Mark Muschamp: Senior Volunteer with Sea Shepherd UK, London, tells why Gearlab Paddles Work
By Gearlab Outdoors, and Mark Muschamp
Gearlab first got acquainted with Mark Muschamp when they learned of his mission to kayak the coastline of Wales to raise money for Sea Shepherd. One thing led to another and a few months later Gearlab and Sea Shepherd linked up on a big project. This January, they announced a collaboration to make a limited-edition collection of painted paddles embossed with the Sea Shepherd logo. All profits of the paddles sold have been donated back to Sea Shepherd.
The founders of Gearlab believe strongly in the advocacy and protection of our outdoor assets on land and in water. “We believe in the work Sea Shepherd does, and we feel our mission is aligned with theirs. Sea Shepherd has a very strong reputation in our industry. It’s an honor to have put together this program with them,” says Chung-Shih Sun.
Here is Mark’s story.
Each year for the last four years, I have undertaken a big personal challenge to raise money for Sea Shepherd, a global marine wildlife conservation charity dedicated to the protection of our oceans and all that live in them.
In 2017 I decided, with three other Sea Shepherd volunteers, to kayak the entire coastline of Wales, some 250 miles. I looked hard at my equipment to understand what I needed to make the long days of kayaking up to 40 miles at a time as easy as possible. By doing research on the internet, I learned about the benefits of using the Greenland style of paddle over long distances and the benefits of this type of blade in high winds. I decided to give the greenland paddle a try and haven’t touched a ‘Euro’ style paddle since.
Once the decision was made to try a Greenland paddle, I started looking at the various manufacturers and materials available. I had to be absolutely certain I was using the strongest and lightest materials available. Our journey took us up to 20 miles out to sea with no support. I couldn’t afford to be stranded with a broken paddle. The Gearlab paddle seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I contacted Mike Shih at Gearlab and he very generously sent me an Nukilik paddle to try.
While training for our challenge, we did some long days at sea. But before this I wanted to give the Greenland paddle a trial, so I paddled 30 miles down a local river. I was blown away. After 30 miles of almost non-stop paddling, my arms and wrists felt better than ever and my speed had not suffered one bit. I was hooked.
Next was the rolling test. Would I be able to roll the kayak as easily as I could with a Euro paddle? To put it simply, it transformed my roll from a rather frantic affair to a much smoother, more controlled roll.
As someone who spends a lot of time on the water in powerful RIBs, recovering discarded fishing gear and rescuing wildlife, the calm of being in a sea kayak gives me a better opportunity to see the coastline close up and enjoy it for all its beauty. The quietness of the Greenland paddle helps to further this experience.
Our trip around the Welsh coastline had to be split into two after the weather turned bad in 2017. We successfully finished our challenge in 2018, raising over £10,000 for this worthwhile cause. My next trip will be for pleasure, doing a tour of the west coast of Scotland.
My fundraising challenge was so successful thanks to the incredible support of companies like Gearlab, and Sea Shepherd is eternally grateful. The more recent collaboration of the Gearlab Sea Shepherd paddle is so exciting. The generosity of this awesome company has made a huge impact on our efforts to defend, conserve and protect our oceans.