New Training Coordinator Announced

After 10 long years as Training Chair, Jack Moskowitz turned the position over to Jessica Osedach at the KCCNY annual meeting and dinner in November.

Jack in Cucumber- Lower Yough
Jack in Cucumber- Lower Yough

During his tenure as training chair, Jack remained an active and engaged instructor to all who sought help, both formally and informally. The KCCNY training program has grown and improved under his direction. Perhaps 100s of students have come and gone during that time.
I still remember the first beginner weekend that Jack ran back on 2003, shortly after completing his instructor certification course at NOC. He moved the venue from Lake Sebago to Lake Ocquittunk in Stokes State Forest to a beautiful campsite and pavilion next to the lake. It was memorable because it poured rain the entire weekend. There was so much rain that we were forced to move the whitewater section to the nearly flat water section of the Upper Delaware to prevent the beginners from floating downstream to Philadelphia in a flood. Clare Tattersal showed up drenched on a motorcycle.
The beginner weekend has since moved to a better location on the Lower Lehigh at Glen Onoko. It has a great big pond sized eddy to practice the flat water moves, and a very gentle moving water section to learn the eddy turns and peel outs in a really friendly environment before moving on to an easy Class 2 river run on Day 2.
Jack also added many formal and informal river runs to the KCCNY schedule to bring the beginners along to more exciting Class 2 rivers like the Lehigh and Mongaup, and then up to Class 3 on the Lower Yough. He is nearly always present at pool sessions to teach and encourage the students. Jack also added the informal clinics to the pool sessions to add more than just learning to roll in the pool.
Jack has encouraged many of the enthusiastic students to go on for instructor certification and has nominated many for the Ed Alexander award. A few of them have even stuck with it. Jack was invited to join the ACA River Kayak Committee. It’s a committee made of primarily the best instructors in the country who meet and make improvements to the ACA instructional requirements for both students and instructors. It’s an evolving sport and the requirements are constantly being updated. He joins many of the most dedicated kayak instructors in the field such as Jerry MacAward, Janet Cowie, Kent Ford, and Mary DeReimer.
Many of Jack’s former students have continued to paddle and gone onto to become better paddlers or at least paddle bigger rivers. How many of you have benefited from Jack’s instruction? As I look around at current club members, I remember many of them as beginners that Jack helped along. Who knew that  Andy Frey learned to roll from Jack? That Steve McLuckie along with Linda was in his beginner class way back when? Or that crazy Wayne Gman was once an informal student and swam the Lower Yough on one of Jack’s trips? That Jessica was his student in the beginner weekend and was petrified? The beginner weekend wouldn’t be the same without Lori Cook and her current boyfriend. She holds the record for most beginner weekends attended.
Many more students have come and gone and only a few have stuck it out this long, but all of them have been fun and rewarding. Many friendships have evolved from teaching kayaking and many happy memories of adventures with great friends have been made. Jack doesn’t plan to give up teaching, but it’s time to give so new and younger blood have a chance to shine. We wish Jessica success and will support her all the way.
Jessica handling the big water
Jessica handling the big water

It’s fun and easy to be a KCCNY Trip Coordinator

Have you looked at the KCCNY trip schedule and wondered why there were so few trips posted? That’s because we rely on volunteers to post trips. So many of you paddle the rivers and look for KCCNY trips to join, but few of you volunteer to be the Trip Coordinator. Without those volunteers there would be no trips. KCCNY serves a need in the paddling community to provide a strong support group for folks just joining the sport, new to the area, or without a close circle of friends to run ad hoc trips. We bond together, make new friends and help each other going down the river. How did you get started in the sport? Think about giving back to others just getting started or moving up to a new class of river.

The responsibilities of the official trip coordinator are minimal and do not include responsibility for safely leading others down the river. Our official trip rules specifically state that everyone is responsible for themselves. You don’t have to be an expert paddler, or a swiftwater safety instructor to be a trip coordinator. It does help if you are familiar with the river that you are coordinating but it is not necessary.

So what the responsibilities?

Our key concern is maintaining our insurance coverage through the ACA. We follow the ACA guidelines:

These are common sense safety guidelines, such as signing waivers, wearing PFDs and helmets, carrying throw ropes etc. They are all things that you should be doing anyway.

