I started paddling a canoe in Boy Scouts in 1966. In all the years since I have continued to paddle for fun and work. My love for paddling has turned me into a Professional Paddlesports TIC. Teacher / Instructor / Coach.
In the 60’s and 70’s I began paddling whitewater in a 15 foot Alumacraft canoe, tandem of course and never over Class II. The teamwork rocked and camping out of a canoe was a blast, but a solo ride was in order. I came upon 3 plastic Hollowform River Chaser whitewater kayaks and proceeded to teach my new wife and my younger brother Mike how to kayak. We learned the hard way, watching VHS videos and reading “how to” books. Teaching yourself to roll using a book was a huge challenge. We spent several years visiting every river in the area and presto, we were kayakers! I really wanted to become a bona-fide whitewater kayak instructor. In 1986 when we started Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe it was important to us to offer the best instruction we could find. The ACA offered everything we needed, as it does to this day.
Alder Creek became a full service paddlesports shop with an instructional program that included whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, flat and whitewater canoeing, river safety and rescue. Our guided trips included sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands and Baja, whitewater and sea kayak trips to Costa Rica and El Salvador as well as many of the fine local Northwest rivers. We also spent a lot of time training students in the Pacific Ocean environment. Our success was built on “teach them how, take them on a great trip and then sell them some really great gear”.
In 2001 I helped Wilderness Systems design the Tempest family of sea kayaks. This started a 10- year relationship with the parent company, Confluence Watersports. In 2004 we sold Alder Creek and I went to work full time at Confluence helping design boats and gear and working in the field as a training and technical specialist. Cindy and I would travel to events around the country teaching folks paddling skills and promoting the sport. The ACA still played an important role in our lives as we ran numerous instructor training and certification courses around the country.
In 2010 I FINALLY tried SUP! Within a couple months I was hooked. I received my ACA Level 2 Instructor Certification and I acquired 3 new boards. I had to have extra boards so I could teach others to SUP! Since I was already involved in the ACA and the SUP program was just getting off the ground, I became involved in the SUP curriculum committee and helped shape what the SUP program is today.
Currently I am a Level 4 Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer Educator, a Level 2 SUP Instructor Trainer Educator and a Level 3 Coastal SUP Instructor Trainer. During my career I have been also been a Level 5 Advanced Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer Educator and a Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer. I am also a member of the ACA SUP curriculum committee.
In 2014 we said farewell to Confluence. We built a new adventure, Shellback Paddle Experience and are excited to be entering our 9th year of offering our teaching methods and experience to the growing SUP community.
I’ve been paddling some form of watercraft since the mid 80’s. I started in a whitewater kayak getting lessons from Steve, Mr. DIY. I loved it, it was exhilarating and unlike anything I had done before. It was also challenging and sometimes downright scary, but we were careful not to get in over our heads. We worked hard to develop the proper skills required to get down the river safely and that remains our credo today.
During that time, we discovered that kayak gear was hard to come by and very seasonal. The Pacific Northwest has rivers running year ‘round so we decided to open a “store” in our garage. We lived on the Sandy River, just below the confluence of Alder Creek and our house was either the take out or put in, depending on what section we wanted to paddle. Alder Creek Kayak Supply was born when we pooled resources with another partner.
In 1992 I was asked to join a dragon boat team and had my eyes opened to competition. After 3 years, 4 of us formed the first outrigger club in Portland. Today these team paddlesports are thriving. I feel very fortunate to have been able to train, travel and race with so many amazing women. It was an incredibly rewarding experience. It gave me many skills that I use today, especially for SUP.
The Pacific Northwest has one of the best environments for paddling. Incredibly diverse conditions build a solid foundation of experience. Traveling and teaching in different areas of the country revealed regional differences in paddling that contributed to our ability to stay current with trends and styles. Working for Confluence Watersports and later BIC Sports (now Tahe/ SIC) kept us in the paddling industry. We’ve taught at symposiums, worked at demo events and consulted for boat design, board design and equipment development.
Currently I am a Level 2 SUP Instructor certified by the American Canoe Association. I enjoy teaching and sharing experiences from a new POV, still on the water with a paddle in hand, standing up on a SUP. The freedom of being able to walk around while paddling feels healthy and challenging. Whether it’s for an hour or all day, the rewards are abundant. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to meet on the water through Shellback Paddle Experience.
On our return home after our first nation-wide tour we decided to add a new member to the Shellback team. We wanted a new family member who could enjoy the SUP experience along with us. We haven’t had a dog for 15 years but knew that it would be a great fit. She had to be small enough to fit, on the board, in the trailer and into our lifestyle. After much research, we decided on a Cairn Terrier, think Toto from the Wizard of Oz. Her name is Piper. We brought her home as an 8-week old puppy (picture above) and within another week she learned how to SUP! Cairns have a near waterproof, hypo-allergenic coat and are scrappy and spirited. She took to the board instantly but doesn’t really like swimming. This proved to be a great thing, as she is content staying ON the board! She travels well and with some training has become quite polite and well-behaved. She loves company and being the center of attention. It’s pretty fun teaching a SUP skills course with a dog on board! A dog can really add a lot of joy to one’s life and can be a blast on a SUP! Piper has won our hearts and is now one of the family!