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St Mary's River freighter


So we have changed our registration for this year to include a four day registration that is specifically about going to the St Mary’s River to paddle in current. This means that for participants you show up a day early and get to focus on running the St Mary’s around the Soo Locks.

The river provides an excellent opportunity to learn how to paddle in current. In this environment you get a feel for what it’s like to paddle in moving water in a sea kayak. We typically challenge the students with a variety of tasks such as, ferrying, breaking in and breaking out of the flow, eddyline turns, attaining, and even a bit of surfing standing waves. This type of paddling focuses skills and demands precision, especially in longer kayaks. In the past we have tried to dedicate a day to go to the river, but we have gotten so lucky with Lake Superior providing conditions that we have opted to not force students to drive. This year we are offering a four day registration to ensure students who would like to go to the river get an opportunity to do so. This course would run on Thurs all day. Plastic boats are highly recommended.

So it must also be said that the three day registration may also include paddling in current. Because we base our event on conditions, if Lake Superior, or even Lake Michigan is not providing us with waves, we may have groups going to the river every day. But if the Lake has wind, we like to cut the driving to a minimum for your sake and ours. The three day event will provide all of the usual thrills and spills to ensure you get your fill and then some of the Gales.

So it really comes down to whether or not you want three days of fun, or four?

Registration is open now.


We were very fortunate to have Aaron Heisohn attend the 2014 Gales Storm Gathering in Munising. Aaron quickly became the most visible photo on our website and on social media for obvious reasons. It was a pleasure to have him, and the other participants from Loyola at the Event.

Why did you sign up for the Gales?
I attended the Gales in order to improve my paddling skills for work in outdoor education and to network with excellent paddlers.

What did you come to learn at the Gales?
I learned much about kayaking and about the paddling community from the Gales. I attended workshops on efficient paddling in big conditions, on surfing, and on longboats in whitewater. These clinics helped me improve efficiency and boat control. The diverse coaches offered various new tricks that helped me break old habits and build up safer, improved technique. The Gales was the first kayak symposium I attended, and I learned how welcoming and supportive the paddling community is. Two of the coaches lent me a drysuit, and the coaches welcomed questions and answered with energy and passion. And I enjoyed playing and learning beside the other participants. In other words, I was reminded the best part of paddling is sharing the sea with good people.

What were the conditions like during the year(s) you attended?
Lake Superior provides dynamic conditions for play and for learning during the Autumn gales. Most notably, gale force conditions on the surf day challenged me. The actual risks of cold, gale-force conditions provide a unique environment for experimentation, challenge, and mistakes. I am grateful to have worked with such skilled coaches in such rewarding conditions.

What was the coaching like at the Gales?
The Gales coaches are internationally successful instructors. Such expertise brings diverse teaching methodologies, years of experience, risk mitigation, and an un-paralleled opportunity for learning. The coaches welcome learning and experimentation, while managing risks and providing feedback. The coaches are warm and amicable, and I am grateful to have paddled with these new friends after the event.

What was your takeaway moment from the Gales?
On the surf day, I accidently performed and landed a pirouette (something I had never done). The moment was exhilarating and a reminder of how fun our sport can be—even amidst such challenging learning environments as the Gales. Even more so, I enjoyed celebrating this moment later with friends and other conference participants. Sharing the sea and our learning—with its triumphs and challenges—may be our sport’s best reward

How has your paddling changed since attending the Gales?
I took what I learned about paddling efficiency, boat control, and instruction methodology back to my work in outdoor education at Loyola Chicago. Most notably, the networks I made at the Gales helped me find work as a kayak guide in Washington. I spent last summer paddling alongside orcas, humpbacks, and seals in some of our nation’s most beautiful, dynamic waters thanks to the friends I made at this conference. If you want to become a more skilled paddler, to enrich your seamanship, or if you are looking to play and learn alongside excellent paddlers and people, attend the Gales.


Registration for the Gales Storm Gathering is OPEN!

The Gales is offering two different packages.

Gales Plus: Four days! $475. 

Gales Plus runs Thursday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 9

The first day will feature paddling in current on the St Mary’s River in Sault St Marie, MI.
Sign up for the 4-Day Registration – Gales Plus

Gales: Three days. $375

The Gales runs Friday, Oct. 7 through Sunday, Oct. 9.

All three days will be on the Great Lakes (Superior and possibly Michigan). We may go to the St Mary’s if conditions make that a good option, but that is not the plan.
Sign up for the 3-Day Registration – Gales

We prefer that you register online. If you just have that uncontrollable desire to fill out a form by hand, write a check, put it in an envelope and (gasp!) mail it, then you can send us the following information:

Name, full address, email and phone number.

