Friday, April 17, 2009

East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival, Day 1

A small group of us arrived last night at a semi reasonable hour. The drive was long and we were all tired plus there was still camp to set up and stuff to rearrange in the car to make things a little easier for the morning dash. I am glad I went and bought a nice large car camping tent. I used to just bring one of my backpacking tents, but I have realized over many kayak car camping trips, that changing in and out of wet clothes, especially neoprene in a very low tent is not easy or fun to do. I had to search around for a tent that met some basic criteria and I think I finally found it in the Kelty Green River 4 tent. While the tent does have a few issues such as shallow side pockets, I am happy with the generous height of the tent, the spacious interior (plenty of room for two people and tons of gear, three people with some gear, or four people in a pinch), and the vestibule is screened off and has privacy curtains. Next up might be to get some nice cozy cots.

Day one of any festival is always crazy. This one was no different. Morning came way too soon and I was still tired from the drive down. At least I had thought to bring ear plugs which I think helped get me enough sleep to survive. I started off the day in my paddling clothes as there was not going to be enough time to do the registration then run back to change. Plus we would have to drive to the registration area so there was no point in moving the car back and forth. I grabbed some lunch and stashed that in the car with the paddling stuff and off we went. Registration was relatively straight forward as I had done it early, but a few people needed to register for classes and the meal for Friday night and that took longer. We did manage to get it done before my class had to start but it was a little tight. KayakerBoy and I got the boats in the water and I had to introduce flat water techniques to him so he could play with my boat while I was in class. This also allowed me to have my other boat available at the beach for my second class. He is new to flat water and still pretty new to white water too. The sea kayak is quite different from a recreational flat water boat and a white water boat so it took him a bit of getting used to. I am hoping he can pick up enough skills as he is hopefully going to be my partner on this grand adventure. He signed up for a few of the beginner classes and also had enough time to explore the classroom lectures (that I have never had time to get to) and time to play with my boat on the water.

My first class was early in the morning considering there was registration to take care of first. I did manage to make it to the class in time. Today was supposed to be one of my more relaxed days but after the morning rush, I think that set the tone for the rest of the day. Basically running around trying to get things done. My first class was core strokes for white water paddlers. I have recently found a love for white water kayaking and have been trying to improve my skills quickly so I can play longer and safer on the river. I also feel that learning white water will further help my sea kayaking skills as I will be able to adapt to a changing water environment, I hope. I felt this class might be a good class to take to ensure I was doing things right and to learn new skills. In the end, I was above the level of the class. While each person comes in with a unique skill set, the instructor has to find the balance between teaching everyone something without teaching stuff that is too advanced for half of the class. I had this happen to me last year when I was at this festival. So while I didn't learn anything new, I did learn how to do some of my strokes better. While this is a good thing, I am not sure it was worth my time and money to take the class. I have a hard time determining which classes are appropriate for my level of skill. Mostly because I don't know what my skill level is. This is why I am eager to take a training class and do an assessment, then I will have a starting point for where I stand.

My second class was about the same as the first class, the skills taught were good to go over again and I did learn a few new things, but overall the course was a little slow for my skill set. I was actually rather disappointed by the first day's worth of classes. I hadn't been able to make it to any of the lectures and I barely had time to run around and check out the vendors. Day one down, only two days left. Hopefully the next few days will be more promising. I will be spending the next two days in courses out on the ocean which will be exciting, I just hope I am ready for it.

The rest of the day was taken up with loading the boats back up on the car and driving back to the campsite. We then had to hang up all the wet gear and get changed for dinner. We had registered for the dinner that night, which was bar-b-que. It was nice to be able to socialize with a few people I either already knew or had met last year. The talk after the meal was about a trip someone had taken that was called the "Vacation from Hell". He and a few of his friends had won a trip and ended up doing some paddling up in the Arctic. It was really interesting to watch and hear about some of their difficulties.

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