Kokatat Is Back……And They Are Bringin’ The Drysuits!

April 22nd, 2014 No comments



A perk for registering for the symposium is being able to browse the Community Center all weekend long.  What is the Community Center you ask? During the symposium  all of the paddling industry’s leading manufacturer’s will be  displaying a wide variety of kayaking related apparel and equipment.  Each vendor will have sales reps on hand to answer any questions you may have regarding their product.  We just got word that Kokatat will be joining the party again this year!


About Kokatat

In 1971, outdoor enthusiast and retailer Steve O’Meara decided to start making gear to support his habit of getting outside into the spectacular landscape that is Northern California: Redwoods, rivers, mountains and the sea. Some might call that heaven, most call it Humboldt County. We’re inclined to think they’re one and the same.

Following the introduction of a new waterproof fabric called GORE-TEX®, Steve decided to focus his company on one category of products: paddlesports apparel and gear. The company evolved to what we know today as “Kokatat”, a regional Native American word for “Into the Water”. Highly appropriate since Kokatat garments are meant for total immersion. Go ahead, pull that gasket over your head and be sure to zip that relief zipper all the way closed before you jump in.

41 years later Kokatat still thrives in Arcata, CA. You can walk in the front door of the factory and hear the hum of sewing machines, bringing you the most complete line of paddling apparel and personal flotation devices (PFDs) available. Adam in design can tell you about last week’s killer surf or you can chat with Matt in marketing about the CFS last weekend on the Trinity River. You can even talk to one of our gear artisans about the finer intricacies of waterproof seam taping, if you’re into that sort of thing. Have a GORE-TEX® drysuit from the late twentieth century? Chris in our repair department will test it for leaks and refurbish it for you.

We strive to make the most comfortable, durable, and safe products possible at Kokatat. From our GORE-TEX® dry suits that carry a lifetime warranty or rescue PFDs worn by guides worldwide, to a new paddler’s first splash-top, we have you covered. Safety is the key for our paddle sports customers and for the Military, Search and Rescue, and US Coast Guard units we outfit. The water can be unpredictable at times. It’s our goal to remove the worries of the elements so you can head out with confidence.

41 years into the business, we remain committed to manufacturing the majority of our gear in Humboldt County. Named the 2010 Arcata Green Business of the Year, our company provides an established platform of green practices, social equity and economic vitality to the region. Our recent installation of one of the largest solar photovoltaic systems in the region powers much of our factory.



At The Symposium

At the symposium we are so fortunate to have Kokatat representative John Horsnell joining us and staffing the Kokatat booth to answer any questions participants might have about the Kokatat equipment.  This is a rare opportunity to get all “touchy feely” with a lot of different paddling gear and clothing that you might not see in your local paddling shop.

Dry Suit Demos

Once again our friends from Kokatat have been so kind to send a fleet of drysuits to the symposium for participants to try!  This is a special opportunity to try on, or demo a dry suit for one of your classes.  Have a rolling class?  Stay nice and dry with these fantastic dry suits!  We encourage everyone to try one of these suits on sometime during the symposium so stop by the Community Center to get a custom fit and demo one during weekend!

Be sure to stop by the Kokatat booth to  say hello  and to see what is going to be the hot Kokatat item at this year’s symposium.  A big thank you goes out to John, and Kokatat for being a gold level sponsor at this years symposium!


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ACA Instructor Update!

April 18th, 2014 No comments



ACA Instructor Update for L2 and L3 Coastal Kayaking Instructors

An ACA Instructor Update for L2 Essentials of Kayak Touring Instructors and L3 Coastal Kayaking Instructors will be held Tuesday and Wednesday (July 15th and 16th) preceding the 30th Annual Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium at Grand Marais Michigan. This update will be conducted by ACA L4 CK OW Instructor Trainer John Browning.

Among the topics covered will be: recent changes to the instructor criteria, ACA policies and procedures, risk assessment and management, as well as other items based on the participants’ needs (participants will be sent a questionnaire prior to the update to complete and return in advance).

Prerequisites: Must be either an L 2 Essentials of Kayak Touring Instructor or L3 Coastal Kayak Instructor, (membership in the ACA and SEIC needs to be current). Participants are to be prepared as they would be to instruct an all-day class and are responsible for their own equipment as well as a kayak packable lunch. Inquiries are to be directed to John Browning at seakayakerjb@aol.com.

