Go Kayak Now!

Sea Kayaking & Surf Kayaking for the moving water enthusiast

November 11, 2015
by kwikle
Comments Off on Kayak Pool Lessons Announced for 2015-2016 Season

Kayak Pool Lessons Announced for 2015-2016 Season

Our 2015 – 2016 Calendar is beginning to take shape. Our first announcement is the 2015 – 2016 Pool Sessions. We went to the Gulag of Plainwell last year to do pool lessons and we decided to come back to civilization in Kalamazoo, we are at Gabel Natatorium.

Where:  Gabel Natatorium Pool, Under Lawson Ice Arena, WMU Campus. Gabel Natatorium Directions Map

When:  Sundays 7-9 PM (dates as follows)

Dec 20, 2015

Jan 10, 2016

Jan 17, 2016

Jan 24, 2016

Jan 31, 2016

Feb 7, 2016

Feb 14, 2016

Feb 21, 2016

Mar 6, 2016

Mar 20, 2016

Cost: $55.00 for a Lesson

Sign Up For Lessons on our Course Registration Page


I worded these below in the phrase of “I must”, because there always seems to be a great deal of confusion about the pool session costs and boat rental.

  • I just want to use the pool: $10.00 (you can bring cash, or credit card, or check made out to Keith Wikle).
  • I want to use the pool and get a lesson: $55.00
  • I want to rent a kayak from Lee’s (which I must pick up, pay for, and transport prior to the session) and use the pool: $20.00
  • I want to rent a kayak from Lee’s (which I must pick up, pay for, and transport prior to the session) and get a lesson: $65.00

Lee’s information is here if you need to contact them, or find them.

What do I need to bring?

  • A spotlessly clean kayak. The lifeguards have expressed contempt and disdain for us in the past based on dead leaves, nuts and berries, and dead squirrels into the pool. So spray down your kayak inside and out BEFORE bringing it to the pool.
  • If you are doing a lesson you NEED a sea kayak or a white water kayak, NO rec boats.
  • Lifejacket. I know it seems silly while in the pool, with a lifeguard, BUT if I have to perform a hand of god on you, do you want me grabbing your face to get you upright in an emergency. Didn’t think so…
  • Swimsuit (required), towel and goggles (not required but recommended)
  • Sprayskirt I know it seems silly to have to mention it, but yes you do need a spray skirt to do rolling.

July 30, 2015
by kwikle
Comments Off on Summer Video Fest – Go Pro Studio Review

Summer Video Fest – Go Pro Studio Review

It’s shameful that it’s been this long since my last post, but there’s kayaking and life for you.

I’ve been wanting to make some kayak surfing videos of the great lakes for some time. I unfortunately had run into a video editor problem since switching to Windows. The windows movie maker app has not been intuitive to use. So I was playing with the iPad as a replacement. That didn’t exactly prove to be expedient either. The need to convert everything to a very specific codec for the iPad proved to be pretty time consuming. Then someone suggested I try the go pro studio app. Revelation hit, and now I’ve created three videos in essentially 4 weeks. Not super long or complicated, but I got each of them edited in about 45 minutes from around 1 hour of footage a piece with music.

The import function, and then clip selector is intuitive to use, and the ability to drop in titles and music easily really speeded up my time to production. I am not doing most of the super fancy editing that you would need final cut pro for anyway, so less options is probably better for me.


The trim function and the ability to have the remainder of the clip on the timeline was the thing that separated this from the other tools I’ve tried to use.

I do wish they had the same fancy typography and font selection options that iMovie has, but a video made vs. still sitting on my hard drive is a good option. The functionality was all there, and as a bonus, other than a longish wait on import, the app on 8gig of ram is pretty fast.

I try to do short videos where I have highlights rather than the whole thing, so I am not sure how it scales out. I have a GoPro Hero 3 Black Surf.

Lake Superior Sea Kayaking, Grand Marais MI from Keith Wikle on Vimeo.

A little sea kayak surf play before the GLSKS

White water kayaking the Plainwell Swell Kalamazoo River, MI from Keith Wikle on Vimeo.

This is a short video of me and steve lidia playing on the plainwell swell on the Kalamazoo river. I discovered that a go pro mount takes more than ten minutes to adhere to a poly kayak hull as well.

Surf Kayaking Lake Michigan South Haven July 7 2015 from Keith Wikle on Vimeo.

