Who we are
First and foremost, we're paddlers. We like the idea of being in a little boat on big water: the feeling of buoyancy; the sound of the blade as it pulls through the water; the rush of carving down the face of a wave; the quiet stillness of an isolated island.
We also like the camaraderie, the shared experiences, and the stories of journeys that get told and retold over a pint at the local pub.
How it all began
41° North was an idea that was born on the water. Friends and paddlers, Jason Bristol and Mark Pecot, were dismayed by the lack of high quality sea kayak instruction in northern Ohio. Living on a Great Lake, with quick access to such amazing places to paddle, Jason and Mark saw both an opportunity and a challenge. While local politicians debated about the need for lakefront redevelopment, these two decided not to wait to begin taking full advantage of��Cleveland's greatest asset: Lake Erie. Business meetings were held while bobbing around in 3 ft swells. The name was settled on somewhere 1 mile offshore of downtown Cleveland. And in April 2003, 41° North was launched.
Today, 41° North is recognized as one of the top sea kayaking schools in the Great Lakes region. Our recipe for success has been simple: find the best trained instructors & guides, buy the best equipment, take care of the environment and your clients, remember paddling is about having fun, and just add water.
Our mission since 2003 has been pretty simple:
- offer the highest quality sea kayak instruction for all levels;
- help people discover the opportunities for sea kayaking in the Great Lakes;
- protect and preserve the environments we paddle in.
Of course, a mission is just a bunch of words unless its put into action. That's why 41° North:
- uses only the best ACA-certified instructors in the area and teaches a comprehensive curriculum of ACA-approved coastal (sea) kayaking courses from basic skills to open water instructor training;
- offers a wide range of affordable ways to get on the water, including hourly rentals, our popular 2.5 hour sunset tours (which we haven't raised the price of in six years!), classes, full day trips and multi-day adventures;
- practices Leave No Trace principles in all our programs and trips, and purchases carbon offsets to reduce our businesses emissions footprint to zero.
41° North's Instructors and Guides
41° North instructors and guides are professionally trained and certified by the American Canoe Association (ACA), the British Canoe Union (BCU) or both.
Owner of 41° North, Mark Pecot has been involved in leading and teaching outdoor education programs for the past 12 years. An accomplished paddler and natural teacher, Mark's wilderness experiences include travels throughout Wisconsin, Maine, the Chesapeake, the Carolinas, Georgia, the Florida Keys, and Nova Scotia.
Mark is an ACA-certified Level 4 Sea Kayak Instructor Trainer, a Level 5 Advanced Open Water Sea Kayak Instructor, a certified Wilderness First Responder, and a trained Wilderness Ethics instructor with the outdoor organization Leave No Trace. Mark is a BCU 4-Star paddler, and has completed BCU 5-Star Training. Mark also serves as the Chair of the ACA Ohio-Penn Division's Coastal Kayak Committee, and is a voting member of the ACA National Coastal Kayak Committee.
Jason's love of sea kayaking is a natural extension of his other favorite outdoor activities: downhill skiing, scuba diving, and backpacking. Jason is a PADI certified scuba diver, and has explored multiple destinations throughout the waters of the Netherlands Antilles and the British West Indies. In addition to paddling and diving, Jason is a seasoned backpacker who has hiked multiple sections of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and North Carolina, as well as extended trips throughout England, Scotland, France, Spain, and Italy.
Jason Bristol co-founded 41° North with Mark Pecot in March 2003. He is an ACA certified Level 3 Sea Kayaking instructor whose easy-going style ensures that his students learn a lot and have fun doing it.
Since his initial voyage in a kayak; Nick has been hooked on the beauty of the sport and especially enjoys the graceful marriage of balance, strength and efficiency it affords. Kayaking has taken him to the Carolina coast, the waters of Canada and literally all across Lake Erie. Hopeful future trips include Maine, the Pacific Northwest and if dreams really do come true, Wales. Beyond the cockpit of his “ship”, you can find Nick tinkering with any thing he can get his hands on; from construction methods to tying knots, he is always trying to find a way to improve function and/or form. Other interests include youth ministry, cooking, hiking, backcountry skiing, and enjoying������marital bliss as a newlywed.
John's enthusiasm for kayaking is just another facet of his love of the outdoors. A native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, John grew up surrounded by water and took to it at an early age. He started with multi-day & whitewater canoe trips, and raced in both solo and tandem events.�������������� John also enjoys backpacking, and has hiked Isle Royle, parts of the Appalachian trail, and the North Country Trail. When on quiet back country rivers he can be found fly fishing and relaxing around a campsite. John is a self-diagnosed paddling addict and gear hound, and his love of the outdoors and kayaking is contagious. John especially enjoys paddling in open water and surf.
Wendy Atkinson brings extensive experience to the 41 North staff. A native of New Brunswick, Canada, Wendy has paddled extensively in Atlantic Canada, Maine, and the Great Lakes. Her most recent expedition was a 1200 mile (that's right!) solo paddle on the MacKenzie River from Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean.
In addition to paddling, Wendy is a flight nurse, an avid climber, and a motorcycle enthusiast. Wendy brings her experience and skills to bear in guiding backcountry trips, where her patience, good humor, and attentiveness to the needs of the group make combine to make everything run smoothly. Wendy holds an ACA Level 4 Sea Kayak instructor's certificate
Marius tried sailing in his younger days, but after discovering that sailboats don't roll up quite so easily (the sails get in the way and all those bits of rigging are really confusing) he decided to turn to a more sea-worthy vessel. Like most of us, Marius began kayaking by venturing out for a glorious sunset on Lake Erie to the chorus of crashing waves and was instantly hooked. His real love is paddling in surf and big seas. Marius currently holds BCU 4-Star Sea award and is an ACA certified Level 4 Sea Kayak Instructor.
You wouldn't know it by looking at him today, but Josh Tatro first hopped in a kayak four years ago as a participant in a Level 1 course. By far, his favorite aspect of the sport is rolling and he enjoys the challenge of finding new and creative ways to roll his boat. His easy going manner and teaching style belies his young age. Josh has been on extended trips in Georgian Bay, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Isle Royale, and in addition to kayaking enjoys backpacking, mountain biking, and rock-climbing. Josh is an ACA Level 4 Sea Kayak Instructor, and is a BCU 4-Star paddler.
Fiona Clark (Security; Customer Relations)
You'll catch Fiona working light guard duty down at the boathouse, greeting clients at the rental barn, and keeping the local squirrel population in check. While "Noni" doesn't get on the water as much as she'd like, her favorite trip is the fall Erie Islands Weekend. Fiona is an AKC certified mongrel with no formal kayak training whatsoever...but we like her all the more for it!