The list of responsibilities and instructions for Trip Coordinators is on the KCCNY Website at

Post the trip, get everyone to the river, check for waivers and ACA event fees, run the river, notify the ACA at the close of the event. That’s it in a nutshell. As a trip coordinator you have the right to refuse to allow a person to join the trip if you feel that they cannot paddle it safely. We ask that the trip coordinators not to post the time and meeting place in the trip description so that anyone who wants to join has to contact you and you can screen them.

If every active club member can organize at least one trip per year, we would have a full trip schedule. There are Lehigh and Mongaup releases every other weekend (on alternate weeks this year, so essentially a local river every weekend), Deerfield and Lower Yough releases all summer, Stonycreek every other weekend, the Lackawaxen every Friday all summer and a variety of other rivers in the Northeast to pick from at all levels of difficulty. Sometimes, it even rains and we have another set of rivers to pick from with natural flow. We would love to have people add some new rivers to our schedule.

See you on the river

Fun at the Esopus Whitewater Funfest!

KCCNY started the Esopus Whitewater Funfest four years ago to enhance and expand the traditional Esopus Slalom race held the first weekend in June every year for the past 47 years. It’s a club tradition and driver for the June whitewater release on the Esopus River in Phoenicia NY (Catskills). This year it is June 1-2.
KCCNY added many new whitewater activities to slalom race in order to attract a wider variety of boating interests and added a group dinner and camping for the weekend- all at a very reasonable cost. Our goal is to bring KCCNY club members and the whitewater boating community together in a single fun event for all. We still have the slalom race too for those who are traditionalists about the Esopus Slalom race. The Funfest is designed as an activity to bring all of us together in a social event. It’s the only KCCNY major on-river event for the whole boating season. We have lots of river runs all summer long, but only one Funfest.
What do we have?
On Saturday, we have a full day of events and you can join nearly all of them (some overlap) or pick and choose from them.
The day starts with the downriver sprint race starting above the race course and ending at the bottom of the slalom course. It’s a timed event with the goal to finish as fast as possible. There are classes for different types of boats so you don’t have to be serious racer with a long boat to give this event a try. I’ve tried it and it’s exhausting. I’m definitely not used to paddling very fast as speed is not usually my goal.
Concurrent with the sprint race is the river-run. This is for the mellow and non-competitive boaters who enjoy floating down at a leisurely pace, surfing and enjoying the scenery along the way. The river-runners start upstream at the cemetery and paddle a 5 mile stretch of river down to the campground. The river is Class 2 suitable for experienced novices who have run Class 2 rivers before. The river-run is led by ACA certified Whitewater instructors (Jack Moskowitz and others) and informal instruction is available along the way. The river-run repeats on Sunday.
Mid-day on Saturday there is a freestyle event. This event started last year and was run as a down-the-river style event, where boaters did as many moves as possible on a section of the race course. Each move scores points, and difficult moves score higher. Even simple moves like front surfs, side-surfs and flat spins score points. Getting the boat on end scores higher points. It’s fun and friendly and not very serious. This year’s location and style of event will depend on water levels and features available. The river changes course every year, sometimes dramatically so you never know what to expect.
The last on-water event on Saturday is the boater-cross. The boater-cross is a mass start race on a short course through the slalom course, with the first boater to cross the finish line declared the winner. Again, there are different classes for different style of boats, and sometimes a bit of carnage along the way as boats jockey for position. Last year, the men’s and women’s and events were highly competitive.
By now, everyone is exhausted but the day is not over yet. After a brief rest, we gather for dinner in the town of Phoenicia to enjoy Linda McLuckie’s delicious dinner followed by her even more yummy home-made desserts. Make sure you save room for those. Dinner is BYOB. It’s relaxed and informal. If you are camping, you can head back the Sleepy Hollow campground down the road to continue the camaraderie. Get a good night’s sleep because you have another busy day on Sunday! Note that friends and family are welcome for dinner and camping and can sign-up for a dinner only option. So bring them along. The more the merrier!
Sunday starts bright and early with the slalom race. It’s an all-day event for the racers. When they are not actually on the course, they serve as judges to spot each gate for touches and misses. It is common for the boaters to enter more than one race class and each class has two runs with the best score being counted for that class. Some folks take this really seriously and are highly competitive, and others are there for the challenge and experience and there are boater classes for each.
For the mellow folks, there is another river-run on Sunday. The river-run will stop at the race course for lunch and cheer the racers on. Since the river-run goes through the race course, it is possible to try the course, or at least a few gates on the way down. It’s harder than it looks to make it through every gate- there are about 20 of them and some of them you have to through them going upstream.
Now that everyone is completely exhausted, everyone pitches in to take down the race course as quickly as possible so that we can get the race results, announce and cheer the winners, and give out door prizes. Our sponsors have donated a variety of boating related prizes. There are also special awards given for boaters who compete in three or more events including the slalom. These are called the RiverMeister awards. It seems that the majority of winners are the teenagers who have the stamina to compete in multiple events. Some of us old folks aren’t up to the challenge.
As always, putting together this event is a team effort and volunteer help is greatly appreciated. It is especially helpful to come up on Friday and help set up the race course. Volunteers who help on Friday will be given free admission to the Funest. John Coraor works really hard at this and can use all the help he can get. Contact him directly at to volunteer. If you can’t make it on Friday, volunteers are also needed on Saturday and Sunday to run the activities and help clean up the dinner. (no free admission for those) Even a few minutes, or one event is greatly appreciated.
We hope that many club members, local boaters and friends and family come out and join the fun.
Check out my gallery of a few pictures from last year’s Funfest!
To sign up, go to to for more information and registration forms. There is an early bird discount for registrations received before May 25th. On-site registration is available, but we cannot guarantee that you can sign up for dinner as we order food in advance.
See you there! Sign up early and save $10.

