New Books @ Ecomarine


Aug 3, 2006
Sept-Îles, QC
Hi all

Just a little update on some interesting new titles that we have in stock here at the shop, feel free to swing on by anytime to have a look!

Sea Kayak

Published 2006 by Pesda Press

There has been some discussion about this book for months and many members of the sea kayaking community have eagerly awaited its publication. The question is whether the wait has been worthwhile?

The sub heading is “A Manual for Intermediate and Advanced Sea Kayakers” and so the book’s target audience is immediately defined as being different to many of the other guides to sea paddling. This is designed to be a handbook for those paddlers who already have some knowledge of the sport; it is going beyond the basics.

Most sea kayaking books devote very little space on how to handle a kayak but “Sea Kayak” has 30 pages on kayak handling. Forward paddling is covered, but it is important to remember the target audience, so strokes such cross-bow jab, Colorado hook and cross bow draw are also covered. The ability to handle a sea kayak smoothly in a variety of water conditions requires a wide range of strokes and techniques and Gordon introduces these in a comprehensive fashion. Some of the techniques may challenge the preconceptions of many of the readers but that is one of the strengths of the book, it is not just a rehash of the standard strokes. The content reflects what many of the more experienced practitioners are using on a daily basis in the more demanding waters around the world.

The chapter on weather is a concise and accurate introduction to a subject, which a number of paddlers find relatively confusing but a good understanding of which is essential for safe kayaking on the sea.

There is some useful advice on rough water handling skills and controlling a sea kayak in surf. How to surf over reefs in a swell is a technique, which is rarely covered in other sea kayaking books. Those of us who paddle regularly in areas with interesting tidal streams will be familiar with eddy line spins and eddy hopping upstream but where else is it mentioned in the kayaking literature?

A dramatic selection of photographs are used to illustrate the various chapters with some having the stamp of Gordon’s character. The day trip to Coruisk is stunning but I am not certain that it is the finest days paddle in the world. Gordon has clearly forgotten about the Ecrehous!

Gordon Brown and Pesda Press are an authoritative combination. One of Britain’s most respected publishing companies and one of the countries most talented coaches have joined forces to produce a book, which will be the bench mark for many years to come.

It would be possible to carry on extolling the virtues of the book, highlighting the positive aspects of each chapter etc, but that would be a waste of space and effort. All that needs to be said is that this is a book, which challenges many of our preconceptions, contains a huge amount of useful information and should be on the bookshelf of any self respecting sea kayaker.

BCU Coaching Handbook

Published 2006 by Pesda Press

Pesda Press have developed a reputation as quality publishers of specialist titles and this is a valuable addition to their range. It helps fill a huge void in kayaking literature and is an essential volume for anybody who is interested in paddle sport, not just coaches.

I remember the original BCU Coaching Handbooks, with their green covers, which were edited initially by Oliver Cock and later by Geoff Good. Full of useful information, they were replaced by the Canoeing Handbook, which in its various editions, has been at the core of the training of paddlers for about 20 years. This Coaching Handbook is destined to become the set text for the next few years.

It is divided into three sections, Coaching Theory and Coaching Practice, which are both generic sections followed by some discipline specific chapters. All are written by acknowledged experts in their own field. The book is lavishly illustrated with numerous colour photographs and diagrams, creating a visually attractive, but also highly informative layout.

Contained within the nearly 400 pages there is a huge amount of information, some of which is probably beyond the scope of the average club coach who is involved in recreational paddling ,but the positive aspect of there being so much information is that there is something within this book for everybody. The contents reflect the huge advances which have been made in our knowledge of teaching and learning over the last decade.

Trys Morris has written the sea kayaking chapter and it is the longest of those, which are discipline specific. It is full of comprehensive advice on not just standard kayak handling skills, but also incident management, rough water, leadership, navigation and night paddling to name some others. I particularly enjoyed those sections, which are concerned with cognitive skills, and this is what distinguishes it from virtually every other kayaking book. I am struggling to find any other sea kayaking book, which delves, into this area of knowledge. This volume clearly helps to fill a substantial gap in the paddling literature.

So this is a book which all coaches should have, but it is not one to sit on the shelves. It should be looked at regularly and then you need to get out on the water and experiment with the aim of improving the effectiveness of your coaching.

The Coaching Handbook will be a valuable resource for many years to come. Make sure that you get yours as soon as possible.

