Thursday, July 24, 2014

SC&K Staff Profile - Ben Fontenot

Savannah Canoe and Kayak's newest addition to the team is local son, Benjamin Fontenot.
Aside from working at Skidaway State Park, schlepping boats here at the shop, and paddling a lot, Ben is an avid woodworker. We are pleased to showcase and sell some of his fine Greenland inspired paddles. We thought we would interview him and share a little of what makes him tick. Take it away, Ben...

What led to your interest in Greenland paddles?

Initially it was all aesthetics. Such beautiful and simplistic paddles, I immediately wanted to try one. After snapping my aluminum paddle in half, I decided to make my own paddles. After experiencing the versatility of these paddles, I was hooked on paddling with traditional paddles.

What do you see as benefits of using a Greenland paddle?

I find them to be extremely comfortable both in the hands and in the water. They tend to be easier on the shoulders and offer more endurance for longer trips. My rolling skills and technique were improved greatly after switching over to traditional paddles. The natural buoyancy of a wood paddle really helped with set ups and orientation under water. My overall technique was improved, increasing my confidence to do new and more challenging things.

Tell us about choosing which paddle is right for someone.

 I like to go by two factors.
1/ A person’s height and arm length.
Standing up straight, reach up with one arm, hand pointed to the sky. Now measure from your top knuckles to the floor. Ideally, you should be able to comfortably place a grip over the end of the paddle.

2/ Style of paddling.
-       If you have a high angle stroke or plan to surf, I would recommend a slightly shorter paddle by a couple inches. If going on longer trips, then a slightly longer paddle for a relaxed low angle stroke.

Don’t forget about a spare! Storm paddles were created in West Greenland to paddle in high winds. These are short paddles, generally the paddler's total arm span, and require a sliding stroke. Storm paddles make great spares and are ideal for paddling in katabatic winds.

How does kayaking affect your life?

Paddling is my passion, career, friendships, and outlet for exploring, relaxation, and excitement; I can escape for a few hours or days and enjoy the wilderness. Being able to go with friends on a relaxing marsh paddle along hammocks and cord grass then get fired up with some surfing to end the trip.


How about a little information on the actual making of the paddles?
 
It starts with a lot of searching and sorting. I like to use 2x4's of Red Cedar and every board is hand picked. I’m looking for straight boards with few or no knots and straight grains.

After ripping and cutting the boards to shape, I have a paddle blank. This is a rough shape that I will follow until the final coat of oil.
 
Once the paddle is carved out, I compress the wood grain to create a solid and uniform finish. Going from 80 grit sand paper down to 0000 steel wool I get a soft near perfect finish.

After drying over night, my paddle is ready for the water.

Well, there you have it. Ben is currently working on his ACA Coastal  Instructor Certification as well as guide and leadership skills. It's great having Ben working at SC&K, and we think he is well on path to a fulfilling an interesting career in the outdoors.

Benjamin Fontenot Paddles and norsaqs come in one piece Red Cedar, or with custom hardwood tips and siding for extra protection. Benjamin Fontenot Paddles are available in the shop for pick up, or place an order for a paddle that is right for you!

 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer - Used and Consignment Boats For Sale

.
Old Town Disco 169.
The first canoe you ever threw off the roof of your apartment.
Robust river tripper ready for a one way adventure into obscurity. $375.

Perception Mr Clean.
Once upon a time... oh brother. Cart wheel yourself into a stupor. Great surf boat...not. $175.



Valley Nordkapp HM.
"The kayak we now refer to as the ‘Classic ’features the ocean cockpit and a round front hatch. Two options are available: standard hulled (the old HS) and the integral skeged/hard sterned model (HM). Both are cult classics.' $500


Stellar S12
Advantage model S 12 in excellent shape...lightly used, very light, stable and nippy.
Excellent booze cruiser. $1450.


Stellar S16.
We have a couple S16s for sale. All in great shape.
Sport model in orange for $1350. Advantage model for $1700.


Valley Pintail.
Carbon Kevlar with foot pump. Great condition.
Another bloody classic. $1700.

 

Mega Boost.
Carbon Kevlar Xtech Boost in gunmetal grey.
Excellent condition, as good as new.$1600


Olym-Sport OC1
Outrigger Canoe. Great condition. 21ft by 16".
This ocean speed boat catches the smallest of bumps and feels like paradise.$1500.

Wenonah Advantage
Fast solo tripping canoe. 2014' Brand new, never been in the briney. With custom bag. $1800.

Mega Phantom.
S-lite. High performance HP surf kayak. Good condition. With GoPro camera. Get thrashed and share.$1400.

Impex Outer Island.
Greenland style rolling kayak. Great condition. Easy as rolling out of bed.$1750

Mega Bullitt S and X.
B-S is brand new standard model, damaged in shipping, repaired. Never been in the water. $1600.
B-X is used, in good condition. No breaks or repairs. Comes with skirt, airbags, fins and custom travel bag. $1400.

