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Andrew Russell, Canadian Olympian sprint canoer and one of the instructors for the ‘Sea the Coast’ paddle festival June 30.
Andrew Russell, Canadian Olympian sprint canoer and one of the instructors for the ‘Sea the Coast’ paddle festival June 22. - Desiree Anstey

BORDEN-CARLETON - There is laughter and chatter as a rainbow of kayaks, canoes and paddle boards dips into the Northumberland Strait and moves away from the harbour near the Marine Railway Park in Borden-Carleton.

“I’ve been a lifelong paddling enthusiast, and this seemed like an excellent opportunity to get out and see the P.E.I. coastline,” said Andrew Russell, Canadian Olympian sprint canoer and one of the instructors for the day.

Paddlers soaked in the shoreline of P.E.I. from a whole new perspective as they left their carbon footprints behind in a white wake, while they glided past red cliffs, sand dunes and pastoral landscapes.

“For me exercise is very meditative and being on the ocean is like that extra element where you leave all your stress behind and give yourself that little hiatus from the world,” continued Russell, who travelled recently from Dartmouth N.S., to attend ‘Sea the Coast, P.E.I.’s Premiere Paddle Festival,’ for the day.

The three-day festival gives novice and experienced paddlers the chance to ride the open water or drift down the peaceful Tryon River for six kilometres.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a tourism event – that aligns with the provincial tourism strategy – to encourage off-Islanders to visit P.E.I. during the soft season and discover the coast from a whole new perspective,” said Peggy Miles, tourism development manager.

Paul Maxim carves his way up the coast as Daniel Bondt follows close behind during Sea the Coast, P.E.I.’s Premiere Paddle Festival which ran June 22-24.
Paul Maxim carves his way up the coast as Daniel Bondt follows close behind during Sea the Coast, P.E.I.’s Premiere Paddle Festival which ran June 22-24.

 

The festival included paddle workshops, a chance to taste Island cuisine, live entertainment, storytelling and music featuring acts such as Dylan Menzie and the Amanda Jackson Band.

“We have a strong cultural component, so we’ve been working with a team from Lennox Island. On Friday we had a Mi’kmaq drum circle and dancing, and then on Saturday morning we had a smudging ceremony with an elder, followed by artisan demonstrations,” added Miles, who acknowledged there’s a growth for authentic Indigenous experiences.

Participants came from a wide range of areas, including Ontario, the United States and Nova Scotia.

Daniel Bondt, aged 74, from Emyvale, P.E.I., was among them. He dipped his toes into kayaking 10 years ago after retiring from farming.

“My main reason to kayak is to escape the noise. Everywhere you go there are cars, trucks, tractors, and I like to get away from it all by finding peace and quiet out on the water,” said Bondt, who brought his own gear.

“When you kayak you see so many shades of green, reds and blues. There’s always a different experience out on the water, whether its wildlife encounters or amazing scenery.  

“It’s humbling learning how to handle the waves,” said Russell.

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