Tricked out kayaks Hitting the water - Wavelength Paddling Magazine

Tricked out kayaks Hitting the water - Wavelength Paddling Magazine


Explore coastlines,

explore the world of kayaking


Volume 20, Issue 4

Winter 2010

FREE at select outlets and

online or by subscription

Tricked out kayaks

We add gear galore

to create the world’s most

tricked out kayaks ever

Hitting the water

We take you surf kayaking and

standup paddleboarding

PM 41687515

There’s more online in our first-ever multimedia edition



This month’s features:

Regular items:

8 Scavenging on the Edge

Cleaning up the Coast on Haida Gwaii

10 Paddling with a Shamrock

Images from Ireland

14 Kayaking with Cannibals

The Solomon Islands

by Dave Cauldwell

24 Our Most Tricked Out Kayak Ever

New Gear

32 Surf Games

Surf Kayaking

by Neil Schulman

36 Surf Kayaking 101

Everything you need to know to start




6 News

20 Tours and Services

22 Paddle Meals

by Hilary Masson

35 Kayak-friendly


40 Planning and Safety

by Michael Pardy

42 Skillset

by Alex Matthews

44 Fishing Angles

by Dan Armitage

38 Up for the Challenge

Standup paddleboarding

45 Rainforest Chronicles

by Dan Lewis


The First Word



Winter 2010 Volume 20, Number 4

PM No. 41687515

Editor John Kimantas

Advertising Sales Brent Daniel

Copy Editing Darrell Bellaart

Cover Photo:

We took everything from sails

to electric bilge pumps to the

beach at Pipers Lagoon in our

hometown of Nanaimo to trick

out a pair of kayaks (one was not

enough for all our gear). Join

us for this major pimping-out

project on page 24.

WAVELENGTH is an independent magazine available free at

hundreds of print distribution sites (paddling shops, outdoor

stores, paddling clubs, marinas, events, etc.), and globally on

the web. Also available by paid subscription.

Articles, photos, events, news are all welcome.

Find back issues, articles, events, writers guidelines and

advertising information online at


$20 for 1 year – 4 issues

$35 for 2 years – 8 issues

While Wavelength Magazine is made available

free, subscriptions ensure the magazine is delivered

to your home and that you will never miss an issue.

To subscribe, visit

or call 1-866-984-6437.

Advertising rates and submission guidelines

available at


Spring 2011 Feb. 4 March 1

Summer 2011 April 15 May 16

Fall 2011 July 1 Aug. 1

Winter 2011 Oct. 1 Nov. 1

A product of:

Wild Coast Publishing

#6 10 Commercial St.

Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, V9R 5G2

Ph: 1-866-984-6437 • Fax: 1-866-654-1937



by John Kimantas

Green dots: a sign of the future

I remember a paddling trip in winter 1999 with then-Wavelength Magazine publisher

Alan Wilson. I told him by coincidence how I had recently downloaded and read a copy

of Wavelength Magazine online. At the time it was one of the few magazines available

on the ’net. Good on Alan for the foresight.

It’s no surprise that the presence of magazines online has since exploded. The

standard now is a page-flip format mimicking the page turning of print magazines

(I suppose to make readers feel more comfortable with the

transition to electronic media). Most magazines are using a

service provider to create these electronic copies. And most

simply offer a digital version of the same content in print.

So it’s cute, but limited. I had to think: in print, kayaks will just

sit there. But online, those kayaks could actually be paddling. So

why aren’t they?

Since we couldn’t make the kayaks paddle with any of the

existing service providers, I decided to develop our own version

in-house. This is the first issue to show the results. And yes, the

kayaks can now paddle away. In fact, they do on this very page in the online version.

Watch for these three buttons in the online version:

Click on the “T” button and a central text box will appear allowing you to read the

text on the pages you are viewing without having to follow the various columns

and dips and doodles of the magazine page. If it’s still too small, hit the zoom feature.

This should make the text large enough to accommodate the most short-sighted among

us. Click on the “T” again to turn off the text and return to the regular page view.

When you see this multimedia button, things get really interesting. Click on it, and

watch for additional content not available in the print version. For instance, click

on the button on this page in the online version and the kayak pictured below will meld

seamlessly from this inert picture to a high-definition video of the paddler (Leanne)

paddling away. And if reading a magazine with kayaks actually paddling doesn’t at least

make you go “hmmm, that’s interesting,” then no problem. Just keep reading the print

version, which we have no intention of abandoning.

For me the key is adding content to make both the print and online products work

together. For instance, it’s one thing to read about surf kayaking. But in the online

version, you can see a video detailing the skill involved. A great extra.

Another exciting thing is the potential for advertisers. For instance, check out

the videos tied into the Blue Water Kayak Works ad on page 23. This is our first ad

specifically designed to incorporate multimedia into a print ad campaign.

If you check the results online, look for details of our major 2011 promotion (teased

here on page 46, with more details online). We’ll be giving those who visit us online a

chance to win gear every month plus a grand prize of a new kayak.

Okay, it’s bribery to get you online, but with a new kayak hanging in the balance, it’s

the best kind of bribery. So happy surf kayaking the internet!

- John Kimantas

© 2010. Copyright is retained on all material (text, photos and graphics) in this magazine.

No reproduction is allowed of any material in any form, print or electronic, for any purpose,

except with the permission of Wild Coast Publishing.

Some elements in maps in this magazine are reproduced with

the permission of Natural Resources Canada 2010, courtesy

of the Atlas of Canada. Also, our thanks to Geobase for some

elements that may appear on Wavelength maps.

Wavelength Magazine is dedicated to making self-propelled

coastal exploration fun and accessible. Safety and travel

information is provided to augment pre-existing safety

and knowledge. A safety course and proper equipment are

advised before any exploration on water. See a list of paddling

instruction locations at

Another perfect evening, Vancouver

Island style. Click the green button

online to join us on this outing.




Joe O sets new record for rounding Vancouver Island

There’s a new time to beat in the Great

Island Race.

Joe O’Blenis pulled into Nanaimo’s

Brechin boat ramp the evening of Saturday,

Sept. 4, just 16 days, 12 hours and 14

minutes after starting out – a time fast

enough to unseat Sean Morley’s 2008 record

of 17 days, 4 hours and 49 minutes for

the fastest circumnavigation of Vancouver

Island by paddle.

To put that into perspective, that’s

covering the 1,150-km trip with an average

of 70 kilometers of paddling per day.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing, with

several days spent battling headwinds of

30-plus knot winds, and one collision

with a rock near Tofino that knocked the

skeg completely out from his Nigel Foster

Greenland Pro. That incident forced him to

wait for much of the day in Tofino while his

second boat, a Tahe Wind 585, was shipped

from its storage at Wavelength Central in


The Tahe managed to stay in one piece

for the dramatic conclusion, a 90-km day

photo courtesy Michael Jackson

of paddling from Victoria to Nanaimo that

happened to coincide with a kayaking corn

roast on nearby Newcastle Island hosted

by Atlantis Kayaks – allowing a welcoming

flotilla of kayaks at the finish line.

Apt was a greeting there by Colin Angus,

complete with celebratory beer. Colin had

also planned an attempt at the Great Island

Race title this year in a rowboat, but had

to postpone it due to back issues. He’s still

Joe O’Blenis

at Jemmy

Jones Island

near Victoria

as he closes

in on the

finish line.

planning to retry next year.

For Joe, the trip – his second recordsetting

venture around the island – was

another chance to appreciate Vancouver

Island’s beauty.

“Just doing the trip is worthwhile, even

if you’re just rushing by and everything’s a

blur,” he said.

You can read more information about

Joe’s circumnavigation at



How dirty is our coastline? Plenty dirty, readers find

Virginia Harris doesn’t have to go far to

find debris clogging the beaches. All it takes

is a walk with her three dogs near her home

in Halfmoon Bay near Desolation Sound to

find loads of trash.

Kayak trips can be just as filthy.

“When I do get out on the water I end

up coming back with a pile on the bow of

my kayak consisting of plastic bags and

other floating debris,” she wrote when

entering Wavelength Magazine’s Clean Up

the Coast contest.

“We have a pristine beach here in a

provincial park called Sargeant Bay. I walk

there often. I usually end up finding a fair

bit of garbage and I can’t help myself and

start picking it up, filling bag after bag.”

She laid out one morning’s find on a

tarp, then snapped a picture.

“I brought it home and laid it all out on

a tarp (also found on the beach). As you can

see there is an enormous amount of plastic.

We have plastic fish farm feed bags, feminine

product plastic applicators, Christmas light

bulbs, balloons, Copenhagen tobacco tins,

Virginia Harris

The results of one morning’s haul from

Sargeant Bay near Powell River, BC. Virginia

Harris won an under-deck bag from Atlantis

Kayaks for her entry in Wavelength’s Clean

Up the Coast contest.

styrofoam (bits everywhere) you name it, it’s

there on the beach.”

Virginia was one of the participants in

Wavelength Magazine’s Clean Up the Coast

contest, which recognized participants in

cleanup efforts from paddling clubs on

Vancouver Island to Suwanee River cleanup

participants in Florida.

The contest was held to recognize

continuing efforts to clean our coast, plus

to inspire people to pick up instead of

passing by. Prizes in the contest included

items from Klepper in Canada, Kokatat,

North Water Paddlesports Equipment,

Atlantis Kayaks, Seaward Kayaks, Solo

Rescue Assist, Peregrine Kayaks, SeaSpecs,

Kayak Kaboose, Peregrine Kayaks and

Terracentric Coastal Adventures.

Not all participants stopped at simply

collecting trash. Brad Atchinson has spent

the last 42 years decommissioning hundreds

of campsites, including their fire rings and

scorched and scarred rocks.

“I am a NOLS graduate (1970s) and

have been a proponent of minimum

impact camping techniques, long before

the Leave No Trace movement took root.

In all likelihood, being a biologist and an

environmentalist since the 1960s provide

context for these cleanup efforts.”

Brad won a Kokatat Outercore Top

for his efforts. Also winning was the

Marine Sciences 10 class from St. Michael’s

University School in Victoria, BC, for their

beach cleanup efforts. They earned a model

Aerius II from Klepper in Canada.


Clean Up the Coast Contest

by Liam McNeil

Scavenging on the edge

Kayakers get the

dirt on Haida Gwaii


PADDLING the west coast of

Vancouver Island in 2009, from

Port Hardy to Tofino, Genevieve Burdett

and I hatched the plan to paddle Haida


Moresby Island, home of Gwaii Haanas

National Park, attracted our interest due

to its mystique and challenge. While the

east coast attracts hundreds of paddlers

every year (for good reason!), the extremely

challenging conditions of the west coast

of the island, coupled with the lack of

accessible landing sites, keep the vast

majority of visitors away. By planning

during the winter months and getting some

support from the MEC Expedition Fund,

our dreams became a reality.