Winter Paddling- Costa Rica

I read Andy’s article about paddling the Shohola in the winter and thought I would share an opposite point of view on the subject of paddling in the winter- Go somewhere warm! Shorts and flip-flops work for me.
This January I paddled in Costa Rica with some friends. I have wanted to do this for a long time but didn’t want to go alone. Chris Scalisi has been raving about how wonderful it is for years. So when Butch and Monica told me they were going this winter, I asked to join them and Cameron and Kerri on their trip.  John Hense also joined us at the last minute. We left NJ in mid-January during one of the many cold waves (it was as low as 4°C the week were gone). It’s a constant 70-80° with moderate humidity in Costa Rica in January. It’s the dry season, so it only rains once in a while rather than all the time. We paddled with Costa Rica Rios, a very reputable outfitter in Turrialba Costa Rica.
I admit I was more than a little nervous about paddling in a strange place, in a different boat, in a country with snakes and bugs, but there really was nothing to fear. The water is warm and clear in January, and the rivers are relatively low since it is the dry season so most of the Class IVs turn into Class IIIs with a lot of rocks.
Our first task was to pick out and outfit a boat from the large selection at Costa Rica Rios. I had selected a Mamba 7.6 as it is somewhat similar to my boat (not so much, but it was a good thought). It fit well and was comfortable. The more adventurous of our group selected play boats for the first day. We headed out to the Paso Marcos section of the headwaters of the Pacuare. Don’t ask me where it is, you get on a dirt road and drive a long way into the wilderness, the road gets worse and worse and finally you are there. We paddled a short section before lunch to warm up. It was labeled Class II, but a bit different than our home rivers. There a lot of rocks and the rapids are nearly continuous with lots of bouncy wave trains. I had a bit of trouble getting used to the boat and didn’t handle it too well. John took a real beating on the second rapid as he bounced his way down a rock garden upside down, finally rolling up at the bottom. It was very beautiful and remote. After lunch, we drove even further on the dirt roads, which got worse and worse as we drove up the mountain. The river may be Class III, but the road was Class V. We had to leave the van behind and all rode in the pick-up truck with the trailer of boats behind us. We got to the end of the road where a small stream crossed the road and the road continued straight up from there. We walked. I was amazed that the pick-up truck actually made it up the hill from there. We were at the put-in for the afternoon run which was called Class III, even further upstream on the Pacuare. Again, the rapids were nearly continuous with lots of rocks. It was challenging and fun, and again very beautiful. We are survived the first day, with only John taking on a few bruises and scrapes. We went back to the B&B, sat in the Jacuzzi and drank beer before dinner. After dinner, we were treated to a dance lesson. I am much better than kayaking than dancing, but after a few beers, who cares?
The second day, the playboaters all switched to river-runners for the Sarapiqui river. It was a long drive, but at least the roads were paved the whole way. The Sarapiqui was also Class III for the first day, and again, shallow and full of rocks. The character of the scenery is a bit different here. The river is wider and the surrounding land flatter and more open, but full of birds and other wildlife. We saw monkeys in the trees and identified lots of different birds on the trip.
A few of us spent a second day on the upper Sarapiqui while the others suffered through an intestinal distress. The boys all started on the Class IV section. Since I am basically a chicken, I opted to start further down and meet them. Big mistake! One guide and I started on a small side creek with no water and bumped and scraped our way down to the meeting place. It made Class IV look like a walk in the park. I’ll know better next time. The rest of the trip was more bouncy Class III. We scouted one drop and I got back in my boat to head down and immediately flipped over while leaving the eddy at the top. Luckily, I rolled right back up and made the line. Definitely not a place I wanted to by upside down. Butch and John were quite relieved to see me come back up as there were no guides left at the top.
The guides were all terrific and very friendly. I especially liked our videographer, Steph. She’s from Canada, an awesome boater and really encouraging and supportive. She really helped me calm my nerves about being in a new place and encouraged me to go for it. I made a special effort to smile every time I saw her out on the bank with the video camera.
We spent the last three days on different sections of the Pacuare, starting on the Upper and ending on the lower, while by-passing the Class V section in between. It was incredibly beautiful, with steep mountains on both sides, waterfalls rushing down to meet us, birds flying, lush greenery everywhere. I got so wrapped up the beauty that sometimes I forgot to look where I was going. We stayed overnight in the jungle camp on the riverbank, just watching the birds and enjoying the view. I found the famous frogs of Costa Rica when I turned on the shower in the morning. They jumped right out of the hot and cold knobs. (It was a very short shower for me).
One of the awesome and special things about paddling in Costa Rica for me was the wilderness and emptiness of the rivers. Most days we were the only boats on the river. On the last day, we probably saw 10 rafts go by. Ten rafts in a whole week! That’s a big change from paddling in the Northeast. The rivers seemed more continuous and had more gradient than I usually paddle. I did have a bit of trouble learning to handle the steep walls and sharp turns. They got me every time. The Mamba turned out to be an ideal boat for this style of river. It was maneuverable, stable and punched holes well. I’d better be careful when I get back in my boat. If I try to punch holes in that one I will spend a lot of time upside down.
Would I go back? Yes, absolutely. It was a great experience and I think I would enjoy it even more the second time as the nervousness that I experienced this time would be gone. I’ll probably spend even more time enjoying the scenery instead of gluing my eyes to the guide in front of me.
Here is a link to the video of our whole trip.
Enjoy and join us next year![vimeo]

