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Dec. 15th, 2009

Deception Pass Dash 2009

Deception Pass Dash (DPD) was much more fun last year! Don’t get me wrong, I still had a great time out there racing with 150+ paddlers! However, I’m not a racer, so the added dynamic of challenging conditions makes the race that much more fun. And the race this year was as calm as could be, an abnormality for the location.

When I first learned about the DPD it was billed as a challenging competition with a race against currents and potentially rough conditions to make it more difficult. If you aren’t familiar with Deception Pass, it is a great place to go play in currents. The two passes are narrow so when the current is at max you can get really fast currents, easily 7 knots, with standing waves, eddies, and all kinds of fun conditions.

The start of this race occurs just before the currents change directions. You have approximately 37 minutes to get through the first pass before the current changes directions. The slower you paddle, the more likely you’ll have to rely on eddies or fight current to get through. Last year there was a rather strong current to fight and I had to work through the eddies in order to get through. This year, despite being near the end of the pack, many of the paddlers were going straight up the middle without a struggle. You can never be 100% certain of what the currents will be like, but there was no challenge in this segment.

Everyone made it through the pass, around Strawberry Island, and back through Canoe Pass no problem. Coming back through Canoe Pass the conditions were really calm, no waves at all, and only a boil or two of water pushing up in areas. Last year there were several standing waves to plow through and boils to push you all around, it was much more of a challenge, also making it a lot more fun.

The reality is that I’m not a racer, and this was likely a racer’s dream conditions for a race through the pass. But I really like the added challenge of dealing with rough conditions when attempting to finish the race. Last year, nearly 1/3 of the paddlers didn’t finish because the conditions were so rough. Seriously, the most turbulent part of the entire race this year was at the very beginning; it was so choppy from all the paddlers taking off that I was getting pushed every which way. Once everyone had spread out the remainder of the course was rather calm.

Since I was racing I didn’t take any pictures, but you can see many fabulous photos taken by Nancy and her husband at http://www.ramblinlamb.com/2009-dpd/

Dec. 10th, 2009

Hail Paddle

Over a month of paddling and no posts, shame on me!

The weather in October definitely picked up and for the first time I became one of those kayakers that people start to wonder about. Most people started bundling up and staying indoors but I kept putting the kayak on top of the car and heading out in all my gear.

The story that probably generated the most stares was going out when we started having a lot of thunderstorms and wicked weather. There was a Friday where I joined John, Ian, and Dubside to play in the wind waves off the lighthouse point near Discovery Park.

We put in at Golden Gardens and paddled along the marina to stay in some protected waters and then worked our way over to the point. This area in particular gets some really great waves when it is windy and this was certainly the case on this day. We all had a couple great rides on the incoming waves when we noticed that the view out to Bainbridge was getting poor, with very dark skies moving in. Soon enough, it was on top of us and it started to hail. I started to question staying on the water when sure enough there was a flash of lightening! We all quickly paddled to a beach area and hopped ashore.

We stood with our backs to the wind, as it was pelting hail against us pretty hard. However, we were pretty well covered in our gear and the hail didn’t feel too bad through the neoprene. The boys humored me and briefly faced the hail so I could snap this photo:

Hail break

After we were certain the worst had passed we got back in our kayaks and continued playing before heading back to Golden Gardens. By the time we were paddling back the skies to the east were amazingly clear and we had a beautiful view of the Olympics covered with snow.

Nov. 12th, 2009

Congratulations Barb & George

On Oct 24th I had the privilege of attending a wedding ceremony that was essentially a who’s who of Pacific Northwest Kayaking. Barb and George Gronseth, owners of the Kayak Academy, finally tied the knot in an outdoor ceremony at Lake Sammamish Park. Present were various kayak makers, store owners, kayaking magazine editors, instructors, and more. It was a beautiful fall day to celebrate the official commitment of the happy couple.

Barb and George get married 

When we got married Richard had fun writing some kayaking vows. While we didn’t official use these, they are framed on a plaque under a favorite kayaking photo. Here, I’d like to share these with everyone in celebration of Barb and George tying the knot, may they enjoy many more days paddling together!

