Port Austin Sea Kayak Symposium

The second annual (and there will be a third) Port Austin Sea Kayak Symposium was held June 17 to 19, 2011.   There was a new visitors center in town for registration. Not many people made it up early Thursday as it is a 3 hour drive from Detroit for those that worked all day.  The town was very quiet during the day and not into summer mode yet.  I was able to get a paddle in before the first scheduled event at 6PM.

RKC Instructor Staff

RKC Instructor Staff

Thursday night a wine and pizza gathering was held in the state park in the pavilion where we watched the sun set and enjoyed the food, wine and people, meeting the staff and participants.  The pizza from the town pizzeria was excellent, and I eat too much, the wine was also too good.  I had a headache Friday morning.

Thursday Wine and Pizza

Thursday Wine and Pizza Party

Port Austin Harbor On Lake Huron in Michigan's Thumb

Port Austin Harbor

The weekend went off without a hitch, the weather cooperated as much as can be expected for Port Austin and Lake Huron in mid June, it was sunny in the PM after only one morning of fog, other than that it was mostly sunny 65 to 70 degrees. The instructors Steve and Cindi from Oregon considered the weather fantastic.   I would have gone for maybe 5 more degrees but not complaining.

Foggy Lake Huron

Foggy Lake Huron

Steve was one of the designers of the Wilderness Systems Tempest Kayak he gave a lunch time talk on boat design and on Sunday demonstrated many of these principals for a  small group of fortunate people out in the Lake Huron waves and wind.  The level of instructor experience was awesome, all instructors were just excellent.  All were very down to earth, approachable, willing to answer any questions or show any technique.

Lake Huron Kayak Instruction

Lake Huron Instruction with Steve

The kayak symposium was put on by Riverside Kayak Connection.  I’m told it was smaller than last year but I did not mind, the ratio of student to instructor in many of the classes was almost one on one.  This year RKC did not advertise as much and there was a competing Symposium in Wisconsin on the same weekend.  Tiffany the owner of RKC also celebrated her 40th birthday at Saturday night’s dinner and cake was passed out to all who attended the dinner at the 1984 Bank restaurant.

Port Austin Beach On Lake Huron

Port Austin Beach On Lake Huron

The weekend had at least 5 different classes at each time slot Friday and Saturday , then Potpourri on Sunday morning (work on anything you want with the instructors).  The time slots were 9:30AM to 11:30AM, lunch provided with a talk noon till 1:00PM, then 1:30PM to 3:30PM and 3:45PM to 5:30 PM.  A very full day if one signed up for each class time like I did.  I learned so much during the symposium, I’m going to forget some skills but will do my best to practice them all.  I am a better paddler after the weekend than before.

Port Austin Kayak Symposium

Port Austin Kayak Symposium Lunch Break

The classes were on the following topics: Boat Control, Rescues and Towing, Forward Stroke, Advanced Strokes, Bracing Traditional, Euro Rolling, Kids Kayak Classes, Advanced Rescues, Traditional Rolling and many more.

Cindi kayak Instructing

Cindi Instructing On Forward Stroke

The Forward stroke class was one where I learned that I had picked up some bad habits, and Cindi helped me change them, I learned how to paddle much better, more speed, less effort.

Kayak  Boat Control Class

Kayak Boat Control Class

We even had a visit by the Coast Guard out in the bay, they stopped us to talk and pass out identification stickers for our Kayaks.

Port Austin Kayak Boat Control Class

Port Austin Boat Control Class

Steve had us do experiments that showed us how our boats weather cocked in the wind, how you easily turn up and down in the wind, compared how all the different kayaks reacted in the water due to their design.

Sunday Paddle and Lesson On Lake Huron

Sunday Paddle and Lesson On Lake Huron

I would highly recommend this event for anyone who wants to learn how to start kayaking, or tune up their skills.  The people were all great, I went alone and made many new friends, and never felt alone at anytime.

Port Austin Shoreline On Lake Huron

Port Austin Shoreline

Lake Huron Shoreline Rocks

Lake Huron Shoreline Rocks

Port Austin Sunset Over Lake Huron

Port Austin Sunset Over Lake Huron

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