KayakVagabond

the website of Greg Stamer

Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

KayakVagabond — Everglades Challenge 2020

Posted by Greg on April 18, 2020

I nudged the right rudder pedal, and like falling off a ledge, my kayak leaned right as the bow dropped into the wave trough just ahead of me. Immediately the kayak accelerated sharply as I shifted my weight back to keep the bow from pearling. Soon I was surfing faster than my arms could spin, and I stopped paddling completely — holding the paddle blade skimming just above the water ready for a low brace. The GPS recorded 11 mph as my exuberant shouts of “Woo Hoo!!!” were drowned-out by the wind.

I was in the deepest part of Tampa Bay, about 5 miles from the starting beach with still a mile and a half to go to reach the shelter of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) near Anna Maria island.  During the crossing my speed was averaging 5, 6, and even 7 mph. The conditions were such that I could point my bow into the next wave trough and surf almost at will — although not always directly toward my destination, weaving a zig-zag path toward Anna Maria.

Pagaia Symposium, Llançà Spain

Posted by Greg on April 3, 2013


Photo courtesy of David Fajula
Note — The following post was written just after returning from Spain, but I was soon traveling again, and didn’t get a chance to edit and post it. Just this last weekend I enjoyed teaching locally at Paradise Coast Paddlers Festival.  Following the festival I attended a great wing technique session taught by Oscar Chalupsky.

I’m just getting over the jet-lag, returning from visiting Europe, after enjoying teaching for the second time at the Pagaia symposium in Spain.  This is by far the most international of events that I have ever participated in. Classes are overflowing with diversity with students speaking French, English, Spanish, German, Italian and Catalan. My hat is off to José Calderón, Anna Morena, and everyone who helped to organize this vibrant (and logistically challenging) event.

It’s been a few years since I have have taught in Europe so it was great to catch up with a number of old friends, both students and coaches.

The venue is on the clear Mediterranean. The landscape is bordered by vineyards, olive trees, rosemary bushes and green foothills that touch the sea. Coming from Florida, the temperatures were cool. I wore a drysuit for most of my classes.

Atlantic Canada — Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Symposiums

Posted by Greg on June 1, 2010

Linda Bartlett in new kayak at Terra Nova

Partner Linda Bartlett tries out her spanking new Impex Force 3 in Newfoundland’s Terra Nova National Park

I just returned from a whirlwind trip — teaching and speaking at the Atlantic Canadian Paddling Symposium in Nova Scotia before rushing off to Newfoundland to teach at the annual Kayak Labrador and Newfoundland (KNL) symposium.  This isn’t as crazy as it sounds — next year the Atlantic Canadian Symposium will be held in Newfoundland (in lieu of the KNL event).

I should be accustomed to it by now, but it still feels silly to pack a suitcase full of winter clothes and gear, including a drysuit, and heavy wool insulation, when the mercury outside my Florida home is topping at a sweltering 90 degrees (32 C).  I first experienced this disparity in 2000 when I traveled in summer to Greenland to compete in the 2000 championship. Flying from Baffin to Greenland I was shocked into reality as I gazed at the brilliant ice pans below that glistened in the sun. A chill went through me. “You’re not in Kansas any more”.  Now, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia aren’t as cold as Greenland, but it did snow briefly in Newfoundland when I arrived!

2010 Southwest Kayak Symposium – San Diego

Posted by Greg on April 3, 2010

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Enjoying a gentle swell at La Jolla.

Jen Kleck of Aqua Adventures must have pulled a few strings with the weather Gods. Even coming from sunny Florida I could not help but to be mightily impressed with the warm, Mediterranean-like weather in San Diego. The eighth Annual Southwest Kayak Symposium, held on Mission Bay, took place in glorious Spring conditions, with brilliant greenery, crystal blue skies and palm trees swaying in the warm sun.

As a Floridian, the conditions felt familiar, but distinctly different. The expected humidity was absent and the rolling panorama of hills, the Pacific swell, the cacophony of seals and sea lions on the rocks at La Jolla, made for a very memorable event.

The Southwest Kayak Symposium is held at “CampLand on the Bay”, a funky RV campground on Mission Bay. It’s an RV camp on steroids and is a microcosm of American/California culture.  Lurking amid the lush vegetation are mammoth RVs with sides that pop-out to house-sized proportions, grocery stores, hot tubs, golf-carts and other conveniences. The venue (complete with chatty parrots overhead that attempt to drown out conversations), is a great place for a symposium, with large open areas of lawn and easy water access. Mission Bay offers beginners a safe place to whet (wet?) their appetite, while nearby La Jolla (the Jewel) offers more challenging conditions with Pacific surf and sea caves.

Sweetwater Symposium 2010

Posted by Greg on March 4, 2010

Jean Totz and Jen Kleck

Jean Totz (past Sweetwater partner) and Jen Kleck ( Aqua Aventures San Diego) enjoy lunch on Sunday when the temps felt “more like Florida”

Spring weather in Central Florida is moody and sometimes downright bipolar. You can be blessed with warm, summer-like days, the beaches filled with bikini-clad sun-lovers, or cold stormy skies and near freezing temperatures.  Participants at the 13th Sweetwater Symposium got to sample a bit of both moods.

After a year’s hiatus the 13th annual Sweetwater Symposium was held Feb. 26 – 28, with BCU/ACA/Greenland week starting Feb. 22.  Although the week started with balmy temps in the mid seventies, by Saturday a cold front bringing arctic air had paddlers bundling up in full winter gear. Dry suits in Florida? Yes, it is true. Fortunately Suzanne Hutchinson, Kokatat rep, was on hand to discuss drysuits and help paddlers with new gaskets.  I was happy to have brought my Kokatat drysuit and storm cag — the same gear I wore in Iceland and Newfoundland. It was the first time I have ever needed it in Florida at midday. The cold front blew through Saturday afternoon creating some very fun and challenging conditions and paddlers were soon greeted to blue skies with warm temps on Sunday. “This is more like it”, one participant grinned, as he strode by me in shorts and sandals, on his way to the water.