Registration fee $150.00 please register by calling Bill at 906-226-7112



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New Tour- GLSKS Scavenger Hunt Adventure Tour (SHAT)

April 17th, 2014 No comments


This GLSKS Scavenger Hunt Adventure Tour will use witty, tricky questions in an action packed kayaking adventure where teams will compete to solve .  Think of the Amazing Race on water!  This new tour will have you and your teammates laughing and having fun, building teamwork, introducing participants to the wonders of Pictured Rocks, and finally competing for the GLSKS SHAT Grand Prize!

You’re not hunting for things (put back that Agate!) but for answers to tricky and humorous questions about the intriguing places and objects you discover. No previous knowledge is necessary—you just need a sharp mind and a fast kayak. The game is like one of our “regular” kayaking tours spiked with adrenalin. The team that answers the most questions correctly and travels to the final destination wins!

Thursday 7am (11 miles)

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Register And Score A Deal!

April 16th, 2014 No comments

13877835473_653b4a16f5_oRegistration for the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium is plugging right along and we are currently in full planning stages to offer our participants the best symposium ever.  This year marks our 30th Anniversary and we really want to reach out to all of the Midwest paddlers and bring them up to the Upper Peninsula and the waters of Lake Superior.  This year part of our celebration is that we are offering the next 25 paddlers to register for the event will automatically get a 30th Anniversary commemorative dry bag!  Already registered?  No problem we have one set aside for you already!  Know of anyone who has not signed up yet?  Please reach out to any paddlers and share this information and spread the news- we only have 25 left so don’t delay….sign up today and score a 5l Nimbus dry bag.

Folks can register on line here….or give the store a call at 906-226-7112

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Just Added! Backcountry Cooking Extravaganza

April 15th, 2014 No comments


Many of you know that the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium is the oldest kayaking symposium in the country.  This year we are celebrating our 30th anniversary and taking steps to make sure that this year’s event will be one to remember!  One way of doing that is by inviting as many of our past organizers, participants, coaches and vendors back to Grand Maria for this years celebration.  Over the next few months we will be highlighting those folks who are coming back to help make this symposium so special.  We are excited to announce that Michael Grey will be joining us again!

The Backcountry Cooking Extravaganza!

You’ll begin by learning how to add fresh veggies, fruits, and even meats and dairy to your multi-day kayak trips without turning your boat into a science fair project during Michael Gray’s Backcountry Green Grocer session. But that’s just the beginning! We’ll double your fun with a double feature! Next, you’ll get the full Backcountry Gourmet demonstration, learning how to fuel your backcountry excursions with style! Bring ideas to swap, an appetite (sampling is mandatory!), and a paddling jacket for when the food starts flying!


Michael Grey

Professionally guiding since 1982, Michael Gray has been fortunate enough to be able to work out of a kayak in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Patagonia, New Zealand, Honduras, Belize, Maine, Canada, Florida and all over his home waters of the Great Lakes. Whether its teaching outdoor cookery in New Zealand, teaching people to dive for lobster out of kayaks in the Caribbean, or fly fishing wild rivers of Idaho he has a wealth of experience that he enjoys sharing.


Author of the book,  Hey, I’d Eat This at Home!  Michael is uniquely qualified to instruct our cooking class this year!  His book is primarily targeted toward the outdoor/wilderness cooking market, but the book also crosses over well to the home market. Each of the over 100 recipes is scaled for 2, 4, 6 or 12 people and is uniquely laid out for ease of use. This book uses fresh ingredients and is interspersed with food related short stories simmered in 30 years of guiding experience. With a heavy weather resistant cover, unbleached FSC certified paper and a unique lay-flat binding, this book is meant to be used. It will make you laugh and turn you into a rock-star with your fellow campers.

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Vendor Profile- Superior Kayaks

April 14th, 2014 No comments


Many of you know that the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium is the oldest kayaking symposium in the country.  This year we are celebrating our 30th anniversary and taking steps to make sure that this year’s event will be one to remember!  One way of doing that is by inviting as many of our past organizers, participants, coaches and vendors back to Grand Maria for this years celebration.  Over the next few months we will be highlighting those folks who are coming back to help make this symposium so special.  We are excited to announce that Mark and Celeste Rogers will be bring Superior Kayaks to the demo beach this year!




