WD: How did you end up starting the "University of Sea Kayaking?
I am a professional educator, having taught at Colleges and Universities since 1973. I have a Master's degree in Anatomy & Physiology and another
Master's in Experiential Education. I always liked sharing ideas with others in my field.
I began teaching sea kayaking in the mid 1980s. I often
thought about a place where sea kayak instructors could share their best ideas so those ideas could spread. For many years I ran the Instructor
Exchange Program for TASK/TAPS.
Not having a lot of money to create a University with buildings, I decided that the web would be a great medium
for establishing my dream (a place to share ideas and have a resource for sea kayakers.) Therefore, on January 1, 2000, a twelve-year-old concept
came true. I founded the University of Sea Kayaking (USK.) The mission of USK is to promote sea kayaking education.
Each week I upload a little more of my brain onto the web site. I have also received ideas and experiences from others that have
contributed to the site. I teach classes through USK, run educational trips and have produced instructional videos. I am also in
the process of writing one of many future books. I have to say I am very proud of our instructional video "Capsize Recoveries & Rescue Procedures."
It is a four-hour (two-volume) set that covers this critical topic in an "In Depth" format.
I know what USK will look like in the years to come. I think we are off to a great start. It gets better every week. My goal is
to make USK "Your Sea Kayaking Education Resource."
WD: What has been your best or most memoriable experience when paddling?
It is difficult to choose just one. I have had the good fortune to see a lot of beautiful places while kayaking. One of the
fondest memories was during a solo paddle off of Vancouver Island in Johnstone Straits. I had extremely close encounters with Orcas.
They came around my kayak numerous times over a multi-day trip. Some were close enough to touch. I have always had an interest and
fascination with Orcas. I have taken many kayaking trips in Orca waters.
This particular solo experience with the Orcas was very moving.
It is very humbling when a bull Orca surfaces next to your kayak and his dorsal fin seems like the conning tower of a submarine.
I remember looking up to see the top of the fin.
WD: What about your worst or scariest moment?
My scariest moment was in October of 1991. I was captain of the US Surf Kayaking Team that year when we competed in the
World Championships in Thurso, Scotland. The competition had ended the day before and some of the US team stayed a few
extra days in Thurso. We had some very large waves come up, so we went out to surf them. The surf area was over a flat
rock shelf. Since we had surfed there for the past week, we knew the area fairly well.
The waves seemed to get bigger as the morning passed by. At one point, a very big swell was coming in from the outside and Dan
said he was going to jump on it. I tried to get over the top before it broke. I thought I was going to make it, but I was wrong.
I was taken over the falls with the wave. We were estimating the faces of the waves at over fifteen feet high.
After the free fall
I hit the water and felt my body snap as I was tumbled in the violent soup. The snap I felt was in my lower back. I finally came
to a stop with my helmet touching the rock shelf. I thought I had broken my back and was paralyzed for life from the waist down.
While I was holding my breath in those cold (Northern Scotland) waters, I tried to wiggle my toes to see if I did get injured.
My toes seemed to wiggle and I decided to roll up to see if everything was working. Everything turned out well. I guess I just
had a good back crack like you get at the Chiropractor. The good news was the largest wave I have ever surfed in my kayak came
in about five minutes after this incident. What a ride!!!
WD: What is the one thing you always try to tell your students?
My students know I can't tell them just one thing. My goal for my students is to create thinking paddlers. I don't want robots.
I believe you have to get out there to really learn it. You have to make mistakes if you are going to get good. "Good judgment
is learned from experience. Experience is gained from bad judgment."
WD: What is your favorite place to paddle?
It depends on my mood. I love playing in the waves (anywhere) when I want to feel speed and excitement. When I want adventure I
enjoy caving at the Channel Islands. For my tropical mood, I go to the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. I have to say it is one of the most
beautiful coastlines anywhere.
My kayaking trips to Canada (paddling with the Orcas) fulfill those desires for serenity. I
especially like it when it rains up there because I feel so cozy in my kayak with my paddle jacket on. It is wet on the outside
and toasty warm & dry on the inside.
One of the best trips I have taken where I felt like an explorer was kayaking in the canyons
of Lake Powell. It was great looking for the Anasazi ruins as we paddled in tight water filled canyons.
WD: Do you have a qoute or metaphor for life you would like share?
"What I hear I forget. What I see I remember. What I do, I know." I always immerse myself into a sport or hobby I want to learn.
In closing I wish to say that each day when we wake up, we have many choices. You can choose to have a good day or your can choose to
have a bad one. It's all a matter of attitude. Life is too short to choose to have bad days.