Quickly edited this video of a surf session of South Haven south beach on Lake Michigan. Little flavor of Great Lakes unsalted surfing in the summer. Wind was 30 knots and waves were between 4-7. The Pier was breaking up the wind a little and cleaning up the waves a little.

January 13, 2015
by kwikle
Comments Off on I’m not you, you’re a part of me

I’m not you, you’re a part of me

It’s been six months or so, since my mother died. I’ve thought about her every day. I’ve been thrown from the paroxysms of despair and an ever deepening sense of gratitude for the gift of her love. On most days, I feel it was a gift I did little to deserve. But that is not the contract of a mothers love for her son, is it?

I’ve been waiting since may for the cold stone of grief to drop from on high straight onto my heart. And for some reason it just hasn’t come. I’ve told myself multiple times that it would come. And I would have that moment where my heart would finally break, and I would weep with despair. I can’t say that it will ever happen that way. But I did have a good old blubber today while listening to a new band, Cloud Nothings. Upon hearing their bumpy youthful energy pound out, “I’m not a part of me”. I am not stating that the song has some deep hidden meaning that will change your life. But the refrain from the tune, “I’m not you, you’re a part of me”, finally laid that cold stone of grief over my heart.

I’ve struggled most of my life to fit in anywhere. I am a jagged bitter pill to be taken with a bit of good bourbon at times. I know this. My mom, I know for certain celebrated this, while also enduring the worst of it through my youth. I would love to say that it has gotten better. Maybe I am just better at putting a big white sheet over my more anti-social tendencies as I get older, maybe not… But they have held me back from things that most people would have deemed opportunities in this life, whether it’s relationships, jobs, or anything else. I suppose I found my way, sort of. But the overriding gift from my mother was that I stopped worrying about fitting in being my fault. It’s a big world.

This battle for a place in this world started at home. Something I could never reconcile was my mothers desire for a bigger, better home filled with things you couldn’t touch. We didn’t have plastic over the furniture or anything weird like that, but there seemed to be a conspicuous set of choices regarding homes, and home decor, as I grew into my teens that I never quite understood. We moved on my 13th birthday from Fox Chase Lane to Pine Tree Valley, and this is kind of where it all started. My brother and I were rambunctious destructive boys. If it wasn’t nailed down, we would break it. And we wouldn’t break it, unless it was worth something.

When it came time to do the memorial, I had a whole narrative about this, but I quickly jettisoned it, because it was more about me, than it was about my entire family losing her.  I felt the eulogy I gave served that audience. But something in me has never let go of these feelings that I have. And this isn’t to say that her love was any less for me. Or that I didn’t get a relationship with her because of these niggling things at the back of my mind. But instead it was a marked difference in how she saw the world from how I saw it.

The simplest thing I could ever say is that I wanted a home, not a museum. It seemed I lived in a museum as a kid, full of very beautiful things that had very little to do with me, that I couldn’t touch, sit on, or go anywhere near. Mostly because of how destructive we were (being honest.)

I remember an Art History professor telling me that everyone makes art. Art has been made as long as there have been humans, it is what separates us from other beings. We just do it. Nothing can stop it, there was art made in the concentration camps. And it finally occurred to me, that the art my mother made, was her home, and when we were growing up, she essentially had the Mongols from the steppes wrecking her art for 18 years. It created a lot of tension at home, and in my heart a bit of resentment, that, perhaps stuff was more important than I was. And  even further, that I didn’t really belong at home, let alone anywhere else. And to make matters worse, perhaps sometimes, I sometimes do the exact same thing with my own kids.

This art, to her credit, was calculated and relentless as even my father would tell you. But it left little room for sentimentality. It’s possible there might be as few as three pieces of furniture from my childhood left in their home. Each time I would visit, there would be less and less of anything I remembered growing up. And I think it brought back those feelings of not belonging in my own house, and I struggled for some sort of contextual signifier, or marker in the house that would let me recognize it as where I grew up. But alas, it was never to be, I never lived in that house, only visited, and the old house and all of the things inside of it were gone. So I continually yearned for something that was seemingly destroyed in the pursuit of higher art, like a Briton sitting around crying about the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons and wishing that Stonehenge hadn’t fallen down. This wounded me, that she felt so little attachment to the time when I was in her life.

