WHO WE ARE
We Are Sea Kayak Carolina
Owners: Deb Mitchum | Scott
Szczepaniak | Sue Kershaw |
Staff: William Seabrook | Steve Bleezarde | "Jammer"
Sea Kayak Carolina is a paddling
school: All three owners are passionate paddlers
— and each is passionate about getting others excited about
kayaking. All three are American Canoe Association Open
Water Coastal Kayak Instructors.
Pictured (l to r) are owners Deb Mitchum, Scott Szczepaniak and Sue Kershaw.
Sea Kayak Carolina is the premier kayak store in South Carolina. We carry boats we paddle ourselves, and gear that we use ourselves.
The instructional staff of Sea Kayak Carolina loves to work with paddlers of all levels. We are experienced at teaching the basics to people that have never been in a kayak before — in an introductory class, or a mellow tour around Oak Island at Folly Beach. We will challenge intermediate paddlers in our rescue classes and surf classes. We have the experience to help our students learn the finer points of boat control, strokes and maneuvers, and navigation. If it happens in a kayak, we can help!
Sue Kershaw is our S&M expert! (Strokes & Maneuvers, that is.) Sue is adept at helping paddlers of all experience levels to refine their grace and style. She is precise in her strokes, and proven at perfecting her students’ strokes.
Sue's precision is a clue to her other life: she is a Chief Financial Officer for an international business consulting company based in Boston, Massachusetts. But they let her live in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and fly her "up North" as needed. Sue was also certified as a South Carolina Coastal Master Naturalist in the Summer of 2008 - she knows her critters!
Sue became serious about kayaking in 2006, obtaining her first ACA Instructor certification in the Spring of 2007. On the fast track, she became an owner of Sea Kayak Carolina in early 2008. She keeps our books in order (Sue is a Certified Public Accountant), brings over 25 years of business acumen to the shop, and most importantly, loves to share her passion for kayaking with others. She is an awesome instructor, and was awarded her ACA Coastal Kayak Open Water (L 4) Instructor certification by Dale Williams in September 2008, and was certified by as an ACA Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer in the Fall of 2011 (mentored by Josh Hall). Sue has trained with Tom Nickles, Gordon Brown, Jen Kleck, Steve Sherrer, Hadas Feldman, Jean Totz, Jeff Allen, Josh Hall and Dale Williams. Sue's primary sea kayak is a Maelstrom Vital.
Sue is an ACA Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer Level 3, and Coastal Kayak Open Water Instructor, Level 4.
Mitchum is also known as the “Alpha Dolphin!” Deb
is the one you want to teach you to surf a kayak, roll a
kayak, and the one that you want on the big, wide ocean when
things become challenging.
Deb was an occasional paddler for years, but got serious in 2004 and decided to learn to roll. So, she learned to roll, and then she learned to teach rolling (she is among the best roll instructors in the world.) She learned to surf a sea kayak, and learned to teach others this skill.
Deb also competes as a surf kayaker in the short boats. She was awarded her Open Water Instructor Certification from Josh Hall and Steve Hutton. She is a BCU 4* sea paddler; having trained with Gordon Brown (her favorite coach!) Steve Maynard, Steve Braden, Phil Eckels, Ben Lawry, Mark Schoon, Mel Rice, Fiona Whitehead, Nigel Dennis, Tom Nickels, Dale Williams, Tom Bergh, Nigel Foster and other greats. Deb has been paddling a NDK Romany hard for the past few years.
Deb is a Charleston native. She is a Registered Nurse and also works as an executive in the health insurance industry.
Ryann joined the ownership team of SKC in January of 2013.
Though she was born in TN and raised all over the south, she
spent the last 15 years in New York starting a family and
fine tuning her skills as a middle school biology teacher.
Growing up in Lake County Florida afforded lots of
opportunities for her to learn about southern flora and
fauna first hand. From this environment she developed a love
for invertebrates and reptiles. To that end, her
volunteering at the SC Aquarium allows her to keep
learning. After paddling the glassy Folly river on a
beautiful fall day with Ashley, Don, Fern, Scott and Sue,
she was easily hooked. She loves to explore
Charleston’s pristine waterways with her fly-fishing husband
(who is now in heaven amongst the Lowcountry Redfish).
Scott Szczepaniak started paddling in the Spring of 1991. When he was recently described as 4/5ths fish – Scott thought that was the ultimate complement!
In addition to his love for sea kayaking, Scott has had a Coast Guard career, has been a SCUBA Instructor, and worked with Outward Bound as a marine science educator and ferry boat captain. He has been to sea on research vessels, tall ships, and training ships. He spent many years riding Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) ships and 1000’ container vessels into and out of Boston Harbor. Scott brings his experience as a marine science educator and boat captain to bear when teaching navigation, meteorology, oceanography and coastal ecology to his students. And anyone else within earshot!
