Kayaking and Camcorders - some thoughts

Jeff Moag at Canoe & Kayak magazine in the US e-mailed to ask a seemingly simple question.

"What is the best ‘pro-sumer’ camera out there for kayak shooting in your opinion?"

I started writing an email reply and it grew longer, and longer... so I turned it into an article and sent it back to him.

Customer Comments - DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

They're not all positive, which is good, as we can learn for next time. Mr Rainsley and Mr Buckley each have review copies, so expect their contributions in time.

If you spot any review comments, please e-mail me.

Meanwhile here's a blog entry about the DVD from someone suffering kayak withdrawl symptoms due to a broken ankle.

Canoe & Kayak USA show DVD Trailer

They've also done a Question & Answer type interview to introduce him to new US readers.

Hopefully this will generate some interest ahead of the US launch.

1st December available in stores.

Postal Strike Implications on DVD Deliveries

It looks like the postal strike will go ahead Thursday - Saturday.

During this period I will only post DVDs that have been ordered with Special Delivery postage (extra £4.95). These are the only ones which are certain to be prioritised by staff who continue to work.

Even then, they may arrive late.

Orders made with Free Postage, Recorded Delivery (Signed For) and International Recorded Delivery (International Signed For) I'll delay posting until Monday 2nd or Tuesday 3rd November. This will allow a little time for the backlog to clear.

What a great time to launch a mail-order DVD, eh?

USA Sales Start 16th November 2009 - DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

The NTSC versions of the DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown should be ready to start selling online Monday 16th November 2009.

The 'official' release date remains 1st December, which is the date by which we hope to get them into stores across the US and Canada.

However, according to distributors Heliconia Press, there's been little interest yet from retailers. That is in stark contrast to what's happened in Europe where I've sold 600 in ten days.

So if you're in the US or Canada and want an NTSC version, mark 16th November in your diary and check out the website in that date. It will be the best way to ensure you receive one for Christrmas!

116 Copies Left & Good Reviews -DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

This is how I'm to be found most of the day - clutching white bubble-wrap bags, posting out DVDs.

There's a thread on the UK Sea Kayak Guidebook Forum where folk are discussing the content of the DVD. It appears there is some question about availability, so I posted an entry which I've copied below.

05:30 am edit - now have 116 left.

As of 16:26 Tuesday 27 October I have 125 copies left. My next batch go into production tomorrow with scheduled delivery on 16th November. If I run out, I'll continue taking orders and fulfill them asap.

Because of the postal strike, if you are thinking of ordering soon, please could you do so before 11.30am Wednesday 28th (probably today when you read this).

On Wednesday I'll make a special trip to Fort William post office to dispatch all outstanding orders. That PO is bigger and faster than our little village PO (where the queues behind me have occasionally snaked out of the door into the road).

Dispatching them on Wednesday will give a fighting chance of getting the DVDs to you before the postal backlog starts - that is, if the Thur-Sat strike goes ahead. I'm still offering free shipping.

Today the counter staff told me Special Delivery is back to it's usual overnight service. So if you pay the extra £4.95 for that priority service it should reach you even quicker. It's more hassle for me than just sticking a stamp on the envelope, but if you want it, I'll do it.

The only UK retailers who have copies are: Reed Chillcheater (though I can't see it on their website), Stirling Canoes (likewise with website), and KariTek all of whom were quick enough to grab a handful when I saw them at Perth.

Sadly, no other UK retailer is likely to have them until the end of November.

Internationally - God Tur in Norway, Seakayak ApS in Denmark, Expedition Kayaks in Australia, and Escape KajakCentre and Horizont Kajak in Sweden all have copies as they were fast off the mark.

Sorry - make that 123copies left. In the space of writing this entry...

Paddle 09 Perth - Attendance

The SCA annual show saw an increase in visitors this year, up by 120, making more than 1700 people through the doors over the two days. All those extra visitors came on the Saturday.

I'm delighted to report that the premier of the DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown was watched by more than 250 people. That is, apparently, a record for any presentation this year or any year previously.

