The Courage To Live Better | Adventure Kayak Magazine | Rapid Media
A group of paddlers resting on a rock bank. Photo by: Stan Chladek


“Frank Goodman is dead.” I paused for a second, phone pressed to my ear.

“Hi there, can I ask who is calling, please?” I said.

Bruce Winterbon paddled the Noire River with Frank Goodman in the early ‘90s and felt compelled to call Adventure Kayak and let us know the news. This telephone call kicked off a flood of calls and emails carrying the news that sea kayaking adventurer and Valley Canoe Products founder Frank Goodman had passed away at 86-years-old.

I didn’t know Frank Goodman, not really. I had certainly never met him. Anecdotally, I was aware of his presence as a pivotal figure in the sea kayaking community. He had dabbled in music, art and the British whitewater slalom scene. He flew powrachute aircraft and was part of a team who sea kayaked around Cape Horn, Chile in 1975. His most famous sea “canoe” design, the Nordkapp, is on display at the British National Maritime Museum. The list of accomplishments and accolades grows on page 39, as former Adventure Kayak editor Tim Shuff delves further into the father, friend and explorer that the world knew as the insatiably curious Frank Goodman.

I am not a dyed-in-the-wool sea kayaker. I was not born and raised in a kayak. Until I was three-and-half years old, I lived in a 10-foot wide trailer on the southeast side of Vancouver Island—you are free to make whatever inferences about my parents you choose. My dad sea kayaked around parts of the island a decade earlier. Back then it wasn’t considered hard-core to spend days paddling with just fishing line, a fillet knife and lemons as the sole source of nourishment. They were just fun-loving hippies having their ‘fros tossed around by the ocean. Berries and trickling streams were their Clif bars and Nalgene bottles. But sea kayaks were not in my dad’s life when I arrived in his.

Reading Shuff ’s chronicle, I instantly found affinity to Frank Goodman’s life. He wasn’t a dyed-in-the-wool sea kayaker either. Curiosity pushed Goodman to build a homemade sea kayak and take it out in tidal surf—his life changing in an afternoon. Great moments in sea kayaking history followed because he was curious. I came to Adventure Kayak in a roundabout way. I'm curious too. My affinity for pushing boundaries parallels Goodman’s.

My moment took root at 28. I was on a six-and-a-half-year walkabout through Europe—oscillating between an undergrad degree in philosophy and time spent as a volunteer in the former Yugoslav Republic—you are also free to make whatever inferences you choose about my parents’ son. I found myself sea kayaking on the coast of Croatia and in that moment decided my life needed a course-correction. That decision to visit the famous Blue Cave off the island of Biševo by kayak had lasting impacts beyond what I could have ever imagined. It took three years and dropping out of a Masters in Philosophical Anthropology before I applied to an adventure guide training program. Sea kayaking on the coast of Croatia has become present day moments on the rocky shorelines of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay. It has turned into solo sessions in the current by our office for low braces and re-entry practice. On the surface these are just the periphery of a life that has changed.

It takes vulnerability and courage to be curious. When you allow it to grow, life-changing moments can come unexpectedly—occurring in an instant, afternoon or years. Goodman’s moment of curiosity bore fruit in an afternoon playing in the surf. His legacy is not grounded solely in the design of our hatch covers and waterlines. He was ravenously driven to discover how things could be done better; how sea kayakers could experience the water differently. The beauty of his curiosity is that it changed his life for the better and probably yours and mine as well.

Related items

  • For about ten years Canadian sea kayak legend John Dowd lived on this remote island property in Clayoquot Sound. His hospitality, impact and popularity in the sea kayak community is…


  • Paddlers have been navigating icy waters since Inuit hunters created the sea kayak thousands of years ago. Paddling from ice shelves presents an interesting set of hazards and challenges for…


  • Werner has built a rock-solid reputation by manufacturing bomb-proof paddles for decades using carbon fiber and fiberglass materials. New to their line up is the Algonquin, fabricated from solid carbon…


  • Popular Articles

    Free Newsletter

    Join 100 000+ fellow paddlers! Get the latest paddling news and special offers delivered straight to your inbox.  


    1 (613) 706-0677