I used to come to Fort Worden every year. The West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium was held here, usually on the third weekend in September, and I was most often part of a delegation from Backpackers Supply and Tahoma Outdoor Pursuits (there’s a couple names you don’t hear anymore), doing demos and selling boats on the beach, teaching clinics up the hill in the classrooms. It was a big deal back then, in the days before YouTube, to meet and paddle with some of the legends of the paddling world.
I remember being a student in an instructor clinic with Derek Hutchinson, one of the godfathers of modern sea kayaking, where he began with, “There’s a correct way to do things and then there’s the American way.” Pompous Brit. But there’s no denying that I learned a lot that morning and I used the techniques and teaching points that he taught me in every class that I led after that. It was a great event that I looked forward to every fall and to be honest, I still miss it.
I’m up here again for the weekend, on a very different task this time. It’s the South Sound Surfrider annual retreat, where we try to plan the year’s activities and schedule. It’s a good exercise in prioritizing and it’s something that any group needs to do to get on the same page. That gets going today.
We’re staying in one of the big houses on Officer’s Row, just like we used to do at the Symposium. These are old buildings here and the whole fort reeks of history and old happenings. It is surprisingly easy to step back in time on a short walk through the morning air.