Once upon a time there was a machine designer named Mark Rogers who loved the outdoors.  He had built his first canoe when he was 14.  When he found sea kayaking he was hooked.  He loved the sport but felt every kayak he tried needed just a little of this and a little of that.
Back in 1989, he told me he wanted to quit his job and design and sell kayaks.  Okay I said.  And so began a chain of events that has brought us to today.  Perhaps it would have been better to have actually built a kayak before quitting his job.  But, with only a sketch on paper, quit Mark did.  This was before the day of the CAD systems, so he began with a cardboard template to visualize the final product.  He built the kayaks in the basement of our quad in a suburb of Chicago.  It was a tight fit out of the basement casement window but finally a kayak was born.

It would take one full year of trial and error and many, many hours of labor to arrive at a sellable product.  Mark found a mentor in Svend Ulstrup, a master kayak builder from Denmark who had come to the states to teach a form of kayak building.  This skin on frame construction gave Mark the boost he needed to try various design changes easily.  With Svend’s blessings, Mark started teaching others how to build in skin on frame and held his first workshop in Door County.
So three years into building and researching we decided to make the move someplace where Mark could build kayaks and offer workshops.  We found Whitelaw Wisconsin with an old stone building next to a two car garage.  Oh, there was a house too.  The old stone building was ideal for workshops but cold most of the year.  The garage became Mark’s wood boat shop.  Soon kayak building workshops were offered and the stone building began filling with kayaks.  A computerized carving machine was financed to help production of paddles and the stone building was renovated to become a year round shop.
Mark’s designs were getting noticed and began mass production in fiberglass and Kevlar by a renowed kayak manufacturer, Wilderness Systems.  The largest kit manufacturer, Chesapeake Light Craft, decided to offer Mark’s designs in kit form.  Mark wrote an extensive kayak building manual, something he wishes he had had to read some thirteen years prior.
He most enjoys implementing new ideas and Superior Kayaks now has nine models of kayaks to offer.  His wood kayaks are truly works of art. All of Mark’s designs are also offered as kits, custom cut by Mark, and in a painted kayak version besides our varnished mahogany classic. Recently he went back to his roots and started building skin on frame canoes.
He hasn’t forgotten what it is all about.  He uses his equipment often and is always coming up with new ideas.
There have been over 500 skin on frame kayaks built through his workshops.  More I believe than any other builder in the states.  He was researching and building traditonal kayaks long before they were in vogue. Each kayak in the workshop is designed for the paddler.  Mark has also built over 120 wood kayaks.
His greenland paddles both in wood and carbon fiber are known worldwide.  He was the first to manufacture an all carbon fiber Greenland style paddle and also first to offer it in a two piece version. We are the only manufacturer licensed to use the Lendal Paddlok joinery system.
Once a year we held a traditional kayak rendezvous culminating with a grand 20 year celebration in 2010.  It was a great sight when our customers gathered.  They were all there because one man couldn’t stay in his office and out of the water.   More info on Superior Kayaks can be found here!                               

Celeste Rogers


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Bryan Hansel To Present

April 11th, 2014 No comments
Now that the snow is melting and the ice is finally starting to leave the lake we are excited to announce that Bryan Hansel will be presenting Friday evening and entertaining us for another GLSKS!  Known for his excellent photography skills, this is a presentation you won’t want to miss!
During the spring and early summer, Bryan Hansel kayaked from Port Huron, Michigan to Grand Marais, Minnesota. His journey took 45 days and covered 800 miles. On the trip, he traversed the two largest Great Lakes, averaged 22 miles a day, paddled in waves taller than a refrigerator, visited Isle Royale and even had pizza delivered to his tent. Bryan is an energetic and engaging speaker who will tell you the tale and exhibit print and digital images from his experience.

