Archive for the ‘Symposium’ Category

At 5 am Saturday May 7, 2011I woke up, not because my son was calling me, nor for any emergency.  I woke up before the sun started to shine to meet Russell in down town Tampa Florida.  It was the morning of the Third Annual Sweetwater Paddle For the Cure.

The paddling event was set against the skyline of downtown Tampa. For the event all paddlecraft and standup paddleboard participants chose to either race five miles or enjoy a family fun two mile paddle to raise money for cancer research.


We began set up at the scenic Riverfront Park , downtown, on the Hillsborough River. There was a lot of volunteers helping move boats and paddle boards to the dock.¬† I took a moment to scope out the trophies for the winners of the five mile race.¬†¬† And chat with Brody Welte owner of Stand up Fitness.¬† He supplying several SUP’s and gear for this event.¬† I think a few of his Paddle Fit students placed during the race.

Before 8am Ron, Chad, a few others, and I left the dock and headed down River to our assigned locations for the race.¬† I was at the marker next to Tampa General Hospital.¬† And I had the Jose’ Gasparilla Pirate ship to the east.

While I waited for the event to begin I did my normal on the water warm up and then enjoyed my breakfast.  I prefer to paddle backwards to warm and lengthen my back.

This morning I skipped my 60 grams of whey fruit smoothie.¬† It was too early to start up the blender.¬† And to wake my son…¬† I instead chose to not make a disturbance in the kitchen and eat a standard on the water kayaking dawn breakfast.¬†¬† It consists of water, carrots, citrus, and beef jerky.¬† This time I tried a new beef jerky “Jeff’s Gourmet Jerky“.¬† In a single word YUM.

I will be writing a post about this new Jerky soon…

At 8:30am the five mile race downriver and into Seddon Channel and back.

The two paddle craft that were in front were an Epic and a carbon tandem kayak (I could not make out either model).  All but one participant went around the marker.  What I also noticed was how some people struggled with making an one-hundred-eighty degree turn.  Several paddlers in expensive kayaks would just kill them selves with short port side strokes.  Some people did use a sweep combined with edging.  It was the leaders of the heats used either a low-brace on the outside (port side) or a high-brace (on their starboard side) to turn.  Turning in a race like this made all the difference.

The 2 mile family fun paddle began at 10:00.¬† I saw more people on paddle boards during the family paddle than kayaks.¬† The attraction to using an SUP is easy for me to see.¬† A person can see more by giving a new dimension above the water.¬† SUP’s are light weight, easy to transport, and easy to store in and apartment or garage.¬† Granted I still prefer camping and paddling during small craft advisory days.¬† So I am not going to convert to the SUP just yet.

From what I saw on and off the water everyone had fun.  Everyone was a welcomed participant.  See, in a means to encourage everyone to sign up for the race and come out have fun and help BEAT CANCER WITH A PADDLE, the organizers offered the event to everyone.  No paddle experience was required for either event and rental kayaks and standup paddleboards were available.  If you get a chance mark you calender for next years event.  And maybe I will see you on the water РJeff

Every spring Sean and I go to James Island County Park, in South Carolina, to be a part of the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival (ECCKF).  We have enjoyed the lectures, on-water classes, demonstrations, and enjoyed finding bargains. Every year has been a little different due to the roll we have taken at the festival.

When we began going almost ten years ago we were employees of Osprey Bay Outdoors.¬† And we had one goal ‚Äúto become one with all of the information to become better guides and instructors‚ÄĚ.¬† We accomplished that mission.¬† Now when I go to ECCKF I am working as an instructor for H2Outfitters; whereas, Sean is offering technical support at ECCKF to Sweetwater Kayaks and networking with prospective sponsors.

The weather made things a little challenging this time at James Island County Park.  Some weather fronts blew through Saturday and the wind was a distraction to teaching on the pond.  The wind was so strong that I saw a stand-up-paddle-boarder appear to be levitating off the water.  They went splash and I helped them get back to their board.

Sean had a similar experience at the Sweetwater Kayaks tent.  The wind was so strong that it pulled one of the stakes anchoring the tent out of the ground and bent two of the poles.  The pole jumped about 12 inches & Sean jumped onto the upright to keep the tent from flying away.  The H2Outfitters tent did suffer some wind damage to the poles and they did move five inches.

Beyond the wind the weather also presented me with a chance to test my new sleeping bag.  I recently purchased a Mountain Hardwear down Flip 35/50 degree sleeping bag.  The 50 degree rating side kept me comfortable even when the temperature dropped to 45 degrees. What also helped to stay comfortable was that I found it easy to adjust the draw cord top to make it work like a mummy hood. This is a very smart design.  And I see this bag as a new best friend.

Sean tested some new kayaks and maybe he will write a post about some of the new boats.  Speaking of boats, NDK has produced some stunning gel coats for their fiberglass kayaks.  The pictures speak volumes.  I like the simplicity of the green and yellow Greenlander pro.  And then there is the unique NDK logo on the deck of a Kevlar kayak.


