Tuesday, July 7, 2015

5 Things to Remember Before You Hit The Water This Summer

By Heather Herbeck, ACA Level IV Instructor Trainer and owner and coach/trainer for "Fitness & Sport Evolution" in the Columbia River Gorge. Heather and her husband also own "Sheer Madness Productions," a film and photography company. Together, they make a priority of playing in the outdoors with whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, running, and more.

Boating season is in full swing right now. The weather is HOT, the days are long, and the water is flowing with rejuvenating waters.

Before you hit the river, here are 5 things to remember that will make your trip more enjoyable and safe.

1.  Bring your iPhone + waterproof case, or a POV action camera mounted somewhere on YOU or your BOAT. 
With all of the social media outlets these days, “if you don’t have proof (picture or video) it didn’t happen!” So make sure you have some device with you that makes sure to document your days’ adventure.

2.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 
Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your outdoor paddle adventure. It can be deceiving when you’re on the water, whether you’re thirsty or not, but make sure you take a couple of sips of water every 20-30 minutes. Even though we may not be sweating or thirsty, because we are in cool, refreshing water, we ARE exerting energy when we kayak.

3.  Bring your safety kit. 
Don’t rely on other people in your group to bring their safety gear. What’s in YOUR kit? Here is what I consider your safety gear:
- First Aid Kit (with all the kayak/water specific pieces included, along with sunscreen during the summer months)
- Pin Kit
- Snacks - Like a KIND Bar for “quick energy” if needed
- Throw Rope in your boat
- Knife and whistle on your PFD

4. Dress wisely.
It might be HOT, but always dress for a swim or for a rescue. Wear the appropriate shoes so that portaging or rescues aren’t done in flip flops. I have to admit, it’s awesome when the opportunity arises to wear a shorty drytop and shorts, but when I’m out paddling with my friends or paddling a challenging river, I’m always in either my drysuit or long sleeved drytop/pants and river shoes.

5. Remember to paddle with people who you feel comfortable and confident with. 
In my opinion, the crew makes all the difference in your paddling experience. Find a group that you feel pushes you, but not too much. Find paddling people who emphasize safety instead of just ‘hucking your meat.' Ifyou're with the right folks, you'll find your experience way more enjoyable and fun.

These are just a few things to remember before you head out on the water.

  • If there is NO documentation, it didn’t happen. 
  • Drink water even though you have to “de-gear” to go pee a lot and that’s really annoying. 
  • Always put safety first . . . it’s no different in kayaking. 
  • Dress for success on the water. 
  • And, find your Tribe. Paddle with people you trust and feel confidently challenged with. Find your Paddle Posse. 
Now get out there this summer, have fun and be safe!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Penobscot River Whitewater Nationals Regatta, July 23-26

Great Works Rapid, Old Town Maine.Photo: RW Estela.
The Penobscot Nation and communities of Old Town, Bradley, Orono, Veazie and Eddington are pleased to welcome paddlers to the 2015 Penobscot River Whitewater Nationals Regatta. Four days of paddling events for open canoes, kayaks, decked canoes and SUPs will crown American Canoe Association downriver racing National Champions and celebrate this newly free-flowing section of the Penobscot River, and long time home to the Penobscot Nation. 

Official practice and opening ceremony will be on Wednesday, July 22. Downriver racing will commence Thursday morning with the Open Canoe Mixed and Jr./Sr. classes, and the K1 Short Men and K1 Long Women kayak races. Races will start in Old Town, with the longer downriver races ending in Eddington. Kids races will start in Orono and end in Veazie. Saturday will feature “Sprint” racing through the Class 3 Great Works Rapids near Old Town.

Paddlers are encouraged to register by July 10 and save $25 in registration fees!

Father/daughter team Bob and Karoline Bass during a practice run of the Basin Mills Rapid near Orono, Maine (May 31, 2015). Photo: Tammy Kelley.  
Old Town has meant paddling to generations of canoeists and Race Chair Scott Phillips is very pleased with the enthusiasm and support for the event provided by the Tribe, local communities and volunteers, and strong corporate and community sponsorship. 

“We expect over a hundred boats for the downriver races, and there will be races for kayaks, decked canoes, standup-paddle boards, and special events for kids,” says Phillips. “Paddlers are in for an exciting racing experience. This is a big river and it will be a challenge to pick fast lines while staying dry!”