Esopus Funfest Report and Pictures

We just finished the third annual Esopus Whitewater Funfest. For those of you who did not make it this year- you missed a great time on the river. We had the most popular activities carried over from last year and some new ones to spice up the weekend with even more fun.
Here are some of the highlights from my perspective- and we would love to hear yours also. The pictures are all by Linda McLuckie. Thanks Lin for these! [slideshow]
The boater cross competition was especially exciting this year. The river under the Woodland Valley bridge has changed dramatically since Hurricane Irene and now flows on river right instead of left, and over a few hidden rocks. The mens group of 5 boaters hit the crossing under the bridge together, one flipped and swam, and three went after him to help. Once Vincent saw that he was ok, he powered down the course in front. Scott did his best to catch him, and it was a photo finish with Vincent ahead by a nose! Vincent was competing in the men’s class even though he is 12 years old. He loves the competition and is certainly not intimidated by anyone and he held his own in all events.
We had a freestyle competition for the first time even though the Esopus is not known for it’s play features. Again, the changes in the river caused us to move the event from the DEC drop to the race course and we ran it as a “run of the river” style competition, with competitors using every available feature to make play moves. Scott Sailor and I scored it somewhat generously (after all, it was for fun) and gave every surf and stern squirt points. We saw quite a variety of moves, including some cartwheels, and bow stalls from James, who ran away with the competition with his difficult moves. However, everyone gave it their best and really worked the river for all it was worth.  We gave extra style points for exceptional performance: Vincent for the most stern squirts, Andy for the most vertical stern squirts and the longest single surf, James for hand-paddling his second run, Adelene for attempting to surf a Wavesport Diesel and Kaja for her big smile all the way down the river.
We had another new and very popular event on Sunday- team slalom. Groups of three boaters of any gender and boat type teamed up. Each team had to run the slalom course together and make one upstream gate and the finish line within 15 seconds of each other. So it’s like boater cross, but you are all on the same team. It’s quite challenging to make all the gates and keep up with your team. The Coraor team in their slalom boats, the Slimy Wombats, took first place. I gave it my best effort and was happy to get down the course without missing any gates. I thought our team did a great job of staying together and making the moves. Not bad for me who had only run the course once before the team race. Overall, it was the best attended event of the weekend.
The down-river sprint had a competitive finish in the Men’s division. James took first place in a slalom boat, but his dad Scott was only 6 seconds behind in a REC division boat. Way to go Scott and James! We should give Bill a special award for the most self-rescues on the course. We will be kind and not say exactly how many.
We gave out many “Rivermiester” Awards this year for participants who entered two or more races on Saturday and the Slalom on Sunday. Congratulations to all who endured multiple races over two days. For some this required sharing boats and many trips back up the hill carrying a boat at the end of a race in time to enter the next one, or to give the boat to a fellow competitor.
