2015 Alaska Ocean Camp Review

10 people, 8 days, 80 mile return trip, on an adventure of a lifetime. This trip was rich with Leaders, Instructors and Instructor Trainers from the American Canoe Association.

Sweeping vistas, glacial ice fields, nearby snow caped mountains, Whales, Sea otters, sea lions, grizzly bears, were just a few of the things we saw.

In June of 2015, we headed to Southeast Alaska’s rugged Yakobi Island for a week of training and journeying in the Alaskan wilderness. Lying just off the western edge of Chichagof Island, Yabobi is an ocean paddling playground in the middle of Alaskan wilderness! Whales, seals and sea lions ply the waters beneath rugged mountains and glaciers, creating a surreal backdrop as we paddle these amazing waters. Nearby hot springs and salmon runs only add to the uniqueness of our base location in protected Greentop Cove. The Cove gave us immediate access to areas of tidal flow, rock gardens and Pacific Ocean swell. Coaches utilized the environment to craft individualized learning experiences aimed at intermediate and advancing paddlers.

Our full crew before leaving Juneau

Our full crew before leaving Juneau

Upon arrival in Juneau, our group boarded sea planes for the village of Hoonah. We were greeted in Hoonah by our friends and members of the Tlingit Native Nation from Icy Strait Kayak Company. Ora and his crew are part of the land and know where fishing, sea lion rookeries and whales watching opportunities are best. Beyond intimate local knowledge, Ora also owns a fleet of beautiful Tiderace Sea Kayaks,plastic boats from Valley and Wilderness Systems were also used during OC Alaska.

??????????????????????The next leg of our journey utilized 2 water taxis to travel the final 80 miles to our base. Our Pilot, Zach, and his company Gustavus Water Taxi not only provided professional service, but also pointed out features we would encounter on our return.

DSCN3255 (1024x768) “Home” for our first four days was a 2 story cabin before we embarked on a 4 day wilderness journey back to Hoonah. With spectacular outer coast conditions at our fingertips (and a natural hot springs pool a few miles paddle away), Greentop Cove provided the perfect ocean learning environment.
Each day was a new experience as we focused on boat handling in currents (up to 5+ knots in this area), waves, wind, rocks and surf! The remoteness of the area, tidal paddling and open water navigation was a sure to challenge our paddlers during the training. A spectacular four day journey from Greentop Cove to Hoonah wrapped up our trip in style!

 

Coaching for this course was provided by Ryan Rushton & Jeff Forseth:

??????????????????????Ryan is an ACA L5 Instructor Trainer, BCU 5 Star Leader and registered member of the International Sea Kayak Guide Association. Ryan teaches at some of the top international sea kayak symposia including Lumpy Waters, Golden Gate and Bay of Fundy and brings a wealth of leadership/coaching experience in Alaska.  Ryan is possibly the only coach in the world working on the Outer Coast of Alaska, and has lead several training expeditions in Alaska (Whittier to Seward-2011 and Seward to Homer-2013) and has taught several courses (ACA L4 Skills Training in Kachemak Bay, GKC Ocean Camp Alaska 2012 & 2014).

DSCN3421Jeff is an ACA L4 Coastal Kayak instructor, BCU 4 Star Sea Leader, and well weathered wilderness guide. Jeff has been an instructor  at Inland Sea Symposium, Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium, Traditional Paddlers Gathering and many years teaching for his local club, Inland Sea Kayakers. He has also been assistant coach at specialized events for renowned coaches Ryan Rushton, Ben Lawry, John Carmody and Mark Tozer. Jeff, along with his wife, co-instructor and paddling partner Michelle, have also led trips and teach classes at venues such as the Mississippi River, Lake Superior, and the coasts of Georgia and Maine.

 

Read the full story HERE

Training and assessing: 2013 Cumberland Island

"Blind" rescuer being guided by "sighted"  victim"

“Blind” rescuer being guided by “sighted” victim”

Learning safety in Sea Kayaking comes in many forms: science (understanding the physics of weather, waves, tides and currents), reading material (trade magazines,  books on a wide variety of topics or specific in nature), word of mouth (social media, friends), formal training from qualified persons (first aid, CPR, kayaking courses and curriculum established by reputed and recognized agencies), and informal training (experiential, mentoring, friends sharing and showing). Because kayaking is an “inherently dangerous sport”, we can (and should) use all these different methods of utilizing key factors for increasing our chances of survival and enjoyment. As we all know from our formal and informal learning experiences, the key to the best learning is having FUN.

Here is a review of a recent trip to the Coast of Georgia (U.S.) and a message of how all of these components come together to form a rewarding learning experience. [Continued] [Photos]