Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kayak training opportunities

Memorial Day weekend is in the rearview mirror and the summer paddling season has begun.  OK, OK, the summer paddling season on Lake Superior really begins on the 4th of July but close enough.  There are a couple training and skill development events in the hopper and the first one is the SKOAC Intro to Sea Kayaking course on Saturday June 9.  It is an all day class that will help get new paddlers ready for big water trips such as Lake Superior.  It is a lot of fun for both instructors and participants and the student to instructor ratio is excellent.  I've enjoyed teaching at this event as much as any symposium that I've participated in. It is invariably a motivated, eager to learn group of people.  Two weeks later is the 'graduation trip' for those who are interested.  This year it will be on Sand Island in the Apostles.  Trip preparation, boat packing, and safety skills will be discussed and then a three mile crossing with experienced ACA Instructors out to Sand Island to camp.

Mid July brings the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium, sponsored by Downwind Sports in Marquette (and we can't forget the Houghton store either).  This is the granddaddy of Lake Superior paddling symposiums and always attracts a gaggle of well known instructors.  The venue, Grand Marais, MI, is great and once you arrive there is no need to step into a car. Everything is right there. Tours in the Pictured Rocks area (you need to drive for those), classes both on land and in the harbor, as well as the very real possibility of 'conditions' outside the breakwater for some serious rough water skills development. There is an excellent kids program and this year we kayak fishermen will have our passion addressed as well. Another unique feature of this event is the opportunity to abuse the instructors in the annual race, dousing them with both water and epithets as they circle the race course. Finally, you can keep an eye on the demo beach while sipping an excellent pint of Cabin Fever ESB at the Dunes Saloon brewpub if you get the correct bar stool. If you register before June 1st,  tomorrow, you can save some serious ching.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of learning opportunities in the area, it just happens to be two of them that I'll be involved in.  ISK beginner courses, Rossport Symposium, Door County, Two Harbors, and likely a half dozen more that I've missed are all out there for our paddling and learning pleasure.  If you've never attended one of these events I'd strongly suggest giving it a try.  The energy of all those paddlers and the very real opportunity to simply learn by osmosis is worth the price of admission.  I hope to see you on the water this summer.

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