Some paddles in the United States

These are some further images of kayaking in the 1990’s which, I have scanned in from some of the thousands slides I accumulated over about 35 years.  These are a selection taken in the United States in the mid 1990’s.  Sea kayaking on the west coast and canoeing in the north east.  Some great memories.

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One of the real highlights was a couple of visits to the Port Townsend Symposium in Washington. At the time I had organized a couple of Symposiums in Jersey and was just stunned by the scale of the event. This was the view of the waterfront in 1996.
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In contrast to the Sympoiums in Europe, where there were numerous small classes, with paddlers being coached on the water things were different at Port Townsend. Here Nigel Foster is running a skills session, what is not shown is the crowd of approximately 100 spectators, Nigel was the only person on the water.
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Sea kayaking legend Derek Hutchinson, just completing one of his sessions. A couple of days later we spent a memorable few hours sailing to Vancouver Island, where we were both heading.  When Derek passed away in 2012 he warranted an obituary in the New York Times.
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The classic image of Easyrider kayaks. A similar photograph was used as the advert for a number of years in, the sadly missed, Sea Kayaker Magazine.
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There was some “interesting” developments. The white canister on the front deck was called the “Rolling Aid”. Capsize, pull the lever and it explodes in a rather large air bag which it is possible to push up on. It was a great demo and certainly drew the crowds, but I am not sure how useful it would be in a difficult situation, it might be easier and cheaper to learn to roll with a paddle.
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As we had young children but wanted to continue with multi-day paddling trips we went canoeing. Not really something that we could do in Jersey, so for a number of years we went to Maine and paddled some of the rivers in the northern part of the State.
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There were plenty of new techniques to learn, such as portaging. This is the path around Allagash Falls in the north of Maine. I have run this river several times but the last time was too long ago.
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One of the camp sites on the West Branch of the Penobscot. They were clearings cut out of the dense forest allowing easy egress from the river. A couple of tables, fire pit, somewhere to tie the tarp etc.
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Little did we realize what we were experiencing here. This was our first ever paddle on a sit on top. Nicky is on Megunticook Lake in Maine in 1995. For many involved in kayaking this was to be the future and the sit on top has changed the face of paddlesport for many people.

Spanish Sea Kayak Symposium

One of the highlights of my year was a visit to the Spanish Symposium, a sea kayaking event, which is held in the small town of Llanca, just south of the Spanish – French border.  It was something we had thought of attending several times over the years but 2017 was the first time that it really possible, and we weren’t disappointed.  A more friendly, well organized event would be hard to find.

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The beach at Llanca was the focus for the first 3 day’s of activities.

The format was very simple but very effective.  Virtually everybody camped in the grounds of the local secondary school, we did have to wait for the end of term before putting the tents up.  Every morning members of the local kayak Club prepared a superb breakfast, which was always delivered with a smile.
The first 3 days of the event were based off the beach in Llanca, every morning several hundred paddlers would gather on the beach looking for coloured signs, which represented the various workshops.  From what initially appeared like chaos, emerged order and a variety of sessions, which were all well received.  Despite the variety of nationalities attending there always seemed to be a way of communicating, although my French was tested at times!
Following the 3 days of workshops there were 4 days of paddling when we were able to explore the surprisingly spectacular coastline of the Costa Brava.

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One of a number of spectacular physical features along this section of coast.
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I was surprised by the height of the cliffs in places. Although not vertical they certainly weren’t climbable.
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Cliffs, clear water and very few landing places combine to produce memorable kayaking.

The final day was particularly memorable as we headed north across the border to the French border town of Cerbere.  We took advantage of the ice cream shops and I reflected on the fact that a few months earlier I had arrived in this town on my bike, having riding across France from Jersey over 2 weeks last September.
The Spanish Symposium was a memorable week, the organization was smooth and the members of Club who volunteered their were incredibly friendly.  An event of this size makes considerable demands on the resources of a kayaking Club so it is not an annual event but start planning for the 2019 Spanish Sea Kayaking Symposium, you won’t be disappointed if you manage to get a place.