All in all ECCKF is a great way to start the spring. – Jeff

I experienced a a fast and fun filled eight weeks blended with the rocks, strainers, and natural obstacles associated with work.¬† And due to being a full time paddler, father, husband, coach, and employee at Eckerd College I have neglected my posting obligations.¬† In the next few days Sean and I will catch you up on all of our adventures.¬†¬† As a teaser we have…

As we collect out thought and write I would like you to enjoy this Bubble Street comic; it made me chuckle because I have been so tempted…

– Jeff

Hellooo Paddlers,

I’ m back from ECCKF in Charleston, South Carolina. What an AWESOME time I had while I was there. Also I ‘m sure that Jeff had a great time too, but I will let him do his own posting and not speak for him.

Peggy, KayakKev and I left at about 5:30 a.m. headed for Charleston on Thurday(04/15). The drive up was pretty uneventful, the usual 8 hr. drive through the states of Florida, Georgia and Sth. Carolina. We arrived about 2:30 p.m. (potty breaks) at James Island Campground and went to check-in.

After check-in, Kevin and I went to drop off some stuff that we were carrying for¬†Russell Farrow at the Sweetwater Kayaks Tent. Upon arrival at the tent we were greeted by Russell, Nigel Foster, and Jake Stachovak (Portage to Portage Project). It was great to see Jake again as he is still on his 5000+ mile expedition around the eastern seaboard to promote the fact that we are all connected by water! But thats a whole ‘nother story check out his site for full details( link on the side of our site). After dropping off the Sweetwater gear, Kevin and I headed back to set up camp with Peggy.

We set up camp in about 1 1/2 hrs. and Peggy started dinner. Kev & Peggy just got a new tent¬† “Mansion” that I just had to tell you about! Its REALLY BIG, like 1000 Sq. feet.(seems like it). I got to stay in the “Servants quarters”- a small Sierra Designs free standing tent. I’m not complaining- just a funny site to see GIANT tent vs. tiny tent. Anyway we ate a great dinner that the lovely Shelly(my wife) pre-made. After dinner was spent around the campfire enjoying the beautiful Charleston weather.

Friday(04/16): Begins with a cool spring morning and the sounds of nature all around. Peggy made Kev & I, a wonderful breakfast of eggs, cheesy hashbrowns; and Shelly sent turkey sausage & bacon cup quiches also for us to eat- Yummy!! After breakfast we all went down to the lake by bicycle(thank you, K&P for the bike rental) to see old paddling friends and instructors/coaches we knew. I also got to do some paddling of 4 new boats- Tiderace Explore, P&H Cetus LV, North Shore Polar(exped.) & Shoreline(play/daytripper). Also got to lay my eyes on a Rockpool Alaw Bach- very nice looking British design. After spending some time at the lake and hanging out with the paddler people it was back to camp for a cuban dinner of black beans, yellow rice & Picadillo meat courtesy of Shelly. Followed by a shower and more time spent around the campfire eating vanilla ice cream and some strawberries with Peggy, Kevin, and Don & Donna Thompson(from Big Ds’ Kayaking). We had a saying this trip: Camp 8, Stays Up Late!¬†that was pretty accurate as we were up late every night.

Sat.(04/17): Got up and had another awesome breakfast provided by “Cracker Peggy”- Blueberry pancakes,¬†peanut butter on top, then covered by strawberries and a light drizzle of syrup. Followed by a bike ride to work off some of the calories! Then it was down to the Sweetwater Tent to help Russell out with¬†the goings on of the symposium.¬†It was during this time that Russell borrowed Jakes’ kayak for a kayak camping lecture he was giving across the lake. After¬†Russell¬†was done he came back and told Jake he had¬†left his boat on the other side.¬† I could tell Jake was having seperation anxiety, so I offered to tow him back over to get it.

Jake agreed with me, that would be better than swimming the whole way across. We commandered a kayak from the demos and Jake jumped on the stern for a tow across. WAY TOO FUNNY!- Jake on the back kicking like a preschooler at swim class and me paddling half sinking all the way across! I am sure those who saw us were giggling as much as we were. We then finished helping Russell out.

This was followed by dinner with Jake at camp 8! Peggy out did herself with a dinner of: Steak, Salmon, sqaush/zucchinni & fresh tomatoes. I am sure I left something out, but @#^* was it GOOD! Then Kevin, Jake and I rode the bikes down to the lake for a paddling show put on by Karen Knight, Nigel Foster, Dubside, and last but not least; wait for it…….. Don & Donna Thompson of Big Ds’ Kayaking! Very cool show and it is obvious why these paddlers are at the top of the sport! After this there was more time spent around the campfire with Kevin, Peggy, Jake & Jeff and those darn good Vanilla Wafers- YUM!!

Sun. (04/18): Got up and started to break down camp as this was our last day in the World of the Paddlers. Peggy made eggs and we finished the bacon cup quiches up with Russell who showed up and joined us for breakfast! Thanks Russell we enjoyed your company. After breakfast we finished packing up camp and I headed back over to the Sweetwater tent to help out for a couple hours till Russell was done with his last class of the weekend. Peggy & Kevin showed up shortly after and we left Charleston around 1:45 p.m. We did manage to stop on the way out for lunch at Bessingers Bar-B-Que for a buffet that was just down right great southern food! The drive back was pretty uneventful except for the fits of 8 hour carride delirium, yes we got to laughing like darn fools on the ride home!!!

So if you ever get the chance to go to the ECCKF- DO IT!! Way Too Much Fun!Later post coming on the demo kayaks I paddled!!

— Sean