Epic Go

Best selling image. Confused seas and sea kayaker off Chichagof Is, AK.
In the EarlySummer 2015 issue, Adventure Kayak Magazine published their 5W column (Who, What, When, Where, Why) about my kayak photography. I elaborate here on the Who—as in “Who/What has been your most difficult subject.” My answer—whether sought out or serendipitous—is rough water kayaking. An example is a storm paddle we did off Chichagof Island, Alaska in 2003. We were aboard the kayak mothership Home Shore, anchored in protected waters, waiting out an unseasonable August storm. The nearby Pacific blasted the coast with gale force winds and 17-foot swell amid dark, threatening skies.

Aboard ship was my paddling buddy Tim Walsh. We suited up, hopped into kayaks and paddled out through a slot between islets, entering a maelstrom of ocean swell, rock reef and reflected waves. We dashed about, rode clapotis waves where our paddles struck nothing but air, sought shelter behind rocks,. Dicey, exhilarating, barely-controlled―but then the sun came out. I must have shrieked; I had to get photos! I popped the skirt and pulled out an all-manual Nikonos underwater camera, set the exposure for sunlit, and shot a dozen, one-handed frames before the window of light slammed shut. Being film, I didn’t know the results for a couple of weeks―they were spectacular. One became my best seller. And―funny now―though not so much then, Home Shore lost their liability insurance when their insurer saw the published photos!!

It was an epic go.