For many paddlers, the bitter cold and frozen waters of winter herald the end of the boating season. But don’t swap that paddle for a shovel just yet— instead, invite your friends over, pass the popcorn and tune in to Adventure Kayak’s favorite kayaking films. Think of it as a celebration, and a visual motivation until the warmer months return.
“In the end, you want to inspire people,” says Paddle to Seattle filmmaker Josh Thomas. “That’s the goal of our films, to give people hope.” Thomas is speaking to the environmental message that runs through many of his projects, but these films are just as effective at keeping the paddling passion ablaze through long winter nights.
SOLO: LOST AT SEA
The heart-wrenching story of Australian adventurer Andrew McAuley’s Tasman Sea crossing, which tragically ended when he disappeared just a day from completing his journey, was our no-contest pick for Best Documentary Film at the 2011 Reel Paddling Film Festival (RPFF). 55 minutes, 2008; www.vimeo.com
PADDLE TO SEATTLE
A charming story of friendship, discovery and humor in the face of adversity, Paddle to Seattle claimed Best Sea Kayaking Film at RPFF 2010.There are none of the post-trip voiceovers so common to this genre—you feel like you are truly along for the ride: cold neck rain, musky whale breath, close calls with bull kelp lassoes, and everything else the fellas run into. Filmmakers J.J. Kelley and Josh Thomas are natural storytellers—their wit and wonderful on-screen rapport make Paddle unlike any other sea kayaking film then or since. 85 minutes, 2009; www.dudesonmedia.com
PADDLE TO THE OCEAN
Struggling with the recent paddling death of his friend, Zac Crouse finds heal- ing through kayaking, cycling and strumming a banjo from Ottawa to Halifax. The soundtrack to this 2014 RPFF Best Sea Kayaking Film winner features Crouse’s own spirited folk music. 61 minutes, 2013; www.zaccrouse.com
THIS IS THE SEA 1–5
Justine Curgenven reinvented the sea kayak film by mounting cameras on boats and turning her lens on rough water playgrounds and the paddlers who ply them. This is the Sea blew the sport’s conservative image out of the water and cemented sea kayaking in the adventure realm. If you’ve never seen these feature-length films, pick up the box set. A quintessential series for sea kayaking junkies—enough said. 2004–2013; www.cackletv.com
The first sea kayaking DVD from acclaimed director Bryan Smith scooped awards (including Best Sea Kayaking Film at RPFF) for its luscious cin- ematography and inspiring storytelling, and raised the bar for all paddling films to follow. 60 minutes, 2007; www.reelwaterproductions.com
SEA KAYAK WITH GORDON BROWN VOL. 1–3
Combining clear, real-water skills demonstrations with scenic voyages along spectacular coastlines, including his native Isle of Skye, Scottish coach Gor- don Brown and filmmaker Simon Willis cover skills from basic to advanced in this award-winning instructional series. 2010–2013; www.seakayakwithgordonbrown.com
This article first appeared in the February issue of Paddling Magazine. To read the entire issue, click here.