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Archive for April, 2008

Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium

Posted by Greg on April 30, 2008

Waiting for the race to build

In a rare moment, Freya slows down just long enough to smell the flowers...

An unwary seal watches the action in the tidal races

I recently returned from ten days of teaching and playing at the Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium in Wales. This is one of my favorite paddling destinations and I would heartily encourage all paddlers to visit. This area has it all, fantastic tidal races, steep cliffs and interesting scenery, beautiful beach access, castles and a network of hiking/biking trails along the coast (not to mention a fine selection of local “bitters” and smooth Guinness)…

The beauty of the races is that (assuming the ever-present wind is not blowing everything out), you can time your entry according to the tide, to pick the size of the waves you wish to challenge. This makes the races a great teaching opportunity. You can schedule your time to either play/teach in light to moderate conditions or choose “This is the Sea” mayhem that will rudely test your skills. If only the surf of Central Florida was so predictable…

Florida’s Mermaids…

Posted by Greg on April 9, 2008

Florida Manatee. Photo by Greg Stamer

Photo Copyright Greg Stamer (Olympus SW 720. Click on image to view enlargement)

Yes, it’s hard to believe that Columbus and crew mistook the Manatee for a mermaid, but, well, it was a very long voyage…. 😕 Manatees are beautiful creatures in their own right, of course. One of the joys of living in Florida is discovering that beyond the theme parks and condos is a very rich world of wildlife. Eagles, alligators, manatees and countless dolphins are among my normal paddling companions. Although I greatly enjoyed my time in Europe last year, I saw more marine wildlife in several days in Mosquito lagoon (a large estuary East of Orlando), than in all my months overseas.

After the Sweetwater Symposium in February, I kayaked the outflow of Weeki Watchee springs with Russell Farrow, Nigel and Kristin Foster and some other good friends. The warm water is home to a number of manatees in the winter months. Donning a mask and capsizing in my kayak, the young, “sad-eyed” manatee shown in the image above eagerly approached me to investigate (yet another great reason to learn to roll — to explore the depths below with a dive mask). Perhaps, capsized in my kayak, I looked like kin. Its mother visited too, but wasn’t as interested in this strange half-man/half kayak. Up close a manatee looks much like an elephant (one of their closest relatives) with their stiff hair and thick skin. Manatees are vegetarians. They are friendly and inquisitive and can move quite fast when they want to.