joke telling, guitar playing, singing and of course laughing and merriment until the wee hours of the morning.
The last day found everyone tired and happy, no paddling happened and no one returned to paddle Surge narrows again, despite the fact it was flowing again, nor paddle at all. We partook in an industry seminar, ate lunch packed up, said our fond farewells and headed home.
After Chugging home in the beast I call a van, I finished packing for my coming Adventures in Norway and Namibia, at the time of writing this (the day After getting home from the Guides Exchange) I am on the plane to Norway to meet Jeff Allen and explore the coast for two weeks. Read a little more about the adventure proposal in this post http://expeditionpaddler.blogspot.ca/2013/05/back-to-northern-norway.html?view=classic or in the next few to come after this one.
|photo from last time I was paddling in Norway, blog post here|