This past Friday evening was the date for the en memoriam party in honor of the late Vladimir Vanha of NOAH Intl. It was a veritable whose-who gathering of original southeastern boaters and founding members of the Nantahala Community; as well as Vanha family members, sweethearts, and lucky visitors that serendipitously found their way up the mountain and into the celebration!     

If a stranger had wandered into the crowd that gathered to honor the late Vladimir Vanha of NOAH Boats, they would have been struck by any number of first impressions….

What a great vibe there was among the group! Of course, any group of people who would gather to celebrate the contributions that Vladimir Vanha made to the paddling community are going to have a “vibe” (come on—this is Vladimir that was being celebrated, the man that put ionization and boat design in the same sentence!).

The evening turned into a gathering of a veritable whose-who of original southeastern boaters/founding members of the Nantahala Community….and beyond. And of course the normal banter you might hear among a group showing their fair share of gray hair/reading glasses was not to be found here. Coming off the river, off bike rides, trail runs and kid management, you are talking folks that have hardly slowed down since they first arrived in the Nantahala Community in the 1970’s.

The open invitation extended well beyond the Nantahala community where Vladimir spent his “formative” boat designing years, and the likes of Klaus Lettman, Vladimir’s niece Suzanna, the late William Nealy’s wife Holly, Risa Shimoda et all joined in the festivities.

The evening took place at Endless River Adventures and was hosted by Ken Kastorff and Kent Ford (who was visiting from California with his awesome wife Shawna. Once everyone had time to socialize, Ken brought the group together and “the stories” began. All the while, a background slide show of photos of Vladimir, his boats and those that paddled them helped add a personal touch to the memories being shared.

In addition, Kent–a well-known videographer put together a poignant documentary of Vladimir with first-hand narration from such local luminaries as Jimmy Holcomb, Payson Kennedy and Ken Kastorff. Kent had presumed that with so many of the voices of the documentary in attendance, hearing the stories first hand would have been much more fun than watching a video. But the stories were so much fun that once everyone exhausted his/her special memory, everyone gathered round to watch the video!

As if the friendships and stories were not enough, another highlight of the evening was when ERA’s own Issac Deal and Bradley Adams (members of the bands Commonfolk and the Freighthoppers) arrived in time to treat everyone to some incredible blue grass music.

It was a great way to celebrate the life and contributions of a quirky, spirited, innovative, special guy who can sit back and smile knowing that many of the paddlers who first embraced his radical designs still enjoy sitting around with each other and we hope within the spirit of Vladimir himself.


And take the opportunity to purchase a copy of the video documentary

“Ideas are born out of Spirit: [“S” meaning essence of “pir” = pire ie fire]. Here fire and water mix. Striving to match proportions for multibenefit of pyr-a-mids, boats purified by the fire perform better.”

“Besides spirit, Noah again has innovations which the clone peddlers may be boasting as new ten years from now”.

“Noah´s solid state Bio-Dynamics: NASA found that its gadgets make their space men tired. Since they began to ionize their surroundings they last longer. Sickness rate in a hi-rise building in Switzerland went down 30% after ionization.”