Coronavirus and the outdoors

So here we are in 2020. It’s a vastly different world today.

Amid all the talk of the current global pandemic and the validity of the newest term on everyone’s tongue, social distancing, many are wondering if it’s still safe to go outdoors. Let’s face it, we are in a new reality and this isn’t going to go away quickly so we need to adapt now and for the future.

The CDC continues to recommend that exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress and remain healthy during this stressful time. By now, we have all heard the repeated advice to limit gatherings to less than 10 people and more importantly, keep people from congregating in small spaces where the virus can more easily transmit.  Therefore, it would stand to reason that solo exercise in a large open space full of fresh air should be a good thing.

What needs to come first is the health and safety of not just you, but you and everyone else.  If you’re under a shelter-in-place order, abide by it. Go outdoors for brief exercise, but don’t get in your car and meet your buddies at your favorite paddling put-in.  Even being sneaky by driving in separate cars does not fulfill the spirit of the order. Try something different! There’s a whole world out there. Bicycling, hiking, bird watching, geocaching (bring some sanitizer and a pair of gloves)…call it cross-training.

When you’re able to paddle, we will be dealing with a “new normal”. Start by taking small steps rather than immediately returning to the “old normal” and forming large groups. Be smart about it and don’t be part of the problem. Here are a few ways to ease into paddling:

  • Do everyone a favor. If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s for the health and safety of others around you.
  • Start by paddling only with others in your household. In time, you’ll see and paddle with friends again.
  • Skip the shuttle. Paddle a lake instead where you can put in and take out in the same place. Paddle upriver and then earn the float back down river. Better yet, find a route that has a bike path running alongside and do a bike shuttle.
  • Go where others aren’t. This might be a great opportunity to explore a new spot rather than the tried and true. You might discover a new favorite.
  • If you’re solo, leave a float plan with a friend or family member. Let them know where you are, your route, when you’re planning to be off the water, how they can reach you, and when to be worried.

See you on the water soon, as long as we take the right steps now.



The Paddling the Blue Podcast is live!

I am excited to announce that the Paddling the Blue podcast is now live!

This podcast is focused on sharing stories from people doing great things related to paddling. After all, it’s the people that make our favorite sport go around and this podcast is intended to become a way for us to connect with paddlers across the globe

I’ll be talking with paddlers who have completed or are doing huge expeditions, local or regional adventures, or just want to introduce others to a unique paddling destination in their corner of the globe. We will connect with those who are doing conservation work, making the places we paddle even more amazing.  I want to reach those who are connecting others and getting them fired up about the sport we love.

I have a great guest list already, so be ready for a fun ride.

New episodes will be released every two weeks starting March 16, 2020 with each lasting approximately 45-60 minutes.

You can you find more information about the podcast at If you have ideas for guest, improvements, or just want to say hi, connect with me at

While you’re listening, please tell all your friends, share the podcast on social media, and please take the time to leave us a five-star review on  Apple Music.


Canoecopia is coming March 13-15, 2020

Photo credit: Jim Pippit

The annual “family reunion” is coming March 13-15, 2020 and I hope to see you there.

I am honored to have been invited to speak on three topics this year.

  • Power to the Paddle: Exercises to Improve your Canoe and Kayak Paddling
  • Leadership Principles for Effective and Fun Day Trips
  • Perfectly Pack Your Kayak for a Multi-Day Trip

Get the schedule for my Canoecopia presentations

I have a special announcement that I’ll be making at Canoecopia too! Get ready…it’s pretty cool!

See you in March!


2020 Paddling Getaways

It’s that time of year when trip planning kicks into full swing.  I am excited to bring the 2020 menu to you…it’s going to be a fun year.

This year will bring three trips, each with their own unique flavor.

July will kick off with a trip to Door County that’s perfect for the person looking to get a taste of kayak camping. If you’re considering attending Rutabaga’s Door County Sea Kayak Symposium, this one matches up perfectly on time.


Montreal Falls

For those who are a little more adventurous, we’ve scheduled a three-night outing in a truly spectacular paddling environment, Michigan’s Keewenaw Peninsula. If you want a little more commitment to your trip, a spectacular rocky coastline, and a a remote feel, this is the one for you.


Old Mission Light, Photo Credit: Globalphile

For the person looking to come back to a nice home at the end of the day, we’ve got the hook-up.  If you want Caribbean blue waters and maybe an opportunity for a wine tour and some local shopping along with your paddling, check out Marvelous Michigan in Style.


