Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Another Great Book for Paddlers and Their Pups!

“Once again, Maria Schultz has put together an amazing book. It’s more than just the joys associated with stand up paddleboarding with your dog, it’s about how SUPing with your dog has positively changed people’s lives. This book is a must read for anyone who paddles with their pooch, or is thinking about SUPing with their canine companion."
– Christopher Stec, ACA Chief Operating Officer and Level 3 Stand Up Paddleboard Instructor Trainer Educator

Drawn from interviews and conversations with dog owners who love to get out on the water with their pets, Paddle Tails explores the incredible bond that happens between dog and paddler. Some people call it healing; some say it’s changed the way they look at the world. 

We traveled from New York to Florida to catch up with boxers and pit bulls, Labradors and shepherds, who paddle, canoe, kayak, and fish with their humans. A collection of their stories, Paddle Tails highlights the paddling community and the emotional support to be gained when man and his best friend take to the water. 

Maria Christina Schultz, outdoor enthusiast and ACA certified stand up paddleboard instructor, lives in Virginia with her husband and two Australian shepherds, Riley and Kona. Schultz, who works as a graphic designer, also has a degree in education and hands-on experience in animal training. She created this "how to" guide so that others can enjoy similar adventures with their best friends. 

Visit the ACA eStore to purchase Paddle Tails by Maria Schultz. 

How to SUP With Your PUP is her first book and is also offered in the ACA eStore.

Monday, March 28, 2016

ACA Continues Partnership with Werner Paddles

The ACA is proud to be a Werner Paddles Healthy Waters partner again this year. 

Werner Paddles is committed to promoting access to rivers, lakes, streams and ocean paddling. They are a valued industry partner of the ACA as their support directly enhances our efforts both to advocate for clean water as well as increase access to all waterways across the country.

When you purchase a Werner paddle, your purchase will go toward supporting the company's Healthy Waters program and the ACA's Stewardship initiatives. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Find a Job You Love in Outdoor Recreation

Have you ever wished you could find paddlesports-related job listings all in one place? The new and improved ACA Career Center website makes that possible!

Visit to discover this great resource for job seekers and employers alike.

Monday, March 21, 2016

ACA Member Benefit: Hull Insurance

One of the many benefits of being affiliated with the ACA as a Paddle America Club or Affiliate Organization is the opportunity to use our Hull Insurance program. 

This Hull Insurance offers personal property insurance for organizationally owned equipment, including dragon boats, outrigger canoes, racing boats, trailers, lifejackets, paddles, and other safety equipment.

As paddlers, we know the joys of canoeing, kayaking, and rafting, and the vital roles these activities play in our lives. The ACA is proud to offer hull insurance that would be an important asset for maintaining your paddling club’s equipment.

If you would like to take advantage of the ACA Hull Insurance coverage, please complete the 2016 Application for Personal Property Insurance, and return it to the ACA National Office.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact the ACA Insurance Department.

Photo by Keith Vincent

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

ACA Adaptive Paddling Program in California

The first ever California-based Adaptive Paddling Workshop took place March 5-6, 2016 at the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center and the campus North Pool. ACA Adaptive Chair Joe Moore led the two-day workshop, which introduced nine new instructors and organizers to issues and techniques for working with disabled paddlers on the water. 

Five new paddlers with disabilities joined the class for the second day of the workshop, working with the students to engineer adaptions of traditional kayaks. The day concluded with a water session at UCLA's North Pool, featuring Joe Moore's demo of the "fainting diva" technique that can help paddlers roll from a front to back float. 

The event was co-sponsored by UCLA, the ACA-California Executive Council and Adaptive Expeditions.

Since 1990, the ACA has led the adaptive recreation industry, training instructors and program providers in the best practices of inclusive paddlesports.

Supporting and enhancing the decades strong ACA National Paddlesport Instruction Program, the Adaptive Paddling Program teaches the skills and knowledge needed to outfit equipment and modify teaching styles to allow people of all abilities to participate in paddlesport activities as safely, as comfortably, and with the same performance potential as all others.

Learn more about the ACA's Adaptive Paddling Program today, and find an upcoming Adaptive Paddling Workshop (APW) near you! 

Monday, March 14, 2016

ACA Partners with U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary on New AUXPAD Program

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has initiated a paddlecraft safety program called Auxiliary Paddlecraft, or AUXPAD.