Moresby Island, the long mountainous

southern half of Haida Gwaii (formerly

Queen Charlotte Islands), is a place of

extremes. The rarely visited west coast is

distinguished by steep cliffs, few landings

and little hope of assistance. For days,

no other boats passed the horizon, and

even weather forecasts drifted in and out

of reception as we passed the mouths of

deep inlets. (By contrast, the east coast

of Moresby is a paddler’s paradise, with

hundreds of islands, bays, inlets and

numerous cultural sights to visit.)

The wind had whipped the water into

whitecaps as we slipped our boats into

the water to begin our journey. Skidegate

Channel lay ahead of us, as did the west

coast of Haida Gwaii. Over the next

few weeks, as the shoreline waters of

Moresby Island passed beneath our hulls,

we witnessed the natural and cultural

wonders of these remote islands, along

with the reminders of our global society.

Even though the rest of the world seemed

so remote, it presented itself in the refuse

washed upon the shores. To remove all the


photos by Liam McNeil and Genevieve Burdett

Top: Genevieve Burdett scans Woodruff Bay for waste; above left: some of the hundreds of

plastic bottles that dotted the remote shorelines of Haida Gwaii; above right: the holy grail of

beach garbage – a Japanese glass fishing float found on Kunghit Island.

garbage found would have required dozens

of boatloads. As a compromise, every night

we collected a single piece of garbage to

pack on our journey.

We found very little local garbage. In

fact, the amount of garbage washed up

by ocean currents stood out starkly on

the beaches. On one beach, we collected

hundreds of plastic bottles bearing the

writing of both North American and Asian

societies. Plastic refuse was everywhere.

Round fishing floats, random plastic bits

and objects of distant origin dotted this

rugged shoreline.

Just prior to rounding Cape St. James,

the extreme southern tip of Haida Gwaii,

we found our most treasured piece of

garbage, a glass fishing float.

Heading north along the east coast

of Moresby the nature of waste changed

abruptly. The rate of foreign debris

dropped, and in its place were signs of local

life: sections of rope, beer cans and fishing

floats from BC’s fisheries. At paddling

campsites we found bread tags, zip-loc bags

and even a broken kayak paddle.

We returned with an eclectic collection

of plastic toys, shoes, bottles, bags, broken

kayak paddles and our treasured glass

fishing float. While limited in our capacity

to carry, we can all do our part to clean up

our coast, and learn to reduce the amount

of plastic products that litter our oceans.


Liam McNeil is executive director of the Sea

Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia.

SKGABC supported Wavelength Magazine’s

Clean Up the Coast Contest by sponsoring a

Werner Kaliste paddle as a prize. It was won

by Nanaimo Paddlers kayaking club.


International destinations

IF THERE IS one place in the world worthy

of naming a destination for a kayaking

pilgrimage, my vote would be Skellig Michael.

It’s not because it’s an ideal place to visit. Quite the

contrary. It lies in the ocean nine nautical miles off the

southwest coast of Ireland, one of the two huge and

forbiddingly spectacular rock islands set in a stormy area

prone to wind, current and swell.

But travel to the island by paddling isn’t insurmountable. In

fact, it has a long history of self-propelled visits dating back to

the 7th century, when the island was first inhabited by monks.

Their occupation lasted the next 600 years and survived the

incredibly harsh conditions as well as several Viking raids. The

story and images by John Kimantas

monk residents are responsible for the incredible vertiginous

steps that crisscross the island, the six intact clocháns (stone

beehive huts), oratories, grave slabs and a striking monolithic

cross – all of which are remarkably well preserved even today.

(Quite the legacy for a group of pioneering paddlers.)

The spiritual impact of the island is profound. Part is the

awe at the thought of the difficult life suffered by the monks

in such a remote location. And the natural features are equally

awe-inspiring: dramatic stone pillars reaching 218 meters,

created during a great upheaval 200 million years ago. It

takes 600 steps up cliffsides and alongside

jagged stone pillars to reach the Hermitage

and the monastery ruins, well preserved

enough to earn it designation as a UNESCO

World Heritage Site. Equally spectacular

but not as accessible, the smaller of the Skellig Islands, Little

Skellig, is a dramatic assembly of peaks home to thousands of

nesting seabirds, most notably Ireland’s largest gannet colony.

It provides a surreal backdrop.

Kayakers aren’t likely to attempt the crossing. Even the tour

boats often have trouble getting here. Landing on the island’s

one small concrete dock can be an adventure in swell, with

high tide water rushing right over the dock, and the boat

crew biding time between waves to retrieve or disgorge






with a


Images from Ireland

Michael Skellig

is rated by


as one of the world’s

great coastal locations.

The steep steps were

carved by monks as early as

the seventh century A.D. Far left:

the final climb before reaching

the monastery; left: Little Skellig;

right: the ancient beehive huts of the

monastery; above right: protruding

rocks on the steep descent.


International destinations

Not all Ireland is as harsh as the Skelligs,

of course. But quick changes in the

weather, strong winds and strong ocean

currents are typical, which can make Ireland

a challenging and sometimes impossible

coast to paddle. Secluded bays, inlets and

collections of nearby islands along much of

the coast offer the protected and relatively

serene waters that make the Irish coast an

ideal place for a day paddle – especially

if you can sneak out to some of the

spectacular cliffs that typify the outer coast.

For Jim Kennedy, operator of Atlantic

Sea Kayaking and one of Ireland’s most

veteran paddlers, the southwest coast of

Ireland makes a great base for exploring. A

trip from Castletownshend, for instance, a

picturesque former naval base village near

Cork, leads on a short journey to seven

uninhabited islands, past upwards of 33 sea

caves (Jim is always finding new ones) and

wildlife that commonly involves dolphins,

whales and a grey seal rookery.

This is a perfect day-trip adventure,

possibly ending at the little harbour town

of Baltimore 16 kilometers away. Or

from Baltimore, Roaringwater Bay offers

a multitude of islands to explore, one of

which is home to an old castle that sits

enticingly across the harbour.

The problem with kayaking in Ireland is

the multitude of land features, meaning you

don’t want to just kayak if you travel here.

Aran Is.

Dingle Peninsula






Ring of Kerry






Ireland is dotted with thousands of years

of history reflected in the many medieval

castles, monasteries, ancient stone forts and

portal tombs that date back 6,000 years or


But adventurers always push the limits,

with a circumnavigation of the island

growing as a popular goal of experienced

kayakers. The fastest time so far to

complete the 1,200-mile journey is 33 days;

reportedly the longest, by journalist Jasper

Wynn, took three and a half months –

probably a better way to enjoy Ireland: by

taking your time, visiting communities and

meeting people.

photos this page courtesy Atlantic Sea Kayaking

Left: caves near Castletownshend; top: urban

paddling in Cork; above: one of the south

coast’s many wonderful sand beaches.

If you go:

Most tour operators don’t rent kayaks

due to liability issues; instead, expect

escorted tours offering a selection

of mostly day trips. With a Europeanwide

accreditation system for paddlers

coming into effect, the restrictions may

ease on rentals for qualified paddlers.

Here are some options:

Atlantic Sea Kayaking: Trips include

the sheltered Killarney Lakes in a treed

national park setting to picturesque

Dingle Peninsula. Owner Jim Kennedy,

a Level 5 instructor, also offers a unique

paddle coaching program by video.

Sea Kayaking West Cork: Options

include overnight trips to Bere Island. Day trips from


On land: Driving in Ireland is difficult

as the roads are narrow with little

clearance, making it a high-stress way

to enjoy the island. We recommend

cycling as the best way to view the

rolling countryside, preferably by the

small, rarely-traveled back roads. We

traveled with West Ireland Cycling




The spectacular Cliffs of Moher, capped by

O’Brien’s Tower, built in 1835; left: one of the

colorful bars in the Temple Bar district of

Dublin; below left: a traffic jam,

Aran Island style.

We discover: castles, pubs, cycling, not many kayaks

Our kayaking adventures in Ireland were doomed before we

arrived. We couldn’t find a multi-day kayaking itinerary in our

pre-trip online research longer than overnight, and were advised

by the experts like Jim Kennedy at Atlantic Sea Kayaking that day

trips were probably preferable, or overnights at B&Bs lest you

be weathered out. As it happened, strong wind was a dominant

feature of our time in Ireland, which essentially sidelined hopes of

kayaking for most of the last two weeks. But infrastructure didn’t

help. Kayak rental operations were rare, at least in terms of visibility

at the multitude of coastal locations we visited. (It was very

disappointing to pass by the Cliffs of Moher and find no kayaks

in Doolin to explore this magnificent coast right next door). And

even if you find an operator, Jim says renting isn’t really an option,

given liability issues and the dangers associated with Ireland’s coast.

Escorted tours are the norm, though that may relax a bit when the

European Paddle Pass, a level system of accreditation, becomes


Our goal in Ireland was to mix various adventures: hiking,

kayaking and cycling. Cycling took eight days of our trip, with an

itinerary covering the Burrens in western Ireland and much of the

spectacular coast in County Clare including the Cliffs of Moher and

the Aran Islands. On the Aran Islands we found an old-style Irish

life coexisting with some terrific history, including Dun Aengus,

a prehistoric fort that dominates the tallest cliffside and hilltop

of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Dotting the rest of

Inishmore were traditional thatched cottages, various medieval ruins

and the defining maze of drystone walls.

The highlights of our trip? Too many to list them all, but Skellig

Michael has to be at the top, with Inishmore not far behind. Dingle

Peninsula would have been particularly scenic, but our only full day

of rain doused the impact. We spent our last night in Kilkenny, my

personal favorite of the trip – a town rich with medieval history

evident along just about every streetscape.

Then of course there are the pubs – the colorful assortment

in the Temple Bar district of Dublin to the myriad that dot

the countryside at every small Irish village. All are full of great

character and charm, with a personal favorite of mine one in the

little coastal village of Crookhaven. I had seen a picture prior to the

trip, and enjoying a pint there was a very low-level dream come true.

While not the most successful kayaking adventure ever, the best

trips are often most enjoyable not because of the quality of the

paddling, but of what you discover along the way, which hopefully

includes a colorful mix of culture, history and countryside.

Fortunately, Ireland abounds in all three. <


International destinations

story and images by Dave Cauldwell





DON’T LIKE the way Raba’s smiling

at me. He looks mischievous, what

with his red lips, orange betel nut–

stained teeth and a twinkle in his eye.

“Just stand there,” he says.