My little effort in the Workshops area, talking about The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail also drew a decent sized crowd. I don't know whether to be pleased or disappointed every copy of my book at the show was sold.

Delighted they sold - disappointed they sold out and we didn't have more! Still available through the website though.

Only 150 DVD Copies Left - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

I kid you not! I'm stunned!!! (How many exclamation marks can I write!!!!)

That whacking great pallet of DVDs was delivered to our house ten days ago. Liz wondered for how long she'd be stepping around it in the conservatory.

Now I have just three boxes left in the corner of my edit suite. Three boxes with 50 in each!

Already I've sent out e-mails seeking quotes for bulk replication - fast.

Meanwhile four, rather astute retailers, grabbed 20 copies each at the Paddle 09. So they'll soon be for sale in the shops at SeaPaddler.co.uk in Jersey, Stirling Canoes in Stirling, KariTek in Ayrshire and Reed Chillcheater (who co-sponsored the DVD).

I'm awfully sorry and a little embarrased, but other retailers will have to wait until the next batch arrive. Get 'em while they're hot!

Only 250 Copies Left - DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Our first day at Paddle 09 was a staggeringly, enormous success. We started selling DVDs before the premier.

If you're thinking of buying, please don't delay. Out of the entire pressing, I only have 250 copies left. And I'll sell a lot of them today here at Perth. To be sure of your copy for Christmas, buy here.

I was very cautious with the number of DVDs I had replicated. Distributors Cordee warned DVDs don't sell as well as books so they'd probably only need 200 across the year. I'd never done this before, so I didn't replcate too many. Now with distributors around the world taking boxes of 50 at a time and a regular stream of online orders, I'm down to my last 250. And that's before I send any to Cordee for UK retailers.

At this rate, I will have to do a second pressing, but I might not get any copies to UK-wide retailers until just before Christmas. To be sure of your copy, buy here.

When the time came to show the 35 minute version I had edited specially for Paddle 09, SCA CEO Stuart Smith had to organise more chairs and benches to fit everyone into the main coaching hall. He later told me that with more than 250 people at our presentation it was the best attended of the day. Which is nice.

It also coincided with the opening of our eBay shop where, it seems, some people prefer to buy rather than on the main site.

++ News ++ New Skeg System Valley Sea Kayaks

This looks interesting. A new skeg system, field maintainable but
still using a wire. It's shown here on a plastic kayak but in time
will be on composite boats. More details (probably) on Valley's new
website when it eventually goes live.

++ NEW ++ Tay Descent Race for 2010

To be announced at Paddle 09 Saturday is a new race, The Tay Descent.

It'll happen on 23rd October 2010, the same weekend as Paddle 2010. There will be three courses, all finishing in Perth. Part of the Perth 800 celebrations, it will be very loosely based on the Liffey Descent.

6 miles - grade 1
12 mile - some grade 2/3
23 miles - some grade 2/3

There'll be classes for different boat types, from open canoes to sea kayaks, and different age groups. There'll be a 'tour' version, for those who want to just enjoy the descent, and a 'race' event for the more competitive.

If You're Coming To Paddle 09 Perth

We're right inside the entrance on the left.

Organised chaos thisafternoon as exhibitors organise stands. Books and
DVDs are easier than kayaks!

We premier the DVD at 11:00 am Saturday and we're selling copies all
weekend for £18 not the usual £19.95.

Hope to see you here.

£19.95 DVDs for £18 at Paddle '09 This Weekend

Because of the postal strike I know some people are waiting to buy the DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown at the Paddle 09 event at Perth tomorrow and Sunday. The premier is the opening event of the show at 11:00 am tomorrow in the Coaching Hall, not the Main Hall.

As you can see, we're doing a good deal on the price!

If you are coming and think might plan to buy one, please bring the correct money in cash. We will have some change, but we won't have visa facilities. Other than an agonisingly slow computer link to PayPal.

What's more, we only have 100 DVDs. 300 more were meant to be delivered Wednesday, then yesterday, and now... well, it could be Monday. Which means it'll take ages for ths DVD to appear in the shops.

Hopefully they'll have them for Christmas. But if you want to be sure, you know where we are. Download the floorplan and our location by right clicking and saving from here.

