KayakVagabond

the website of Greg Stamer

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Everglades Challenge 2014!

Posted by Greg on February 27, 2014


Watertribe members converge on Tampa, Florida for the start of the 2014 Everglades Challenge

On March first (Saturday) at 7AM, a record 142 entrants across six different boat classes will rush off the beach at Fort Desoto, in Tampa, to begin the next Watertribe adventure! I will be participating in the 300 mile Everglades challenge (Tampa to Key Largo) this year but there is also a 60 mile Ultra Marathon and a 1200 mile Ultimate Challenge running concurrently.

I won my class last year and hope to do well again. This year I will be in class 1 (expedition kayak and canoes), and being a minimalist I will be one of the few people in that class without a sail. Currently winds are predicted to be light, so I hope to pass some of the sailboats that were flying by last year in strong winds!

These events are grueling, but are great fun. They are an eclectic mix of expedition and race. The camaraderie is great, but after the first day I rarely see any fellow competitors until I stop at a checkpoint. The Everglades Challenge gives you the feel of an expedition — being “out there” and “living in the moment; wave by wave”, without even having to take a leave of absence from work!

Greenland Kayak and Weathercocking

Posted by Greg on April 22, 2012

Q: Hi Greg,
I use both Greenland style kayak (hard chine,low deck, low volume) and Brit style kayak (round chine, generous freeboard). What I get frustrated about Greenland style boat is that it is really hard to keep it tracking straight in a [rear quartering]  sea. I have no problem with my Brit boat even without using skeg (yet), but with my Greenland style boat, I have to really work on corrective strokes and it slows me down. Is it just the nature of this kind of kayak? Or is there any technique that I can use to make it easier? I don’t see any article about Greenland style technique regarding to that subject (boat handling in wind) except extended strokes. It is hard for me to think they (the Greenlanders) did not have that kind of technique to pass on when they had to use the kayak which is very very sensitive to what the water does to it. So far I am learning to adapt Brits technique to use with Greenland style gears just because I can’t find anything from “Greenland side”. Thanks! Setsuko

A: Hello Setsuko,

New Q&A Page

Posted by Greg on January 21, 2012

In case that “Google” or “Ask Jeeves” isn’t sufficient to answer your kayak question, next time try “Ask Greg”! ;)

You can find my new Ask Greg page among the options at the top of the screen. Please keep it in mind the next time you have a question or want to browse.

I look forward to helping you with any kayaking questions you might have.

K1 First Impressions…

Posted by Greg on January 11, 2012

 

I’m happy to report that my fragile male ego wasn’t bruised too badly, first time in a K1 :)   At least  I didn’t unintentionally swim but my bracing and sculling skills were heavily tested.  My girlfriend, Pauline Besson, did very well, and managed to stay upright, but did have a capsize or two. Most other friends who tried it went about fifteen feet, the boat flopped to its side, and into the drink they went.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

For the first few minutes Pauline stabilized the K1 while I simply got accustomed to the feel.  My first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding me”!  I was (over) confident that it would be a piece of cake, however the initial stability, or rather the lack of it, was much different to anything I have been in before, and that includes some very narrow V-hulled boats.

I knew the key was to relax,  but  my hip-flexors went into overdrive trying to balance. Nervous waves radiated quickly away from the kayak.  “Stop IT!”, I barked to myself and the quivering boat. After a few minutes I finally relaxed and could balance by using the buoyancy of the paddle and by gently sculling. I used a Greenland paddle for this due to its familiarity, buoyancy and ease of sculling and bracing.

There’s no such thing as a tippy boat…

Posted by Greg on January 6, 2012

 

… Only tippy paddlers.

 

At least that’s what I used to tell students …. before I tried a K1 sprint kayak.

So why a K1?  I’m working with computers again — great for cash flow and rebuilding bank accounts, but not so great for long trips and expeditions. However the silver lining is that there is plenty of time to train and complete in the local races, grow stronger, and learn some new skills. Also, my interest was piqued by what I have heard about these slender hulls.  Surf the web and you will discover comments such as “the K1 is the formula 1 of the kayaking world”,  “separates the men from the boys” , and “if you can paddle a K1 you can paddle anything!”.   While it’s best to treat what you read on the internet with healthy skepticism, that sounds like a challenge if I ever heard one!

I always find it rewarding to branch out into other aspects  of the diverse world of kayak-sport. Being a “beginner” again in a new discipline is humbling, keeps you grounded and you experience the thrill of rapidly learning and improving. That’s great fun if you have been doing something for years or if you feel your skills have plateaued.

Resolutions….

Posted by Greg on January 4, 2012

One of my nagging New Year’s resolutions was to post more often. I’m usually on to the next project/trip without wanting to write about the previous one…

I’m in the process of updating this blog to a new version of WordPress.

During this time the site may be down or incomplete. Please check back soon.

Best,

Greg Stamer

New Iceland Gallery

Posted by Greg on January 31, 2010

I have created a new gallery album of images from Iceland. I am currently working to post the complete contents of my “Lost in Iceland” article , an account of my 2007 circumnavigation, that appeared in Sea Kayaker magazine. Please check back soon!

horn4.jpg

The “Horn” on a rare day without fog. Iceland 2007.

How “Sweet” It Is ……

Posted by Greg on December 15, 2009

Russell Farrow of Sweetwater Kayaks
Russell Farrow of Sweetwater Kayaks, St Petersburg, Florida

Friday after work I traveled to the West coast of Florida and caught up with my good friends Russell Farrow and his wife, Claudia, of Sweetwater Kayaks in St Petersburg, Florida.  We swapped tales of our recent travels and brainstormed about future expeditions over a few beers and dinner. The following morning I hung out with Russell at the shop. Yes, Sweetwater is OPEN for business, having had their grand (re)opening in October.  I’m happy to report that business was brisk while I was there. The new shop is close to the original location but is on the water, making instruction and kayak demos very convenient. The  new shop, although much smaller than Russell’s previous building, has a great island atmosphere. It reminds me a bit of being in Key West.

More good news is that the Sweetwater symposium, that was canceled last year, is ON AGAIN for 2010!  Please mark the event on your calendar and support Sweetwater to keep it growing and thriving!

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.

Chocolate Elvis….

Posted by Greg on July 18, 2009

elvis.jpg

Today I biked 32 miles, getting up early to beat the afternoon heat and the intense thunderstorms that define the sub-tropics of central Florida. My favorite trail winds around low rolling hills and orange groves and past huge oaks draped with beards of Spanish moss that sway in the hot breeze. Hidden among the hills are an amazing number of lakes.  Today’s ride was unremarkable, although I did have to swerve to miss a six-foot corn snake that was fully stretched across the path to absorb the intense heat.

Each year I have to become re acclimated to the heat of Florida.  It was really bad in past years when I returned from my circumnavigations of Iceland and Newfoundland, being adapted to much cooler weather,  to face the August Florida heat.  In mid-summer it stays hot even at night, although the mornings and frequent rain showers provide some relief. The heat wraps around you and saturates you. It almost suffocates you.  When I finish a good paddle or ride, I can literally ring the sweat out of my clothes.