I’m underneath a tree whose leaves

are drooping under the midday sun. Next

to me, propped up against the trunk, is a

woman with a rock in her hand smashing

nuts out of their shells. In front of us

children play in the sea; one boy catches

waves using an off-cut of polystyrene as a


Shouting brings my gaze forward. A man

races from one of the leafhouses that skirt

the shore. His face and chest are covered

in black paint, and he charges towards me

with a club in his hand, stopping just short.

‘I want to kill this man!’ he shrieks. The

whites of his eyes are prominent against

milk chocolate skin.

One by one, four axe-wielding men

appear from the jungle and take it in turns

to lunge at me, pulling back only at the last

moment. Skulls are crudely etched onto

their shields.

The spokesman shrieks again. “Who

send this man to our village?”

I pause. “Er, Wavelength”’

“We want to eat this man!”

Clearly they don’t have subscriptions.

Before axes cleave open my flesh, a

man wearing a wig woven from coconut

straw enters the fray. He carries a large bow

and arrow and holds off the warriors. It’s

the chief and thankfully he’s on my side.

Holding a clam shell aloft, he barters with

the warriors to spare my life. They demand

a bigger shell so the chief gives it to them

(these things may look like a giant polo

mints, but they’re actually currency around

here). Eventually the men disband and I’m

left with all limbs intact.

“This is traditional welcome,” says Raba.

“I’d hate to see them when they’re

angry,” I reply.

Although this performance was

somewhat contrived, it was what awaited

explorers who bravely charted Marovo

Lagoon, the world’s largest saltwater

lagoon, back in the early 1900s. This was

when missionaries sailed into Solomon

Islands’ waters, their sails billowing with

religion, in an effort to spread Christianity

and stop the “barbaric” practice of

headhunting. Before the widespread

acceptance of this religion, there’s no


Solomon Islands

way the chief would have dug into his

clam stash to save a white man; rather,

he would’ve been carving into him with

a large knife. Oddly enough, some of the

missionaries actually wanted to end up as

main courses, believing they would die as

martyrs and thus gain a quicker passage to


If the missionaries had looked at

Marovo Lagoon, they might have realized

heaven was already in sight. Its crystalline

waters teem with sharks, manta rays and

fluorescent fish. Rainbow-colored reefs

form ethereal underwater worlds, while

secluded white beaches make what’s above

the surface just as magical. The main mode

of transport here is kayak or canoe. And

for most of my seven-day sojourn with

Raba, I traveled by kayak to explore the

mysterious backwaters of paradise, and to

uncover the area’s grisly headhunting past.

MY JOURNEY began from an

island shaped like a hammerhead

shark arching its back. Uepi Island is a hub

for adventure seekers and the best place

in Marovo from which to embark on a

guided kayaking expedition. And paddling

is the best way to explore this vast aquatic


It’s not long before Raba has forged

ahead. We’ve been dropped off in the

Mbili Passage, a forty-five minute boat ride

from Uepi. Once the passage ends, we’re


Top: a traditional welcome to the Solomon

Islands. Above: paddling in the mangroves of

Bapita Passage. Background: taking a break.


International destinations

paddling in open sea. Water undulates

beneath my kayak and Raba disappears

intermittently between troughs of swell.

He takes three leisurely strokes to my ten,

before resting to soak up the view. I’m

just getting soaked, mistiming my strokes

and not making much headway. Although

there’s no real danger of capsizing, my

stomach turns over.

Raba gestures to an outcrop, pointing his

paddle at a distant roof almost camouflaged

by jungle. I can’t be sure whether this is the

eco-lodge we’re staying at tonight, but it’s a

long way off.

When we finally reach the shore, a

breeze caresses my face and ruffles the

leaves of coconut palms. The eco-lodge at

Ropiko is run by Barry, a sixty-eight-yearold

English expat who’s married Jenna, a

local girl thirty-five years his junior.

White coral paths snake into the bush

between papaya trees, and there’s the wreck

of a Japanese war plane that was gunned

down during WW2. It’s now a glorified

plant-pot for Barry’s orchids.

After an evening listening to Barry’s

hilarious stories about things such as

excrement-eating fish (stay away from the

bright blue ones), we take a boat to the

custom village of Mbiche for my traditional

‘welcome’. From here it’s a rugged 15-km

walk back to Ropiko, and then a three-hour

paddle to Kajoro where I’m meeting John

Wayne – not the bowlegged gunslinger, but

a descendent of a notorious headhunter,

Kanijomo. This was a man who lived to kill

until missionaries persuaded him to trade

his axe for a bible.

In what seems like a biblical moment,

the heavy rain which has been tumbling all

night and morning suddenly parts and I’m

under the sun’s scorching spotlight. The

wind has also changed direction and I’m

paddling into it.

Rounding a point, a rickety stilt house

appears on the shore. Mangroves poke out

of the water, crooked fingers which beckon

the sun’s rays into the lagoon. Underneath

a sheet of aquamarine they wriggle like

golden eels before being swallowed into the

murky depths.

A man with sunshine in his eyes stands

on the shore. John Wayne helps us haul

our kayaks out of the water, and we sit

on the veranda with buzzing mosquitoes


Santa Isabel

Upei Island

Marovo Lagoon



New Georgia Islands


New Guinea


overlooking the lagoon.

“The spirit always gains strength from

chopping heads,” John tells me as rain

pitter-patters on the roof. Although it’s

only mid-afternoon it’s dark, the only light

coming from a gold-tinged horizon.

“Kanijomo could only sleep for an

hour at night,” says John. “He was always

thinking about killing.”

He shows me a picture of his great,

great grandfather that was taken in 1920.

In it he wields an axe and wears clam shells

like Mr. T wears bling. There’s a psychotic

smirk on his face.

Headhunting was actually a very spiritual



San Cristobal (Makira)

(and highly superstitious) practice. Skulls

were gathered for their mana, or energy,

stored inside them. It was this energy,

headhunters believed, that warded off evil

spirits and brought prosperity to the village.

When Kanijomo and his band of

warriors arrived in an enemy village one

day, they were greeted with a banquet

instead of a battle. Missionaries had already

converted the villagers to Christianity, and

in the face of religion Kanijomo realized

his jugular-craving spirit was powerless.

Although he was ready to hang up his axe,

the headhunting spirits inside his head

weren’t so keen.


Solomon Islands

“At night they banged on the roof

and doors of his house,” John tells me,

“demanding that he cut more heads. They

haunted him for two months before finally


Raba and I leave the next morning. The

lagoon is a sheet of glass reflecting dappled

clouds. Children in bright purple uniforms

canoe to school and the water massages

our kayaks as we drift to the sound of

schoolchildren singing in assembly. As one

song fades behind us, angelic voices from

another school up ahead resume the chorus,

their dulcet tones rippling across the lagoon

like a siren’s serenade.

I ask Raba if he likes music.

“Boyzone,” he replies, chewing a betel nut.

Before my brain has chance to override

my vocal cords, I’m singing Love me for a

Reason (the Cat Stevens version, obviously).

Raba nods in approval, spitting out a jet

of red saliva. His lips and tongue are blood

red and he looks like he’s just bitten the

head off a chicken.

Behind us, John Wayne’s lodge fades

into the haze of an approaching storm.

The lagoon opens up and gets choppy,

and the current comes at us from the side.

Eventually the storm catches up and rain

cascades, pinpricking the surface of the

lagoon. In seconds I’m drenched, ample

punishment for my woeful singing.

STOLE my wife,” says Morgan, a

“I friendly local with bleached blonde

hair who helps Raba and I beach our kayaks

at Olovotu Point, a two-and-a-half hour

Top: Serenity and kayaks awaiting a perfect

day’s paddle at Uepi Island; above: a more

eerie image of chieftain skulls near Olovotu


paddle from John Wayne’s. In Malaita,

one of nine provinces in the Solomons,

where Morgan met his wife, it’s custom

for grooms to pay a bride price to the

daughter’s family.

“Some people pay SD$100,000 (roughly

AU$16,667),” he says as we make our way

to a sacred site where the skulls of three

great warriors are kept. ‘Then they have to

buy land, a boat and other things on top

of that. My wife and I ran away. For two

years her family didn’t know where she was.

Eventually I wrote them a letter and they

came here. I paid them SD$3,000 (AU$500)

and off they went.’

We stand before a mass grave cluttered

with bones. Morgan reaches in and pulls out

the bottom half of someone’s jawbone. Ten

teeth remain, amazing considering they’re

over seventy years old.

“These are chief ’s skulls,” he says. In

headhunting days these would have been

displayed in special A-frame houses along

the shore, a warning for passing tribes to

stay away.

The sky rumbles and within moments

rain falls in a torrent. We run for shelter,

sitting underneath a leaky roof. As Morgan

bounces his one-year-old son on his lap,

I find it hard to believe that his ancestors

used to eat babies. On each headhunting

raid, after slaughtering an entire village,

warriors kidnapped babies or young boys,

known as veala. They were imprisoned

and fattened up. On the eve of the next

headhunting mission, the veala was

sacrificed and taken to a special stone where

it was gutted alive. Before this happened,

the unfortunate child was tossed from

warrior to warrior to make the meat more

tender for the chief.


and a blanket of low-lying cloud

lingers over tree-clad hills. “This area is

being logged,” says Aerum, pointing just

below the clouds. “Asian companies offer

landowners big bundles of cash. They

don’t think about the future and in the end



International destinations

they only end up with a small amount and

ruined land.” Most of the money goes to

the people who broker the deals.

By now the lagoon is like a lacquered

surface, and in the distance is a small island,

Matikuri, on which sits an eco-lodge, the

place where we’re staying tonight. This

is a good location from which to access

the Bapita Passage, a narrow system of

waterways and a great place to kayak.

Bapita immediately swallows you into its

mangrove belly; the smell here is pungent:

I imagine this is what it must have smelt

like back in headhunting times, when

freshly severed heads were left for a month

or two to decompose. Once the skin was

eaten away or peeling off, the brains were

emptied and the skulls buried.

On entering the passage, the water turns

into a sheet of shimmering emerald. Stripy

fish dart past my paddle as we approach

an isolated village. Fishermen are out in

numbers catching food for tomorrow’s

Sabbath feast. A teenage girl sings in one

of the huts and for a fleeting moment our

eyes meet. They twinkle with longing, and

as I paddle past she sings louder. Eventually

her voice is lost to the mangroves, replaced

by a strange birdcall that hoots like an

owl before sounding like it’s coughing up


We pass underneath a logging bridge.

The Australian navy bombed this part of

Bapita to create a shortcut through the

passage. This meant locals no longer had to

haul their canoes over mudflats.

The passage opens out and cliffs of

mauve, grey and gold curve over my head,

along with overhanging trees. Beneath

our kayaks is a sinkhole where divers can

descend 28 meters before a horizontal cave

traverses 20 meters horizontally. There

the ceiling ends and the cave widens into

a canyon which holds the remains of a

battered American barge.