Escape Outdoors; Gothenburg, Sweden – Preparations

Posted by Greg on November 14, 2009

Sweden is a beautiful place to paddle. The archipelago delivers a fantastic assortment of islands to camp on, and explore. Being accustomed to the heat of Florida, and recently Israel, I got my first taste of “Winter” for the year.  We were greeted with light snow flurries, wind and cold temperatures as I helped Johan and Peter of Escape Outdoors prepare for the weekend classes (wing and Greenland instruction). This is perfect drysuit weather.  Our first task was to collect supplies and erect a tipi on a nearby island. Complete with a woodstove and furs on the floor, this is a an ideal warming shelter and provides room for eight or more. The tipi will be used for lunch and dinner. With the woodstove burning it is toasty warm inside. Luxury!

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In the evening Johan and I donned protective suits, climbing helmets and headlamps to explore a local cave. From the opening chamber the cave transformed into a serpentine maze of very tight tunnels. Some of the constrictions looked much too small for an adult to get through. “Are you sure we can fit through there”?

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Jetlagged (and loving it)….

Posted by Greg on October 27, 2009

Newfoundland in June 09
Greg surfing John Petersen’s Baidarka in San Simeon California during the TAKS symosium. Photo by John Petersen. Click on image to view full-size.

I’m not sure if I love kayaking because it is a form of travel or that I love traveling because I always mix it with kayaking. Both kayaking and traveling are a form of freedom. But (Mae West’s views notwithstanding), you CAN have too much of a good thing. To me travel is best when complemented by adequate time to enjoy home, friends and family.

I’m off today for Israel (Optimist Sea Kayaking Symposium), my gear barely dry after rinsing off the Pacific salt from California. And California was on the heels of adventures in Japan, Delaware, Michigan and Newfoundland. After Israel I will visit Sweden and then will finally have time to work off the jetlag, relax and relfect.

2009 Qajaq TC

Posted by Greg on September 4, 2009

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This years’ Michigan Training Camp (Qajaq TC) started off with a bang as storms created wild conditions on Lake Michigan, much to the delight of the participants.  Dennis Asmussen, Mike McDonald and myself led a surf session, that provided a great opportunity for participants to play and test their skills and rolls in challenging seas. From the smiles and shouts that ensued, it’s clear that everyone enjoyed themselves. I was impressed that there were very few wet-exits, even though this was the first time that some students rolled in conditions. The short-period waves were great fun and you could occasionally coax them into giving you long rides of 100 yards or more. One breaker hit my foredeck with enough force that it sent my kayak reeling backwards and setup a nice back-surf, anchored by a hanging draw. Of course, the secret to surfing is that whenever something interesting happens (that looks cool), that you just tell people that you meant to do it!

Ahhh, Baja!

Posted by Greg on April 12, 2009

Greg Playing in the Rock Gardens, Baja.
Greg Playing in a Baja Rock Garden.

La Bufadora Blowhole. One of the most spectacular in the world.
La Bufadora Blowhole. One of the most spectacular in the world!

Pals Nigel Foster and Russell Farrow
Pals Nigel Foster and Russell Farrow

Our “tent village”. Perched on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Pacific.
Our “tent village”. Perched on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Pacific.

Many thanks to Jen Kleck and Jake Stachovak of Aqua Adventures for flying me in to coach in San Diego at the Southwest Kayak Symposium . This was my first time teaching in Southern California and it was good to make acquaintance with a number of people that I have corresponded with, including members of the Greenland-style community such as Duane Strosaker and others. I taught a mix of both Greenland-style skills and “Euro” skills using a narrow Greenland paddle. Kudos to Jen for understanding that these skills are not mutually exclusive. I enjoyed the students in all of my classes!

Symposiums, for those on the “circuit”, is akin to being part of a diverse, entertaining and sometimes, …..well…, gloriously dysfunctional family. It is amazing to travel over the world and share the experience with a collection of special friends. The catch, of course, is that you don’t see these friends very often, but that is partially what makes the experience so special. Fellow Floridian and paddling buddy Russell Farrow, of Sweetwater Kayaks (Clearwater, Florida), was there, along with Nigel Foster, Steve Maynard, (born to be wild) Phil Hadley, Tom Bergh, Sean Morely and a number of other colorful characters.

Gothenburg, Sweden

Posted by Greg on October 27, 2008

I am currently teaching Greenland kayaking skills in Gothenburg, Sweden, care of Johan and Sara Wagner of Escape Kajakcenter.  Classes will run until November 2 — if you are in the area, please stop by to say hello!

To date I have given lectures of my Newfoundland and Iceland circumnavigations and have been working with students to help perfect their forward stroke, bracing, directional strokes and other skills with a Greenland paddle. The weather has been cool and breezy. Today Johan and I crossed to Nidingen Island (a bird sanctuary off the coast with Denmark barely visible in the distance).  During the 25K paddle we experienced F5-6 headwinds, sun, rain, hail and our own private lunch table high atop the lighthouse. The return trip was fast and fun with strong following seas.

In addition to kayaking I will be visiting some of the local museums and look forward to viewing both historical kayaks as well as old Norse and Viking boats.  Tackar så mycket Sara and Johan for your fine hospitality!

Please view my photo gallery from Sweden.