Kayaking Vows by Richard Rogers
Do you take this person to be your lawfully wedded paddling partner,
Do you promise to perform assisted rescues when he/she capsizes,
Offer to tow him/her when he/she is exhausted,
And resolve navigational disputes with calm & patience,
In good weather and bad, ’til one of you drowns in the surf?



Oct. 8th, 2009

Mercer Island Circumnavigation

Work has been a bit hectic but I have been taking a few opportunities to paddle recently. This last weekend we went for a paddle around Mercer Island. I’ve always wanted to go around Mercer but for some reason we just never got around to it.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Mercer Island is where all the rich folks live, it is an island in the middle of Lake Washington, which is the lake you cross when going from Seattle to Bellevue. It is about 11 nautical miles around the island.

We put in at Enatai in Bellevue under I90. The parking there is free, rather than having to pay to launch from the beach immediately across the way on Mercer Island – they must be trying to keep us cheapies out.

The sun was out when we put in around noon but we knew there would be strong winds, they were predicted for 12 mph from the north. To get the winds out of the way early I decided we should go counter-clockwise around the island.

Putting in we likely made an unfortunate mistake first thing. We immediately paddled over to the island side and boy were the winds blowing! We probably would have been protected staying on the Bellevue side but we paddled up to Luther Burbank Park on the northeast side of the island. It was extremely slow going with the wind and it took us nearly an hour to get there!

Richard hasn’t paddled enough this summer and his arm was bothering him so he decided he would turn back after a taking a break. He didn’t want to spoil my fun so he encouraged me to continue on since I was feeling good and wasn’t ready to turn back.

I pushed through the winds feeling strong and managed to round the north end of the island no problem. The winds started pushing me south and it was an enjoyable ride.

A lot of the way around the island I remembered the one other time we tried to paddle around Mercer Island. It was essentially when we had first gotten our kayaks 5+ years ago and we decided it would be a nice trip to do close to home. Unfortunately, we were still pretty green and it was windy that time too. We didn’t even get 1/5 of the way around before we decided that the area we were in was probably the calmest and that we should turn around. The chop was exhausting and made us nervous about going over.

Well, I can definitely say I’ve come a long ways since we first started paddling. Instead of fearing the wind and feeling tipsy, I enjoyed the chop and realized how I really felt extremely stable; I didn’t have any concerns about going over even though it was likely choppier than that first time.

Going south along the west side of the island I really enjoyed the wind. At one point I stopped to snack while slowly getting pushed along. Other times I worked on surfing the waves. I nearly had the lake to myself other than 2-3 power boats I saw and an Argosy cruise boat I saw once. With it so empty I decided to go straight down the middle and surf as much as possible where the wind waves were bigger. I had a couple decent rides and moved along quickly.

I stopped at a park on the west side for a quick food and bathroom break where I came across someone else coming the other way. He looked like he was really struggling. He said he was going the other way around the island and had already been at it for several hours – he wasn’t quite half way yet and still had a lot of north winds to push through.

Continuing on, I finally decided to pull out the WindPaddle sail. It is a little kite thing that you can attach to your kayak to catch wind and sail along a bit. I was hesitant to use it in the really high winds but as I approached the south end of the island it slowed down a little and I felt more comfortable using it. It was a nice break from having to paddle the whole way around and I moved along quickly at parts. I probably didn’t quite attach it right but it seemed to work, though it would dive into the water when the wind shifted.

Finally, I got to the last leg – having to travel back north into the winds again to get to the starting point. It didn’t seem too bad at first, but as I hit a narrow part the winds were definitely a force. I decided to cross back over to the Bellevue side thinking that it might be a bit more protected but that definitely wasn’t the case. I’m actually curious if it was more exposed on that side but I have no way of knowing for sure.

I think I bonked finally, I probably should of stopped and eaten a little more, but I pushed through. I was extremely determined and I could see the bridge we started under. However, it was slow going. At one point, the winds were blowing so hard I was barely moving! I wondered about residents in the nearby homes wondering what I was doing out there, hopefully they didn’t hear me groaning on occasion. I doubt it though, the winds were blowing so hard I could barely hear the freeway immediately on the other side of the houses. I’m certain that where the channel narrowed it must have been far stronger than 12 mph winds.

