Kayak Mainline Podcast

by kellyb ~ August 6, 2012

Hello all you faithful followers of Kelly. It’s been a while but at long last I am back to my old tricks again in posting a little something on the interweb. But before you get really excited, it’s only a quick note promoting a different project I’m working on. It’s the Kayak Mainline Podcast! Fellow blogger and multimedia producer, David Johnston is working with me to product the definitive work on kayak podcasting so please join us every 2 weeks or so and let us weasel into your “listen bits” with our pretty words!

The church bell chimed til it rang 29 times…

by kellyb ~ November 10, 2011

On Novemenber 10th, 1975, the Great Lakes Freighter Edmond Fitzgerald when down in Lake Superior 15 miles from White Fish Point. Although no conclusive evidence is able to point directly at the cause, there have been many theories surrounding the mystery of the event.

Whether the cause of her eventual dimise was the account of weather, structural compromise, electronic failures, or strange Great Lakes phenomena, it remains and intriguing mystery for every mariner in the Midwest to this day. Most know the tale from the 1976 Gordon Lightfoot song, “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald” but know little else on how she lived. She boasted having an award winning safety record of 8 years without incident or injury presented to her and crew in 1969. This record stands even more impressive given that she made almost 750 round trip runs on the Lakes, or the equivalent of 44 circumnavigations of the globe. She was a favorite of boat watchers in the Soo Lochs, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River due to her then captain, Peter Pulcer, piping music off the ship for the entertainment of onlookers; this action earning him the nickname, “DJ Captain”.

On her final day, with a Noreaster kicking in and other ships recording 30 to 35 foot seas, her whereabouts became unknown in the continuing storm. It is reported that at 7:10 am she had gone down in 530 feet of water with all hands.

To this day (on this day of November 10th) the bell is tolled at the Mariner’s Church in Detroit, MI in remembrance of the 29 souls lost. “Mighty Fitz’s” bell (recovered in 1995 from the wreck) now is displayed in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in White Fish Point, MI.

Today is a day of remembrance for all of us who brave the Lakes, who understand their power and strength, and who call them home. We understand that with great reward comes great responsibility; to live by the sword means we must be willing to die by the sword. We remember those who have come before us on these magical Lakes of ours and what they have seen, endured, and loved. We share their spirit. We remember a part of us that is gone but not forgotten.

“And I tell these kids a hundred times don’t take the Lakes for granted,

They go from calm to 100 knots so fast they seem enchanted.

But tonight some red-eyed Wiarton girl lies staring at the wall

And he lovers gone into a white squall”  - Lyrics by Stan Rogers


Everything old is new again

by kellyb ~ July 27, 2011

The past few days I have had some down time. Down time for me during the summer months consist of days not spent looking at the deck of a kayak or the dashboard of my truck. Being a kayak rep and instructor is pretty friggin’ cool when you are in the moment doing it. The down side (the side that no one ever truly sees) is that I spend most of my time driving to great locations and talking on the phone setting up my next few weeks. Summer is a funny time for me and it’s no surprise when I tell people I don’t paddle during that season. What I mean to say is that I don’t paddle for me. I’m always the guy who teaches stuff or handles stuff or transports stuff; and by “stuff” I mean kayaks. It burns a person out.

But, me, I love kayaking. I can’t rightly say why I love kayaking. When I am doing it I don’t feel as small as a speck in the great scheme of things. I don’t feel like I’m a big shot when I am doing it. I don’t consider myself having any natural aptitude in doing it. I don’t find it relaxing. I don’t feel like I am part of a community nor do I feel like I am in some way counter-culture. I just love it is all and sometimes that’s enough…at least it is for me.

But as I mentioned I don’t kayak for myself all that often when the summer rolls around. But the past few months have been different for me. I have been consistently getting out and paddling with friends 4 or 5 times a week and really digging it. There was a time last year when I realized I had rolled my kayak maybe 6 times. This year I do that more in an hour paddle. there was a time when I would sit back and let others do crazy things and push their envelope while I sat on the sidelines to “pick up the pieces” but this year I have been driving in headlong and loving it. Wise people always say that “life gets in the way” of whatever you want to do. For me, I let kayaking get in the way of living; or more to the point, enjoying my kayaking. I had been doing so much kayaking that I forgot to go kayaking! Weird, huh?

But there is an up side to all of this. I am paddling again…for the love of the game. And now that I have made it through the forrest and have come out the other side, I realize that it’s all new and fun. It’s as if I have forgotten everything that I once new and am re-learning it all over again. Or, to put it a bit better; It’s like finding a book you had read as a child and rereading it to your kids…you know ultimately what’s going to happen but the words and chapters all come to life again, some with a different understanding. It’s great!

I love kayaking and I guess I always will. But love comes in many forms. For a while there I was loving kayaking like my old dog that brought me comfort and was ever present. The last few months I am back to loving it like a child with a new bike. If I could bottle that feeling and sell it I would be a millionaire. But, by feeling it, who says I’m not a millionaire already?

Downwind Sports Demo

by kellyb ~ June 7, 2011


This past weekend I was privileged to attend Downwind Sports “try it before you buy it” Demo, both in Marquette and Houghton, Michigan. For those of you who don’t get up that way much, you should really make the trip. It is, in point of fact, one of the nicest and most beautiful places on the planet. Every time I cross the Bridge (That would be the Mackinaw Bridge for those unfamiliar with Michigan nomenclature) I am always struck by how much transformation takes place in an instance. The Upper Pennisula is a rare location where every sort of outdoors activity is present and in abundance. The rocky terrain creates fantastic mountain biking, climbing, skiing, caving, hiking, and of course paddling. In short, you have it all. The people are rugged and friendly with no arrogance and eager to have you come and join them out-of-doors. And this is no better illustrated than within the walls of Downwind Sports. The staff are all “doers”. Everyone there not only knows the sports they provide gear for but typically have done it before work that day. They not only know the “what’s” but also the “why’s” of each and every sport they cover and they provide that knowledge in a professional and unassuming manner.
P&H did great at the demo, for sure, and that makes me very happy to attend their events. But I must admit that it’s the people and the terrain that brings me back every time.
So, big thanks to Bill, Todd, Arni, and Jeff for their hospitality and hard work. And a special thanks to Greg Maino for being the hardest working employee out of group of people that don’t make getting that title easy!

Kid Rock’s Big Announcement

by kellyb ~ June 3, 2011

Yesterday, Detroit’s own Kid Rock had a press conference announcing that he will be performing this summer at Comerica Park, home of the Tigers. I know what you are thinking, “So he’s playing a concert…he’s a rock star…that is sort of what he does.” But this makes the ol’ blog news here because of his transportation method. You see, he and a few of the Red Wings came to the press conference afoot paddle boards! Yep, he was enjoying a leisurely paddle to the amazement of the local press. Now, I like Kid’s music but I have to say that it’s way cooler that he is out on the water and clearly promoting paddle sports. As a side note, if you remember seeing his latest video, “Born Free” you will see him singing on 12 mile beach up in the UP. For those of us familiar with the GLSKS, you will recognize the topography quite well. If you haven’t seen the video, find it online and watch it. It’s nice to see a familiar face, so to speak.
And for those who have been following this on the news, he is being critisized for not wearing a PFD. I inspected the pictures and indeed he is wearing an inflatable PFD so no safety laws are being broken. And from what I understand, paddle boarding does not require wearing a vest as the board is floatation enough. If I’m wrong, let me know.