Wednesday, September 02, 2009

QAJAQ: Tradition
Most of you already know, but in case you don't, QAJAQ is a Greenlandic organization that, in part, perpetuates the traditional skills of the Inuit. Skin and frame boats, stick paddles and tuiliks are standard gear. It is my understanding that only the Danish and USA groups are affiliated with the mother organization (please correct me if I am wrong). So, what is it that draws so many men and women to this little corner of our sport? Well, I can only speak for myself.

First and foremost, there is the tradition. I've always been interested in the origins of what I do (e.g. Judo) and enjoy feeling that connection to past generations. Then there is the esprit de corps I find here (as in most phases of kayaking). Look closely at the picture and you will see that several of those shadowy figures are actually standing in the water. Those were the instructors (they called them mentors) at the recent camp in Michigan. They exemplified that willingness to share skills and knowledge and to help others improve. So, I suppose, we can add camaraderie to the list.

Many of us paddle in no small part because of the connection we feel with the water. I used to be a sailor and went through the stages of bigger is better until I had a 42-foot cutter that could sail through anything. Problem was, as the creature comforts increased so did the distance between me and the water. I eventually sold her and got a day sailor in which I and one of my daughters spent some wonderful time going nowhere slowly.

Unlike some, I have no desire to practice with the harpoon (and neither does my right rotator cuff). I have no desire to hunt seals or anything else, for that matter. Still, I realize that the very origins of the boat design that has been passed down over thousands of years has been born of the need to hunt and feed the village. I honor that. For me, for now, however, I enjoy playing at the game and eating warm meals ashore with the village.

Paddle safe...

1 comment:

JohnB said...

eating warm meals, and sipping good whisky! Now you're talking!!!