replica qajaq at SSTIKS

I have been attending the South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayak Symposium since 2005. I was introduced to the Greenland paddle at the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium in Port Townsend, WA in September of 2004, and when I got home from there, I went online and found plans for making one. It’s been a downhill slide into Greenland style kayaking ever since.

Rolling demonstration with Juniper

That first paddle I made lasted about a year, until I learned to roll and broke it while working the bugs out of my reverse sweep roll. I’ve made four paddles since then, and have three more partly finished ones hanging around the shop. I’ve built two skin-on-frame kayaks, one a replica from drawings in Harvey Golden’s fantastic book.

a few of Harvey Golden's qajaqs

But the highlight of the year for Greenland kayaking fun is SSTIKS, held every June at Twanoh State Park on the Hood Canal near Belfair, WA. About 100 people plus organizers and instructors gather together for a weekend of classes, racing, rolling demonstrations, harpoon throwing, kids kayaking games, evening presentations and food.

Mckinley's hand roll

I have been helping with the kid’s program for the last two years, and this year I was in charge of the kid’s program for the first time. This year was the biggest kids group ever; at one point, we had 14 kids on the water at once, from 5 year olds all the way up to teenagers. The kid’s program ends with a bang on Sunday, with the kids dividing into teams and building improvised craft from a pile of materials we set them up with, then racing their creations out around a buoy and back again. Next year, we are thinking about doing a race like this with the grownups too, since the grownups are often envious of how much fun the kids are having…

I took a lot of pictures at SSTIKS, and you can see more of them at my Flickr pages here.

Kids' Games at SSTIKS 2008

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