Mega Bullitt X
Xtech model. Comes with fins, float bags and Saltwood paddle. Very good condition.$1800.




 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Coastal Georgia Kayak Fishing Bash

On 26 April 2014 our local kayak anglers held a fishing tournament to help the local chapter of Heroes on the Water. We had 15 anglers show up to participate in this low stress very friendly tournament called the Spring Bash.

This tournament was to start at 06.30 and be a 3 fish turn in.
Speckled trout, redfish and flounder. These anglers could bring in 2 fish but 1 of the 3 had to be a redfish. We use the CPR (catch photo release) method to minimize damage done to the fish and help promote sport fishing.
At Skidaway the anglers took off into the grass beds, tidal creeks and oyster beds. The weather started off beautiful with light winds, but soon picked up to near 15 mph which can make for tougher fishing. We had a wide variety of fish caught from gar, stingrays, flounder and trout. At 3pm everyone started arriving back to the turn in point . As the anglers came in so did the story's... from the first fish ever caught out of a kayak to senior anglers getting the skunk.
With a redfish and a flounder, 1st place went to Jackson. 2nd went to Ben and 3rd went to Dan.
Jackson was having a father son day on the water and let me tell you that kid has the heart of a giant. The boy donated his total winning purse to help the wounded soldiers, absolutely amazing and parenting done right!
Our tournament was the first tournament of coastal georgia kayak fishing in the past couple years. We are looking to hold more as the year progresses. We had some really good sponsors of the event. Saltwood Paddles, Egret Baits, Fishmyyak.com and Savannah Canoe and Kayak.

 
For only being a $10 buy in everyone walked away with much more and we were able to raise $260 for HOW(Heroes on the Water). Thank you to all of the sponsors who willingly donated to help out our spring bash tournament. If anyone is looking to join us on our next event our proboard forum is http://cgkf.proboards.com
Best,
Keith M

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guided Floating Yoga


Here's a different perspective on combining the serenity and beauty of our salt marshes.
Our floating yoga sessions will take you on a short journey into the depths of the universe via standup paddleboards. After a little introduction on how to standup and paddle, Martha Haynes will take you on winding creeks to a quiet, private expanse of nature. After some relaxing, eyes closed, pranayama (breathing) meditation, Martha will then lead you through your favorite asanas, as well as a few new ones....all the while balancing on your board... suspended above the earth, beneath the sky.
It's fun, it's easy, a little cosmic, but best of all, it's healthy.
Space is limited. Call  make a reservation.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 6 - Sunday Demo 2-5pm

We will be at Butterbean Beach with a general selection of kayaks to try out. Among others, we will have the Slayer Propel, the popular Moken fishing boats, several Stellar models including the S18S, and the Tiderace Vortex.
This will be a great opportunity to try stand up paddleboarding.
We will also have a few paddles to try, including Saltwoods and some bent shaft models.
Give us a ring if you want to try out a particular boat or board and we'll add it to the line up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ACA Guide Certification Weekend

This weekend (03.29 &30.14) I had an opportunity to participate in the ACA Guide Certification course led by one of your staff guides, Steve Braden.

The course exceeded my expectations on many levels.  I am an experienced expedition paddler of 30 years with numerous multi-week expeditions under my hull.  Yet,  the ACA curriculum for this course was full of useful  information that reminded me of many aspects of paddling that I had forgotten and introduced me to new techniques, terms and procedures that had been developed over the years.

 Though the information was interesting and added to my paddling and instruction knowledge, the instructor most impressed me.  Steve was professional and extremely knowledgeable. His many years of kayaking and outdoor education were very evident through his broad knowledge of not only the curriculum but the history and development of each aspect of the course. His demeanor and presentation was to-the-point, clear, concise and he emphasized elements that he has discovered through his teaching experience that tend to be the most problematic for less-experienced paddlers. When errors were made by those of in the class his critiques were well reasoned and clearly explained and in a manner that was gentle on the ego. The learning environment that Steve created allowed those of us in the course to take the critiques as positive and constructive toward our goal: to be the best kayak guide possible.
Overall, the course was informative and fun.  I feel that any kayaker who is interested in developing leadership, communication and instructional skills should take this very worthwhile course.  Regardless if the kayaker plans to be a guide or not, the paddling and communication skills developed through this ACA Guide Certification curriculum will help each paddler to practice and promote safety for themself and with those whom the paddler encounters on the water.

Tommy T.

Our next guide/instructor training session is an L3 Instructor Development Workshop in May. 3 places open.
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Free to a Good Home!

A friend of one of our customers passed away in the middle of building this 17 ft. wood strip sea kayak made from pine, oak, and walnut.  It is still needs a lot of work, but what is completed is beautifully crafted:
 
 
  The hull and deck are close to completed, though they were removed from the form before the outside was glassed, so some creativity will be needed in joining them.
  