Make your check out to “Keith Wikle” and mail to:

Gales Storm Gathering
c/o Go Kayak Now
316 Edgemoor Ave Kalamazoo MI 49001

Questions about registration? Contact Keith at kjwikle (at) gmail.com


photo credit: photodream

As we mentioned at the Gales, we really value your input and your feedback. We have continued to evolve and shape this event based on your comments.
If you attended this year’s event, please complete the Gales 2015 Participant Survey on Survey Monkey.


The Dates for the Gales 2016 are announced, October 7-9. We will be re-opening registration shortly!

For everyone who is attending the Gales we’ve created this document: GalesParticipantsAkarockstars.

This document details all of the schedule, location, meal times, and other details you might be asking about.


We were fortunate enough in 2009 to have Jeff Allen visit the Midwest for the WMCKA symposium near muskegon. Jeff did a coaches update with a lot of the midwest coaching crowd that still sticks with me as one of the big eye openers. I remember trying to do a scoop rescue on a completely incapacitated paddler (poor victim floating face down) in icy Lake Michigan water and then towing a raft until I thought my head would literally rupture.

Jeff spent a ton of time with us on rescues and sea survival incidents giving a subtle twist of the knife to a lot of age old thinking on sea kayaking paradigms based on his own work in Cornwall and abroad in the far flung oceans of the world. Jeff is one of those guys you hope to run into at an airport bar who gives you his lifestory, because he is way more interesting than you. Words like Royal Marine, kickboxer, commando, bouncer ping and whiz around the conversation before you realize you have met the inspiration for the Dos Equis guy, “the most interesting man in the world.” While this may seem hyperbole, it truly isn’t. And to boot he is a heck of a nice guy. All of this is to quickly say that one of the biggest joys I get in running this event is getting to spend time with paddlers like Jeff.


Jeff has done a ton of very thoughtful writing for Ocean Paddler magazine, traveled Scandinavia, Japan, Ireland, South Georgia Island, Israel, and many other amazing places. He operates Sea Kayaking Cornwall with Simon Osbourne.

Happy New Year Everyone. We are pleased to announce that the 2014 Gales Storm Gathering will be held Oct 3, 4, 5 in Munising Michigan and Piers Gorge on the Menominee River.


Part of the joy of a traveling road show event like the Gales is going to different places each year. We thought long and hard about going back to Marquette, but in the end, we decided to pursue Munising Michigan. Munising gives a host of great options on Lake Superior such as Pictured Rocks national lakeshore, Grand Island, and a number of other awesome locations along the shore for surfing and rock play (conditions providing).

Photo credit: Ryan Rushton of Geneva Kayak Center.

But we also wanted to go back to the Menominee River for paddling in current to ensure that as many folks got to paddle in moving water as possible. The Menominee is such a great location to introduce sea paddlers to current, or to take paddlers who have already had some exposure to current and push them even further. Paddling a white water river in a sea kayak is definitely not an experience anyone forgets. Even if the wind doesn’t blow, the river will provide.

We look forward to sharing even more about what we have in store for 2014 with you as the year unfolds.


Announcing the 2013 Gales Logo wear, courtesy of Ibex.

This garment will make the warmest, non-stinkiest drysuit liner top with a cool logo, and pithy saying that will make you the envy of your friends.

We managed to secure a select number of Ibex merino wool tops at bottom basement prices. These tops normally retail at $110.00. And we are going to offer them with our new logo embroidered on the chest, plus our 2013 slogan, “My Home is the Sea” Along the back, and the sleeve reading: Rockstar. Cost for the top will be $70.00 + 10.00 Shipping and Handling.

The Ibex Top Will Embroidered with the Gales Logo Just like the Coaches shirt.



The Ibex description for this top is as follows:

The Indie Crew is the Swiss Army Knife of basic layers. Insulating ski layer? Yep. Impromptu bike jersey? Sure. Laid-back casual wear? You know it. All in the same day? Odor-resistant wool makes it possible. With 18.5 micron Merino wool mid-weight fabric in a clean fit, this is among our most versatile and wearable pieces. The modern adventurer’s new uniform? Indeed.

The lettering will be the exact same, but in black rather than in white due to the heather gray shirt. Supplies are limited in all sizes so order soon to take advantage of this stellar drysuit/drytop liner top!.

Below are the order form buttons below the text description of the item. Please email me @ go kayak now dot com with any questions.


Gales Wear Ibex Merino Crew Top Size Small $70.00 + $10.00 Shipping and Handling US Only


Gales Wear Ibex Merino Crew Top Size Medium $70.00 + $10.00 Shipping and Handling US Only


Gales Wear Ibex Merino Crew Top Size large $70.00 + $10.00 Shipping and Handling US Only