For more information:
Scott Phillips, Race Chair

Facebook page 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July & Stewardship Saturday!

We hope you are having a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend out on the water!

For this week’s Stewardship Saturday, we will take a look at the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), a 740-mile recreation corridor connecting Old Forge, New York to Fort Kent, Maine. 

The Trail cuts across the Northern Forest Region connecting 22 rivers and 56 lakes and ponds. The NFCT is a Paddle America Club, fostering paddler development and stewardship of our waterways through our Adopt-a-Segment Program, group led trips, and river events.

This year, using their Club Fostered Stewardship grant funds, the NFCT will be creating a new portage trail and a lean-to for paddlers at a site in Derby, Vermont. 

Through funds provided by L.L. Bean, the ACA's Club Fostered Stewardship program, has provided nearly $130,000 to over 135 different stewardship initiatives since its inception thirteen years ago. 

The NFCT is currently celebrating its 15th year as an organization. In that time, they improved paddler access and camping opportunities, as well as developed programs that get youth out on the Trail.

Inspired to start your own local stewardship project? Apply for the CFS grant of your own! Get more information here. In the meantine, order yourself a Paddle Green Bag and take it with you the next time you hit the water. 

Stewardship Saturday is an ongoing theme of the ACA Water Blog where we we shine a spotlight on organizations and individuals who are working hard to make the world a better place to paddle. Want to be featured? Email ACA Communications Coordinator Catharine Lloyd at clloyd@americancanoe.org to tell her about the stewardship work you are doing in your local community.

Paddle often, #PaddleGreen!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Paddling Tips For Beginners

By Mike Mainhart, ACA Level 1 Kayak Instructor and Vice President of Outdoor Writers of Ohio.

Paddlesports, in particular kayaking, is one of the fastest growing segments of the outdoor industry. In Ohio alone there are 107,671 registered kayaks and canoes. That’s a 112 percent increase over the last ten years.

What used to be a sport for the young and fit can now be enjoyed by just about anyone at any age. The design of today’s recreational kayaks allows the novice paddler the stability and freedom to enjoy the water. Not only is kayaking great fun, it’s a good way to keep active.

Before purchasing a kayak, consider a few options. There are two main types of recreational kayaks to choose from. Sit-on-top kayaks are very stable and roomy, making them great for beginners. Sit-on-tops are the more costly of the two types. 

Sit-on-top kayaks.
The other type is a sit-in. This type of kayak is usually priced for the entry level market. They are stable, but first-time paddlers can expect a bit of a learning curve with a sit-in kayak. It takes some time to get the hang of balancing and maneuvering these boats.

Sit-in tandem kayak.
With the excitement of a newly purchased kayak, all too often, users find themselves in trouble because proper safety techniques were overlooked. Safe paddling is not a matter of stuffing a life jacket behind the seat and heading out on the water. Bad things can happen even to the most experienced paddler. Preparedness is key.

There are several safety issues that should be addressed before launching a kayak in the water. A little common sense will go a long way to ensuring a safe and enjoyable day on the water.

Whether you’re an avid kayaker or a beginner, consider taking a safety course. ACA instructors offer courses all around the country, and it's easy to find one near you by searching the ACA website or using the free Paddle Ready app.

By far, the most important piece of safety equipment is a Coast Guard approved life jacket or PFD. Keep in mind, a life jacket can only save your life if you wear it. Always wear your PFD, and encourage your friends and family to wear theirs as well.

Be mindful of the weather. Wind and wave conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly, especially on a large body of water. When kayaking on rivers or tributaries, rain can turn a relaxing float trip into a deadly situation. Check on the weather and stream conditions before entering the water. 

Wear appropriate clothing. What you wear can add to a safer trip. Bright colors are recommended to increase visibility to others. Another benefit to bright clothing is in the event of a capsize, it’s much easier for others to spot you in the water. Dress in layers and keep a change of clothes in a dry bag.

Before leaving home, file a float plan; this can be as simple as letting someone (spouse, friend, neighbor) know where you will be paddling and when to expect you back. The Paddle Ready app has a nice feature to file float plans as well. Stick to the plan. If you change locations, let someone know. In the event of an emergency, a float plan can help save valuable time by giving authorities a good point to start looking for you. 