KayakQuixotica Reviews DVD - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Of all the sea kayaking blogs I read, one of the most entertaining and thought provoking is KayakQuixotica by Derrick Mayoleth.

It is also one of the most widely read. So it was with a certain trepedation I sent Derrick a preview copy of the DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown.

Those early copies were not quite up to the technical standard of the retail version. Nor did they have the fully functional menu which is essential to the way we constructed the DVD.

I've picked out two comments: "Sea Kayak will be the DVD I recommend to my students going forward." "It is simply a DVD that will help you become a better paddler. That’s it."

Layout Of Stands - Paddle 09 at Perth Saturday / Sunday

This is only useful to folk who are coming to the SCA Paddle 09 event in Perth this weekend.

I've been sent a layout of the stands in the main hall. Although similar information is probably on the SCA website, I find that site impenetrable.

So I thought I'd make the floorplan available as a download so you can see which retailers are where.

Oh, and as you can see, there's some subtle advertising alongside.

For Sale - Sea Kayak Trail Guidebook - Signed?

Take a look at the image on the right. That's my new guidebook to The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail. I now have a few copies of my own which I'm selling for £14.99. That is less than the recommended retail price, although I do have to charge the relevant postage rates ontop.

What's more, if you'd like me to sign your copy (which probably lowers the value!) then there's a box in the PayPal site where you can add the dedication you'd like.

Spanish Translation - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

We decided against doing closed caption translation tracks on the DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown due to cost. Now the esteemed sea kayak blogger Wenley has offered to provide a written translation of the entire DVD. That's a lot of work so it won't be ready until early 2010. I expect we'll make it available as a PDF download through the main website and through Wenley's own excellent blog.

DVD - Last Day to Buy to Avoid Postal Strike

Order the DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown before 11:30 Tuesday and I'll get it in the post to you on the same day.

That means it should avoid the Postal Strike, due to start on Thursday. At the ordering stage you can chose a priority order too.

Meanwhile, another satisfied sea kayaker has written with a few kind comments:

"It arrived on my day off work, so it gave me a chance to view it a couple of times. I am very impressed by the quality of the filming, the different angles help understanding the moves especially with the forward paddling seeing front and back etc. . The coaching by Gordon Brown is excellent - it makes it look so easy. I have Gordon's book but reading about a manoeuvre is not the same for me as seeing the move being executed by Gordon.

The journey section shows how beautiful the Isle of Skye is and should be used by the tourist board to promote seakayaking in Scotland - what a great place when the weather is on your side." JP

Ny kajak dvd med Gordon Brown (I think)...

Well that's what it says on the website of Horisint Kajak in Sweden.

A box of DVDs will soon be on their way across to Carin who will post on their blog when they're ready to sell.

Attention Sea Kayakers in Norway

The first retailer to sell the DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown is likely to be God Tur, based in Bergen.

They're also our distributors in Norway. So if you want to retail them in that country, Ronny is the guy to contact.

They should have their stocks by Thursday this week and will be at least one week ahead of other retailers, including those in the UK. Why?

Because the UK retailers like their DVDs shrink wrapped. Since the initial batch were delivered without shrink wrapping, that process is going to delay them reaching UK retailers by about a week.

Nesmuking.com Makes DVD Top of Christmas Wish List

Of all the things on the Christmas list at Nesmuking.com, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown is top!

Thanks guys - not long to wait for the NTSC version.

NTSC version is released 1st December (or perhaps earlier). PAL version shipping now.

DVDs Being Delivered

Posted yesterday, arrived today. And appreciative words from more than one customer. Thanks to all who've been in touch.

"I've received and watched the dvd this morning. I have most of the dvds available on sea kayaking and many of them are good, but this is way beyond all of them - very informative and enjoyable . Thanks (everyone) for all your effort. Andrew.

"DVD received and viewed today! It's excellently filmed and fabulous to have Gordon in my kitchen with me while I practice my technique!! I especially appreciate the slow motion shots (for my sleepy brain) and you've so well captured the graceful linking sequences which he portrays with such ease. A big round of applause for your quality production and already looking forward to Volume 2." Janice.

