Paddling Resources

This is mainly geared toward new paddlers, but I thought it might be useful to others…
KCCNY, you already know about. Use the forum to organize trips, buy/sell gear, ask questions, post anything paddling related. If you haven’t already, please become a member so we can keep having beginner weekends, pool sessions in the winter, maintaining club loaner gear, have follow-up trips, etc. Becoming a member also unlocks some excellent additional features of the site.
AMC is the other active paddling club in the area. (Choose “N.Y. – North Jersey Chapter” in the Chapter/Posted By field and “Canoe/Kayak” in the committee field to see upcoming trips).
KCCNY blog. You’re here! Member-submitted articles and, more importantly, a place for you to post anything paddling related – words, pictures and videos. It would be awesome if someone wrote something about the beginner weekend! Look here for info on how to contribute.
American Whitewater. I highly recommend you become a member. AW fights for paddler access to rivers and maintains this website that lists every runnable river in the country, water levels, descriptions of rapids, etc. It’s an amazing resource and we should support it.
NPMB – Northeast Paddlers Message Board. Forums for paddlers in the region. A good place to discuss rivers, buy and sell used gear, keep up-to-date on any new hazards (e.g., strainers) on local rivers.
Boatertalk. Very active, but more southeast-focused message board and place to buy/sell gear.

Tips & tricks for finding used boats

Used boats are awesome, but finding the one you’re looking for can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re looking for a boat that has been out of production for some time, or so new that there are few people selling yet. Here are a few methods I use:

  1. The no-brainer choice for our area is to keep you eye on Northeast Paddlers Message Board For Sale or Wanted forum. A “wanted” post can be surprisingly effective.
  2. BoaterTalk GearSwap seems to get a lot more boats (and gear) listed for sale than NPMB, but most of the listings are down south. That said, if you know what you want and see a good deal it’s worth checking with the seller. As you well know, we kayakers tend get around and you can often figure out a way to get the boat a lot closer to you. The seller might know someone going north or you might know someone going south. You can also post on NPMB or BoaterTalk to find someone to help you out – especially if you offer to put in a few bucks toward their gas.
  3. eBay and Craigslist are hit or miss, but you can use SearchTempest to search both in multiple regions at once. If you use an news aggregator like Google Reader or Feedly you can get an RSS feed of your SearchTempest results.
  4. You can use Google Alerts to deliver results for your search terms to your reader or email on a schedule you choose. One great thing about Google Alerts is that it will only give new results, which I find tend to be either new articles/reviews on the boat you’re searching for or sale/used listings. It generally won’t send you results for all the kayak stores that have new boats in online catalogs. However, you might want to start off with a regular Google search for your boat and limit the results to “past month” so you don’t miss something that’s still out there waiting for a buyer. Google Alerts also tends to pick up eBay and Craigslist results, so number 3 above may be redundant if you’re using this method.
  5. Finally, one of the best ways to pick up a newer boat for a good price is to get end-of-season demos from stores and brand reps. This can take a bit of patience because the sell-offs tend to happen in September/October, but if the timing works out reps are required to sell off the demos at that time and pass on a predetermined amount of money to the company they rep for. Usually, that amount is pretty low – around $450 – so they have room to price the boats well. Of course, these boats have been demoed all season, so make sure it hasn’t been trashed before committing and don’t be afraid to ask for any missing outfitting. Note that, like any used boat, demo boats generally don’t come with warranties. Also, some kayak companies designate their factory seconds as demos (I know Jackson does), but the issues tend to be cosmetic, not structural. I just went this route to pick up a Liquid Logic Stomper 80 that has been demoed twice – one of those times by me this past spring – for about half of what used Stompers are going for elsewhere. Anyone want to buy a well-loved Mamba 7.5?

Have any suggestions to add? Post them in the comments.

River Reading

From the seat of your boat, it can be difficult to make a distinction between a downstream wave, hole, or barely-submerged rock. Here’s a tip: It’s often easier to figure out what you’re facing by looking just below the feature.
For example, you see a hump of water and, just beyond it, a patch of flat water. That flat water is probably an eddy and the hump is probably a shallow rock making that eddy. Now, what if you see a similar hump of water with waves following behind it? That’s probably a much deeper rock making a wave. Or how about splashy whitewater just behind that hump? Probably a hole. I don’t recommend trying to memorize these as rules; They’re just some examples and there are lots of variations. Better to start working on your reading as you paddle. Look downstream and try to decide what something is. Then, as you go by it, watch how it looks as your view changes. Over time, you’ll gain an almost instinctive feel for what things look like from above.
When approaching a hole, it can be easy to become mesmerized by the white froth right in front of you, but here again looking below the feature can be helpful. Almost always, there will be one or more spots where you can see some current jetting out of the hole. These indicate weak spots where you can punch through. Line up, take a stroke, lean forward and you’ll bounce right through that scary wall of water.
Even after years of paddling, I still often face features I can’t fully identify until I’m almost on top of them. That’s where the maneuverability of our boats comes in so handy. You can get very close to a feature, line up for a potential eddy, turn upstream to catch a wave, etc., and make a last second adjustment if necessary.
If I’m really having a hard time figuring out what I’m looking at, getting out to scout is always a good option and, again, reading backwards can be a powerful tool. Standing on-shore, looking at a difficult rapid, it’s often much easier to plan your route starting at the bottom – where you want to exit the rapid – and then working your way up to the top.
Don’t be discouraged if it all looks like a big mess to you now. Learning to read the river is like learning a new language and full-immersion is the best way to get up to speed. Just keep paddling, looking downstream, testing your on-river theories, and playing with the river. It will all come into focus and you’ll be experiencing the joy of finding your own lines and even taking the lead soon.

Some Thoughts on Teaching the Roll

H2O Dreams makes some interesting points on rolling in a video on their blog. Check it out here.
I’m thinking about fighting the old pulling-the-head-up issue when teaching the roll. I think next time I’m working with someone who’s having trouble, I might try saying, “Ok, as you finish your roll, throw yourself right back in the water, head first, like a dive” in hopes that that would break through the instinctive reflex to pull their head up. Do that a few times and see if the muscle memory of moving the head in that direction kicks in.
Or…could be a complete disaster. I find that if I preface stuff like that with, “Ok, let’s try this experiment that may help or may be a disaster,” students will happily give it a few tries and easily let it go if I say, “Ok, that was useless. Forget it.”
Anyone else have thoughts on teaching this particular aspect beyond “look at your paddle?”

3 Ways to Coil Tie-Down Straps

Any other ideas?

whole-foods wine 6 pack bag with straps
wholefoods wine 6 pack bag with straps

Editor’s note. Skip coiling. Buy a 6 pack of wine from Whole Foods and use the wine bottle storer. Stuff and go, just like a thrown bag. Coiling is old school (slow).

Scouting Bull's Bridge

Back in August, 2009, after many days of hard rain, I decided to go take a look at Bull’s Bridge. I am currently living only half an hour away and I wanted to see it with a lot of water. When I got there, I was surprised at just how much water there was. It was almost over the big boulder at the put-in and was raging downstream. I pulled out my cell phone and took some video on a walk downriver.
Hey! Gerbils! Oops. Those are hamsters.