Thursday, December 22, 2011

Savannah Canoe & Kayak Thanks You

Well, that was a hell of a year !
Thank-you very much, paddlers from all over, and especially the people of Savannah for making this a very special year in the life of Savannah Canoe and Kayak.

This was our 9th year in operation as Savannah Canoe and Kayak, but our first season operating from our new HQ and shop. We have long known Savannah needed a dedicated paddle sports store and we knew if we did not, then some other, lesser qualified operation would step up. Of course, we could not let that happen.. so on January 1st we moved into the new digs on 414 Bonaventure Rd.

With hammer and nail, and a community of paddling painters, we opened the doors to the public 75 days later, and it’s been ‘full on’ ever since. Not your average paddle sports store, this shop has a lot of soul…it was all hand made... falling somewhere between an air museum, an auto parts store, a shipping warehouse and a paddler’s speakeasy. We host live music, drink beer, look at charts, talk about birds, plan trips, fix and build boats, go paddling. We do not sell lifestyle here. This is our tool shop and everything we sell has a function and purpose to enhance any paddlers free time. If one needs reminding, the sign on the threshold says ‘a change of priorities ahead’.

When I was a wee lad my parents owned a corner store. In the evenings, after hours, we would go downstairs and choose some sweets from the counter…I thought ‘how great is that?’…if you like candy, own a candy store! So, how is it being a shop keeper ?, you ask. Well, in several ways it really sucks, but it’s also a great channel to connect with a plethora of diverse people and paddlers, their needs, ideas and conceptions. It has been almost as educational as being a guide and has been another great insight into paddlers, customers and manufacturers.

So, at the end of the year, here we stand. The coffers are empty, but the bills are paid. We have a shop full of rad paddling equipment. We have hired and paid wages to 4 other members of the community. We have supported many other small businesses in Savannah, across the States, in Europe and in Asia. We were a financial sponsor for one of the best events of 2011...the Surf Kayak World Championship's in Outer Banks. We have donated over $2000 dollars to local charities and subsidized church and school paddling trips. We feel pretty good considering we are just a couple of small beings who like to goof off in our boats. For your support and dedication, in getting us to where we are now, we say Thank-You.

We are now closed for the duration of the deep of winter. Drop back in February, when the bar will, once again, be taking orders and we can shoot the shit about that next trip, the perfect boat and the best route to the center of the universe.

Merry Christmas ya'll and a happy new year !
Nigel & Kristin

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Georgia Coast - Not Your Classic ‘Classic’.

A couple of weekends ago Bryan Smith came into town to get footage for the OR series ‘The Classics’. These are a compilation of ‘shorts’ depicting certain classic locations for various outdoor activities…climbing, skiing, sea kayaking etc. We were glad to oblige, but why come here? Is the Georgia coast really a classic? And what makes a classic?

I never really thought of the GA coast as a classic place to sea kayak. We came here over 10 years ago because this part of the world was off the beaten track, a little known coastal tapestry of woven marsh creeks, rivers and barrier islands, with no solid coastal path. Moving up from south Florida, Georgia’s warm climate, sub-tropical flora and lack of human development was also a strong pull. It was then, and still partly remains today the east coast’s best kept secret. So what makes this a good choice for ‘The Classics’?

‘Physical challenge, great scenery, good company, and interaction with local flavor’ was my reply, when Bryan asked me ‘what makes a classic kayak trip?’ The GA coast most definitely does have all this. But is it really your classic kayak destination?

Our coastline is very short…only 100 miles long, and very shallow...a mere fathom in many places. There are no headlands protruding out into the sea. There are no rocky outcrops, cliffs, caves, stacks or ledges. In fact, there is not a piece of indigenous rock, or substantial elevation anywhere to be seen. There are no bays or harbors. There is no heaving Atlantic swell pulsing on to our shores and we seldom get fog. This is not the edge of the world. In fact, all the elements you conjure up for a classic sea kayak destination do not befall our shores.

The paddler will leave none the wiser if he thinks of this coast as dull and featureless, but allow yourself to become immersed and you will soon find challenge, hardship, and some great kayak adventure along wild and free beaches with a thick jungle backdrop. Short and shallow with fast currents and shifting shoals the coast is, and many a careless sailor and landlubber alike have been ‘wrecked and washed ashore’. Here you have as much chance of mental rejuvenation as physical exhaustion… as much chance of being shot, as you do drowning. As much chance of being lost, as finding remains of communities from lives past …, and a similar chance of an encounter with a panther as with a president of the United States. The few people on these islands have a simple complexity and a strong bond to the land, the sea and all it provides. They are both the richest and the poorest of peoples, tied together by the roots of nature and the pages of history.

In the 4 days we spent with Bryan, I hope we got some of this across. It’s not easy to capture the essence of the GA coast in so short a time. The GA coast is a raw oyster sliding down your throat, or the noble silence from the breeze stirring the spartina, or receding currents leaving ripples on accreting’s a place of time lapse. The GA coast is not in plain view for all to see. It requires planning, deduction, patience, and skill along with an appreciation of the south and all things southern. So, in this regard, yes, it could be a classic coast upon which to journey …in fact, a ‘classic’ classic.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Savannah Bird Book

This just came in from Diana Churchill, our local birding enthusiast...

Wanted to let you all know that we are planning a Celebration and Book Signing for my new book
- Birder's Eye View: Savannah & the Low Country - on Saturday, Dec. 10th from 7 to 9 pm.
This is simply an informal event at Wild Birds Unlimited with Refreshments, After-hours Shopping, and the opportunity to buy the book and get it autographed by the author - that's me!
If you can't make it on Saturday, I'll also be speaking and selling and signing books at the Ogeechee Audubon Holiday party on Tuesday, Dec. 13th. It's a Potluck at First Presbyterian Church on Washington Ave., starting at 6 pm.
Cheers, Diana

Thursday, December 1, 2011

US Outdoor Participation Report 2011

From a report by the Outdoor Foundation (?) based in Boulder CO.
50% of Americans aged six and over participated in outdoor recreation in 2010..almost the same as in 2009.
Running,including jogging and trail running was the most popular outdoor activity in 2010 with over 50 million participants.
In 2010...
74% of outdoor participants were caucasion.
61% are married.
66% are over 25.
Various forms of racing gained popularity with outdoor participants. 64% growth in Triathlons. Non traditional triathlons grew by 39% and adventure racing grew by 23%
Water sports also saw a lot of growth.
Windsurfing and boardsailing grew by 46%.(?)
Whitewater kayaking grew by 35%
And Sea Kayaking grew by 21%
Scuba diving increased 16% and surfing increased by 15%.
The level of outdoor participation in areas where there are bike and walking trails is higher than areas with out easy access.
(You don't say !)
88% of bikers participate in more than one outdoor activity.
African Americans have the lowest overall outdoor participation rate.

Percentage of First Time Participants in outdoor activities. Stand Up Paddling - nearly 40%
Surfing - nearly 25%
Recreational Kayaking - nearly 23%
Canoeing - 18%
Fishing - 8%

Anyway..that's the situation with outdoor rec.
Half do, half don't.