One of the most appealing aspects of Canoecopia is that, from one year to the next, the paddle-sport expo is as reliable as charted tides yet also as mutable as currents. Among this year's most promising innovations is a panel at noon Saturday, March 10, featuring seven women whose combined paddling accomplishments and knowledge are unrivaled.
Wendy Killoran is one of those panelists. In 2004, the Canadian paddling veteran circumnavigated Lake Huron's Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater isle in the world. The next year, she became the first woman to circumnavigate an entire Canadian province, paddling solo around Prince Edward Island. And in 2006, she became the first woman to sea kayak around Newfoundland ' a 2,700-kilometer voyage that took more than three months to complete.
A London, Ontario, teacher and the mother of a teenage daughter, Killoran will introduce a photographic presentation on her Newfoundland foray three times during Canoecopia weekend, March 9-11 (7:30 p.m. Friday, 3:30 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday). In a Q&A conducted via e-mail, Killoran provides context for her program.
When and how did you fix on your ambition to circumnavigate Newfoundland?
In January 2006, I decided that I just needed to listen to my inner self. I felt this strong urge to go on a big adventure.... I'd visited Newfoundland numerous times, and it's a place that seeps into your soul due to the genuine warmth of the people, the unique communities and the superlative scenery.
What make and model boat did you rely on?
I paddled a Current Designs Solstice GTS. I'd paddled this kayak for six years. I was very comfortable with the boat, and it is light enough, since it is Kevlar, that I can carry it by myself when necessary.
In addition to Canadian, Greenlandic and Icelandic waters, you've paddled in the Bahamas, Belize, Bonaire, Florida and Italy. How might you compare the appeal of Caribbean and Mediterranean waters to the North Atlantic?
It is all about the feeling of being on the water. I do like being in grand, natural splendor, but I just as much enjoy cultural experiences as I am kayaking. Variety is the spice of life. It is not only about the places I paddle, but the people I meet along the journeys. I see the beauty in sculpted icebergs and coral reefs. This world is so wondrous that I don't want to limit myself to only one paddling destination, and yet I never cease enjoying paddling on Lake Huron near my home throughout the years and throughout the changing seasons. I like to balance things. After several seasons of paddling in a dry suit, I'll gladly exchange my dry suit for a bathing suit!
What is your next sea kayaking ambition? And to what other firsts do you aspire?
My next sea kayaking journey will have me as a member of a three-person team, including Derrick Mayoleth and Taino Almestica, which will circumnavigate Puerto Rico in August 2007 (see www.kayakquixotica.com/Puerto-Rico-2007.html).
I'm always looking ahead and dreaming of new adventures. I will have an eight-month self-funded leave of absence from teaching starting in January 2009. And I can assure you, I'll be paddling my kayak on an exotic journey. As for aspiring to other 'firsts,' that's not really why I paddle. I paddle because I love to be on the water, enjoy a good adventure, and I love giving myself unique challenges. If I happen to be the first, well, then, that's that.