Another good diving spot near Matikuri

(roughly a two-hour paddle) is Hele Bar.

Here, on the edge of a reef that plummets

40 meters, lies another wreck: that of a

35-meter Japanese tuna fishing boat, Taiyo,

which ran aground on its maiden voyage.

The captain was drunk and decided to

take a shortcut instead of sailing around

Above: Heavy clouds give a welcome respite

from the South Pacific sun. Inset: Raba and

the author pose together.

the passage. A failed salvage operation has

rendered the Taiyo completely vertical.

Near this wreck is a small island, and

by the time Aerum and I reach it my

sunburned hands feel like they’re covered

with hot embers.

Aerum points vaguely to where the

wreck should be, and I wade in with my

snorkel. The path to the edge of the reef

is convoluted: the water is shallow and

if I try to swim over the needle coral I’ll

end up scraping the skin off my stomach.

Instead I follow a series of troughs until the

reef ends and murky blue water stretches


Solomon Islands

For more information:

• To embark on a Marovo adventure, log onto

All kayak trips start from Uepi Island and the resort owners have

excellent knowledge of the area and can organize varied itineraries.

They can also arrange boat transfers (at an additional cost) between

kayaking sites.

ominously in front of me.

A big wave surges in and I’m thrown onto the coral. I cut

my hand and blood spirals. Sharks swim around inside my head.

Mildly panicked, I try to get away from the reef, but another wave

pushes me into a piece of coral that resembles a giant brain. This

time I cut my knees and feet. Sea urchin spikes are inches away

from puncturing my stomach and giant clams look as if they’re

mouthing ‘Go back’. I abort my mission and swim ashore before

I make a wreck of myself.

‘You didn’t see it,’ says Aerum as I stumble ashore.

‘Never mind,’ he says, taking my snorkel off me. ‘There are

some things you don’t need to see.’

That’s true, but the Marovo Lagoon isn’t one of them.


Dave is a Melbourne-based freelance writer whose work has

appeared in a variety of travel magazines Down Under. He is

currently writing a travel memoir about Australasian fringe dwellers,

part of which will feature his Solomon sojourn.

Kayak Repair & Refit



Meet Blackline’s kayak

specialist – eight years

of manufacturing and

repair experience.

• Component Replacements

• Gel Coat Refinishing

2072 Henry Avenue West

Sidney, BC. (250) 654-0052

• Keel Line Rebuilds

• Structural Repairs

Vancouver Island South

One more great gift idea

Maps: always appreciated by

the kayaker who has everything

Find a great selection

of BC maps online at

Wavelength Magazine’s

online store.


Tours and Services

Tours and Services: British Columbia

Online: Hold the cursor

over a listing to see

where tours are offered.

Click on a listing to visit

the website.

Eco Adventures & Education since 1991

Eclectic itineraries in the Spectacular Gulf Islands

Kayak Desolation Sound

Rent kayaks from waterfront locations in Lund or

Okeover Inlet. Try the Famous Aquarium Kayak Tour or

snorkel at Urchin Alley. All-inclusive multi-day trips into

Desolation & Mountains.

Phone: Toll free 1-866-617-4444



Kayaking Day Tours, Expeditions,

Youth Camps & Guides Courses

Two Kayak friendly accommodations

on Salt Spring Island

1 888 529-2567 • 250 537 2553 •

Paddle with sea otters

Kayak transport between Zeballos and Nootka Island,

Nuchatlitz Park and Friendly Cove. Kayak rentals.

CEDARS INN rooms and restaurant in a historic

Zeballos lodge. Good food, friendly service.

Phone: 1-866-222-2235

Web: www.


Lund Kayak Tours & Rentals

Kayak tours, lessons, rentals & marine delivery.

Desolation Sound, Mitlenatch Island, Copeland Islands

marine parks. Personalized service, stunning scenery,

fascinating history, delicious organic lunches. Family /

child friendly programs.

Phone: 1.888.552.5558 OR 604.483.7900



Wilderness Sea Kayaking

Family sea kayaking tours with wilderness retreat

camping comforts, spectacular kayaking options,

diverse wildlife, cultural activities, and professional

guides. Sharing the remote Kyuquot area, Northwest

Vancouver Island since 1972!

Phone: 1.800.665.3040 or 250.338.2511



Sealegs Kayaking Adventures

Sealegs’ Eco-Adventure Centre offers waterfront access

at Transfer Beach Ladysmith. Guided wilderness tours,

rentals, lessons and sales from our pro shop. Multi-day

adventures, FREE lessons with tours and rentals.

Phone: 250-245-4096 or 1-877-KAYAK BC (529-2522)



Odyssey Kayaking

BC Ferries port; Gateway to Northern and Central

BC Coast destinations. Sales, Rentals, Lessons, Trip

planning, and Custom Tours. 8625 Shipley Street

(across from the Post Office) Port Hardy.

Phone: 250-949-7392 or cell 250-230-8318




Winter Guiding in Belize ‘10/’11

Island Expeditions is looking for professional guides

to work winters in Belize. Sea kayak, river experience,

marine biology or strong naturalist background.

Minimum two seasons multi-day guiding experience.

Email resume: or call


Tours and Services: East Canada


Tours and Services

Tours and Services: British Columbia

Tours and Services: Alaska

Elements Women's Travel

Adventure tours for women. Unique day and multi-day

tours in the coastal waters of BC. Custom itineraries for

women, all designed to 'get into your element'!

Phone: 250-245-9580



Gabriola Sea Kayaking

Kayaking adventures in the Broken Group, Clayoquot

Sound , Broughton Archipelago, Kyuquot Sound ,

Nootka Island and the Gulf Islands. Unforgettable

paddling and great people since 1995. See you on

the water!

Phone: 250-247-0189


Kayak Transport Co.

A Mothership Serving SE Alaska. Kayaking from

the comforts of a mothership for a week. Paddling

our boats and exploring fantastic scenery and wildlife.

Eating fresh caught Alaskan seafood. How good does

it get?!



Phone: (206) 719-0976

Tours and Services: Yukon

Kayak Haida Gwaii

Among the world's top paddling destinations, Gwaii

Haanas is an awe-inspiring oasis of wilderness at the

southern tip of Haida Gwaii. Enjoy memorable, safe

and affordable multi-day kayak adventures.



Phone: 250-559-4682

Kanoe People Ltd.

Explore Yukon's great rivers and lakes! Rentals, sales,

guided tours and logistic services. Cabin rentals

summer and winter on the scenic Lake Laberge.

Outfitting on the Yukon for over 35 years.



Phone: 867-668-4899

Tours and Services: Tropical


Paddle Meals

by Hilary Masson

Polynesian discovery

A sailboat trip to the South Pacific

allowed Ryan Masson to discover

what may well be the perfect beer

bread recipe. The sacrifice involved

is obvious.

For this issue, I have two different recipes that are

excellent on their own, and go especially well together.

Ryan, my older brother, spent over two months crewing

on a 46’ sailboat last spring. He sailed from La Paz Mexico,

near our winter kayak operations, across the Pacific Ocean

to French Polynesia in the South Pacific. While on the

boat one of the other crew members made this really easy

beer bread. It uses the yeast in the beer to raise the dough;

it requires no kneading and is fast to make. This summer

we perfected the beer bread and discovered that whether

anchored in the turquoise waters of Moorea or Tahiti, or

kayaking the west coast of Vancouver Island or Baja, it’s a

fun, quick, and easy bread.

The second recipe is one that I make a lot, and can be

adapted to whatever ingredients are available locally. The

recipe is based on my Dad’s famous seafood chowder.

Every year my parents host a New Year’s seafood party

and this is one of the many local dishes served. My

brother and I have adapted the recipe for when we’re

paddling in Baja by incorporating local seafood and

veggies there.

Beer bread made easy


1 ½ cups all purpose white flour

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 can of beer


½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Sprinkle of dill and basil

Mix the flour and baking powder directly in your Outback /

Dutch Oven pan (no need to dirty a mixing bowl), then stir in a can

of beer. Sometimes to get the right consistency you may need an

additional 50 ml of liquid. You can use water, or it’s a good excuse

to open another can of beer.

For this recipe, I added grated cheddar cheese and herbs to go

with the seafood chowder. If you’re adding cheese or herbs, you can

add them to the mix before putting in the beer. This easy beer bread

requires no kneading or rising time; just mix and bake.

In my Outback Oven it takes 35 to 45 minutes on “bake”, or

about 40 minutes at 400 degrees in a conventional oven.


Beer Bread and Chowder

Coastal seafood


1 onion

3 stalks of celery

3 carrots

2 parsnips

2 yams

3 potatoes

1 pound (or more) fresh local

seafood. We use clams, oysters, cod

2 cloves garlic

Dill, basil, salt or Miso to taste.

1 cup cream, milk, or sour cream

Use a large soup pot. Chop and

brown the onion in oil or butter. Add

the veggies, chopped into small cubes.

Add seasoning: In this recipe I used

dill, basil and a tablespoon of Miso

soup paste (instead of salt). Cover

with water, bring to a boil and cook

until almost soft. Now you add your


I have used local oysters and clams

that I picked from my favorite spot

here on Gabriola Island. I also added

350 grams of local cod that I cut into

bite-sized cubes. At the very end add

your cream, milk or sour cream. All

work well. Usually I go with whatever

needs to be used first on my kayak


You can really play around with

this recipe. While working in Baja I

use veggies with a more Mexican flair:

onions, carrots, red and green peppers

and finely diced jalapeno peppers. You

can also add cans of diced tomatoes

or corn, and even cream corn is a nice

addition to this chowder.

I have made it with a Thai theme

using seasonings like cumin, thyme,

turmeric and shrimp or prawns; and

I always suggest going with whatever

seafood is fresh and local.

It doesn’t matter where in the world

you are; making simple beer bread

and seafood chowder is the perfect

addition to any sailing or kayaking



Hilary Masson is a guide and part owner

of Baja Kayak Adventures.


New Gear

Win some of these items

Wavelength Magazine is offering

online readers one prize per month

in 2011, and a grand prize of a new

kayak. Read online for details.

Cargo cockpit cover

(Beluga Outdoor Gear)

Trayak bike trailer

(Tony’s Trailers)

Hydration Holster

(North Water)

Throw bags

Tech Pouch

(Advanced Elements)

Outrigger rescue device

(Solo Rescue Assist)

Pump sleeve


Paddle cover



(North Water)

Electric Bilge Pump

(Blue Water)

Yak Armour

(Blue Water)

About our tricked out kayaks

Turtleback Deck Bag

(North Water)

No sooner did we announce this

project than kayak manufacturers offered

boats for the project. Imagine having to

turn down a kayak to test! We ended up

picking a Seaward Passat as a large (22’)

double with the necessary deck space to

accommodate the many items. It has a

well-earned reputation as a heavy-duty

and fast touring/expedition double, most

notably being a perpetual winner of the

Yukon 1000 race.

