Doug Van Doren began sea kayaking in 1990. Prior to that he was an avid outdoorsmen, and enjoyed kayaking and mountain hiking. Once becoming interested in sea kayaking he began researching various types of sea kayaks and paddling techniques. “Traditional” paddling was then only done by a very few people outside of Greenland, and mostly for rolling rather than distance paddling. It was thought to be inferior by the vast majority of American and European paddlers. Doug didn’t believe this. He trusted native people’s wisdom in developing this technique over 5,000 years. He assumed the problem was not that “they did not know what they were doing, but that we did not know what they were doing.” He read as much as he could about traditional paddling and watched some old movie footage of paddling in Greenland, then practiced copying these styles of paddling. Especially helpful was the research of John Heath, dating back to the 1940s and information from Al Anderson of Betsie Bay Kayaks.Over several years, Doug learnt that the traditional paddle along with a traditionally shaped kayak are extremely efficient for all types of paddling conditions, especially for distance and rough water.
In 1995 Van Doren wrote, produced and was the on-camera teacher for the instructional video, “‘Greenland’ Style Kayaking.” He holds “Level 3 coach” certification by the British Canoe Union.
He teaches traditional kayaking and does rolling demonstrations at many symposia and instructional events across the United States. He makes his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan near Lake Michigan, one of the “Great Lakes.” He paddles a great deal in the Great Lakes, and has paddled many coastal areas of the United States in both the Atlantic and Pacific, as well as the coast of Wales.
He is married to Colleen and has a son Aidan. Kayaking is an avocation, not a vocation for Van Doren, who is a clergy person, pastoring a large congregation.
Doug is featured in ‘This is the Sea 2′.