Comments like that are really appreciated. Rememeber, postal strike is next Thursday and Friday.
Order before Tuesday and you should beat the strike.

DVD Orders During UK Postal Strike

The poor souls at at Post Office are going on strike next Thursday and Friday.

Order Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown early to beat the disruption.

The vast team of web wizzards at Wide Blue Yonder have now updated the Buy Now page of our DVD sales website to offer ways of increasing the priority of your order.

Frankly, none are guaranteed to work! Industrial action is intended to cause disruption. But Special Delivery will be first to get through to UK buyers. Signed For and International Signed For don't increase the priority but might slip through quicker after the disruption.

It should still be faster to buy online than through a UK retailer who won't have the DVD until 1st November.

Your DVD Is On Its Way

The nice lady in Acharacle Post Office couldn't quite believe her eyes when we arrived with two large boxes. 'Two boxes for Parcelforce' she probably thought. Oh no.

We opened them on the counter to reveal around seventy, white padded envelopes. Then it dawned on her that each of these was a separate piece of mail. The franking machine would be busy today.

She took it all in her stride, bless her, and we were out again in under twenty mnutes.

But our day should not have been over. Orders have been coming in from retailers around the world. We had boxes of 50 to ship to Norway, 50 to ship to Australia, 25 to ship to Sweden. We should have had a busy day.

But, there was superb high pressure, a friend was visiting the area, and so we did what any self respecting sea kayaker would do.

We went paddling.

Tomorrow we're heading to Fort William post office with the next batch. Order early to beat the postal strike on Thursday and Friday.

Shipping Now - DVD Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

The first batch of DVDs Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown will ship on Friday 16th October 2009.

The webstore is fully open for PAL copies price £19.95 with Free Shipping worldwide.

I'm already sending them across Europe, to Australia and to people in the USA with PAL DVD players.

You'll notice they're not shrink wrapped. This is better for the environment. Copies going to retailers will be shrink wrapped but they are not yet ready. Except, that is, for God Tur, our Norwegian distributor, who is happy for the boxes to be sealed with only a sticker.

UK postal workers will strike on 22nd and 23rd, that's next Thursday and Friday. So order early!

So Where Are My DVDs?

Thursday update - Now expected 15:00. DVDs will dispatch Friday.

I'm not happy. All day waiting for the courier. No show. After they telephoned Monday to say they would be here today. From the pressing company at 17:15:

"...it appears that the courier we used have subcontracted the delivery to a local company. There is a chance it will still get delivered today however we cannot be sure and I cannot get an update until tomorrow morning. Apologies for the inconvenience. This is something unfortunately outwith our control."

Still, if the gets here tomorrow then I'll be able to dispatch orders before the postal strike bites.

DVD Orders & UK Postal Dispute

As of Wednesday morning, no dates for a UK nationwide postal dispute have been announced. So with the DVDs Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown expected later today, I will be able to fulfill all orders before the disruption begins. If we feel deliveries might be disrupted, we'll update the website to offer the options outlined in this blog entry. Wide Blue Yonder have the page ready to put live. Hopefully, all sides will see sense and the strike won't happen.

To ensure your copy reaches you - please order this week.

Beat UK Postal Strike - Order DVD This Week

Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown DVDs are expected to dispatch to customers on Thursday!

This is just some of the addressed envelopes waiting to be filled. The courier company called to confirm my address and expect to deliver to me late Wednesday.

I insisted they arrived early. I want to dispatch the DVDs in time to beat the first day of the threatened industrial dispute by Royal Mail staff. It's reported they plan a one day strike on 22nd October with more to follow. Update - attempt to do last minute deal.

So pre order before Wednesday night and your copy will be in this first batch dispatched on Thursday.

If there is to be a strike, we plan to offer alternative delivery options. We'll continue to offer free worldwide shipping, but we'll also offer you the choice of adding Royal Mail's premium services in the hope they stand a better chance of getting through. All will require a signature on delivery.