The program has three major points:

  • the need to have and wear a proper life jacket,
  • the need to be prepared and have proper safety equipment,
  • and the need for general awareness about all aspects of paddling safety, including situational awareness and the need to practice skills. 
AUXPAD will include traditional dockside Auxiliary boating safety activities such as public education, public affairs, literature drops, and vessel safety exams. One new element is that the Auxiliary will go on-the-water in kayaks to deliver safety messages to novice and occasional paddlers. 

Participants in this on-the-water program are required to have passed the ACA L-1 and L-2 coastal kayaking skill assessments. Auxiliarists designated as AUXPAD Qualifiers, that is, supervisors, will be required to hold current ACA L-1 and L-2 kayak Instructor certifications.

ACA Instructors and Trainers may be contacted directly by Auxiliarists or by the active duty Coast Guard to arrange training opportunities.

For more information, please visit

Friday, March 11, 2016

Adrift in the Backwater Harbors of Hong Kong

By Jake Taylor, ACA Instructor. Jake Taylor is an avid waterman who has been involved with the ACA for five years as a sea kayak instructor. He enjoys strong coffee, point breaks, and oystercatchers.

This article first appeared in the March 2016 issue of Paddle.


The International Sea Kayakers Education Symposium, ISKES for short, has an exceptional maritime ring to it. The idea sprang forth from a partnership between Monash University and Outward Bound Hong Kong, with the question of how can we use sea kayaking as a means to achieve greater educational benefits? When speaking of education, we are using the interpretations from Kurt Hahn, John Dewey, Confucius, and Plato, where education is the process of creating and developing positive citizens that are a benefit to their communities. 

Upon my arrival to Hong Kong in January of 2015, I found out about the symposium to be held in December of that year. I was excited and privileged to be in attendance as well as given a chance to present. My mind was scouring a topic that would suit the aim of the symposium. It did not take very long for me to settle on the topic of Core Concepts in paddling, a student centered and playful approach to skill development. The influence of Carl Ladd, Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures, and Todd Wright, St. Michael’s College Wilderness Program, over the year prior to my move to Hong Kong, has been very influential on my approach to teaching and developing paddlers.

Paddling to the symposium at Wong Wan Chau

Stroke after stroke, my blade slices the water as I slowly but surely make steady progress along a steep, rocky coastline. As I continue to paddle against constant force five winds, knowing that once I pass the next rocky headland things will be bigger, much bigger. It isn’t very often that I have the time or reason to paddle along this section of Hong Kong coastline. By far, it is the most beautiful and rugged section. Steep cliffs of rhyolitic columns, a very rare formation, allow the swell to double up in size as the energy is reflected off the walls. In certain areas, the pounding of the surf has carved out sea caves and arches. The sound of the waves booming from the walls and round stones cascading over one another echo in my mind. 

The rhythm of my blade dipping in and out of the water begins to align with my boat’s up and down movements with the swell. I feel as if my breathing and heart rate begin to coalesce, so that all of my movements and being are in time. From my periphery I catch a glimpse of a white-bellied sea eagle soaring above the seas searching for fish. At this moment I truly feel alive and living in the present. My mind is not scouring over endless to do lists, things forgotten from yesterday, or planning for future events. Every muscle, cell, nerve within my body feels awakened and ready. 

Upon entering Mirs Bay, the conditions begin to wane as the farther headlands of mainland China shield the local waters near Wong Wan Chau. It is a beautiful place where the volcanic rock becomes a deep red of sedimentary origins. With each forward stroke, my mind turns more towards the symposium and my session that will be on the first day. I wonder who some of the delegates will be flying in from Europe, North America, and Australasia. As I arrive at dusk the evening before the symposium, I roll out my mat and sleeping bag overlooking the lush green hill sides that extend all of the way to the water. 

Running the Session

It’s always difficult trying to take a thought, an idea, a concept, from your mind and make it relevant and useful for someone else. You don’t want to directly transplant it from your mind to theirs, since its purpose will just be lost in due time. It makes it even harder when you are doing this for a group of peers, who in some cases may be more knowledgeable and experienced in the field then yourself. Confidence and humility are two traits that need to be balanced to achieve success when undertaking such an endeavor. 