Funny thing is, as I began to look around in the wake of her death. I realized how little it had to do with me. It was purely hubris on my part that the house, the furniture, and the decorations inside it had anything to do with me. It never did. It was merely an expression of my mother’s changing sense of taste. But because I tend to be egotistical I took it personally. And further, when I looked around, some of these changes were made because she wanted to make me and my family welcome when we visited from Kalamazoo.  One of the last times we spoke, I was upset with her and my dad over this very topic, and she got off the phone crying. And I think about this a lot. Who does that? Who makes their 69 year old mother cry over a bunch of stuff that no one wants? I guess I did, and I will have to live with it.

There was a story I think Jim Tibensky told me that I think sums up my feelings on this topic. And for the record Jim, this may not be the story you told me at all, I may have heard part of it, and completely filled in the blanks with a series of details that fit my narrative, or perhaps it is close…

Jim and a tour group arrived on Crete from a sea kayaking trip, and walked up the stony cliffs into one of those beautiful villages that glitter white under the sun. Once in town, they group stopped at a quaint little cafe on the terraced hillside overlooking the wine blue sea. They order some food, it’s late afternoon. The owner, let’s call him Thanos, he’s really friendly and they start to chat with him at this outdoor cafe. In the middle of this meal, a young woman walks up to him and tells him something. Thanos gets very excited and he starts giving away food and drinks. Pretty soon word has spread to the whole village, who shows up at Thanos’ cafe. The kayakers have pretty much walked into the best party they’ve ever seen on accident. As it turns out the woman is his daughter, and she had gotten into college in Athens. She would be going away. She would be the first person to go to college in her family. As the evening winds on, things get kind of crazy, Thanos starts a bonfire, people are getting really drunk, and they begin breaking up all the wooden furniture and throwing it on the bonfire. Pretty soon all the kayakers are helping Thanos and the village dismantle his outdoor cafe and throw it on the bonfire. Jim asks him why he’s burning his own cafe furniture. He replies, “All of this was for her. The cafe, the business was for my daughter. Now that she has gotten into university, I can start again. You have to burn the past, so that there is a future.”

Whether he actually said this or not, I don’t know, but I got it from somewhere, and it is a kayaking blog after all.

This brings me back to my original point I suppose. As children we struggle to become ourselves, and we think better than our parents, hence the statement, “I’m not you, you’re a part of me.”

I’ve made a lot of very different choices in my life from my parents, but they’re a part of me. And I have started to burn the past, so that the future can survive. My mother has made me the man I am. Who can survive his own mistakes and shortcomings, and who loves his children and his wife without doubt, the man who runs across counties, skis through snowstorms, who surfs the storms of the great lakes, and who never ever gives up on himself because she didn’t.

November 22, 2014
by kwikle
Comments Off on Kayak Pool Dates Announced for 2015

Kayak Pool Dates Announced for 2015

Go Kayak Now’s 2015 pool sessions have been announced and are ready for registration. We have made two big changes for 2015. We have moved to Plainwell Middleschool. And because I now have online registration for courses, you must pre-register for lessons. Here is a link to the location of the new pool sessions.

For all the details on the Kayak Pool Sessions please follow the link for all details and course pre-registration.

Pool dates are below.

Jan 4

Jan 18

Feb 1

Feb  15

Mar 1

Mar  8

Mar 29

Apr 12


April 2, 2014
by kwikle
Comments Off on BCU Coach Level 1 Offered in Kalamazoo May 27-30

BCU Coach Level 1 Offered in Kalamazoo May 27-30

BCU Coach Level 1 Training and Assessment
When: May 27-30 2014
Where: Portage MI, Long Lake Ramona Park
Who: Body Boat Blade International
What: The UKCC BCU Coach Level 1 training course will be held at Ramona park near Kalamazoo between May 27-30, after the West Michigan Coastal Kayakers’ Symposium. This coach education course is one of the best coach training programs around. It is especially helpful in our area as the focus of the program is introducing people to paddle sports. The Level 1 training course introduces coaching principles and concepts and focuses on student centered learning.