The second kayak for this exercise

is the Delta 17, which we’re finding

to be a good, light, easy-to-paddle

day-use or weekend touring kayak

made from forgiving thermoform.

We picked it because it’s part of the

Wavelength roster, meaning we could

poke holes to accommodate gear

without restriction – a sometimes

necessary evil if you really want to

trick out a kayak.

Stick Holster

(Blue Water)

Reflective deck tape


Rapidup Sail

(Advanced Elements)


Our Tricked-Out Kayaks

One of the great things about kayaking is the inherent

simplicity. All you really need to get started is a kayak, a paddle

and the basic safety gear.

But like all hobbies, we can complicate things as much as

we want. And nothing has the potential to complicate life as

much as gear. It can improve our kayaking comfort, efficiency

and convenience. But it can come at the cost of forsaking the

simplicity that helps define kayaking.

But this article isn’t about simplicity, so minimalists, put your

Seat and Bilge Sponge


Cargo cockpit cover

(Beluga Outdoor Gear)

Interior mounted

cockpit bags

(North Water)

Cargo Half-Skirt

(Beluga Outdoor Gear)



basic nature aside as we explore the world of kayak clutter. Just

as car lovers can deck out hotrods, so can we kayakers deck out

our kayaks.

How far can we go? Well, our goal here was to create the

ultimate tricked-out kayak. And in the end we actually needed

two kayaks to accommodate all the items.

So is our life better now? Sometimes. But not always.

Everything has an upside and downside, so in our brief appraisal

of the items that make up our tricked out kayak, we take a look

at our impression of the pros and cons of each item. u

Under deck bag

(North Water)

How we selected the items

We didn’t. Instead we put out a cattle-call

email to various gear manufacturers to take part,

at no cost to them to participate, and this is the

result. We tried not to exclude anyone, but a few

items offered to us fell off the rails mainly due

to deadline restrictions. We got swamped!

Because of the complexity, the contributed

kayak sails didn’t get a complete workout.

Instead, we’re going to outline the four sails we

were offered separately in a later issue. Also, we

fully intend to improve our tricked out kayak

over time, so if items are missing, we’ll fill in

the gaps later. To nominate items for inclusion

in a future “tricked out kayak beyond all belief,”


Sea Anchor


Check out our tricked-out

kayak in video online



New Gear

For the cockpit

the actual packs can be detached). Requires

removing sprayskirt to use.

Interior mounted cockpit bags

North Water

These simple gear bags can increase

storage space inside your cockpit. North

Water offered two options for our tricked

out kayak: the underdeck and interior

mount styles, with the latter best positioned

along the cockpit side next to the seat.

Advantages: Potential great use of empty

space, plus quick release tabs to remove the

bags from the anchors. Quick, easy access.

Disadvantages: Be sure you have the

necessary cockpit space, for both comfort

and safety. The bags aren’t waterproof. The

anchor pads must be glued and become a

permanent addition to your kayak (though

Seat cushion


If comfort of the posterior is a priority

(and when isn’t it?), then the Skwoosh seat

cushion will add necessary padding. This is

a staff favorite field tested for many years.

Advantages: It’s a no-brainer installation

– just put it down. Comfortable, durable

and well constructed. More stable than

inflatable seat pads.

Disadvantages: A slight (oh-so-slight)

rise in your kayak’s centre of gravity. Could

be lost in event of a wet exit.

Versatility: Use it outside your cockpit

at your camp on the beach or on rough logs.

Cargo cockpit cover

Beluga Outdoor Works

When kayak camping, a cockpit cover

can help keep out dew, rain, bugs and even

raccoons. Since the cockpit makes a great

place to stash gear, it only makes sense that

the cockpit cover provide quick access to

the gear. Enter Beluga with this offering

that features a zipper to gain inner access, a

mesh lining for gear storage and a strap to

lift the whole package when needed.

Advantages: Suspends gear to potentially

keep it out of the ‘wet’ portion of the

cockpit. Adds a layer of versatility to the

otherwise static cockpit cover.

Disadvantages: The mesh pocket is large

so gear may still fall into the wet portion. Be

sure to get right size for your cockpit.


Our Tricked-Out Kayaks

Electric bilge pump

Blue Water Kayak Works

A specialty item, this system utilizes a

highly efficient mini pump, battery and a

magnetic switch to empty a kayak in about

50 seconds, with an hour’s battery life. That

can be doubled by adding a second battery.

Advantages: This allows the safety of

emptying the cockpit with hands-free

effort, allowing the paddler to concentrate

on kayaking rather than bailing – a huge

safety benefit. It also enables effort-free

emptying of the cockpit during training so

you can build skills instead of draining your

energy by manually emptying the kayak.

Disadvantages: The installation takes

several hours, requires drilling a hole in the

kayak and permanently placing the tubing,

electrical and battery and pump, which can

be nitpicky. Elements can’t be removed

(including the battery) when not in use

without dismantling the system. The system

adds three to four pounds to the weight of

the kayak.

Versatility: Blue Water is adding options

for a solar panel and an adaptor for other

uses such as a USB connection, adding

the potential for a great electrical power

source during remote long-distance trips,

with additional benefit of the safety of an

automatic pump.

Cargo half-skirt

Beluga Outdoor Works

The half-skirt covers the front portion

of the cockpit, providing some protection

from sun and water. A layer of mesh

underneath the half-skirt offers unsecured

cargo space. A staff favorite for the design.

Advantages: Get the freedom from the

confinement of a sprayskirt while covering

the area most prone to paddle drips.

Protects from sun-burned upper legs. Extra

cargo space is a bonus.

Disadvantages: A fair-weather product,

it won’t provide the safety features of a full

sprayskirt. Cockpit could get waterlogged.

Bilge sponge


It’s not so much a sponge as it is a highly

absorbent, soft material. Smaller than

regular sponges, the small size is either a

benefit or a drawback. A loop can be used

to secure it to your kayak.



New Gear

Foredeck luxuries

Tech pouch

Advanced Elements

Dry cases are standard these days,

especially for anything electronic. New

from Advanced Elements is a dry pouch

with a twist: an extendable arm keeps the

pouch upright at roughly a 45-degree angle.

Clip it to existing deck lines for a better

viewing angle.

Advantages: Simple clip-on setup, aids

visibility of electronic gear, potentially

making viewing hands-free.

Disadvantages: The extending arm

bends rather than pivots on a hinge.

Rigidity suffers and is best if item in the

pouch is near the size of the pouch.

Yak Armor

Blue Water Kayak Works

This new product is made of a highly

scuff-proof plastic designed to protect your

kayak’s finish. Cut the Yak Armor to size,

then simply lay down flat to apply.

Advantages: Easy to apply and replace. It

is virtually indestructible and invisible.

Disadvantages: Bends in the shape

of your hull have to be accommodated.

Artistry in trimming will help the look.


Yak Armour

Turtleback deck bag

North Water

This is an adaptation of the classic deck

bag in miniature. It will fit a camera and

snacks but not much more.

Advantage: It’s easy to clip into place

and contains its own flotation. It is small

enough that it is highly unlikely to impede

your paddling technique or obstruct views

of your compass, for instance.

Disadvantages: Difficult to use with

other items like the Tech Pouch.

Hydration Holster

North Water

This removable holster is designed for

quick installation by snapping onto existing

deck lines. It keeps a water bottle within

easy reach.

Advantages: Protects deck from

scratches that will occur if, for instance,

your water bottle is secured to your deck

under your bungy cords. It also allows onehand

access to your water bottle. Plus the

odds of losing your bottle diminish.

Disadvantages: It pretty much precludes

a deck bag or other foredeck use as it straps

across the width of the foredeck.

Versatility: Can be used around the waist

when not paddling.

Sea Anchor

Sea-Lect Designs

This will be of most interest to the

kayak fishermen among us, though other

kayakers might find a suitable use. It is a

heavy cast iron construction that is every

bit a traditional anchor, with a handy foldup

storage feature.

Advantages: A truly well-made product

that is high durable and likely to last a

lifetime of use.


Our Tricked-Out Kayaks

Disadvantages: Users should know the

risk of entanglement, and place it only in a

manner where a cutaway is possible should

the anchor become caught.

Versatility: Can be used to club bears.

Paddle Leash

Natural West Coast Adventure Gear

Simple and efficient, it will link your

paddle to your kayak, which is desirable

should potentially all three of you (your

kayak, your paddle and you) otherwise part

ways. A tried and true design.

Versatility: The paddle leash is

underrated as a secure way to store other

items. For instance, we use it to secure the

stand for the waterproof housing on our

video camera. Should the stand fail, the

leash won’t.

Paddle care

Paddle cover

Natural West Coast Adventure Gear

A traditional paddle cover option, it

covers both the blade and the shaft and

connects the two ends with an adjustable

strap. By protecting the paddle, when used

as your spare paddle strapped to your deck

it can project your hull and your paddle

from scratches.

Stick Holster

Blue Water Kayak Works

This simple pair of connected plastic

tubes fastens to the bungy cord on the bow

of your kayak. By sliding the ends of the

shaft of your spare paddle you gain quick

access to your spare paddles.

Advantages: Bow storage of your

spare paddle with quick access – perfect

for paddlers with paddles for different


Disadvantages: Unlike North Water’s

Paddle Britches, the Stick Holster isn’t easily

removed when not in use. Some may not

like the look of the tubes when not in use.



North Water

This versatile paddle float unfolds to

fill a number of other possible uses. One

is a beaching pad to protect your kayak’s

hull when landing on rocks or barnacles. It

can protect your car in the same way when

loading your kayak into a cradle. It is also

billed for use as a sleeping pad and chair.

Advantages: It combines multiple uses

in one product that is otherwise a static

and rarely used item (in comparison to a

traditional foam paddle float). Useful as a

pad or cushion in camp.

Disadvantages: The padding is too firm

for use as a single sleeping pad. Consider it

extra padding under your tent instead. The

seat isn’t firm for sitting upright.

Versatility: You could dream up any

other number of uses. For instance, use

it as a mat for car repairs when you break

down on the way to your launch site.

Tow lines

Natural West Coast Adventure Gear and North Water

Two options were rigged to our trickedout

kayaks. NWCAG offers a basic beltdeployed

tow rope that is nicely compact.

North Water offered its Sea Tec Tow Line,

which deploys around the cockpit combing



New Gear

connect. Can be quickly dropped onto the

deck when the need arises.