Exhausted by the end, I finally pulled into the starting point where Richard was waiting for me. He was glad he didn’t do the whole thing. I’m glad I did it. I was whining about the last bit, but overall it was an enjoyable paddle. Had I eaten a bit more the last leg might not have felt so torturous, but I was my typical determined self and I can now say I’ve paddled around the island. Next time I’ll have to do it when it’s less windy. I imagine without winds and the various breaks it would typically take less than the 5 hours it took me!

Sep. 3rd, 2009

Deception Pass Trip Report - Aug 28, 2009

Friday morning I got an invitation to go kayaking up at Deception Pass. It was an extremely last minute decision, but I’m glad I jumped at the chance. Within 30 minutes I had everything ready to go and John picked me up before picking one more person up (Megan) and heading up to the Pass.

We met 3 other people (Rand, Alex, and Ian) at the put-in point of Cornet Bay on the South East side of the pass. I’ve never put in here before, but it appears to be the perfect put-in spot if you want to go play in the pass during the ebb rather than the flood.

We put in around 12:45, expecting the max ebb of 4 knots at 1:30. With the ebb it was an extremely quick paddle over to the pass

Cornet to Pass

There were some winds out of the west, but these helped create the waves that we spent several hours playing in.

Deception Pass current

We started out playing in Deception Pass (the main passage on the South). However, there was a lot of boat traffic so we kept having to move out of the pass to let them go through.

Deception Pass

After awhile we moved over to Canoe Pass on the North side. Not as many boats pass through this part so we had the standing waves all to ourselves. At first the waves were a smooth glass which was enjoyable, but over the course of several hours the conditions changed periodically.

Canoe pass current

All of the paddlers I went with are extremely skilled so it was a joy to paddle with them. Unfortunately I only had my skin on frame at home so that was what I brought with me. Next time I’d definitely bring the Mariner. Many of the others were practicing various rescues in the conditions but I wasn’t about to do a wet exit out of the skin on frame! I did have float bags in it, but I’m certain it wouldn’t have been fun for anyone to have to rescue it, and I wasn’t about to do a re-entry and roll in that! The SoF also doesn’t surf as well as the Mariner would have in the standing waves, but it was fun to play for the day.

I also got a demonstration of how to roll in seaweed from Alex. Go over, get you paddle entirely out of the water above the seaweed, slap it down on top of the seaweed and roll back up, hopefully without any seaweed grabbing you and holding you under.

seaweed roll


Great day at the pass. Thanks for the invite John, definitely keep the invites coming! You must have been moving too fast, I only caught a blurry photo of you.

John Sindelar

Aug. 29th, 2009

Greenland Competition at Kayak Academy

The Kayak Academy held a Greenland week recently, ending with a competition last Sunday. I went out to Lake Sammamish to help out with the competition and I was also encourage to be a participant.

Maligiaq and Dubside were the judges and announced all the rolls in Greenlandic while I stood in the water to help participants with roll translations and reminders of how to set up for each roll.

I was really impressed with how everyone did, especially since PFDs were required (liability insurance). Nearly everyone who attempted the behind the head roll had a really hard time getting over for the roll due to all of the excess floatation.

I personally was really proud of how I did. I used Barb’s newest Illusion, the cockpit is slightly smaller than her older one so I didn’t fall out of the cockpit like I used to in the other. It also works quite well for forward ending rolls.

I succeeded for the first time in coming up from the spine roll – usually I get stuck in a static brace and can’t come up the rest of the way. I also did a brick roll! I’m sure the PFD probably helped with those, but it was pretty darn cool to be successful on those.

Overall, I placed 3rd, but if the competition was done the way they do it in Greenland, separating genders, then I came in first for females!! Very happy with how I did.

I was also really impressed with Andrew! He did a fabulous job rolling and was the winner lucky enough to take home the Golden Harpoon. You can see his stories and photos on his site: http://www.dashpointpirate.typepad.com/

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos since I loaned my camera to Dubside (he had the same camera as me but recently lost his so I loaned mine to him, he uses his sometimes to video people he is teaching). If I find any photos from others I’ll try to share them.

