T. A. K. S. 2006

Kayak Mandala 1 Kayak Mandala 3 Kayak Mandala 2

Traditional Arctic Kayak Symposium

When I read about John Petersen holding a traditional arctic kayak symposium a while back, I wondered if I should go. I am still paddling the first and only sea kayak I've ever owned and my QCC XL500 and ONNO blade are far from traditional. I wondered if I'd be seen as a modern interloper barging his way into a throw-back culture. I couldn't have been more wrong. The presenters and attendees at TAKS had no other agenda than to share their knowledge and love of skin and frame kayaks and Greenland skills with all who'd like to hear.

The symposium was a chance to see some of the most beautiful kayaks on the water and to paddle the scenic San Simeon coast. It was a chance to talk shop with some of the premier skin on frame boat builders and learn from and watch Dubside perform incredible feats of Greenland skills. Wolfgang Brink was on hand to share his knowledge of boat building and Greenland paddles. If that wasn't enough, there was always someone on the beach to help you collect your gear after you window-shaded into shore!

Skin boat line up
San Simeon Skin Boat Fleet

Wolfgang Brink in his nifty outfit Dubside
Dubside's behind the neck roll

Wolfgang talks
boats and fashion

Marcus John Petersen pontificates

Marcus Napping and John Petersen spells out the day's agenda

Aside from rolling demonstrations from Dubside, Marcus and others, there was also rolling and Greenland paddle instruction. Advanced rollers headed out into the ocean, while those of more modest abilities took advantage of a warm lagoon. I got my first chance to spend some time with a Greenland paddle and found it very accommodating. The symmetrical shape made sculling and sweep strokes almost self-correcting. The paddle almost seems to become an extension of your arms and hands. I'll soon be searching my local lumber yards for a suitable 2X4 to create my own paddle.

Friday night's pot-luck dinner was a feast of epic proportions followed by a video presentation from Dubside of his travels to Greenland and his interaction with its people. Saturday night was a great dinner in San Simeon at El Chorlito restaurant and then back to the camp amphitheater for Wolfgang's presentation on the history of the Aleutians and the development of the baidarka.

Ralph Johnson shows how it's done!
Surf launching sequence

Sunshine and fog battled it out on the beach and a sometimes nasty shore break made for some difficult launches and landings. More experienced paddlers provided advice and moral support to get everyone out in the water safely. Still the conditions led to enough carnage to keep the beach spectators interested and also provide for some awesome recoveries from some tough conditions.

Other activities included a Dubside demonstration of Greenland rope maneuvers between the pylons of the pier and a paddle/portage race marred by carnage where Jake Stachovak edged out Duane Strosaker for top spot. In between it all was talk with friendly and like-minded people from all over the country.

The Race

Dubside slides in
What's black and white and hairy all over?

Ralph in his baidarda The ladies take out the Umiak
Mr. Clean shows up in a baidarka and some ladies suffer from an upset umiak

I'm sure I'm leaving something out; the days were so busy it's hard to remember all we did. What I am sure of is John Petersen has started a great tradition that any kayaker should look forward to visiting. This kind of fun, knowledge, comradery and commitment to sharing doesn't come along often. I feel privileged to have been at the first and I hope to see a lot of new kayakers at the next.

More T.A.K.S.

Mark Sanders