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2009 West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium

Held in Port Townsend, WA every year since about 1984, the WCSKS has remained the premier single event learning experience in the Pacific

Beach at Fort Worden State Park at Port Townsend, WA during the 2009 WCSKS

Beach at Fort Worden State Park at Port Townsend, WA during the 2009 WCSKS

Northwest (including B.C., Canada). It is generally held in September as the kayaking season is winding down so that exhibitors are often offering significant discounts on boats and equipment.

Sea Kayak seminars are different from simple kayaker get-togethers. The WCSKS has always been as much about learning as marketing. Over the years there have been seminars given by

Paddlers return to the Ft. Worden beach after lessons and tours.

Paddlers return to the Ft. Worden beach after lessons and tours.

expert paddlers such as Dubside, George Gronseth, Derek Hutchinson, several of the Tsunami Rangers, and others.  There are classes for everything from simple forward strokes to advanced techniques in heavy winds and seas.

The economy in the Fall of 2009 is just recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1929 (at least we hope it’s recovering) and this had an impact on WCSKS. The main registration building has had two floors full of gear exhibitors over the past 5 or 6 years but this year only the first floor rooms were occupied. Registrations were also down. However

Most calm water for test paddling off Fort Worden

Most calm water for test paddling off Fort Worden

there was no discernable difference on the beach or in the parking lots or even – especially in the afternoon – on the water.

September can always be an interesting month for weather in the Puget Sound area. If the symposium had been held on the previous weekend it would have been rainy and nasty. But a delay of one weekend made all the difference and the weather cooperated with sunshine and light winds. Only one morning with clouds

3 of Sterling Kayak's Illusions... in different sizes.

3 of Sterling Kayak's Illusions... in different sizes.

and one day with swells sneaking around the point after having traveled the Straits of Juan de Fuca from the Pacific Ocean.

This year I parked my 1972 Streamline 21-foot trailer at the campgrounds adjacent to the seminar beach so I would have convenient access to the water. This meant that it was always a short walk back for a snack or a nap and it made for a very pleasant 4 day trip from my home in Moses Lake, some 270 miles from Port Townsend. The small trailer was a wonderful addition to the

The '72 Streamline with the Dodge - Neat but not gaudy!

The '72 Streamline with the Dodge - Neat but not gaudy!

seminar scene and meant that I didn’t have to put up with sleeping in a tent. This gave me picture windows over the campgrounds, a comfortable bed, and a fridge to keep my sodas cold. Plus I had a heater!!! The heater was really handy on the last (Sunday) morning when the temperature dropped into the 40s over night. It took the chill off the morning very nicely.

All in all a wonderful get together. My paddling partner Pam was an instructor this year and we managed to hook up with Mariner Kayaks guru Matt Broze, Paddlewiser Dave Kruger, and many other friends over the weekend.  There are now several kayak seminars held around the Puget Sound and B.C. region but this remains the largest and, in my opinion, the best. A nice way to end the summer (but not the paddling).

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