Friday, January 30, 2009

Seattle Boat Show Frenzy

What a show. I was lucky to be able to wander the floor of the show for four days of the week-and-a-half event, renewing old friendships and meeting lots of new people. The dealers I talked to were pretty upbeat considering all the dire news on our economy. Some even told me the first few days of the show were the best they've ever seen.

Popeye's had a sweet location on the upper floor, with the spotlight on the cherry Fathom LV, lots of room for boaters to take a look at their Eddyline and Seaward boats, and a nice selection of Stohlquist PFDs. Thanks to Dean and Bedelia for letting me hang out there for a while and chat with visitors.

Dean and Bedelia had such a good show, they're looking a little blurry... but the smiles are still there.

Hobie Cats Northwest and my old friends from Sail Sand Point shared a booth in the middle of the sailing section that featured -- beneath that gorgeous Hobie Tiger -- sit-on-top kayaks. Their display of kayak fishing gear was pretty cool too, with Bryce from Northwest Kayak Anglers regaling visitors with stories of lunkers hauled in on the deck of a Hobie.

This guy kept his legs moving, pedaling for ten straight days and never looking tired. Must be that comfy Stohlquist Wedge-E PFD.

Many thanks to Windworks Sailing, Scott, Laura, Greg, and the whole crew who allocated some prime space in their booth for the hottest, coolest shades out there.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Humbled by much aloha

The phone rang on Tuesday. I was taking a break from the ski hill on a gorgeous day. On the other end was two-time Olympian Jordan Malloch spreading the word about the PNWORCA winter outrigger race series.
"Bill, you coming out for the race this Saturday at Gas Works?"
"Jordan, I'm a kayaker, not an outrigger man... and I haven't hardly paddled all winter. I'm really out of shape."
"Awwww man, come on! They'll let you race. You should come down."

A phone call to Don Kiesling confirmed the excitement, so I geared up if only to watch Don paddle 6 miles with his bare hands and hope I can beat him in my kayak.

So no s^&*, there I was...
There's something incongruous about a few dozen outrigger paddlers dressed in fleece and Goretex, huddled around a fire. And even more mismatched was my little Fathom LV at 15 feet, next to those 20+ -foot OCs and surfskis. But the aloha was warm and the host club, HUI WA'A O WAKINIKONA was happy to see everyone come out. This was the first in a 7-race series around Puget Sound that concludes in April at Sail Sand Point Outrigger on Lake Washington.

I chased Steve Bennett all the way down the course, but never caught him... he was paddling so easily and I was thrashing along. Must be his 40 years of racing. Or his wing paddle. Or the extra 2 feet of waterline in his boat. Or my forward stroke sucks. Hmmmmmm.

Bernie Swanson showed up and snapped the pics you see here. Thanks Bernie! I think he deleted the one of my final 100 yards "what is that Bill, a low brace?" total fatigue stroke. Either that or he's saving it for blackmail.

I was slow enough that Jordan was already dressed and toasty warm when I got off the water to pose with him... but glory be, I managed to stay ahead of Don... paddling with his hands.

Here is Don, duking it out on the paddleboard in the home stretch. What a workout!

Much mahalo to Wakinikona. Good times, great people, warm fire and excellent post-race pupus! The soup really hit the spot.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sweet! Jumping at a chance to teach

Well how bout that!? What an honor, being asked to lead a seminar discussion at Washington Water Trails' Annual Winter Seminar on February 7th & 8th. It's humbling to be a part of this featured list of paddling luminaries!*

I first titled the session "How to get what you want from your local paddlesports specialty shop... without pissing anyone off". Somehow that title didn't work on a public forum, so while the content of the discussion stays the same, the official title speaks of karma and goodwill.

Since joining this happy industry a few years ago under the watchful training of m'man Charles Graves, I've grown passionate about the need for paddlers to buy local... not because it's good for the economy and oh my, what about that poor local businessman, no not so much. More so because it builds our paddling community. For every paddle, skirt or dry suit we order on line because we save a few bucks on a "no tax, free shipping" deal, a piece of our community's soul goes away. Every time that same piece of gear gets purchased from a local dealer, it gives that dealer a chance to expand the services they offer. Essentially, by buying local, we buy back a little of that soulful lifestyle that makes our favorite paddle shop our favorite place to go hang out.

Of course, it's a two-way street. The shop needs to start out being a place you want to go hang out. They need to be open when you need them, responsive to your special requests, and open to serve every level of paddler with products, classes, and groups that keep everyone safe and excited about going on the water. We'll get into that too, so I'm hoping we can get a few shop owners in the crowd.

