With summer slowly winding to a close is it time to put your sea kayak away for the season? Heaven's no! In fact, I would argue that early fall is one of the best times of the year to get out kayaking. Sure, the air is cooler (but you can dress for that) but there are less power boaters out on the water and with the fall winds blowing you will find waves and surf (if that’s your thing).

For those who do love getting out in rough water (or those who aspire to) make sure that you get yourself registered for the Gales Storm Gathering taking place October 3-5 taking place in Munising, Michigan.

Now in its 4th year, the Gales Storm Gathering has proven to be one of the premier rough-water paddling events in North America drawing paddlers from all over the country.

Registration is filling fast so get on it pronto. Everything you need to know can be found here.

Sadly I can't attend this year due to a new boss who has decided to follow HR's rules and actually keep track of staff vacation days but it's on my schedule next year for sure. Booo to following work rules...

Photo credit: Gales Storm Gathering

Here is a tip to all you would-be kayak thieves out there. If you steal a hand-made wooden kayak, don't offer to sell it back to the owner when they approach you at your local beach.

The Bellingham Herald has the full story:

The kayak was stolen some time overnight July 7 from the roof of the [Washington state] victim's vehicle. The woman reported it missing July 8 and told police the kayak had wooden inlay all over it [similar to the kayak pictured above].

Then on July 27, the owner was at Howard Amon Park in Richland putting people into kayaks when she saw her own kayak on the water.

The woman reported that Luke paddled up to the beach and offered to let her buy the kayak, court documents said. She identified the kayak as belonging to her, then asked someone to call Richland police.

When officers arrived, she showed them a picture of the stolen kayak which matched the one that Luke was trying to sell, documents said.

He claimed he had seen the kayak earlier on top of a car and wanted it, so he told a man named "Nick" to steal it for him and in exchange Nick would get a bicycle from Luke.

Photo credit: Creative Commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by dwstucke: http://flickr.com/photos/dwstucke/163371145

Check out this super dramatic footage of two kayakers in a double kayak getting lifted up by a whale. You got to see it to believe it.

According to the Youtube title this took place near Puerto Madryn, Argentina.

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.

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