Aug. 10th, 2009

(no subject)

A portage race is a paddling race that also involves getting out of your kayak, carrying it across a distance, and getting back in to finish additional paddling distance. Greenland kayaks are usually fairly light and the competition requires that you carry the kayak on your head for the portage. If you’ve practiced this, it isn’t too hard to get the kayak up on your head, you just store the paddle in the cockpit towards the bow and lift/roll the kayak up on your head with your head in the cockpit, looking down the stern. You use your hands to balance the kayak and peek out the front.

The distance and terrain were something else though! The route in Greenland required carrying your kayak up some steep slippery rocks, around the hospital, then down some other rocks where the spectators left an open path, and back to the water. Here is Maligiaq getting out of his kayak and up the rocks (last photo is actually from the first leg, the guys had to do this twice!).

MaligiaqMaligiaqPortage up rocks 3

It’s said that you can really gain time on people during the portage, especially if you are able to get back into your kayak and attach your spray skirt quickly. I think I only saw one instance of that. I also saw people really running to try to pass people on the terrain. In particular, it was jaw-dropping to watch Maligiaq run with his kayak. Look closely and you’ll see both of his arms at his side. He is actually balancing his kayak on his head and pumping his arms to pick up speed and run.


For those who are curious, by this point in time I had been using the plastic kayaks so much that I didn’t want to go back to the boat hunting game, and I wasn’t about to do a portage with a plastic boat on my head!!! Instead, I enjoyed some time on one of the support powerboats and got some decent photos on the water.

Malina at start of race

Women portage race first lap

And because I’m so fixated on Greenlander gear and kayak entries, I thought I’d share these two photos. First, kayaking in a cotton tank top?? I guess the weather felt quite warm even to us non-natives, and there were support boats out there in case someone did actually go over, but I have it fairly well engrained to always dress for the water conditions so this is shocking to me.

paddling in a tank top

And returning to how people get in and out of their kayaks, here is a photo of Maligiaq getting out of his kayak. Again, he isn’t putting his feet or anything in the water. Instead, he balanced himself and put his socks and shoes back on before getting out of his kayak. Check out those slippery rocks!


As always, see a full slide show of all photos, including recently posted portage race photos not included in this post, out here: http://s331.photobucket.com/albums/l452/kayakgrrl1/Greenland/?albumview=slideshow


Aug. 5th, 2009

Greenland Rope Gymnastics

One item that was going on through much of the competition was the ropes competition. A few of the moves simulate rolling an actual kayak, but many of the moves are simply winter-time one-upmanship. While many Greenlanders may not know how to roll their kayak, many more Greenlanders can at least get the minimum number of points on the ropes (30 for men, 20 for women). These moves can be done indoors throughout the year and pose a much lower risk than learning to roll in frigid waters in limited shared gear. They are also a fun way for kids to play.

The kids started early in the week and, when people weren’t competing, the kids could often be seen playing on the ropes.

kids playing on ropes

Each participant is given 30 minutes to go through the maneuvers they know. There are a number of moves done on the low ropes, and then you move on to the high ropes. It used to be that you could jump around between rope maneuvers but they’ve changed it so that you have to move through the maneuvers in order; you can skip moves if desired, but you can’t return to them once skipped. This makes more sense from a judging perspective, but it also means that the hardest moves are last, when you’re exhausted from all the previous moves.

Lars Pedersen on high ropes - timed hanging

While I had set up ropes at home in hopes of working towards a minimum number of points (which I thought was 30 at the time), a number of unexpected trips left me with little opportunity to build up enough moves on the ropes. Ropes are HARD!

Watching the women perform made me feel a lot better about the few moves I can do. I was really struggling with a number of moves, especially those that require a lot of upper body strength. After watching many people compete on the ropes, I quickly realized that it wasn’t just me. Women do not really have the right physique to do many of the moves.

Looking at the results, the highest scoring woman (220 points) was nearly 300 points away from the top scoring Greenland man (509 points), and she would have scored 7th in the men’s group. As I watched them, I saw that the girls skipped many of the moves I wasn’t able to do, and moved onto others that required a bit more leg strength rather than arm strength.

Ulunnguaq on low ropes

The most amazing performer was Dubside. He scored a world record 721 points, over 200 points higher than the highest scoring Greenlander! Unfortunately, my one regret of the whole trip was not bringing down Richard’s video camera when Dubside performed. A recording of him on ropes would have been worth a lot I’m sure!