The river-running group had a challenging time as the debris from hurricane Irene is still in the river in many places, and carrying over it and portaging were required. Everyone made it in good spirits. The DEC drop was really fun at this river level, although it did it’s share of turning the boats over. You have to watch the cross-currents as they jump up and bite you. Special congratulations to all who made it down the Esopus for the first time. Special congratulations to Loretta for braving the river for her first time in our only OC1 this year. She made it through to railroad with no swims and no incidents. Her biggest challenge was avoiding all those kayaks in her way.
As usual, we battled the rain and thunderstorms periodically throughout the weekend. I think that everyone enjoyed the camaraderie with their fellow boats, made some new friends, and caught up with some old ones. We gave out a great selection of raffle prizes at the end of the day on Sunday. The AW/Keen Backpack and the 2-day lesson at Zoar Outdoor were greatly appreciated by the winners, as well as lots of hats, t-shirts, booties, fleece etc.
I would like to thank all our volunteers who worked hard to make this Funfest a success and to our sponsors for the donations of the prizes and the support for our Funfest.
Our only regret is that more of you did not show up. Attendance was very light this year. We would love to know from those of you who didn’t make this year why you didn’t come. What can we do to improve this for the future?

Threat to the Delaware Basin

I am sharing this post by Jill Arbuckle as I am deeply concerned about this threat to our local rivers and streams. I did not know that the shale drilling was also going to affect us locally and hope that this will be stopped. There is a link in Jill’s post to an organization that is fighting this threat. Think about how many rivers and streams we use that are tributaries to the Delaware- some of my personal favorites are. How about yours? Do you want to see you local streams de-watered or too polluted to paddle?
The new gas line, the source of that killer timber in the Shohola, is being
built to bring hydrofractured gas from PA to the metro area (and trashing
several NJ parks en route). The Delaware River Basin Commission (voting
members the governors of NY, NJ, PA, MD and someone from the Army Corps) was
proposing to lift its moratorium on drilling in the Delaware watershed. They
received thousands of e-mails opposing the draft regulations, or demanding
more time for study. A big demo is planned for Monday in Trenton, where the
DRBC was to meet at its HQ to vote.
Yesterday, they suddenly cancelled the vote. Rumor says because Cuomo and
the MD governor planned to vote “no”. The rally will happen anyway – asking
for permanent ban, not just temporary continuation of the moratorium. I
plan to attend. This is not just about the risk of polluting drinking water
for 17 million – the river, its tributaries, local aquifers and ground
water – with millions of gallons of chemical-laden flowback and wastewater
It’s also about permits for the 3+ million gallons of water they need PER
WELL for fracking. Some 2000 wells planned for NY State. Potential to
substantially dewater the Shohola, Lackawaxen, Mongaup, Tohickon….the
places you guys paddle.
Your support in the continuing effort to ban fracking in the watershed
would help keep the river and its tributaries as we now enjoy them. The
Delaware is the longest undammed river east of the Mississipi, much of it
has Wild and Scenic designation, “Special Protection Waters” (ie especially
worth keeping pristine) designation almost continuous from Hancock to
Google Delaware Riverkeeper for details – please get on their mailing list
so you’ll know when an e-mail from you would help. The AMC Bethlehem office
is also involved in the effort to see fracking is tightly regulated, and
kept out of sensitive areas..

