My whitewater kayaking history starts way, way back in 1996, on the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island with a really great crew from my days at Ocean River Sports in Victoria. I still remember scouting the main rapid with Michael Pardy, my eyes may have been a bit wet ;) with fear but he just said, "you can do it, just follow my line!". I did it and got on the river a few more times with Michael and others, even made it out to Jordan River (good times BAM :) before heading to the Mainland. Once on the mainland I bought my very own boat from Marlin Bayes, owner of Western Canoeing and Kayaking, the Perception Corsica. I got out paddling on the lower section of the Chilliwack River with friends from Western and again with Michael. I also recall one of my first introductions to "Necky Dave" aka. Dave Vanderveen when I flipped on an eddy line. Michael did not see me go over but Dave came to my rescue and I didn't come out of my boat - hurray! You made a fantastic first impression Dave.
Soon it was back to the Island for some kayak surfing at Tofino. This time we rented Dagger RPMs and boy did I do a lot of swimming. I was inspired to learn how to roll but alas this did not come easy for me but eventually I got it (most of the time). With a roll under my belt it was time for a new-to-me boat - the Necky Jive (a boat I still regret selling). This boat took me many exciting places locally and then on February 7, 1999 my short and timid whitewater career came to a very abrupt end.
I experienced the loss of a friend on the river and it changed me.
My friend Lynn Clark has been gone for over 14 years and I think of her often but no more so than when I am at the river.
I've always been a "nervous boater" but was inspired last season when Jackson Kayak introduced the Zen. A boat designed by the industry's leading whitewater kayak manufacturer and a company I represent. Well, it's April 2013 and my Zen 75 (designed as a classic downriver boat in 3 sizes) is in the garage just waiting for me to pull the trigger. I got my "engine" in the form of my Werner Paddles Sherpa WW paddle (it's perfect for me) and well I got a load of Kokatat gear to keep me warm and dry so it's happening THIS season.
I've got some wonderful friends and colleagues who know my story and now you do too, if you see me on the river shout some encouraging words okay, and I will do my best to keep the open-side up.
Stay tuned for my first whitewater trip report.