He set everything up and the instant the clock started he was on the ropes, quickly moving from one move to the next. By the time he was on to his 8th or 9th move many of the Greenlanders were riveted, but one jokester was hollering for him to slow down and take it easy.


Dubside clearly had a routine, and he moved straight through it; no audience comment would deter his focus. Soon enough, he was on to the high ropes. He had his own clock that he kept an eye on and as he got towards the more difficult moves he did take occasional quick breaks. Near the end, he also played to the audience a little bit when he announced that he would do the pinky maneuver.


I was always intrigued by the multiple maneuvers that biting the rope while pulling yourself up and over the rope.


Ropes take a lot of balance and a true ropes person can work on the ropes and make it look easy. Many of us try to get on the ropes and the ropes shake like crazy, an experience person sits on the ropes and the ropes sit perfectly still. I’ll have to go back to working on the ropes to see if I can steady the ropes and develop some skills.

Maligiaq put in a decent performance as well. Again, the schedule gets moved around sometimes and Maligiaq's group ended up having to perform ropes the same day they did the portage race so needless to say they were already exhausted from that event earlier in the day.



Dubside kept score of many of the competitors and, similar to my harpoons results, it sounds like it is possible that some scores may have been totalled incorrectly. Unfortunately, individual score sheets are unavailable at this point for review, so there is no way to compare his results to the actual results.

If you want more details about the various ropes maneuvers, see Dubside's web site here: http://www.dubside.net/qajaasaarneq.cfm

As always, you can see even more pictures of other people on ropes, as well as other maneuvers, by viewing the additional photos posted in my photobucket slideshow: http://s331.photobucket.com/albums/l452/kayakgrrl1/Greenland/?albumview=slideshow (Click the reverse order link near the slideshow controls if you just want to see the most recent images posted)


Jul. 31st, 2009

Team Rolling

Team rolling brings in a different sort of challenge to the rolling competition. During the individual rolling you get two tries for each roll, per side, as you move through all the rolls. In the team rolling, the whole team has to do the same roll, at the same time, on the same side. If one team member misses the roll, the whole team has to do the roll a second time.

Greenlander rolling team - sculling

Greenlander rolling team - behind the head reverse sweep

This time around, the men started first, as the judges didn’t realize the US had both a female and a male team participating. It turned out that we were the only female rolling team, there was no Greenlander rolling team of women! We waited our turn and watched the men rolling.

Greenlander rolling team - brick roll

There was great debate about who would be on the International mens team until Richard decided he’d try rolling as part of the team. They didn’t have much time beforehand to coordinate what rolls they could all do so they were figuring it out on the water, where they made a very colorful team with Richard in the yellow kayak, Marcel in blue, and Dubside in gray.



Unfortunately, by figuring it out on the water they realized a bit late that Richard and Marcel have different “off-side” rolls. While one has a strong roll starting on the left, the other has a strong roll on the right! Since you have to go over on the same side at the same time, it became a challenge when they got to rolls where they could only do a roll on one side. Essentially, they had to skip a number of rolls they could only do on one side since their strong sides were opposites.

In one respect, this was good news for Dubside. He was using a sealskin tuilik for the team competition and he quickly learned that they don’t provide as much insulation as the neoprene tuiliks do. He was apparently freezing and was happy to end the rolling sooner than expected!


After the guys were finished, our female team paddled out for our turn. This team was me, Jenny, and McKinley. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures since I was on the water and the guys were just getting off the water, so I didn’t hand my camera to anyone.

Watching the Greenlander men roll, we saw how they seemed to work with a leader who would yell ap (yes) and then the whole team would go over for the roll. We decided that we’d follow their lead and I’d yell ap for each turn we’d take.

I had my roll list again and used it to communicate with our team as we moved through the roll list and did the ones that all three of us could do. We had a bit of an audience and we got a number of cheers as we progressed to some of the more difficult roles.

Again, this was a different type of challenge working with a team. Occasionally one of us would miss a roll. In doing the second attempt, sometimes a different person on the team missed the roll the second time! Imagine the frustration knowing that you all succeeded in the roll at least once but that you don’t get any points since you didn’t all complete the roll on the same attempt. It was also exhausting having to do extra rolls in the frigid water.

