The short answer is yes.

Last Sunday (July 13) thousands gathered in Newport Beach, CA to pay tribute to Ben Carlson, a lifeguard who gave his life while attempting to rescue a struggling swimmer.

The highly respected 15 year veteran lifeguard got the call and jumped into the water to save the swimmer struggling in the 6-8 foot surf waves. Both men were pulled back into the water by a large wave as they struggled to get back into the rescue boat.

Sadly Ben was pronounced dead after an exhaustive 3-hour search.

If you are unfamiliar with surf culture, when a fellow surfer passes away (either in an accident or non-surfing related cause), the community will organize a memorial service out beyond the surf. Typically they will form a ring, have a moment of silence and throw flowers into the center of the circle. It's been a tradition for years.

Watching the video of the memorial for Ben Carlson above, it makes me wish that the sea kayaking community had a traditional way of mourning those who have passed away as well. I guess we tend to keep things more internal and that's ok but there really is something very powerful about getting the kayak family together and going paddling in someone's honor.

I remember attending a memorial at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium three years ago for a fellow Great Lakes paddler (and former student of mine) who died doing what he loved.  Rev. Bonnie Perry led the short service and spoke about the impact he had inspiring others to get out and live your dreams. I got to admit it was pretty tough one to get through but even while standing on the beach, I remember thinking that this should have taken place out on the water. Bob would have thought that would have been even cooler.

It might be a weird but maybe it's time to brainstorm our own method of mourning the loss of a fellow community member. Any ideas?

Photo credit: Associated Press

Typically kayaking can be viewed as a relaxing experience, washing away the stress of the day including your boss (or kids) yelling at you.

Sadly it looks like it might have had the opposite effect on a gentleman from Westfield, Massachusetts who, according to court records pleaded not guilty to a host of charges (including attempted murder) after he allegedly attacked another man with a kayak paddle and held his head underwater. All while out kayak fishing one evening.

Wait, what?

The other night on "The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon" Jimmy challenged Cameron Diaz to a kayak race. Though it didn't actually take place on water it was clearly just as dangerous as they had to run a through a waterfall, dodge a cranky old fisherman and salmon swimming upstream as well as two super dangerous obstacles that consisted of an Elton John impersonator singing the most annoying part of "Crocodile Rock" and another on a jet ski singing the worst part of "Bennie and the Jets".

You will need to watch the race to find out who was victorious and who sunk...

Found this in the Guardian today:

An artist in Japan, who works under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko – which roughly translates as "good-for-nothing girl" – was arrested after emailing the data to 30 people who had answered a crowd-funding request for her recent artistic venture: a kayak inspired on her own genitalia she calls "pussy boat", according to Brian Ashcraft at the gaming website Kotaku.

More info.

Kokatat has always been known as an innovative company especially when it comes to dry suits. While they didn't invent them back in 1971 when they first started stitching, there is little doubt that they should get the credit for making them appealing to the masses.

Starting next year Kokatat will be taking a giant leap forward with the roll-out of the Idol drysuit with what they are calling SwitchZip technology. Gone will be the giant brass zipper across the chest in favour of a 360 degree waterproof zipper located around the waist.

To me this is going to be a huge game changer. The new zipper will still be a 100% waterproof but will allow you to completely separate the pants from the top allowing you to mix and match depending on the conditions and/or water temperature. If you only need a paddling jacket than leave the pants behind or zip them together as a regular drysuit. I will file this whole thing under the why-didn't-this-come-out-10-years-ago-idea.

The new Kokatat Idol drysuit with Switchzip technology.

I haven't tried it on yet but I suspect that this is also going to make the fit and comfort of the suit a whole lot better as it should be considerably less bulky upstairs without that stiff brass zipper jammed under your lifejacket. Also ladies, you won't need to order the drop zipper any longer. You know that drop zipper that makes butts look twice as wide? I kid! I kid.

As far as the placement of the new zipper, I've been told that when seated, it will sit inside the kayak cockpit between the backband and the seat. Designed into the suit is a simple Cordura cover so it won't get hung up in kayak rigging or PFD's.

So when will it be showing up at paddling shops? Kokatat says to watch for the new Idol sometime in January, 2015.

If you have a weekend free this summer and looking for kayak training in a very relaxed environment, make your way to the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre, located 2.5h north of Toronto in Parry Sound.

For the first time they are offering a series of theme weekends covering a wide variety of topics including Greenland Paddle building and rolling.

Paddle building and rolling is fine and all but I want to highlight two other programs also going on. The first is that I'm teaching a navigation and weather themed weekend coming up in just a couple of days. We will be covering stuff like trip planning, on-water navigation and the basics of weather forecasting as well as getting out and checking out the sights and sounds of Georgian Bay’s 40,000 islands. In the past have you gotten lost listening to a friend trying to explain the wonders of navigation? I will try to sort it out for you. It will be practical, nerdy but certainly not boring.

Another weekend that looks amazing and you should for sure think about attending is the leadership and risk management weekend hosted by Alec and Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin of Have Kayaks, Will Travel Paddlesport Coaching in Chicago.

Over the weekend they will be covering the latest and greatest kayak rescue techniques as well as how to manage incidents on the water. Of course it won’t be all rescues all the time and they will also be working with students to improve strokes and paddling technique. With a small class there will be lots of one on one time. I know these guys love having fun on the water so I know you are going to have a great time.

Looks interesting? You can find more info about the training weekends here.

As a freshwater kid who rarely gets to the ocean, I think that tides are just awesome. That's why I was excited last week when I stumbled upon this very cool collection of low and high tide comparison photos from around the world.

I'm always amazed at how much of a difference there is between low and high tide.

Tide comes, in tide goes out. You can't explain that.

If you are this guy, I've got a pile of resources that will help explain how tides work so that even a 6 year old will understand. Download your free teaching resources here.

Today I had the pleasure of being invited to Onondaga Camp (just north of Toronto about 2.5h) to do some training with their canoe & kayak waterfront staff. It was fun.

When I got home I decided to check out their website and stumbled upon this amazing photo. Sometime last year history was made when a young camper decided to go waterskiing behind a group of burly camp staff paddling a freighter canoe. Oh look, the camper is wearing a cape to boot! This photo is 100% awesome.

Photo credit: onondagacamp.com

What started out as a funny idea to get more people out enjoying nature and the wilderness, the Paddle in the Park Contest has blossomed into one of the coolest, awesomest, bestest contest I’ve read about in quite a while.

Now in its second year, the contest is pretty simple. Canoe paddle manufacturer, Badger Paddle partnered up with Preston of Portageur.ca to find a bunch of celebrity paddlers and authors to go out and hide six paddles along the portage trails in Algonquin, Temagami and Killarney areas. Between now and September 15th they will be sending out clues to help campers figure out where the paddles are hiding.

Find a paddle along the trail? It’s yours!

Just try to name a cooler contest out there, just try.

With the contest just getting going, I got in touch with co-owner of Badger Paddle, Fiona Westner-Ramsay to tell me all about it:

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