Disadvantages: The design is downwind

only. We found it difficult to refit into

the stow bag. Care needs to be taken in

the process, as the light frame can snap,

rendering the sail useless.

Disadvantages: It’s heavy.

Versatility: Can be used to club bears.

Kong Cable

to transfer the stress of towing from the

kayaker to the kayak. A quick-release tab

ensures an easy jettison, if the need arises.

Outrigger rescue device

Solo Rescue Assist

While paddle floats assist through

buoyancy, this outrigger provides stability

for wet re-entries through a cantilever and a

water-filled counterbalance.

Advantages: The weight of the water is

very effective for providing stability during


Disadvantages: Bulkier to store on a

kayak than most paddle floats.

Versatility: Can be augmented by a

ladder. Two such outriggers would provide

near-perfect stability for a kayak. Great

potential for overnighting during expedition


Kayak sails

We quickly decided that in terms of

tricking out a kayak, a sail went one step

further by transforming the use into a whole

new skillset. We were offered four types of

sails for this project, and present two styles

to whet the appetite for this option. We are

planning a followup article to examine sails

and kayak sailing in more depth.

RapidUp Sail

Advanced Elements

This simple, effective and highly

portable design quickly clips to the bow of

your kayak.

Advantages: Quick, light and simple,

especially as the sail uses carabiners to



This rates as a more complex design

by far, with greater benefits. The design is

rather ingenious, and effectively mimics a

sailboat with features adapted for a kayak.

We can’t wait to more thoroughly test this!

Advantages: Can be used for upwind

sailing. Careful thought to the design

essentially transforms the kayak into a fullfledged

sailboat complete with outriggers.

Disadvantages: Holes in hull required to

mount, plus a sailing skillset is required – or

will need to be developed.


Kayak Secure

Beluga Outdoor Gear

Operating akin to the famous Club for

securing the steering wheel of cars, this

heavy-duty extendable bar extends to clamp

across the cockpit of your kayak, then locks

into place.

Advantages: While no guarantee by itself

that someone won’t steal your kayak, in

conjunction with a locking cable it adds an

extra measure of security – plus provides a

place to tether the cable.

Lasso Security

This extra-heavy-duty locking cable is

designed with two loops on either end.

Wrap around the kayak on either side to

take up the slack and secure around your

car’s kayak rack or a post, then secure in the

middle to reconnect two ends. Locks with

keys or combination.

Advantages: Sturdy, secure design with

lots of latitude for use.

Disadvantages: Weight of the locking

portion means care is necessary when

looping to avoid scratching your car. A

sliding protective cover would help.



Tony’s Trailers

Leave the car at home. The Trayak offers

a versatile, portable, lightweight yet strong

design. A staff favorite.

Advantages: It is surprisingly efficient

for towing the kayak, requiring little

additional pedalling effort. Good strong

construction. Adaptable design includes

possibility of a cargo container. Can be

adopted for different lengths of kayaks.

Turns on a dime. Plastic tires allow backing

the trailer into the water to unload. A

carbon-neutral product. Simple tightening

fasteners. Quick to assemble. Well designed.

Disadvantages: Hills, dogs and cars and

all the usual impediments to cycling. <




story and images By by Adam Neil Schulman Bolonsky

Surf games

Trade in that ‘sofa’

for something to

ride the waves –

if you dare

GRIMACING, I cram myself into

Dave’s bright red, shiny fiberglass

surf kayak, which is a bit too small

for me. The fit’s tight, but tolerable. I push

off into the soup and start to paddle out.

Immediately I realize I’m in a different

world. For starters, the boat doesn’t seem

to go anywhere. Several strokes later, the

stern is still bottoming out on the sand and

I haven’t moved far off the beach. When

I urge the boat forward, it fishtails, even

more than my shortest whitewater kayak.

I’m sitting up a few inches higher, which

should give me some more power, but it

also adds instability.

And then come the waves.

With my lack of forward speed, I get

pushed backward quickly by the first small

dumpers. I struggle to make it out of the

soup zone, and then I try to catch a few

short rides to warm up to the new craft.

The short stern of the boat gets whipped

in circles quickly, and the hull behaves very

differently than I’m used to. A couple of

short “rides” (or at least I like to think I

was catching rides) and I’m upside down.

Then I discover something else new:

surf boats are very hard to roll. On the

second attempt I swim, and as I empty

the boat, Dave comes flying by in my

river kayak, exclaiming, “This thing is

like paddling a sofa!” Welcome to my

first experience with the funky but high

performance kayaks specifically designed

for the surf zone.

It may be the wave of the future.

Like everything in the kayaking world,

surf kayaks have gotten increasingly

specialized. We’ve now got whitewater

boats specially designed for park-and-play,

for running waterfalls, for downriver racing,

and sea kayaks for expeditions, play and

fishing. Surf boats are the logical next step,

and they’re extremely good at it (assuming

the kayakers know what they’re doing.) But

there’s a lot to get used to.

The difference between the surf kayak

and my whitewater boat is obvious. Most

dramatic is the bottom. The surf boat’s

underside is dead flat, even more so than

planing-hull whitewater boats. Like a

surfboard, it’s got fins, which are often

movable and interchangeable. The flat

surface, like a surfboard, rockers up at the

bow to allow the boat to fall down the wave

without digging in and locking in position.

And where my whitewater boat is boxshaped

in cross-section, surf kayaks are

very clearly wider at the bottom of the hull

with very distinct rails. From there the boat

narrows as you move above the waterline.

The stern end is minimal, with very little

boat aft of the cockpit, often in a variety

of rounded shapes designed to loosen the

stern to make easy turns possible. The

sides of the boat are convex. This is to

aid switching the sides of boat lean on

the wave without catching edges. Most are

fiberglass rather than plastic, and about the

length of the shorter set of whitewater play

boats, about 7’6” or so.

Like anything specialized, surf kayaks are

good at one thing at the expense of others.

The obvious purpose is to surf waves. Not


Surf Kayaking

Student and instructor

wait for the right

conditions for a launch

into surf on the beach at

Cape Kiwanda, Oregon.

just to ponderously ride a wave into the

beach like sea kayakers, but to be able to

turn, cut back, spin and even catch air. For

this they trade speed, stability and ease of

rolling, which means a

steep learning curve and

a lot of paddling effort to

get to the surf lineup.

After a few runs and

some pointers, I begin

to get a better feel. I

realize that while the

flat hull doesn’t seem to

be affected much by a

knee lift and hip edge, an

aggressive upper body

lean – toward the sea,

just like surfing any other

kayak – is critical. Leaning

back sinks the tiny stern

and frees up the rockered

bow, often whipping the

boat around in circles. I

throw my body further

forward and get some

better results.

As I get tired, I go over

a few times and rediscover

the difficulty I have with

rolling, so I take a few

minutes to watch Dave,

Chris, and Zach. I notice

a few things. First of all,

they fall down the face

of the wave a lot faster

and more aggressively,

staying on the unbroken

part of the wave. They’re

using the pocket, where

a sea kayak or even a

whitewater boat quickly locks in too much

at the bow and broaches. Almost all turns




are made with onside lean, as opposed to

leaning away from a stern rudder as sea

kayakers do to avoid broaching. When they

capsize, I don’t feel so bad. It often takes a

several attempts to flip over the flat, finned

bottom, often ending with a scull. If rolling

a sea kayak is like rolling a log, rolling a surf

boat looks more like flipping over a sheet

of plywood.

Surf kayakers also usually seek

different conditions than sea kayaks, or

even whitewater boats playing in the surf.

The desirable condition is an offshore

wind, which will steepen and shorten the

incoming waves—exactly the opposite of

what I’d look for if I wanted to surf in my

“short” 16-foot sea kayak, which demands

longer wavelengths.

Using steeper waves also means a new

type of etiquette. Since I’ve mostly surfed

whitewater or sea kayaks, I found that I

didn’t conflict much with board surfers,

since we were looking for different waves

and used different sections of the break.

In surf boats, you’re using the exact same

spots as board surfers. After all, you’re

basically on a surfboard with a cockpit. You

Chris Bensch surfs a broken wave at Cape

Kiwanda, Oregon.

still have a lot more maneuverability than

they do – you have a paddle and an easier

time getting into position.

“It’s important to understand a few

things,” says Chris. “First, when we’re

waiting for a wave, we have a tendency

to paddle back and forth, since it’s more

stable. This makes them nervous.

“Second, they work hard to paddle out,

and they can’t accelerate as quick, so they

may be waiting out there for as long as 30

minutes for a wave. So wait your turn.”

Lastly, never drop on someone who’s

already on a wave, and stay clear when

paddling out. When in doubt, turn and

paddle toward the broken part of the wave.

Folks riding the wave in will be surfing the

shoulder in the other direction.

By the end of the morning I’m

exhausted and feel anything but competent.

But new approaches are never easy, and

this is no exception. I’m certainly envious

of the moves my friends have been able

to make, and the grace they show doing it.

Then I get back into my whitewater boat to

paddle back. It really does feel supremely

stable, slow, and forgiving. Kind of like

paddling a sofa.


Neil Schulman has been told that paddling

a surf kayak is kind of like driving a racing

car, but he’ll have to take your word for it. He

lives in Portland, Oregon.


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Phone: 250-240-8246





by Christine Brice and Wavelength Magazine

Surf kayaking


Understand the difference in kayaks.

With a longer bow and a short, stubby stern, the surf kayak is an unstable

beast that in some ways resembles a whitewater kayak but is designed solely

for riding waves. That feature makes it very unwieldy for anything else but

waves, meaning sea kayakers are going to need a whole new skillset to take

up surf kayaking. There is no simply stepping inside and paddling away.


Make sure the boat fits like a glove.

The first thing you want to do even before you get in the water is see if you

fit in it. You’re looking for points of contact – as many points of contact as you

can. Make sure your feet are set on the footpegs and your heals are flat on the

bottom of the boat. The more points of contact you have the more control

you have. So you want your knees and thighs to be jammed in there, and you

want to be hitting at your hips and your butt. Proper fitting of your boat is

very important to get the required performance from your surf kayak.


Know how to exit your kayak.

One of the first things that is going to happen is you are going to catch

an edge and you’re going to go upside down. Surf boats are difficult

to roll but you don’t need to know how to roll to start. It’s just more

exhausting if you need to get out and swim. As the bare minimum you

need to know how to pull your sprayskirt off and wet exit just like you

would for any other form of paddling.


Think safety.

Check to make sure there is nobody else around

you. There’s an etiquette that board surfers follow

that kayak surfers should follow as well. You want

to make sure you’re not near anyone because if

you have to bail out of this and your kayak is full of

water it’s very heavy. It can hurt other people and it

can break boards.