Simple Kayak Navigation by Ray Killen

Published 2006 by McGraw-Hill

There are a couple of other books, which are available to sea kayakers, most noticeably Burch’s comprehensive, “Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation” and Franco Ferrero’s more concise volume, “Sea Kayak Navigation”. So the first question that I had to ask myself, when I came across a copy of Ray Killen’s book in a New York bookstore was, “Is it sufficiently different to justify buying a copy?”

Flicking through the pages whilst trying to look like a potential purchaser it was essential to gain a quick impression of the content before deciding to hand over my hard earned dollars. I decided that it was different enough to justify a gamble and so I was soon heading out into Union Square with my copy firmly gripped in my hand.

Ray is clearly an experienced paddler and he uses his experience to illustrate the book with real examples. The first 100 pages are devoted to piloting and dead reckoning, with the following 16 pages describing GPS use.

The fundamentals, such as Latitude and Longitude, equipment, buoyage, tides, the twelfths rule etc are all covered. Many of the examples are selected from the northeast United States, which is to be expected as it is the home waters of the author but I think that an opportunity has been missed to broaden the appeal to the European paddling community by not pointing out that the colours are reversed on the eastern side of the Atlantic. Also the lack of information on Cardinal Marks is a draw back for anybody outside of North America who are considering purchasing this book.

The book contains numerous diagrams, which clearly illustrate the various chapters. One topic, which I particularly enjoyed, was the development of the “Inner Compass”. There is no doubt that as you become more experienced as a kayaker and navigator that you develop a feel for the environmental factors. This “feel” can take some time to develop but the diagrams on pages 38-9 are some of the most useful ideas to help “fast track” this development.

The heart of the book focuses on the practicalities of navigation, allowing for tidal streams, paddling in reduced visibility etc. The advice is sensible and clearly laid out, even if you are an experienced sea kayak navigator it is worth while looking through the pages, just to refresh your memory.

More and more sea kayakers are using GPS as a standard item of equipment and Ray provides some common sense advice on their use. Possibly his most pertinent comment is his closing comment:

"A GPS doesn’t negate the need to know how to navigate – a prudent paddler will understand the basic principles of navigation and be prepared for any eventuality. "

Overall I found this a useful book, its layout was effective, the information concise and useful and the diagrams and photographs pertinent. As mentioned above the drawback for non-American kayakers is the buoyage section, but as long as this is borne in mind the book is worth considering by paddlers regardless of which continent you live on.

Fallen Pieces of the Moon by Robin Lloyd Jones

Published 2006 by Whittles Publishing

Many of you will be aware of Robin Lloyd-Jones who wrote “Argonauts of the Western Isles”, describing his kayaking adventures off the west coast of Scotland. He is much more than a kayaking author though, his written words have reached a wider audience through books such as “Lord of the Dance”. This writing talent is reflected in the quality of his work. As in “Argonauts”, he has taken a kayaking trip, which many of us could complete, and produced a thoroughly engaging book.

Eager to visit Greenland, he quickly realised that there were significant logistical problems and major costs involved in organising his own visit so he signed up for a commercial trip with the Canadian company Black Feather. The book is therefore a record of a sea kayaking trip, which is available to virtually any paddler as opposed to a description of a major circumnavigation, or similar undertaking where disaster seems to be just a few strokes away.

It is not his description of near death experiences, which hold the readers attention, but rather his use of language and observation of small details, which captivate. Although this is essentially a day-by-day account of the trip it is far more than a mere description, it is a well-researched project. The daily reports are interspersed with numerous references to earlier Arctic explorers. Freuchen, Nansen, Rasmussen and Stefansson amongst others whilst the title comes from a line in the classic “Arctic Dreams” by Barry Lopez.

When kayaking in Greenland there is a very close relationship between the paddler and the physical environment and Robin illustrates this on numerous occasions, whether through his description of the icebergs or the soaring mountain ridges, which dominate the scenery. It is clearly an area of dramatic views and few people will read this book without wishing to follow in the writers paddle strokes. It is a fragile environment though, which merits a discussion as to whether the influx of tourists are endangering the very thing they have come to see.

“Fallen Pieces of the Moon” is one of the most engaging kayaking books I have read in a long time and it comes thoroughly recommended to paddlers of all abilities. The only disappointment I had was that it came to an end far to quickly, another 50 pages or so would have been preferable.

all reviews by Kevin Mansell from