Vytas “Vick” Marciulionis joined SMSKN in June, 2017, just a year after moving to Maine with his wife, Lenka. Vick and Lenka began kayaking with a half-day guided tour of Portland Harbor just weeks after arriving, and they were hooked. Vick, in particular, found the freedom of being on the water in a small boat a thrill, and he quickly sensed not only a community to be a part of, but a chance to learn and grow as a person and as a paddler. As his experience deepened, Vick found that sea kayaking offers a lot more than getting from point A to point B. As he puts it, “the tranquility of a foggy day in the bay, the thrill of rough water paddling, the adventure of camping on a remote island, just looking at the chart and imagining what’s out there–sea kayaking provides a different experience every time we hit the water.”

From the start, Vick was committed to growing as a paddler. Mastering new skills not only enabled him to paddle in an ever-widening range of conditions, he found it fun and rewarding in itself. With the incomparable coast of Maine as his classroom, Vick sought out instruction from several of our many excellent local coaches, pursuing credentials from both the American Canoe Association (ACA) and British Canoeing (BC). He believes in the need “to be self-sufficient–to make good decisions, stay safe, save myself and assist others. This motivates me to learn and grow as a paddler. It’s my guiding principle when paddling by myself, with a partner, or within a larger group.” Last fall he earned his Sea Kayak Leader Award (BC 4-star) and will soon travel to Wales to assess for Advanced Sea Kayak Leader (BC 5-star). He’s a particular advocate for the need to have a solid roll. “For paddlers looking to expand their skills,” he says, “work with a professional to learn a roll. This will make you an asset on group paddles. A roll will also unlock another level of learning–you’ll be surprised how much faster you acquire new skills if you can push your own limits and not worry about time-consuming self-rescues.” Anyone who has paddled with Vick immediately senses his natural leadership ability. His exceptional skill is always combined with deep modesty and a soft-spoken way of being helpful in every situation. He loves the adventure of challenging conditions, but is never reckless. To paddle with Vick is to feel confident that he’ll be there if you need him.

Vick has an interesting philosophy about his equipment. “My first boat was a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165, followed shortly by a Current Designs Vision 140 and an NDK Explorer.” “However,” he says, “I prefer to rotate boats every year or two. There are always interesting second-hand boats available at a reasonable price. This allows me to experience different kayaks, avoid getting locked into a single model, and relocate my budget to learning and traveling opportunities instead. I typically keep a tandem (currently Point 65 DoubleShot), a longer expedition boat (Rockpool Taran and NDK Explorer), and a shorter playboat (Dagger Meridian).”

This range of boats allows Vick to pursue the many things he enjoys. “I enjoy kayak surfing and camping the most. Surf lets us practice a variety of paddling skills in a single trip. It also instills a healthy respect for the environment; there’s no winning against the sea, only learning to survive.” The past year saw Vick in a remarkable number of paddling situations. “Adventures are best when shared with family and friends,” he says, “and 2022 was a busy year, with plenty of memorable trips.” Here’s a sampling:

  • Skiing on Eagle Island was awesome. I’m looking forward to ‘Skieagle 2023’ (watch SMSKN Meetup postings).

  • In April I had great fun competing in the Kenduskeag Stream race together with Brad Agius.

  • I joined Joe Guglielmetti on several epic offshore trips – visited Machias Seal Island (a disputed territory between USA and Canada). We paddled across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia and back, caught a downwind run from Portland to Seguin Island – and many others.

  • I visited Iceland in May, paddled, camped and hiked stunning landscape with Michael & Kaitlyn Pulju, and my brother.

  • I achieved a personal goal of paddle-camping every month of the calendar year–special thanks to local paddlers for their support and company.

  • Had the privilege to learn with John Carmody, Guðni Viktorsson, and numerous other coaches.

  • I circumnavigated Vinalhaven with Kyle Martin in a single day out of Rockport.

  • I solo crossed Casco Bay – something I always wanted to do.

So what lies ahead for Vick? Of course he’ll continue to paddle the Maine coast, regularly joining his SMSKN friends for all kinds of paddles. He organizes the club’s pool sessions, and is always willing to help others acquire new skills. He’s also got his sights on another Blackburn Challenge (an open-ocean race around Cape Ann in Massachusetts)–this time in a tandem with Lenka. He’s also game for another Kenduskeag Stream run.

Thanks, Vick, for all you bring to SMSKN. For those of you who have not yet paddled with this guy, keep an eye out for his many postings on Meetup.