Now, presenting at an innovative symposium that looks to broaden the realm of sea kayaking beyond the standard skills and drills, I asked myself why did I choose to conduct a practical skills session? Can the act of teaching technical skills be relevant to the deeper notions of education? A key element for working with youth today, especially in high-density urban communities, is the lack of proprioceptive sense from sedentary lifestyles. Angela Hanscom, founder of Timbernook, has been assisting US schools understand and work to resolve this issue thru outdoor activities. Another element is the decrease, and at times absence, of play with youth and adults. According to psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott, play is essential in creativity and utilizing the whole personality, which leads to better self-awareness. The last component I attached was the focus on self-mastery of a skill. Anecdotes are not needed to relay the individual benefits of skill mastery, however it is important to note the words of Tim Gallway for those instructing skills, “…remember that it is the experience that teaches you, not the instruction.” Teaching sea kayaking, using a core concept approach, can allow you to transfer these skills and attributes on top of the intended purpose of learning to paddle. 

For my actual session, brief introductions were conducted along with some background evidence for my claims. I immediately went to work establishing rapport and setting a fun and focused tone. It doesn’t matter how great you are if the people you have in a class, course, or trip are unable to form any sense of bond with you. From there, getting on the water as quickly and safely as possible is always a priority. Once out on the water, I set out to provide activities and sessions that would highlight the core concepts in action. In some cases, an outlandish method. I always find that the more odd and silly the approach, the more likely it will be remembered and practiced. Directing people paddling with blindfolds by using their body rotation. Working on top hand position and balance with someone sitting just behind you on the deck of your kayak. The laughter was contagious. Eventually, as the sun settled behind the hillsides, the time came to depart the water. 

The beauty of the Core Concepts, is that it is able to be utilized from the beginner to the advanced paddler. It looks to create an understanding of how to be an efficient paddler using your body, your boat, and your blade. Most of those in attendance at my session have utilized a similar approach thru years of instruction. From the questions and borrowing of my visuals, I felt I was able to provide an understanding that there is potential for deeper educational benefits even thru skills training.


At the closure of the symposium, a meeting was tabled to discuss the personal findings and developments from the several days spent at Wong Wan Chau and Double Haven Bay. There was an excited, yet somber tone over the group as the topics rearose from slow adventures, creating a sense of place, and unique ways to reduce our impact on the ocean. A prospectus was tentatively discussed for the next symposium in the southern hemisphere’s Autumn of 2018. The base location for the event will be Port Albert on the Southern Australian coast. Forty sand barrier islands east of Wilsons Promontory, known as Nooramunga, will host day and overnight paddles. This special group of intertidal islands are home to some of the worlds longest migrating birds, rare species of orchid, and rich aboriginal and settler histories. 
Go to for up to date information.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Latest on Changes to PFD Type Classifications

For the last several years, the U.S. Coast Guard has been working to redesign the labeling for personal flotation devices to more effectively convey safety information. The current proposal removes type codes (e.g. Type I, II, III, IV and V) in regulations on the carriage and labeling of Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices.

PFD type codes are unique to Coast Guard approval and are not well understood by the public. Removing these type codes from the regulations would facilitate future incorporation by reference of new industry consensus standards for PFD labeling that will more effectively convey safety information and is a step toward harmonization of our regulations with PFD requirements in Canada and in other countries.

What does all of this mean for the paddling community? 

Over time, the terminology of Type I, II, III, IV and V will no longer appear on lifejacket labels and in literature. Once the new standard wording or icons for lifejackets are finalized, instructors and clubs will then need to share this updated information with the public. 

Our friends in the life jacket manufacturing community advise that 2017 is likely the earliest they could potentially see any new life jacket standards on production lines. In the meantime, current life jackets that have Type I-V coding on their labels will be legal to sell and wear for the useful life of the jacket. 

This is a long process, but a worthy one. A better life jacket labeling system will help reduce boater confusion, decrease manufacturing costs, and speed the introduction of new life jacket designs across countries. 

We'll continue to keep you updated! If you have any questions, please contact our Safety, Education & Instruction Department.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hot Off The Press: March Issue of Paddle eMagazine!

Check out the March issue of PaddleThe ACA's eMagazine keeps you informed about the latest happenings in the paddlesports community.

Looking for previous issues, or prefer to download the eMagazine as a PDF? Visit