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  • OOPS General Meeting with Bill O’Brien

OOPS General Meeting with Bill O’Brien

  • April 29, 2020
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Lucky Labrador Public House 7675 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219


Bill O'Brien Paddled the coast from Canada to Mexico

Some interesting information about Bill

I have always, from first memory, loved the outdoors and spent as much time as I could exploring, observing nature, and pursuing adventure.  I was 10 when I first backpacked, which was in the Three Sisters Wilderness.  I remembered looking above treeline and knew I would go there some day.  I started climbing and telemarking right out of high school.  In college I decided to some day hike the PCT, cycle across the US, and paddle the Inside Passage, though I had yet to paddle anything.  I subscribed to Sea Kayaker magazine a few years before I actually paddled, but I felt certain this was in my future.

However, due largely due to my closest friends' interests, other water sports came first.  I rafted seriously for a few years followed by 25 years of windsurfing at the gorge, mostly.  I also dove and upon joining the Albany Fire Dept. became a founding member of their dive rescue and swift-water rescue teams in the mid 80's. I was a practicing paramedic there for 28 years.  This dovetailed into about 25 years of ski patrol and 10 years mountain rescue, which ended for me after the trauma of the Episcopal School Rescue that claimed 9 lives.  And all of this dovetailed beautifully into sea kayaking. I was accustomed to be frequently in the water and to regularly experience far rougher wind and waves than one would ever likely to see while sea kayaking. The fire service gave experience in risk assessment and management.

Strangely, it took having small children to finally start.  My daughter's daycare friend's parents suggested to us that sea kayaking touring would be a great way to get back into the wilderness - as a family. We bought a used triple from Alder Creek and for years headed up to British Columbia wilderness including Haida Guaii.  At first our kids shared the center cockpit (3 + 6 y/o), then the front of two Folbot doubles with sails.

Then we got singles.  My wife got the first, a 16 ft. fiberglass SOT. Then I got a 19 ft. surfski, a fast ocean style of racing SOT.  I wasted little time getting into the ocean, solo at first.  Outside of family kayak camping, I didn't start kayak camping until my last kids left the nest and I retired.

Having long ago hit my goals of backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, and long distance cycling, from Reedsport, OR to St. John's Newfoundland, it was time for long distance paddling.  It started out by paddling around Brook's Peninsula and on down to Tofino. Then supporting Bob Weinmann in his journey, which was skiing from the summit of Mt. Hood, whitewater paddling to the Columbia, then sea kayaking to the California border, gave me the idea to paddle the West Coast of the US plus the West Coast of Vancouver Island. This last summer this was extended to include the outside passage with a crossing to Port Hardy. This differed in that there were many sections, all strung together in a non-contiguous connecting the dots manner. Each section had worries, non more worrying than the section from Ventura, CA to the Mexican border and its lack of legal camping opportunities that had us talking on the fly to every agency official imaginal and having to get creative. My wife joined me on some of the legs including several long Channel Island trips. We used a Pygmy double, then a Tsunami Ranger double SOT.

OOPS General Meetings are free and open to all.

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