Delmarva Paddlers Retreat 2001

Paddling Delaware and the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia

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Delmarva Paddlers Retreat 2001

UPDATE; see also Delmarva Paddlers Retreat 2002  *****(2005 Retreat Info)*****

 The Delmarva Paddlers Retreat 12+1 was again held this year.  What is it?  Well first off it's not affiliated with the Delmarva Message Board, it's much older.  Charlie and Cindy Cole started it 13 years ago while they still ran Millpond Paddler; it has no affiliation with the Delmarva Paddlers message board.   Always held the first week of October, at Camp Arrowhead on the Rehoboth Bay, it has become a Delmarva tradition.  This year the Retreat was an all Greenland traditional paddling event. Thatís not to say people paddling Euro Blades (plastic composite blades on a metal or fiberglass shaft frequently feathered) couldnít participate, or that they wouldnít benefit from the instruction.  They could, and did, itís just that the instruction was geared to the Greenland style of paddling, and that requires at least a sea kayak and is most easily accomplished with a narrow, usually wooden, un-feathered Greenland Style paddle.  What is the Greenland style?  Short answer, it is an emulation of the paddling techniques developed primarily by the Inuits.   They relied upon their skin kayaks for survival and over thousands of years they developed very effective methods of paddling and self-rescues.  They had to, these boats were used to hunt and trade and a successful hunt would be for naught if the hunter couldnít return.  Some thirty plus methods of rolling the kayak must be perfected to qualify for the Greenland Paddle Championships held each year in Greenland.  These include rolls holding onto bricks and one best described as the straightjacket roll.  All designed to emulate conditions a paddler might encounter alone while hunting and injured in less than chamber of commerce conditions.  Ray Killen has much more at his Katabasis site.

The retreat has various classes scheduled throughout the three days to further ones abilities, regardless of your level of competence.  Rescues and rolling being heavily emphasized, as they should be.  There was also harpoon throwing competition, paddle making, camp food preparation and instruction on paddling the Greenland way by Greg Stamer, a Greenland Paddling Champion).  Saturday night is very special.  After another fine dinner, we retired to the meeting room and listened to Nanticoke singer and signer Patsy and Michelle Wright do a moving musical interpretation prayer.  Glenn Gauvry of the Ecological Research and Development Group gave a very interesting presentation on horseshoe crabs.  ( Dan Smith followed with one on the sex life of barnacles, and if you thought barnacles couldnít be interesting, youíve not had the benefit of having Dan do the presentation.  Tears of laugher, and now I canít paddle past barnacles now without a tinge of envy.  Another lecture by Vernon Doucette on the history of kayaks and off the pool we went for kayak dressage.  Jenny Plummer and Cindy Cole (the current Greenland Paddling Champion in her division) defy gravity with slow, artistic rolling routines.  I just donít know how some of the maneuvers are possible.  From there itís to the beach for the campfire and sing-a-long, easily one of the enjoyable portions of the weekend.  Attended by just about participant, this year a special tribute to George Ellis was given.  Amazing Grace was sung as two iridescent skin boats paddled by illuminated from the inside.  Very fitting for a man who had done so much for the retreat.  The sing-a-long lasts well into the evening, with the lights of Dewey Beach as a backdrop and the stars as our ceiling and enough beer so of the voices sounded wonderful.  I was fortunate to be bunking in the lodge with many of the musicians.  Our sing-a-long lasted much later - worth every moment.

 Sunday brought the auction, a benefit that helps fund the event and the expenses of the Greenlanders who usually attend.  This year the Greenlanders felt understandably uncomfortable flying in, and we all understood.  The winds were blowing, the trip to Cape Henlopen was cancelled, but smaller tours were held around the local bay, and classes continued to be held.  I spent much of the afternoon capturing images of the remaining kayakers and talking to the new friends Iíd met.  As I was loading my gear, my wife called to tell me the bombing of the Taliban had begun.  After three pleasant days away from the world news, back to reality.

 For more information on see the Official Greenland paddle site


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Last modified: 07/17/15