 Because of some splitting when it was moved the underside of the deck around the cockpit was lined with a rough putty, which needs to be sanded down

The cockpit needs to be shaped and framed

The outside of the deck and hull are sanded, but the insides still need to be

Then of course the whole thing needs to be glassed.

The owners are looking for someone to finish and keep the kayak.  And because Matt really loved it, and put so much into, they want to be sure that whoever takes it will actually follow through on finishing it and will enjoy it as much as he did. There are no plans for it, so it will require a woodworker with some confidence and creativity.  It has been stored in a heated/cooled garage for the last two years, so it’s in great shape, with minimal warping.

 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

SC&K Interviews Steve Braden, the "Cagey Veteran" of sea kayak guiding and instruction here on the GA Coast!

 

Illustrator, naturalist, and AT through hiker, Steve Braden has paddled the length of the GA Coast more than anyone we know. With enough knowledge and gathered material to produce a comprehensive coastal kayak guidebook, Steve is a true asset to the SC&K team.
SC&K recently interviewed Steve, as we celebrate and salute him in his 21st year as a lead sea kayak guide and instructor.
  
Steve is an ACA Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer, ACA Advanced Open Water Instructor, and BCU Coach 3 A1 Instructor

How did you first get started paddling?
My first paddling experiences, at age 15, were in a canoe at a YMCA camp in north Georgia. Not all of those experiences were encouraging: I remember being catapulted out of the front of my canoe when the sternman—one of the camp counselors—steered us bow first into a rock in the middle of a modest waterfall on the Chattahoochee River.
My start as a sea kayaker began with a Red Cross sea kayaking class at Lake Mayer, with David Mason, Lynn Laycock, and Mike Robinson presiding. It was a great class and I was hooked.
 
Can you credit any particular people or resources for your skill development and inspiration as a paddler? This applies to both early in your career and currently.
Yes, but they would be too numerous to list!
After taking the class, and before I was able to afford my first sea kayak, I read lots of books by Derek Hutchinson, John Dowd, David Burch, and others. As inspiring as these were, getting my first boat—a plastic Aquaterra Sea Lion—was of course the key to developing skills. In my first year I became very proficient at making lots of mistakes, many of them more than once. So I would be remiss if I left out Experience and the Atlantic Ocean as two demanding but gifted instructors.
Friends helped more than I can say, among them Larry Dixon, Nigel and Kristin Law, Mike Robinson, and Dale and Debbie Kearney-Williams. It would also be difficult to adequately acknowledge how much I owe to both the ACA and the BCU. I am deeply grateful to my instructors and coaches for the training I received in both organizations. (And I heartily recommend this dual track approach to anyone interested in sea kayaking.)
I continue to learn from the paddling community here in Savannah. You know who you are, so please forgive me for not listing you all by name. It’s been my privilege to paddle with you.

What is your favorite Island on the Georgia Coast and why?
I’ve had so many nearly magical experiences on so many of them that it’s difficult to choose one. I’ll say Cumberland Island, which I have been visiting since the 1970s, first as a backpacker and much later as a sea kayaker. The first time I went there I thought the wilderness area must be what paradise was like, even with the bugs. It is the largest of the Georgia coastal islands and probably the most diverse. And one of the most fun ways I’ve found to experience that diversity is to not stay on the trails. 
 
Can you share one of your most memorable paddling experiences?
Again, it’s difficult to choose, but here’s one:
On a beautiful August evening in 2009 I was sea kayak surfing with some friends. What you are doing when you are surfing is attempting to move in harmony with a wave you’ve chosen, and one of the waves I chose that evening was a very good one. I saw that it was sufficiently strong and steep enough to try an ender and pirouette. I had done these before, and have done them since, but this one remains my best. I stood the kayak up on its nose—the ender—and gave a twist for the pirouette. It wasn’t perfect, since I came down slightly sideways and had to brace back up. But it was a perfect moment—the water, the light, the exhilaration, the sheer fun of it, and the total engagement with what I was doing.
Mike Robinson once said that sea kayaking is very much “in the now.” And it’s true.
 
 Photo by Larry Dixon
 
What's the best advice you can give to someone who wants to be an instructor or guide?
Be prepared to be a Renaissance man or woman. You will need to know a lot about a lot—sea kayaking, of course, but also weather, tides, risk management, navigation, natural history, and cultural history, among others. I am still learning (and relearning!) after 21 years, which I think is a measure of the richness of this profession.
Also, at different times you will need to be a coach, a confidant, a counselor, and a commander, as well as the voice of reason and caution. And you will need to know when to be each.

And finally, what is your favorite musical album?
Conan the Barbarian: The Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Basil Poledouris.

Click here to listen to Steve's paddling soundtrack on Spotify! 

Thanks, Steve! We're so glad to have you on our team here at Savannah Canoe & Kayak. We look forward to another great season filled with your paddling enthusiasm and wisdom. 
Good on ya, mate!