Scott was certified as an Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor in the early 1990s by Vaughn Smith in the Atlantic Ocean on the backside of Cape Cod. He paddled extensively in New England before moving to Charleston, South Carolina in the Spring of 2002. Scott holds a traditional paddling endorsement with the ACA; he lists among his Greenland gurus Greg Stamer, Josh Hall, Ray and Margaret Killen, and Becky and Mark Molina. Some of his “euro-blade” mentors are Dale Williams, Karen Knight, Nigel Dennis, Josh Hall and Steve Hutton. Scott is an ACA Coastal Kayaking Instructor Trainer, Open Water, Level 4.
Scott is a member of Team P&H -- and often is seen paddling a P&H Aries or a P&H Cetus HV.
William is our shop manager in addition to being a full-time kayak instructor and guide. He was born and raised in the Charleston area and has been playing in the local waters since before he learned to walk — He did take a sabbatical from living here to serve 20-years in the U.S. Air Force, returning to the area fulltime when he retired in the spring of 2008.
William has been kayaking for around 13 years but really got serious about it when he retired from the Air Force. He is currently an American Canoe Association Level 4 Open Water Instructor.
He brings with him a wealth of knowledge about local waterways, and loves to share this information with his paddling friends and clients. In December of 2008 he founded the Charleston Sea Kayaking MeetUp group which has grown to more than 600 members and is one of the most active paddling groups in the area.
His biggest enjoyment comes from turning people on to paddling and watching them progress while sharing his love of the sport. He likes to say “When you’re kayaking you aren’t just observing the water environment you’re actually part of it.”
His favorite kayaking trip is to Deveaux Bank, paddling in his home waters of the North Edisto River. However, he’s also a developing ocean paddler who thinks surfing waves is the most fun you can have in saltwater.
Come by and visit William sometime at the shop and he’ll be happy to talk paddling with you, show you latest gear or help you find the right kayak for your paddling journey.
William is an ACA Coastal Kayak Open Water, Level 4 Instructor.
We Call Her “Jammer” Jane
Jane became passionate about kayaking after taking a Fundamentals of Coastal Kayaking Class taught by Scott and Sue. Though she started out as a modern (euro-blade) paddler, she discovered traditional / greenland-style (skinny blade) kayaking and realized this was the style she wanted to pursue. Jane enjoys teaching others about kayaking, both modern and traditional/greenlandic. In addition to assisting with on kayak classes and trips, Jane can be found in the shop “kayak hospital,” customizing and repairing all types of kayaks ( see our kayak repair page ). She also leads workshops for making a tuilik (the Greenland splash jacket/spray skirt), and other Greenland style kayaking gear.
Steve is an ACA Coastal Kayak Open Water Level 4 Instructor. He is our webmaster and also makes himself useful both as an instructor and as a guide. He began his paddling career shortly after moving to James Island from the northeast in 2001. An outdoor enthusiast, he has served in leadership roles with the scouting program, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society.
For the first few years, Steve's joy in kayaking came simply from the outdoor experience — getting on the water, into the marshes, and closer to our area's birds and other wildlife. in the past five years he has more actively pursued advanced paddling and instructor training, and he now enjoys ocean paddles and surfing. He has tremendous enthusiasm for paddling and sharing what he's learned.
“I had an instructor's perspective while I was learning...I was learning to teach at the same time I was learning to paddle,” he says. Keeping that in mind, and sharing his own learning experiences, Steve likes to help others develop their paddling skills and confidence. “It makes me a better teacher. I haven't forgotten some of those challenges I faced along the way.”
Some more Sea Kayak Carolina Staff
Meet Don! Don White (aka "Dogfish") is an ACA Coastal Kayak Open Water Level 4 Instructor. He can be found leading tours, and instructing classes both in Charleston and remotely. Don, with his wife Fern, specialize in working with couples. He is passionate about playing with new skills, maneuvers, rescue & towing techniques and teaching them to his students. "I'm a perfect example that you can teach an old DOGfish new tricks"!
Meet Ashley! Ashley Brown is an ACA Coastal Kayak Open Water Level 4 Instructor. She is our high energy instructor for many classes and tours. Check here for some cool video of Ashley surfing her Zegul Greenland-T!
Meet Mike! Mike Martin is an ACA Coastal Kayak Level 3 Instructor. You will meet him at the shop or on a tour most of the year.
Meet Alex! Alex Ward is an ACA Coastal Kayak Level 3 Instructor. He began his kayaking career upon returning to live in Charleston after 27 years away. Alex has had many interesting adventures living outside the lowcountry, having stints as a professional actor in New York City, traveling the country as a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus clown, working as a car salesman and even a middle school language arts and social studies teacher. Along with surfing his kayak, Alex enjoys paddling the local rivers, Charleston Harbor and out in the ocean. Alex claims that he is a great example of how someone who can't walk and chew gum at the same time can have a meteoric rise as a versatile and stable paddler. He is often engaged working with our clients as an instructor, guiding tours, or assisting in the shop.
Meet Fern! Fern White is an ACA Coastal Kayak Level 3 Instructor with an endorsement to teach rolling and an endorsement for Traditional Skills. You will see her at any Greenland class, on tours, or instructing classes with her husband. Ask her what her favorite stroke & maneuver is or ask her about rolling a kayak! She loves to co-instruct with her husband "Dogfish" and invent creative methods to help students learn.