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Sweetwater Symposium


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Last week I was down at St. Petersburgh for Sweetwater's Symposium put on by Russell Farrow. Great venue and loads of great skills classes. John Carmody was pretty fabulous doing his Waves and Winds, Intro to Open Water and other equally exciting classes. At one point on the water, Saturday I believe, they saw a weird rogue wave that was miles long and about 3-5' high. (I don't believe the reports of it being 5-9' high so I am scaling back automatically!). Most of John's classes were out on Fort Desoto.

My classes were all tucked up in Snug Harbor. I assisted on day one of 2* classes with Jean Totz. She is a great instructor with a really methodical approach. They let me out on my own after that:) Day two was the continuation of 2* training and so Thursday morning was continuing to refine strokes ending with self and assisted rescues in kayaks. After lunch, we gathered up canoes to work in for the afternoon - just as the wind picked up to 15 knts. J Stroke, reverse J, sideways and then the all important rescues including all in rescues in canoes!

Friday morning was Blending Strokes and afternoon was Turning Strokes. Both my favorite!

Saturday was Paddling for Women and Sunday was a potpourri for two students - anything they wanted to work on with Sunday afternoon I worked with a women from Vermont only on edge control, blade awareness.

Sweetwater Symposium has a great vibe - days spent on the water finishing up on the deck outside the shop for a meet and great with participants and instructors. This allows the set up of dinner, right next door at the adjacent bar for a catered meal followed by a slide show presentation. Only after the slide show do you need to get in your car and head to wherever you are sleeping for the night. Some participants were from Vermont, Massachusetts but the furthers away was from Colorado.

A couple of the great presentations were from Kristen Nelson and was an artists view of the sites we see kayaking, Nigel Foster did a year of travel to all his exotic locations he travels to and the third presenter was Jake Stachovak who is doing a 5,000 mile journey beginning and ending in the same place http://www.portagetoportage.com/

Did I mention lunches on the deck for Saturday and Sunday? WOW they were good. I know symposiums aren't supposed to be about the food but when it is good, it makes things that much better!

As for what to wear, I had a suitcase full of clothes for every and all eventuality. What I work every day but one was a drysuit with different layers underneath depending on the day and what we were working on. On mild days, just a light wool shirt, on the 45 degree day with rain coming down sideways, same thing as here - one piece liner with an extra layer.

I was surprised at the number of drysuits in use down in Florida. I think partly because most of the year it is so warm, when it is cold, people aren't accustomed to it. One morning I trimmed the gaskets on 5 brand spanking new drysuits that people were wearing for the first time.

So, if you are interested in a respite from the winter next year in February, combine a trip to the Everglades with a visit to the Sweetwater Symposium.

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.......surprised at the number of drysuits in use down in Florida. I think partly because most of the year it is so warm, when it is cold, people aren't accustomed to it.

Peculiar sight for the people from away. Recall Houstonites wearing the same winter garb that I would have donned up North, during a one-year "visit". The locals guessed I was an outsider by my wardrobe of shorts and light polar fleece in the balmy 50-degree days of their "cold snap". It's all relative.

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