Another item that can aid in safety is a cell phone. Your phone can only be helpful if it’s kept dry and accessible. Simply keep your phone in a zip lock bag and put it in a secure pocket or dry bag.

Here's a summary of simple, inexpensive tips for a safe, enjoyable trip for beginners:

· Boater safety course

· Proper registration and safety equipment

· Float plan

· Be aware of weather and boating conditions

· Wear your life jacket

· Begin in shallow water

· Don’t paddle alone

· Wear bright clothes

· Have whistle, light, and phone

Get more safe paddling tips at www.americancanoe.org/Top10

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

U.S. Coast Guard Commends ACA Instructor for Kayak Safety Program

Jane Bales is an ACA member, Coast Guard Auxiliarist, ACA Certified Kayak and SUP Instructor, Organizer of the Greater Albuquerque/Santa Fe Kayak Meet Up, and Co-Founder of Kayak New Mexico, Inc (a non profit organization building courage, confidence, and character, one stroke at a time, through adaptive kayaking programs for children and adults with developmental or physical disabilities or life-threatening medical conditions).

Bales was recently awarded a Letter of Commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant for her work as a Public Education Instructor for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Bales' work involved teaching the Coast Guard's Auxiliary Kayak Safety Program.

In addition to volunteering for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Bales has led more than 90 single and multi-day trips involving more than1,000 people on rivers and lakes in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah as an assistant organizer and organizer of the Greater Albuquerque/Santa Fe Kayak Meet Up. Bales also volunteers as Treasurer and Kayak Instructor for Kayak New Mexico, Inc.

Bales works full-time as a Computer Forensic Examiner and Quality Assurance Manager for the federal government and is looking forward to retiring in 5 years! Bales' passion is getting people out on the water in a safe and fun way.

Check out her letter of commendation below:

click to enlarge

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monster Deck Removal on the Upper Platte River

All photos by Norman Fred
The thought of a riverside deck in Northern Michigan brings pleasant, peaceful imagery to most dedicated river stewards. However, the ACA Paddle America Club Traverse Area Paddle Club did not share those sentiments when they encountered the “Monster Deck”, a large wooden platform that was washed away during a flood and deposited far downstream on the Upper Platte River near Honor, MI.

The deck was chopped in half using a chainsaw, and then moved out of the river piece by piece using a winch bought with funds supplied by the 2014 L.L.Bean Club Fostered Stewardship Grant

“[The winch] worked great and was the pivotal tool we needed to complete the task” said Norm Fred, Traverse Area Paddle Club member and one of the 6 man team who removed the deck. 

Thanks to the efforts of this crew, the cumbersome piece of debris was successfully removed from the Upper Platte. Additionally, all of the wood collected during the removal was either repurposed or recycled. 

Do you have a stewardship story to share? Email Zane Havens, ACA Stewardship Coordinator: zhavens@americancanoe.org, and tell him about what you're doing to clean up your local waterways. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Vote For Your Favorite New Life Jacket Design by July 8

What will the next generation of life jackets look like?
If you’ve ever worn a life jacket and thought how its design or styling could be better, now is your chance to be heard. The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water and the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association are asking boaters to vote now for their favorite new life jacket design entry in the 2015 “Innovation in Life Jacket Design Competition” at Facebook.com/BoatUSFoundation or BoatUS.org/design/vote. The public has until July 8 to submit their vote and is encouraged to vote once a day for their favorite design.

The goal of the competition is to rethink a 100-year-old design, seek out the newest technologies and design innovations and develop interest in newer, more versatile life jackets. Design entries are judged on the following criteria: innovation, wearability, value/affordability, reliability, versatility and practicality.

Of the nearly 250 contest submissions from as far away as Mongolia and New Zealand, 14 were selected for public voting. “The judges want to know what the boating public is looking for in a new life jacket design or style, and your vote will also factor into the final overall score,” said BoatUS Foundation Outreach Manager Alanna Keating.

At stake is a $10,000 first prize, $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third. Winners will be announced at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition trade show in Louisville, KY in September.

For more information, go to www.BoatUS.org/design.