This seminar is in its 4th year and keeps growing and getting more interesting every year. Come on out, support WWTA's mission of conservation and access to our favorite paddling places, and learn a bundle while you're there. If you can't make it, I hope you'll shoot me an email or just comment here on the blog with your thoughts about the topic. Any ideas, anecdotes or suggestions are welcome!

*Check out today's current list of presenters. What a rush, getting listed with these folks. Many thanks to WWTA for the opportunity to be a part of the fun!

Andy Bridge

Ken Campbell

Suzy Cornell

Annette Dong


George Gronseth

Dan Henderson

Wayne Horodowich

Karl Kohegan

Sarah Krueger

Dik Lang

Gary Luhm

Tim Mattson

Jeff Renner

Matthew Ross

Barb Sherill

Tim Walsh

Pat Welle

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The greatest outfitter in the world!

...right here in Washington. My old friend Richard Swanson at Discovery Sea Kayaks in Friday Harbor is absolutely giddy about the honor just bestowed by National Geographic... for the second year in a row. An enthusiastic Stohlquist dealer just a couple blocks from the ferry landing on San Juan Island, DSK has started 2009 with a bang. Be sure to visit Richard, Jason and the DSK crew when you're heading for the Islands. We'll just let Richard take the story from here...

From: Richard, Discovery Sea Kayak

Subject: Discovery Sea Kayaks ranked Best Travel Company on Earth

Discovery Sea Kayaks was ranked by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the BEST TRAVEL COMPANIES ON EARTH for the second year in a row. We were ranked in 2008 and increased our ranking for 2009! This is an accomplishment we are very proud of. We strive to produce the best kayak tour experience on every trip. Our guides are a testament to our standard of quality. Providing a safe, educational and fun experience that everyone will remember. When it comes to recognition from organizations such as National Geographic Adventure, it is our guides we have to thank for working hard and taking pride in their position as a kayak guide.

I want to say say thank you to all of our guides that worked hard during the 2008 season. I hope all of them are doing well today and can share in the honor of being selected as one of the BEST!

Richard Swanson

Discovery Sea Kayak

A " Best Outfitter on Earth"Two years in a row 2008 and 2009

National Geographic Adventure Magazine


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Demo boat sellin' time...

Getting ready for the 2009 season, I still have a few of last year's demo models here at Ruby Creek World HQ in Bothell. These are nearly-new boats in great shape, at excellent prices.

Here's a 2008 Eddyline Nighthawk 17.5. I also have a Fathom LV (blue), Skylark (red), and an Equinox (blue), plus a handful of lightly-used Stohlquist pfds and dry suits, and a few Bending Branches paddles in both composite and wood construction. Please contact me directly,, for a price list and more pictures.

Boat happy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

La Push Pummel coming up! February 13-15

Once again, Ken and Ellen DeBondt continue the tradition begun over two decades ago by adventurer Sprague Ackley...

"Surf Pummel at La Push"
(c) Gary Luhm, 2000,Canon E3, 500mm f/4 IS lens, Provia 100F,

Here's a slightly edited version of the DeBondts' most recent update on the event. Please contact them directly if you have any questions. Hope to see you there!


If you plan to come or just want updates (nice thing about the pummel is people can decide to come at the last minute or not), email us at and we will put you on the list for updates.

Feel free to forward to anyone you think might be interested....

La Push Pummel 2009

That time again for the annual LaPush Pummel, but later than traditionally. The dates are the weekend of Feb 13-15, 2008. Hard to say what the weather and surf will bring for us, but that is part of the fun and excitement!!

All kinds of kayaking possible around the Olympics river running, creek boating, surfing or Sea Kayaking. If we get sunny, calm weather bring your sunglasses and sea kayak and explore James Island and the area around. This is more of a gathering than an organized event, and surfing is definetly at your own risk.

Sprague Ackley started the gathering back in 1986, and nice to keep the tradition going. It is a great reason to get out to the Olympics and to La Push.

For anyone interested we plan to do a party/potluck on Saturday night. We will bring a bigger pot to boil your own crab for those interested. Bring your own drinks and lots of kayaking/surf stories to share. I have the clubhouse at the RV park reserved for Saturday Feb 14th at 6pm. Maybe get old photos/movies from LaPush together for slide show on my laptop as well.

For lodging contact LaPush Ocean Park, phone 800-487-1267. There is also camping available, you can contact the resort or the RV park at 360-374-4338.

For more information, please contact Ken and Ellen DeBondt 206-527-2565 email Email us if you plan to come and if you also sea kayak or river kayak and we can fill you in on the details as the time gets closer. We will be out of town Jan 14-26th but will get back to everyone after that. We are looking forward to good surf and fun times!!! Hope to see you there.