The general outline is below:

The BCU Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport develops your ability to plan, deliver and review, safe, ethical, and effective paddlesport sessions. On the course you will develop ‘how to coach’ skills alongside technical understanding ‘what to coach’ specifically relating to the skills beginners require.
The course will cover how to:
• prepare coaching activities, taking into account participants’ needs and motives
• establish a safe working environment
• deliver prepared activities
• establish working relationships with participants and others
• prepare participants’ for the coaching activities
• support participants’ behaviour
• conclude the activities
• evaluate the effectiveness of coaching activities
• evaluate the effectiveness of personal coaching practice
• manage effective and appropriate bank and water based rescues
A range of coaching tips and tricks, games and activities will be built into the course along with time spent developing your technical/tactical understanding.
Leon Somme of Body Boat Blade will be running this coach education course. WMCKA is sponsoring part of this event, and it must be said that this a fantastic opportunity for local paddlers to get a great course, without having to fly to Orca’s Island Washington!

There are two course pre-reqs that you MUST complete,
PRE-REQ 1 the 2* paddler skills assessment

PRE-REQ 2 The Foundations of Safety and Rescue Training:

If you would like to signup please go to The Power of Water

January 7, 2014
by kwikle
Comments Off on Trailer for When the Waves Call – A Great Lakes Surf Documentary

Trailer for When the Waves Call – A Great Lakes Surf Documentary

I spotted mention of this documentary over on Surfline after reading about an epic session at Stoney Point on dec 29 2013.

Rare to have a late season storm with no wind blow in beautiful waves like this. Long peely rides with all kinds of time to consider your options. And it sounds like the air was colder than the water, -13 air, and +38 water!  Due to the fact that Lake Michigan is shallower it was frozen 200-300 yards offshore by this time. Bummer.

This documentary clip sounds pretty great, I would love to see the finished film. It won 1st-place in “Short Documentary” at the 2013 Lansing Michigan Film Festival.

When the Waves Call – Trailer from Joseph Ward on Vimeo.

December 30, 2013
by kwikle
Comments Off on More Difficult

More Difficult


Complacency is not an enemy that stages a dawn raid on your home, sirens blaring, knocking down your door, blazing in with maximum violence. Complacency is something that approaches silently and slowly over time, waiting for you to turn your back, and then pushes you down the stairs. We all have a comfort zone. In order to keep things interesting for myself this year, I did my damnedest to not paddle flat water all year. It wasn’t an overt resolution I made to myself. But, I wanted to keep things interesting. Some might think that in the midwest we have very little opportunity to keep our skills up in waves and current. So I decided to make a year of it and see how often I could paddle both. It turns out if you are creative, the answer is quite a bit.

In order to achieve this, I wanted to paddle more days on the Kalamazoo River in either a canoe, or in a white water kayak. I did this by using a beautiful section of the Kalamazoo that has three class II sections of white water under the correct conditions. I did a lot of boat spotting, with a shuttle run, sometimes even with Indy the beagle (when Dan would loan me his canoe) to run these three sections.

The first one is the plainwell spillway dam here:

View Larger Map

I spent a lot of time here when there were no waves on Lake Michigan this summer with a number of people including Dan, Rebecca, and Pat. And a fair number of quick 1-hr sessions just paddling upstream from the put in. This spot works in a variety of water levels, and is a great way to keep skills sharp. I worked a lot on edge to edge transitions, ferrying, eddy turns, and obviously surfing white water waves.




Just a short trip downstream is this spot at Fannie Pell Park:

View Larger Map

This spot has all sorts of challenges. The first is actually getting on the wave as it is quite shallow. The second is the challenge of rolling up quickly if you wash off as there are some nasty rocks right after the wave. This spot definitely works better at high water. But it sharpens the skills on reading the water, and getting your boat positioning just right, as well as bracing and rolling in conditions.

The last spot is a mellow fun spot downriver here:

View Larger Map

This spot definitely teaches you how to position your boat to stay on the wave and how to find the front part of a white water wave. As with the spot at fannie pell park, it works better in high water.

I really felt that these spots made for a much more interesting paddling year than if I had decided to just go to Lake Michigan and paddle distance on flat water, though I did do that as well a few times.

We did have a great year for Lake Michigan surf as well as you can tell from these images below:










It was a full year of paddling for sure. I was quite lucky to be able to do a number of training, and assessments. A BCU Coach Level 1 program, An ACA Surf Kayak Assessment. While I wouldn’t say I was complacent, my goal for next year is to push myself even further and to try and do some tidal paddling, as well as some further assessments and training.

December 12, 2013
by kwikle
Comments Off on We need a video like this for surf kayaking

We need a video like this for surf kayaking

So here’s a $10.00 idea. How about a This is surf kayaking video, followed by an instructional video. Justine do you need Chris Hobson’s contact info? We can make this happen?