Creating great river photographs

It seems that everyone has a digital camera these days and I
see people snapping pictures on the rivers all the time. Are you happy with the
results or disappointed in what you get? Ever wonder how to make the photos better?
Here are some quick tips to creating better photos and getting compliments from
your friends and family about what a great photographer you are.
#1  Good editing.
Even great photographers do not take perfect pictures every
time. With digital cameras it is easy to get carried away and shoot lots of
pictures. But seriously, do you want to share all of them, even the duds? What
is your reaction when someone shares 100 boring pictures with you? Do you
really look at them all? So, take a few minutes when you get back from a trip
and pick out a few of the best to share. If you share only the best, you are
instantly a better photographer. There is no cost to throwing the extras with
digital. Don’t be afraid to use the delete function.
#2 Make  people say “WOW” when they see a photo
Recognizable faces with interesting expressions grab your
attention. So make sure that the subject of your photo is looking at you, is
sharp and properly exposed (not too light or too dark). The face should not be
in dark shadow. Zoom close in to see the person’s face clearly. Most pocket
digital cameras have one auto focus point in the middle of the frame so put the
face in that spot for maximum sharpness. If you have a sports mode on your
camera, use it for action shots. It will give you the fastest shutter speed
which also improves sharpness. Watch out for the position of the paddle when
taking pictures of boaters,. It often ends up in front of the boaters face.
These are throw-aways. Take extras and save the one where everything comes
#3 Eliminate distractions
Look at the scene you are capturing and ask yourself? What
grabs me here? Why am attracted to this scene? Then capture that in the camera
without anything extra, such as pieces of other boaters, too many trees, too
much sky etc. Zoom in or move closer (not always possible in a boat), or change
your position to show a different background. Ideally you want enough
background to show where to boater is, or how big the waves are, but nothing
more. All photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom
etc has a crop tool. If you can’t eliminate it in camera, then crop later.
Today’s digital cameras have plenty of pixels so you can throw away some and
never miss them.
#4 Use the light
Sun can be your friend or your enemy and dramatically change
the mood of a photograph. Avoid shooting directly into the sun. Avoid putting
the sun directly behind your subject as this creates a dark shadow on the face.
In river photography, watch out for brightly sunlit water, as this tends to
overexpose and turn pure white with no detail. If you can, shoot on an overcast
day or in the shade. If the sun is out, try to position it behind you so it
lights the subject. What out for brightly lit areas that are not your subject
as these will draw attention away from your subject. Try to move or zoom to
eliminate these.
#5 Tell a story
When you put together a blog, a facebook page or an album,
select a group of photos that tell the story of the event. You might want to
include one or two that set the stage, such as the put-in, unloading boats etc,
and a series that show the action on the river, and maybe a parting shot to
close-out the show. You might have some wide shots that show the environment,
and some close-ups of the participants. Catchy captions can help tell the
story. Make each photo that you include a unique one and eliminate the
redundant ones, no matter how good you think they are. The audience will get
bored quickly, so pick the best one of each scene.
Here is an example of how I put these tips to use:
Hudson River Gorge Sept 2010:
We had a gorgeous fall day to paddle the Hudson Gorge in
late September. The fall foliage was so beautiful that I forgot to look at the
rocks in the river as I paddled down with my eyes wide open admiring the beauty
of the day. We had a fairly large group of experienced boaters, a relatively
low and easy water level, and a great day on the river. The photos in this
gallery were taken by a professional, James Swiegert who haunts the river and takes
pictures for the rafting companies, and Ram Tripathi. James took all the
close-ups at the Narrows in the Hudson Gorge.