UK Customers will have two options:
Recorded Delivery (now called Sign For) at £0.75. Officially, this doesn't increase the priority of the delivery, it's still first class, but in my experience the big orange sticker does speed things along.
Registered Post (now called Special Delivery) at £4.94. This is a higher priority delivery and the option I would choose if I was ordering. In previous disputes, these packages have got through much faster than anything else, although not always in the advertised 24 hours.

Overseas Customers have one option:
International Sign For at £3.70. Like UK Sign For, this doesn't oficially increase the priority of the delivery, but I have the feeling it might help. Also there isn't an international version of Special Delivery.

Those charges are set by Royal Mail and are ontop of the regular shipping charge which we continue to pay.

Other options? Well, Internatonal Parcel Force is too expensive at £23. Courier firms are also around the same figure and, because we live in a relatively remote location, we'd have a 200 mile round trip to the nearest collection point.

After two years working on this project, imagine how delighted I am with the timing of this dispute...

Escaping the DVD

It felt a little like bunking off school.

A strange yellow ball had appeared in the sky this morning, and we could step outside without getting wet. So Liz and I decided to make the most of it with a bike ride.

Of course, it wasn't a complete escape. Every now and then a "ping" would come from the iPhone in my back pocket.

One of those e-mails delivered good news - the first batch of DVDs should arrive later this week.

This means there's a chan ce to beat the threatened industrial action by postal staff. I'll write a full blog entry on that tomorrow morning, explaining what postage options we plan to offer if this industrial dispute kicks in.

The main message will be - order before Wednesday! But hey, I'm not writing about that yet. I'm still enjoying the post ride glow.

Breaking the First Rule of PR - Stick to One Story

Simple. Keep the story simple. Sub plots, twists and last minute revelations work in novels and screenplays, but not in journalism.

And, as I tell the folk to whom I occasionally teach 'managing the media', you must think like a journalist when seeking publicity and writing a press release. Keep it simple.


Here I am, due to publishing delays, trying to promote a book and a DVD at the same time. It really is tricky.

Some newspapers were obviously going to be interested in the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail more than a specialist kayak coaching DVD. But what about magazines like TGO-The Great Outdoors? What about Scotland Outdoors? I suppose I'll discover in time.

Just incase you'd like to read them, here are the Press Releases for Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown and The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail.

Pre-order DVD Now. Video - 2 DVDs in One. Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Pre-release orders are coming in from all around the world. I hope we're not going to run out! Pre-ordering is one sure way to be among the first receive your copy of the DVD all sea kayakers will want for Christmas this year.

The other way is to come to the Scottish Canoe Association's Paddle '09 event 24 / 25 October where we hope to have the DVD on sale. You'll find us on the Pesda Press / Skyak Adventures stand.

The 'premier' of the DVD, which is actually a 35 minute edit of the highlights, is the opening event of Paddle 09 at 11am on Saturday 24th October.

In the meantime, this short video explains why DVD, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown is rather different to other sea kayak coaching DVDs.

Store Open for Pre-orders. Video - Shooting the DVD. Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

Customers who pre-order Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown will be among the first to receive their copy of the DVD. The mail-out will begin as soon as I receive the DVDs from the pressing plant. So with luck, they should arrive with customers before the publicised release date of 1st November.

Overseas orders, especially those from Australia, might take a little longer with customs and international postage, but I'll do my best.

PayPal will handle all payments and will hold the money until the DVD is dispatched, at which point I'll e-mail customers to say 'the DVD is on its way'.

In the meantime, here's a short piece I recorded as we were shooting some of the Steering coaching session. Can you believe the weather we had on Skye in March? Far better than August...

Promo Video - DVD, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

I've made four short promo videos. You'll find them all on SeaKayakWithGordonBrown.com and I'll put one live here each day this week. First is the Main Trailer.

Scotland on Sunday - The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail

I managed to get a mention for The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail in Scotland on Sunday newspaper.
OK, some things are wrong, but at least they got my name right.

It's the Wet Highland Way – by sea kayak

Published Date: 04 October 2009

By Mark Smith

THE first sea kayak trail has been created to meet the booming demand for the adventure sport in Scotland, and rival anything on offer to hikers and hill walkers.

