Thursday, April 16, 2009

East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival

In growing to meet the challenge I feel I have laid down before myself, I will need to bolster my skills in order to handle paddling long distances on the ocean day after day. While I have paddled almost every weekend of the summer season last year, a majority of my paddling was on calm rivers or lakes. Not on the turbulent ocean. The ocean has its own life and dynamics, something I am not accustomed to but am eager to learn. And this adventure is all about learning and growing.

As one way to try to meet my goals of being able to physically handle a long distance paddle I have been looking at what festivals and courses are available in the area. Last year I went to the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival down in Charleston, SC. The drive is quite long, at nine hours, but the festival was well worth the trip last year. I had a very good time last year and my hopes are high again for this year. I am hoping to not only learn new skills, but to also have fun and play with the wide selection of boats available. I have started having some doubts that my boat is not appropriately sized for my weight (and losing weight doesn't help either) and as such it can be hard to handle on open water and windy conditions. While I can handle the boat, I find I have to do a lot of corrective strokes in order to maintain a straight track. Doing many corrective strokes detracts from the paddling and can be tiring over long distances. So either I need to get a boat more appropriate for my size/weight, or learn to better handle the boat. And along that line of thinking, a loaded boat handles far differently from an empty boat.

I looked into the pre- and post-festival offerings this year at the festival and was taken by the ACA L3 training and assessment class. At first I wasn't sure I wanted or needed this course. While I was interested in eventually being able to teach kayaking, I didn't know if it was worth taking a course that will only offer me a notch on the belt. In the end, I opted to pass on the ACA L3 training and assessment, but I did look into the Instructor Development Workshop and Instructor Certification Exam. Those turned out to be more what I was interested in over the long term if I want to get into teaching but alas they were quite expensive and I didn't think I was ready to take them. Plus I was positive I could find a school offering the classes more locally. So I added them to my list of things to do.

I eventually did register for 5 classes which is a little busy but still leaves me with some free time. I have two classes on Friday, one class on Saturday and two classes on the Sunday. My classes include doing 'core strokes for white water paddlers', 'intermediate fine tuning', 'short boat surfing', 'long boat surfing', and 'advanced open water paddling'. I finally managed to register for some of the ocean based classes and I am really looking forward to getting out on the ocean for the first time with my boat. I have had my boat for one complete season now and have only managed to get to the mouth of the ocean but not really on the ocean. As my dream for next year includes doing a two to three month expedition trip on the ocean, I will need ocean time and practice. This will hopefully be a good starting point.

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