For over 25 years, photography has been a passion for award-winning photographer Bryan Hansel. He first learned to master tonality, composition and photographic balance in the black and white darkroom, transferred that knowledge to slide film in the 90s and digital in the 2000s. He’s based in Grand Marais where he takes outdoor family portraits, of which his clients have said, “ Bryan Hansel Photography is a rare find; his skill, creative talent, and professionalism is unmatched in Grand Marais. Working with him for a family photo session was nothing but enjoyable, from the actual session, to the business of receiving the end product.” He also teaches photography workshops in the northland and across the nation. Among the positive feedback that he has received includes, “Every Minnesota photographer should do this to see what our state has to offer.” His images appear in magazines, on book covers, on many website, in brochures and his fine-art prints on the walls of many homes.

Brief Bio

I first learned photography in high school. I had an inspirational teacher who taught me how to print photos in the black and white darkroom. The process of making a photo captured my imagination, and I took every class my school offered. By the time I was a senior, my teacher had to create two new private study classes for me, and I designed my schedule so I could spend several hours a day in the darkroom.

After high school, I studied English and religion in college only to return to photography as a hobby after I graduated. I used photography to document my backpacking, climbing and paddling trips. Eventually, I settled down with a “real” job in Iowa City and started taking college-level photography courses which revitalized my love of photography.

It’s so beautiful here. I feel lucky to live here and to be a “Grand Marais photographer.”

When I moved to Grand Marais, I knew I wanted to earn a living from photography. So, I started my own photography business. I started as a real estate photographer, but moved into fine-art landscape, magazine photography, portraits and commercial work. Since then, I’ve won awards for my landscape work and have been included on a list of the top 100+ landscape photographers.


I also teach one-on-one photography lessons and photography workshops. I love teaching photography and hope that by teaching, I can instill the love of photography to my students the same way my high school teacher instilled it in me. I think photography is something that can be learned, and I believe that you can develop photographic talent. I also believe that photographic instruction is essential for getting the most out of photography. With instruction, you will gain confidence, learn to make more effective photos and shortcut the learning process.

I love photographing the Lake Superior shoreline near Grand Marais and the many lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I feel lucky to live in an area with such great beauty, and I hope that my photos help you fall in love with the area, or if you already love it but can’t live here, I hope that my photography fills that longing to return. There’s something about this area that seems to lure people back.

My second love is sea kayaking. I’m an American Canoe Association certified Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor, and I’m trained as a Wilderness First Responder.

To see more of Bryan’s amazing work please head on over to his website:  Bryan Hansel Photography

Instructor Mentor Program Back For Another Year!

April 8th, 2014 No comments


Instructor Mentor Program:

Back again for another year, The Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium will be offering the Instructor Mentor Program! The program is geared towards paddlers who are interested in becoming instructors themselves by pairing them up with one of our fine, seasoned veterans allowing them the opportunity to shadow, learn, and get their feet wet in the coaching area. Whether you have a certification or just starting out, this is an excellent way to gain some first hand practice. The cost for this program is $150 for the entire weekend and will include an in depth debrief at the end!

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Kids Program Returns- Beware Of The Super Soakers!

March 18th, 2014 2 comments


We don’t like to toot our own horn but one of the best things about our symposium is the youthful energy that the kids bring to our event!   Our goal for the Kids Track is to develop skills throughout the weekend in a  fun learning environment. This is an opportunity for your kids or grand kids to get top notch instruction, in a fun and exciting way, turning them on to the wonderful world of paddling!  This track will include on water and off water activities such as kayak equipment and boat fitting, kayaking basics, kayak games, and rescues. Make sure you include your kids, grandkids or even the neighbors kids at this years event.  Best yet…THE KIDS PROGRAM IS FREE (with 1 paid adult registration).





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Is It Too Early To Start Thinking About Marshmallows?

February 27th, 2014 No comments

Another day of school cancelled due to the cold, Lake Superior is nearly frozen over,  and we are really thinking….. no, wishing for summer! It also has me thinking about marshmallows.  Nothing screams summer like a bonfire on the beach!  So with that in mind don’t forget about the Thursday evening social on the beach where we’ll make the fire and bring the marshmallows, you bring the stick!  Around the fire we can meet new friends, look at the night sky, and tell stories of the COLD winter of 2013/14 and enjoy the age old tradition of roasting marshmallows!  Can’t wait to see all of our paddling buddies again!



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