After decades of exploring, where do the boldest sea kayakers, whitewater boaters and canoe trippers fantasize about paddling? That’s the question that inspired Paddling Magazine to query some of our long-time contributors and favorite nomadic aquaphiles to ask after their dream destinations, most challenging expeditions and what a life of exploration really means anyways.

In this series of profiles, these exceptional water-wanderers share their top trips, best advice and biggest blunders. And whether their ambitious journeys were taken in the name of discovery, education, environment or glory, these legends affirm what we already know: There’s far more to explore by paddle than anyone could fit in a lifetime—but don’t let that stop you from trying.

[Check back in the coming weeks for the remaining profiles in this series.]

[ Plan your next adventure with the Paddling Trip Guide ]


Sea kayaking’s most prolific filmmaker from the pre-YouTube era, Justine Curgenven is the creator of the award-winning This Is The Sea series. She’s completed expeditions and films in New Zealand, Kamchatka, Patagonia and Alaska to name just a few, and made forays into paddling with a single blade for This is Canoeing and Greenland-style for This is the Roll. She’s swept the field with six category wins at the Paddling Film Festival.

Paddler: Justine Curgenven
Location: Ucluelet, British Columbia
Occupation: Adventure filmmaker, kayak guide
Latest Project: Paddling Magazine reached Justine the day before she left on a three-week trip, collecting garbage from the beaches of the Great Bear Rainforest.

 

Woman smiling as her sea kayak plunges into the surf
Definitely cackling right now. | Photo: Dan Cullen

Q & A with Justine Curgenven

1 One paddling destination I dream of returning to is..

Iceland. This location still captivates me because Iceland is a great size with stunning scenery, hot springs and big challenge on its surf-ridden East coast.

2One place I dream of paddling but haven’t yet is…

the Kuril Island chain between Japan and Russia. This trip excites me because I love journeying in beautiful, remote areas with strong currents and challenging conditions.

3My biggest pet peeve is…

piles of used toilet paper in the wilderness.

4One thing I can’t live without on trip is…

challenge.

5The greatest advice I ever got was…

“just ask the girl if you can have a turn on the swing,” and that was from my dad.

6The kayaks I’m paddling most right now are…

Valley Avocet for surfing and Valley Etain for longer trips.

7The best paddling companions are…

my partner or friends but that’s true only when we have the same goals and expectations.

8My biggest blunder was…

not redistributing drybags into my back hatch once I’d eaten all the heavy food for a 30-kilometer crossing. I learned always to be slightly stern heavy to help avoid weather cocking.

9The hardest part about making that dream trip happen is…

finding like-minded companions with the time and money.

10Happiness is…

most likely to be found when doing the things you love with people you love.

11My most challenging expedition was…

kayaking 1,550 miles along the Aleutian Islands. It taught me it’s possible to make an 85-kilometer crossing with no information about the currents if you do as much research as possible, trust your instincts and are prepared to paddle until you get there.

The award-winning follow-up film, Kayaking The Aleutians, traces Curgenven’s 101-day journey with novice paddling partner Sarah Outen. The two battle winds, swells, currents and massive crossings to become the first to paddle the remote and stormy archipelago in modern times.

12What scares me most is…

losing my health or ability to get out there.

13My favorite camp meal is…

freshly caught and battered fish and tacos with guacamole, homemade coleslaw, grated cheese and salsa.

14The true gift of big trips is…

perspective.

Paddling Magazine Issue 63 | 2021 Paddling Trip Guide Cover

This article was first published in Paddling Magazine Issue 64. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.


Definitely cackling right now. | Photo: Dan Cullen

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