The new Scottish Kayak Trail is a 300-mile-long trip up the west coast running from the Isle of Gigha, off the Kintyre peninsula, to the Summer Isles near Ullapool.

Based on a guidebook by author Simon Willis, the trail is expected to attract sea-borne tourists to spectacular coastal locations to brave fierce tides, whirlpools and rocky headlands.

Advice on how to negotiate the trail includes how to tackle tricky passages, read dangerous tidal flows and find places to shelter from storms when the going – as it almost inevitably will – gets rough.

The advice pulls no punches, saying kayaking is an "inherently dangerous" sport that has claimed the lives of the unprepared. It urges kayakers to sail some stretches – such as Dorus Mor (Gaelic for gate) just north of the Crinan Canal – at "slack water, unless you are seeking excitement" as the tides there spurt at 10 miles per hour. Get it wrong and "you might be propelled in the direction of the whirlpool in the Gulf of Corryvreckan".

The sport, which uses a boat with a closed-deck and two-sided paddle, is experiencing an upsurge in interest, with thrill-seekers flocking from around the world to kayak in Scottish waters.

Companies hiring out kayaks on the west coast have reported a doubling in trade and Glenmore Lodge, the national outdoor training centre, has reported a doubling in the numbers of people seeking training courses in sea kayaking.

Gordon Brown, director of the Scottish Canoe Association, said the new trail was a big leap forward for the sport. He said: "Sea kayaking is enjoying a boom and has been getting more and more popular in recent years.

"At one time, I knew just about everybody who was kayaking in Scotland. Now there are hundreds doing it up and down the coast every weekend.

"The establishment of the Scottish Kayak Trail is a very big step for the sport and we are supporting it very strongly. For the first time, there is a trail that anybody with a bit of training can try. It's one of the best sea kayak routes in the world and it's right on our doorstep."

Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: "I'm delighted that this kayaking route is being developed in this way and will help visiting enthusiasts make the most of the experience."

Willis said the idea for the trail crystallised after he took up the sport five years ago. "There are so many places to explore up Scotland's west coast, but many of them you can't get to by road," he said.

"This is a way to see Scotland from a completely different angle and get a feel for the history and geography of the area.

"There's a massive potential here for the trail to operate like the West Highland Way for walkers. You could get businesses taking people's bags from one spot to the next, or carrying boats for people. It could be a whole new industry for the west coast."

One obstacle facing kayakers off Scotland is the dreaded Corryvreckan whirlpool – a raging tidal maelstrom which sits between the northern tip of Jura and neighbouring Scarba.

Willis said: "Visiting sea kayakers are scared witless by the Corryvreckan, and I know really good paddlers from places like Norway who're worried to paddle here because we have such fast tides. So the guidebook tells people how to kayak the coast safely."

The route has been devised by Willis, 50, and his wife Liz, 46, who live in Strontian, Lochaber. They paddled the whole trail themselves with light camping equipment on board – allowing them to spend the night in spots previously known only to seals.

"There are no sign posts, and we're not telling people where to camp," Willis insisted. "We don't want to concentrate kayakers on a few beaches. We hope this trail will spread the impact of sea kayaking along the entire coast."

The guide also highlights out of the way places, such as ruined castles, that kayakers can visit. "Scotland's west coast is one of the best recreational sea-kayaking environments in the world, which is why people have been paddling there for 140 years," said Willis.

• The guide-book to the Scottish Kayak Trail has been published by kayaking specialists Pesda Press.

USA Release Date, DVD-Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown

1st December 2009. That's the date on which we're aiming to release the NTSC version of the DVD for the USA / Canadian markets priced $29.95.

Retail distribution will be handled by The Heliconia Press and web orders will be fulfilled directly by a company in Colorado.

1st November 2009 remains the date of the UK / European release of the PAL version priced £19.95. Distribution is being handled by Cordee and web orders will be fulfilled by me, Liz and daily trips to the local post office!

24th October is when we'll hopefully sell our first copies, at the SCA Paddle 09 event in Perth, where the 'premier' of the DVD is the opening event at 11am. We'll have a box of DVDs which we'll sell at a special introductory offer.