I again was trying my Greenlandic, beyond just using ap for “go,” and I think there were a number of people amused by my pronunciations yet again. It put a smile on my face though. Richard may have some video of us rolling, and potentially my poor pronunciations. If he has it and posts it I'll add a link to share it.

Knowing that McKinley can do more rolls than us we tried to encourage her to do some extra rolls but she wanted to stick with what the team could do. However, in the end, we did get her to demonstrate her kayak swimming: she flips the kayak over on top of her and does a bit of a doggy paddle with her head out of the water to swim a little distance.

I suppose by being the only female team competing in the team rolling we essentially won this event. However, we soon learned that there were no awards for our team. In the past competitions there are usually awards for the international teams. Typically there are a few more countries represented, but our US team essentially made up the entire international category. We still aren’t entirely sure why things were changed, but in the end, no awards were given to any of our team members; instead we were viewed as participants in the competition.

While it would have been cool to get to take home one medal (in the past, they haven’t always let people keep them) I can’t complain about not being given awards. Every day was an amazing cultural experience, and it was tons of fun to watch the kids get their awards.

Mona with awards


And a couple of the women would often do cheers and rolls when their kids won. I think Richard has some video of some of this that I’ll link to when it is up. Here is a photo of two moms rolling together as their kids look on.


This day also included more ropes, but I’m going to save that for another post. For all photos, including many more awards photos (I tried to take a photo of every award presented) go to: http://s331.photobucket.com/albums/l452/kayakgrrl1/Greenland/?albumview=slideshow
And I’ll end with one favorite photo – tuiliks drying at the end of the day:

drying tuiliks


Jul. 29th, 2009

Long Race event

The third day of the competition was all about long races. The kids route was extended, the women would do the men’s short route, and the men would do their route multiple times. This meant hanging out on the rocks watching them in the distance, and socializing while waiting for racers to come back through. Or, wandering town a little bit. We did a little of both. It was amusing to see the start of a race, go wander around, and then come back and see the same race still going, they were that long!

On this particular day it was quite windy, which made for interesting racing. Check out the flags:

Windy day

It also meant that several of the racers in the kids category had to be brought back in by the power boats. Some simply couldn’t move into the wind, it was like being on a treadmill, and unfortunately one or two went over, but they were quickly rescued.

Powerboat assist due to wind

I considered racing but I didn’t feel like playing the find a boat game. I actually tend to do well in wind so I kind of regret not racing in this one, but I was tired and I was happy to sit on the rocks and take pictures of participants and the various helpers. And the wind did provide one benefit: fewer mosquitoes, they were blown away!

Uiloq carrying spray skirts

Carrying multiple kayaks

McKinley did well in a borrowed kayak despite the wind.

McKinley in long race

And Jenny stayed with the pack for most of the time too.

Jenny in long race

The men’s races were a lot longer. We watched the start of the “old guys” (35+) mixed with the younger guys (groups under 24) then decided to go check out the Knud Rasmussen museum.

Start of 35+ mens race

Knud Rasmussen museum

We were very fortunate to have Matt Walls give us a tour of the museum. He is from Toronto and was in Greenland working on research, he is looking at the connections between the traditional way Inuits used to do things and the way they do things now. As an anthropologist he gave a fabulous tour, discussing the various artifacts in the museum. It was enjoyable to chat with him any time we found him in the audience throughout the competition.

By evening, after dinner and resting at the school awhile it was finally the young men’s turn. We gave them a little while then headed down to catch the end. There was a large audience watching this race.

In the first laps a couple groups stuck together but by the final lap they separated out, with Maligiaq coming in with a commanding lead. (many other racer photos on photobucket - click any photo to get to that page).

Maligiaq racing 

There was a bit of distance between some of the paddlers so a couple of the guys decided to have fun and paddle across the finish line backwards!

Backwards finish - 25-34 mens race

Overall it was a relaxing, enjoyable day.

Many other photos of spectators and the racers are available on my photo site as well. Again, click any of the photos to go to that page to see a slideshow.

Here is a favorite of Kampe who was a judge throughout the competition. He took care of us around town the entire week.

Kampe tracking racing times


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