Surf Kayaking

101 Here’s what you need to know to get you started.

Will Brice goes through the paces. The

camera on the bow of the kayak was

used to create the video shown in the

online version.


Start slow and easy.

A beginner usually starts in the impact zone as it is known: the area where you see the white waves and the white wash.

This is where surf kayaking is much more enjoyable for a beginner, because a surf kayak will surf the foam pile. You don’t

have to get outside the surf line and you don’t have to get on a green wave to start.


Head straight into surf.

The paddle to use is a whitewater paddle. Use a

fairly short, deep stroke. As you first head out into a

whitewater wave you want to hit the wave face on.

Wait for it to break and make for the foam pile. That’s

the easiest conditions for crossing. Place the paddle

blade in the water and lift your body up to throw the

boat up and over the foam.


Ride a wave.

When you get to the spot you’re comfortable, start with

some side surfs. Place your kayak parallel to the whitewater

wave and feel how it pushes the boat along. You’re going to

put your paddle blade in and lean into it. To start you want a

little speed so paddle and lean a little bit forward. Once you

feel yourself picked up by the wave, depending on where

your comfort level is, you can back up a little bit and ride

the wave in. In a surf boat you’re not going to be heading

straight to shore. It’s going to try to curve along and you’re

going to follow the wave so you want to be prepared to be

able to lean into whichever way you turn so you can stay

upright no matter which way you go.

See all of this explained in action. Click to view the first of

Wavelength’s new video training series – plus awesome surfing.







Bowron Lakes prove ideal for standup paddleboarding

EVER SINCE Laura Demers saw

the first boards come into the

store where she works, she was

fascinated by the concept.

“I tried out some demo boards from the

store and I was hooked,” she says. Standup

paddling still takes a back seat to her love

of whitewater kayaking, but it has definitely

added another dimension to her paddling


“After spending some time on a standup

board, along with some encouragement

from my employer, Marlin at Western

Canoeing and Kayaking, I decided to

tackle the Bowron Lakes on a standup

board. My boyfriend Dave and I decided

September would be the best time to avoid

the crowds.”

Bowron Lakes is a 116-km circuit

located in a provincial park northeast of

Quesnel, BC, that starts and ends in the


Prince Rupert

Prince George

Bowron Lakes Provincial Park


same place to create the perfect circuit. It is

a series or portages, lakes Vancouver and rivers.

The most frequent question Laura

got was, “Where are you going to put all

your gear?” Dave acted as the sherpa and

carried most of the gear in a Tripper S

Clipper canoe set up for solo canoeing.

“I chose the Starboard Free Race

because it’s a fast touring board and my

paddle was a Werner Spanker that was

really light,” she says. “Dave and I did time

trials to make sure the two craft were of

comparable speed and the board easily kept

up to the canoe.”

The gear for the trip weighed in at 180

pounds, with Laura stowing two 20-litre

packs on her board.

“We had originally planned on taking

seven days to complete the circuit and

thought even that might be pushing it for

time and energy. In the end, it only took us

six days. We paddled an average of 20 km a

day, which took us about six to seven hours.

As luck would have it, it rained four days

out of seven and we had a headwind most

of the time.”

Her Kokatat drysuit helped to keep

warm and comfortable the whole way.

“By the second day, my abs were feeling

the core workout. I was surprised that my


Standup paddleboards

legs never got tired,” she says.

Setting up a paddle sail wasn’t an option

because of the unfortunate wind direction.

Plus any break from paddling meant

drifting backwards.

“People we met along the way called

me crazy and snapped pictures like the

paparazzi. The German tourists we met

had never seen nor heard of an SUP and

they took pictures to verify their stories

about the crazy Canadian when they got

back home.”

Her run of the “chute” on Isaac River

caught everyone’s attention.

“They were all expecting me to fall off,

and I didn’t disappoint them. I made it past

the first couple of big waves and then came

crashing to the water. I managed to rescue

myself and hop back on the board for the

rest of the river. Thank goodness for that

helmet and board tether I brought.

“The trip was a lot of fun, and yes, I

stood up the whole way!”



Planning and Safety

Kayaking with flare


a widening array of

communication devices

in case of an emergency. VHF

radios, Spot, EPIRBs and satellite

phones are all options when

planning a trip. Flares are more

commonplace, though, long

considered a basic safety item for

any maritime adventure.

Flares are pyrotechnic

emergency distress signals and

can be harmful when inappropriately

used. There is potential for serious injury,

especially if they are accidentally discharged

and strike the user or another bystander.

They can also occasionally misfire or

explode. Please read the instructions

carefully before using. When not in use on

the water, flares should be stored in a safe,

dry location and be replaced every three

to four years. There are four categories of

flares: types A through D.

Type A flares, or parachute rockets, are

the most powerful pyrotechnic available to

paddlers. When launched, these flares reach

a height of over 300 meters and burn for

at least 40 seconds. Because of their height,

they can be seen over a long distance,

especially on clear nights.

Type B flares are also called multi-star

flares. The most common Type B flares are

the Very Pistol and the Skyblazer. The Very

pistol was named after Edward Wilson Very

When all else fails,

pyrotechnics can get

you potentially

life-saving attention

(1847–1910), an American naval officer who

developed and popularized a single-shot

pistol that is able to fire flares. Reaching

a more limited height of 100 meters and

burning for no more than 15 seconds, these

flares are visible over a shorter range than

Type A flares. Type A and B flares are less

effective during bright sunshine, and next to

useless in low clouds. In these conditions,

Type C and D flares are more effective.

Try to remember the last time you saw

a car accident. You might have noticed

police officers dispersing a few lit sticks

with powerful red flames around the

scene of the accident. These flares

ensure drivers are aware of the

accident ahead. Hand-held marine

flares look the same as accident

flares, but are held in hand away

from the eyes. They are designed

for the marine environment and

work well during the day as well as

at night. In a pinch, they are also

excellent for starting a fire in the


Smoke flares round out our flare

types. Movies or documentaries about the

Vietnam War show these types of devices.

Soldiers throw canisters that produce a

great deal of smoke to enable helicopters

to pinpoint a position. The smoke signaling

device works approximately the same,

except the device can be thrown in the

water or be held in your hand. The flares

produce a dense, oily orange or red smoke

visible during the day. Although they are

awkward to carry, the dense smoke is

certain to attract attention.

So which flares should a paddler

choose? Your final choice will depend to

some extent on your paddling locale, but

one Type A and three Type B flares are a

practical combination. In an emergency,

launch the parachute flare first to alert as

many potential rescuers as possible. Once

you notice a plane or boat moving in your

direction, launch one of the Type B flares



to help them pinpoint your location. As

the rescuers approach, launch the last two


Aerial flares should be fired at an angle

into the wind. This encourages the flare

to gain altitude so it can be seen over the

greatest distances. Calculate a firing angle

of 1 degree for each knot of wind. For

example, if the wind is blowing 20 knots,

you should fire the flare against the wind

with an angle of 20 degrees. If there is no

wind at all, you should fire the flare directly

over your head. With high wind velocity

such as storm force winds, lower the angle

to a maximum of 45 degrees.

Flare manufacturers use a variety of

firing systems. Review the instructions

carefully before you need to use them. You

need to be familiar with the operation of all

flares in your possession, and ideally have

attended a flare demonstration.

Aerial flares are designed to extinguish

in water. If a flare misfires, handle it with

caution. The ignition might be delayed. Wait

at least 30 seconds, and if it still hasn’t fired,

place it in water until you can dispose of it


Are flares obsolete?

Considering electronic options such as

GPS locator beacons and the question

of whether flares will be seen, are they a

worthwhile piece of safety equipment

now? Join the discussion at


Here are some safety tips for using flares:

• Launch an aerial flare at arm’s length

away from your face.

• Look away from the flare when you

launch it.

• Treat a flare as if it is a firearm: don’t

point it towards anyone.

Paddlers must also sort out how to store

and carry flares on the water. Flares need

to be kept dry but they must also be kept

at hand in the event of an emergency. I

recommend using a waterproof container

such as a welding rod container or in a

heavy duty vacuum sealed plastic bag. To

facilitate opening the bag, seal a large nail in

the bag with the flares.

Flares are valid for four years from the

date of manufacture which is stamped

on each flare. It is hard to find a place to

dispose of outdated flares but try calling

your local fire department or police station.

Flares cannot be recycled and throwing

flares in with household trash poses a


Remember that it is illegal to fire flares

if you are not in distress. Only in rare

instances, possibly at a training session

organized by a training organization,

would you be able to discharge a flare in a

non-emergency situation and not break the


One significant drawback to flares is

that they communicate one way – you don’t

know if anyone has seen them. Paddlers

should also carry a two way communication

device such as a radio or cell phone.

Nevertheless, flares are a recognized and

effective emergency signalling device. Used

properly, they form an important part of

most paddlers’ emergency communications


Michael Pardy lives in Victoria where he runs

SKILS Ltd. He can be reached at



By Alex Matthews


photos by Dave Aharonian

2 3


rather extravagantly named rescue

that is very effective when aiding

an unconscious or injured paddler who is

unable to exit their capsized kayak. Because

it’s quick and keeps the paddler in their boat

(which reduces the stress and fatigue that

swimming would impart), it’s also a terrific

general-purpose rescue for instructors

and guides coaching beginners in easy


The concept is simple: the rescuer rolls


the capsized kayak, and its occupant, back

upright. While this rescue does require a

certain amount of brute strength, as with all

skills, proper technique can go a long way to

making it much easier.

Start by closing the distance as fast

1 as possible, maneuvering your kayak

into position parallel to the capsized boat.

Next, drape yourself across the

2 overturned hull, securing a solid

grip on the far side of the kayak’s cockpit


Do not be afraid to fully commit your

weight onto the overturned boat – its

flotation will easily support you, and this

committed position puts you into a great

stance to right the kayak.

With your hand closest to the

3 capsized boat securely gripping

the far side of the coaming, place your

other hand on the capsized hull’s chine

opposite your gripping hand. By aggressively

weighting the chine closest to you (pushing it

down) while pulling with your far hand, it is

5 6


The Hand of God

very easy to roll the capsized kayak halfway

back upright.


At this point, move both hands to

the gripping position on the coaming

and pull the kayak towards your own,

closing the gap between the two boats. This

effectively ‘locks outthe capsized kayak’s

position, holding it very securely on edge.


Now shift hand positions, reaching

your outer hand out to secure a grip

on the paddler’s PFD, while the other hand

retains its grasp on the coaming. A key

step at this juncture is to move the boats

apart again in order to create enough space

for the angled kayak to roll fully upright.

