Welcome to Waterline, our new blog for updates on all things San Juan Kayak Expeditions! We will use this space to share news from the kayaking world and to provide a glimpse into daily life on San Juan Island. To kick things off, we’ll check in with our guides to find out what they have been up to during the off-season. As many of you know, we have a relatively short season in the PNW, operating from May 1 to September 30. This means that for more than half the year, all our guides head to different corners of the world in their pursuit of life.
Max has been living in nearby Bellingham, enjoying the beauty of the lush forests and surrounding scenery and the solitude on the many lovely trails surrounding the area. That is, until he realized that the constant cloud cover through the PNW winter was dampening his spirts and decided to head south towards sunnier days. Since then, he has been exploring the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico, working on his Spanish. He says that he does miss the sea, and will soon be travelling to coastal Oaxaca, in pursuit of warmer weather and Poseidon’s pleasures once more before returning to the island in April.
Nathan has been guiding bicycle tours with our sister company Bicycle Adventures in Hawaii and hostel-hopping, exploring remote beaches, and trying to catch waves as often as he can. Nathan has put in ample time working on marketing plans and website edits for San Juan Kayak and has truly proven himself to be a man of many talents. Nathan is also a published freelance writer, which couples nicely with his lifestyle. Don’t ask me how he finds enough time each day to do all the things. We are looking forward to having him back for what feels like his fifth season with the gang.
Jury is also a man of many talents and interests and is currently in graduate school in Missoula, Montana, where he is studying Russian. I got a chance to stop in and visit on my way back west a few weeks ago, and I was truly envious of the great little life that he has built for himself there. When not in class, Jury does conservation work in the nearby Bitterroot Mountains and is a caretaker for a gorgeous property in the woods, where he does any and everything from ground maintenance to carpentry projects to elk hunting. Photography has always been his passion and the backbone of his travels, and he always finds a way to thread it through everything he does. Life may take Jury on a new adventure this summer, but we are hoping that we will be lucky enough to have him back if even for one trip.
Austin is currently traveling the country in his converted ambulance, which is powered by solar panels that he installed himself. Austin is a sailor at heart and is doing everything in his power to spend his summers on a sailboat— who can blame him? He is the most gregarious and energetic person I have ever met, and if you’ve ever spent even five minutes with him, you know that his outlook on life is infectious. We hope he’ll come back and join us for a second season, but if not, I know that he is out there getting people stoked about life and everything that the ocean has to offer.
Will is living in Gig Harbor pursuing his dreams of becoming a computer programmer. Currently immersed in a coding bootcamp course, Will is extremely busy but still finds time to get out and paddle. Will’s mother introduced him to kayaking at a young age, and he is truly one of the most passionate paddlers I have ever met. We hope to have Will back on the island this summer, teaching rescue clinics and helping train our new guides.
Bobby took off in the fall to work at a vineyard in California and is currently working the winter season at Deer Valley Ski Resort, near Park City, Utah. Bobby has no trouble making friends wherever he goes, and is probably recovering currently from a big night out at karaoke, where he absolutely crushed three or more fan favorites. This guy is the epitome of a good time and is very positive and fun to be around. I must have done something right, because as of now he plans to return to the island for his third season.
Noah has been living and working in Friday Harbor through the winter. In the fall, he guided a backpacking trip with Spring Street International School and has since been experiencing his first true San Juan winter, one where you likely must work multiple jobs and piece things together to stay busy in the quiet months. Noah has been working with a local body shop, doing who knows what, but I can imagine he is the first one there every morning and has a big smile on his face. Noah has a can-do attitude, and though this past season was his first as a guide, it is obvious to everyone around him that he truly wants to facilitate a positive experience for all. If nothing else, Noah will be around in April helping me get the shop and boats and trailers ready to rock for the season, but if you’re lucky you will get him on a tour!
Sophie joined us last summer for her first season on San Juan, though her master’s degree and extensive background in Marine Biology made it a seamless transition. Sophie was the lone woman on our team last year and was a refreshing wave of new energy. If I play my cards right, I will have her back this season taking on a new role as Operations Manager in 2022. She is currently living in Italy, climbing and skiing and being a student of life.
I am happy to announce that our team will be joined by two amazing women this season, both making their San Juan Kayak Expeditions debut. Caitlyn and Izzi are both living in Bellingham currently and in educational pursuits. Caitlyn is in her senior year at Western Washington University, where she has created her own interdisciplinary major through Fairhaven College. She is studying the intersections of Marine Ecology, place-based education, and community engagement, while minoring in Salish Sea studies, and education and social justice. If she doesn’t sound like the perfect kayak guide in the San Juan Islands, I don’t know who does. Izzi got a BA in Coastal Marine Resilience from Western Washington and has been working as a teaching and research assistant at University of Washington, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in Indigenous Ocean Ecologies. They are both going to contribute greatly to our team, and we can’t wait for them to start!
While most of our guides have historically been local, we’ve had an influx of Michiganders in the past few years, and Kile is the latest to join the party. Kile is a digital media connoisseur and spends his free time backcountry snowboarding and surfing with friends, both behind and in front of the lens. This will be his first season in the Pacific Northwest, and he has big shoes to fill! Austin and Max both joined us from Michigan last year after growing up on the Great Lakes and have certainly set the bar high!
And then there is me. My name is Cole, and I am the General Manager at SJKE. I went on a two-month, 12k mile road trip to visit friends and family in California, Arizona, Texas, New Orleans, Georgia, and Connecticut and have since been patiently waiting for snow. Though it has been an uncharacteristically dry February, there is almost always a silver living in the PNW— have been riding mountain bikes for the past few weeks and the trails are pristine! I am truly a kid at heart and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. I spend most days drinking coffee, hanging out with my dog, reading books, playing FIFA and playing outside, whether it be in the water or on the mountain. I look forward to my second season with the reigns and hope for continued success and growth for our small team in the years to come.
Thanks for stopping by to learn all about our amazing guides! As the season approaches we’ll add more updates to this space, so keep an eye out. Until next time!