Your shoulders must have been killing you

I completed a 117-mile solo paddle of Michigan’s Keewenaw Peninsula in August 2019. While my four-day paddle pales in comparison to some of the epic journeys completed by other paddlers this summer, it was a fantastic experience and my longest solo to date.

Going in, I was wondering how I would do on a multi-day solo. I never had a reason to doubt my fitness, but rather my ability to stand being alone inside my head with no other distractions for several days. I was pleasantly relieved at how well it went and I look forward to the next trip. In fact, I think the world needs a few more solos to find out what we’re capable of doing.

Now, from a fitness standpoint, I paddled some big distance each day with a loaded boat. My shortest mileage day clocked in at a lazy 21 miles. The longest was a whopping 11 hours with 9-1/2 hours on the move, putting 37 miles on the board.

After the trip, people kept asking if my arms and shoulders ached. The answer? Actually, not at all.

Where did I feel it?

My abs and obliques. And that’s how I knew I was doing it right. Endurance paddling requires proper technique and efficiency to last and for a distance paddler, that means torso rotation. For many paddlers, identifying that you’re rotating can be a challenge. It’s more than getting the shoulders moving. Here are a few ways either I’ve used or heard other instructors cue students:

  • Watch the zipper line on your PFD. If you see the middle of the zipper rotating from side to side, your torso is rotating as well.
  • Imagine that you have a baby or a large bag of potato chips, whichever you value more, strapped to your chest. Make sure you keep your arms extended enough so that you don’t bring your hands close enough to your body that you crush the precious cargo.
  • Imagine that the cockpit of your boat is a large clock face, with 12 at the top, 9 at your left hip, and 3 at your right hip. As you’re paddling and rotating your torso, be sure your right hand crosses over to reach the 11 position and your left had crosses over to reach the 1 position. 

How do you gauge torso rotation?


How to strengthen your core with the Stability Ball Pass

It’s been a while since I’ve put up a straight fitness post so it’s time to get back to my roots.

Once you’ve developed a solid and stable core and your low back can support you effectively, you’re ready to begin building core strength. Core strength exercises are characterized by adding movement through the spine as well as using the core to resist rotational forces.

There are many different ways to work on your core without doing sit ups and today I’m going to introduce you to one of those options.

Today’s exercise is the stability ball pass. Enjoy!


Bishop Boards

I am pleased to be a member of the Pro Paddler Team for Bishop Boards.  I am honored to be affiliated with this small, family-owned and paddler-run business and look forward to introducing more paddlers to the Bishop Boards line up.

Beautiful craftsmanship, great quality, and a wide variety of boards for every skill level means whether you are SUP fishing, touring, surfing, racing, or doing SUP yoga, Bishop Boards has a ride for you.

If you want to experience the Bishop Honu or Luna boards firsthand, contact me.


I didn’t know

I can’t tell you how many times I hear someone justify not wearing a PFD by saying they are a good swimmer.

Fitness will help you be a better paddler. But let’s face it, water is stronger. Water will always win.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is dedicated to educating as many people as possible on the dangers we face every day in the environment we love.

Read Dave Benjamin’s most recent article in the Kenosha News.


Active warm ups for paddlers

2013 Tour de Romandie Stage 5 warmup Photo credit: Thortuck

A proper warm up is key to staying healthy and strong as a paddler. If you’ve ever watched the Tour de France, you’ve probably seen the riders warming up for an hour or more before the race, only to them get in their bikes and ride for 6+ hours at speeds you and I can only imagine. Then, after finishing the stage they cool down for another hour.

They know something.

They know that jumping on the bike cold doesn’t lead to their best performance. They know that riding cold, or failing to cool down properly, can lead to injury.

Why should you be any different?

Just because you’re not riding in Le Tour doesn’t mean you should treat your body with the same care.

Try my favorite active warm ups for paddlers

If you want to see these warm ups in action, they’re included in the Power to the Paddle DVD.


St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

One experience every paddler should have at some point is an up-close view of the annual dyeing of the Chicago River.

Since 1962 the river has been dyed green at 9:00 am on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. The Plumbers Union Local 130 adds an orange biodegradable vegetable dye to the water to create the fluorescent shade of green. For those who say “why dye it, the river is always green”, you’ve never seen green water quite like this.

The paddle is not for the faint of heart. It’s a raucous affair with every tour boat coming out for the event. Add in private power boats, numerous police and Coast Guard boats, and many kayaks in an environment with sheer walls and no easy bailout points and you’ve got to be on your toes the entire time.

The actual dyeing takes about 45 minutes and is performed by several small boats running up and down a 2 block stretch of the river starting at Michigan Avenue and progressing inland. The vibrant green dye job lasts only about 5 hours.