Complete the rotation of the capsized

kayak by pulling down at the coaming and

hauling the paddler upright over their stern



Once the kayak is righted, the

rescuer must continue to provide full

support in the case of an injured kayaker,

as a compromised paddler may well capsize

again if not effectively stabilized. Wrap an

arm around the paddler, get a good grip on

a deck line and lean into them. Signal for

assistance and have a paddling partner tow

both boats to shore.

The hardest part of this rescue is

completing the final rotation upright.

Some kayaks are harder to rotate than

others, and smaller rescuers will struggle

to right heavy paddlers. But even if you

find it hard to complete the full rotation to

finished upright position, the Hand of God

should still be in your repertoire because

in many instances that first half rotation is

enough to make a huge difference. In calm

conditions, when dealing with anything

short of an unconscious paddler (which is

thankfully very rare), simply rotating the

kayak up onto its side is usually enough to

allow a struggling paddler to bring their

head to the surface and breathe. From this

position, the rescuer can communicate


Kayak Academy (Seattle)

Experience IS Necessary! Since 1991, the Kayak

Academy has been providing the best sea kayak

experience you can get. Count on us for all your

paddling gear.

Phone: 206.527.1825 or toll-free 866.306.1825



Hooksum Outdoor School

West Coast Outdoor Leadership Training. Quality

skills training and Hesquiaht traditional knowledge

for those pursuing a career or employment in the

outdoors. Certification courses include: Paddle Canada

Sea Kayaking Levels I & II, Advanced Wilderness First

Aid, Lifesaving, BOAT & ROC(M). Visiting Kayak & Hiking

Groups: Base your Hesquiaht Harbour adventures from

our Longhouse. Meals and overnight stays available

in 2010.

Phone: 250.670.1120



with the capsized paddler. Talk them

through a wet exit, ask them to lie well back

onto the stern deck to make rotation easier,

or await assistance from another paddling



Adapted from “Sea Kayaking Rough Waters”

by Alex Matthews available at


Fishing Angles

Fishing lunacy

Some anglers think that unless the sun

and the moon are aligned, you may as

well stow your tackle and go for a paddle

rather than ‘waste’ time fishing…

IF YOUR ANGLING EFFORTS weren’t as productive as

you wished this season (and whose ever are?), perhaps it’s time

to consider some outside factors that can influence your catch

rate. One of those influences originates from far above, in the form

of gravity from Earth’s closest celestial body: the moon.

Well known for its gravitational effect on the ocean and large

lakes, there is a strong body of evidence that shows the moon

and its forces also affect the feeding habits of game and fish. The

influences of the lunar phases on nature were documented by

ancient societies and, to this day, publications like the Old Farmers

Almanac, which has been published since 1792, have listed the best

fishing days based on the phase of the moon.

In fact, there are numerous charts, books, software programs

and even entire websites devoted to the theory that the position of

the moon (and the sun) can affect fishing success. All are based on

the fact that the moon revolves around the Earth about every 29

days, while the Earth revolves around the sun. As it does so, the

distance of the moon – and its gravitational pull – varies as it relates

to Earth and its water bodies.

The lunar period between the new moon and the full moon,

when the gravitational effects are at their strongest, is generally

regarded as the best time to catch a fish. The pull of the moon’s

gravity at that time causes the water on earth to move more than at

any other lunar phase, and that water movement is said to trigger

fish movement and feeding activities.

Taking the concept even further, an avid angler and author

named John Alden Knight in 1936 developed a table of moon and

sun phases to help fishermen schedule their efforts. In his Solunar

Table, Alden noted that, based on the position of the orbs, there

were major and minor movement and feeding periods created each

day. He suggested that the best time to fish on a particular location

on Earth was when the moon is directly overhead or directly

underfoot, calling these “major periods.”

“Minor periods,” according to Knight, occur just before the

moon rises and the hours after it sets, and also result in good


To his credit, Knight originally considered 33 factors that might

have an influence on the activities of fish, whittling them down to

the three most apparent, upon which he bases his popular Solunar

Tables: the sun, the moon and the tides. Among his findings during

the research period, Knight discovered that some 90 percent of 200

record fish catches occurred around a new moon.

Knight’s original findings, often combined with various other

scientific information on the matter, form the basis for most

recommendations in modern-day fishing tables found in periodicals

and on the web. And going by the popularity of the tables among

fishermen – commercial and recreational – there are a great

number of anglers

who consult the

tables to learn when

their efforts may be

rewarded. For a fee,

some web-based

sources offer custom

tables for particular

geographic locations.

The effects of the

sun and the moon on

fishing success is pure

theory, of course, since nothing can be proved outright. But if you

want to have as much going for you as possible on your next paddle

fishing trip, you just might want to time your angling hours on the

water with what many believe to be the peak time for the fish to be

feeding below.

As for me, any time I can find to go fishing from my kayak is

more than worth the gamble.


Dan Armitage is a boating, fishing and travel writer based in

the Midwest. He is a licensed (USCG Master) captain, hosts a

syndicated radio show, and presents kayak fishing seminars at

boat shows.


Rainforest Chronicles

WE HAD BEEN sea kayaking

in Clayoquot Sound for a week.

The weather forecast had

been warning daily of the potential for

thunderstorms, but none had materialized.

The final morning while packing to

head home it began to rain quite hard – our

group was stunned by the sheer volume of

water falling from the sky. The intensity of

the rain was picking up rapidly, and in less

than five minutes the water running on the

beach was already an inch deep.

As we paddled away from shore I was

nervous. The forecast had again warned of

possible thundershowers, and you could

feel it in the air. We were about to round a

point and paddle down a rocky outer coast

exposed to ocean swell, with few options

for landing.

We were passing the last sand beach

when the forebodingly dark cloudscape over

Foam Reef suddenly erupted in brilliant

light. A streak of lightning issued forth,

bridging the gap between sky and earth. I

began to count seconds but got no further

than one before the clap of thunder hit me.

The lightning had struck a fifth of a mile


In times of crisis it is important for a

leader to remain calm. I was of course quite

shaken, and personally would have bolted

for the beach. But I could not precipitate a

panic – must maintain equanimity!

I calmly edged my boat and swung it

around toward shore with sweep strokes, at

a rate I figured the students could match.

My plan was to announce that we were

to proceed at once to shore in an orderly


Way too late. Bonny, paddling at the rear

of the group, said later “when that lightning

struck, it was instantly everyone for

A drab tarp can become

a lifesaver when lightning

suddenly turns an outing

into a panicked scramble

for shoreline and safety

themselves.” She had never seen a group so

quickly turn their boats or sprint for shore.

Once on the beach, we didn’t feel a

whole lot safer. The sand beach was open,

making us the tallest standing structures.

Not good. But along the edge of the forest

there were lots of trees, and we felt it best

to stay away from the trees in lightning.

To make matters worse, people were

cooling off quickly in the windy deluge

(ah! summer on the coast) and if we didn’t

take action soon, we could easily become

hypothermic despite our wetsuits and


There is a trick for such situations. I

pulled out a drab nine-foot x 12-foot guide’s

tarp. We fetched some bags of snacks, and

set them on the ground. Standing around

the tarp holding the edges, we centered it

over the snacks. Then everyone took one

step forward, and ducked under the tarp,

pulling it over and behind themselves, and

sitting down on its edge.

Now at this point we were all squished

into a tight space with the tarp down on our

heads. It took a bit of jostling accompanied

by much giggling to get settled in, but we

were soon scarfing back handfuls of trail

mix to provide the rich fuel needed to

prevent hypothermia.

In such a confined space the heat of ten

people accumulates in no time, and soon

we were quite comfy while the storm raged

overhead. There was nothing we could do

to escape the wrath of Zeus, but it felt good

to hide from the sight of the Storm God

and regroup.

Half an hour passed, and it seemed the

downpour had abated somewhat. Coming

out from under the tarp, our first instinct

was to dive right back under – it was cold

out there!

After a period of careful observation

it seemed the worst was over and we

proceeded cautiously toward Tofino, making

it home without further incident.

Should you ever find yourself close to a

lightning storm, you are in extreme danger

and need to take steps to ensure your safety.

If there is no way to get to shore, stay 15-20

feet away from other boats, lean forward

to reduce your profile, don’t touch metal

objects and make sure you don’t have ropes

trailing in the water.

If you can make it to shore, avoid

isolated tall trees, high ground or open

spaces. Maintain a low crouching position

with your feet together and hands over

ears to minimize acoustic shock from the


If someone is struck by lightning,

they are safe to handle. Treat with CPR if

needed and get medical help as they may

have internal injuries. Eighty percent of

lightning victims survive the shock.

In thirty years of kayaking the coast

this was only the second time I’ve had

such a close and thus deeply humbling

encounter with lightning. It’s not something

we typically encounter, but it is good to be



Dan Lewis operates Rainforest Kayak

Adventures in Clayoquot Sound.


New Books

Boat Camping

Haida Gwaii

A Small-Vessel Guide

Second Edition

Neil Frazer

Harbour Publishing

Those who venture to remote Haida

Gwaii off the British Columbia coast,

whether by kayak or sailboat, are going to

be hungry for information on where to

go and how to get there. For years, Neil

Frazer’s Boat Camping Haida Gwaii was the

bible for self-directed visitors, particularly

kayakers, as it was the only resource

available. Worse yet, it went out of print,

making copies treasured for those lucky

enough to find one.

For 2010 Boat Camping is back, and

updated with all the necessary information:

camping, navigation, heritage sites, maps

and photos.

While light on color (all photos and

maps are black and white), detailed

and useful information compensates.

Particularly helpful is the use of latitude

and longitude coordinates at key points, a

feature likely to be helpful on the more wild

outer coasts for tracking features such as

rivers. No doubt this new volume will be a

feature in hatches or chart cases of kayakers

and boaters alike venturing to Haida Gwaii.

The Hungry


A common sense guide

to cooking and camping

By David Barnes

Friesen Press

Food can often make a trip, especially a

relaxed kayaking venture in a group setting,

when cooking can take on a whole social as

well as culinary experience.

There are numerous resources available

for cooking these days – for instance, for

backpackers as well as kayakers, or just

quick, easy and portable recipes that can be

adapted for the beach.

David Barnes takes a look specifically

at the kayaking set in his entry The Hungry

Kayaker, offering not just recipes but trip

advice from float plans to packing. In the

end it’s a bit recipe book, a bit entry-level

kayaking trip planning guide.

But mostly it’s recipes, and they run the

gamut from routine pancakes and gorp to

more involved offerings such as zucchini

risotto and curries.

A dearth of photos and a lack of color

help keep the offerings from jumping

off the page. Instead it’s all a bit grey and

uninviting. But the good news is anyone

is likely to find a few recipes to tempt the

taste buds. So should you be new kayaker

starting out, or a veteran hoping to spice up

your culinary repertoire, The Hungry Kayaker

will be worth a look.

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