Paddler circumnavigating eastern US and part of Canada makes stop in Queens

by Brittany Wentzell

  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p><p>Rich Brand, a motivational speaker and adventurer, stopped in Brooklyn on his journey to circumnavigate the eastern United States and part of Canada. He&#8217;s clocked thousands of kilometres and has thousands to go yet.</p>
  • <p>PHOTO COURTESY CAPTUREDHEARTBEATS.COM</p><p>A screen capture of Brand&#8217;s progress along the Nova Scotian coastline.</p>

It was a happy coincidence when Rich Brand pulled his kayak up in Brooklyn just before the July 8 weekend.

It just so happened that the Brooklyn Marina was putting on their Get Out On The Water Day on July 8 and Brand was happy to volunteer with the festivities even after kayaking dozens of kilometres earlier that week, and thousands over the past couple years.

"I showed up (in Brooklyn) two nights ago and (the organization) was like 'We have kids coming, do you want to talk to kids?' and so here I am, trying to help out and show people what's possible," he said.

Brand is currently on his way around Nova Scotia as a part of a trip to circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and parts of Canada under his company Captured Hearts. He's also professionally sponsored.

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Brand is a motivational speaker, photographer and of course, an adventurer.

"I do motivational speeches for kids from middle school to college to show them what's possible by getting their butts outdoors and doing," he said.

Brand says he tells kids to chase their dreams, meet new people and make new adventures.

"There are phenomenal people out there in this world and you just have to go out and say 'Hi' to them," he said.

Diving right in

Brand wasn't always a kayaker. He'd only tried it a handful of times before taking on a huge trip, kayaking the Mississippi River, which runs over 3,700 kilometres.

"This is my fifth kayak trip in my life," he laughed.

Brand started his current trip in January 2016 in New Orleans. He took a break for the winter and went back at it a few months ago, starting in Portland, Maine - the spot that he stopped the first leg of his journey back on October 16, 2016.

He has traveled nearly 5,000 kilometres and it's all a part of his mantra of getting out there and never missing a moment.

"You can't talk the talk if you don't walk the walk."

On his way through communities Brand likes to not only stop and speak to locals on the ground, but he also likes to engage with youth at schools, universities and youth groups. He has a following of students on social media after speaking at schools throughout the United States.

Out on the open ocean

The kayak that Brand uses is tiny, but he certainly isn't and it's hard to imagine someone as tall as him sitting in it.

"Seaward Kayaks, they built the boat for me ... I've got an inch off either side, it's a skinny boat, but it's 19-feet-long; it runs like a champ," he said.

But feeling tiny is part of the appeal.

"Nothing will make you feel so small than when you're out on the ocean in a 19-foot little kayak and whales are in your neighbourhood," he said.

Brand paddles around 30 to 35 kilometres a day starting usually in the late morning after eating and doing stretches.

"I get up in the morning ... break down my camp, make breakfast," he said. He also suits up in a dry suit, life jacket, and carries an emergency radio.

Brand adds he has to eat a lot throughout the day to keep his energy and calories up.

"I pretty much snack all day," he laughed, adding he was going to clean the town of Liverpool out of food before he left.

He has paddled along the Nova Scotia coastline, stopping in places along the Acadian Shore and Shelburne. Just before hitting Brooklyn, Brand spend the night at Kejimkujik Seaside.

Speaking to LighthouseNOW, Brand said he was excited to take in Lunenburg and although he would be quite far along the Nova Scotia coastline when the Tall Ships Regatta arrives, he would be getting a ride to Halifax to take them in as well.

From there, Brand will cut through the Canso Causeway as he says the coastline around Northern Cape Breton is too rugged for his liking and he will likely hit Montreal around Halloween. After that, he'll work on the Great Lakes, hit the Mississippi and end back in New Orleans.

"This is my normal and this is my life and it's significantly different than most people and I believe I can do it, and you can't inspire kids by sitting on the couch," said Brand

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