Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning to Kayak (Part 1/2)

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Hey guys! This weekend I took a 2-day kayaking clinic through the NOC's paddling school with a group of 4 other guys and our instructor Samantha. Mark (15) and his dad Dietrich are from Ontario originally, but now live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Chris (19) and his dad Allan are from Roswell, Georgia - a suburb just outside of Atlanta. Samantha is from Chile, and has been whitewater rafting ever since she met her husband Jon several years ago at the "5 teacup falls". All in all, I had an amazing weekend learning how to kayak.

On Saturday morning, we started out by getting our "5 essentials":
1) PFD (personal flotation device)
2) Kayak
3) Helmet
4) Spray skirt (what you wear around your waist to keep water from rushing into the kayak)
5) Booties (I actually just wore my Vibram Five Fingers, which worked great in the water)

After we got all geared up, we loaded the van and headed to the lake. In our group, only Allan and Chris had kayaked before (only on flatwater though), so we started with the very basics - the wet exit. Though simple, this is a pretty essential maneuver, considering that without it, flipping over in your kayak will leave you submerged upside-down with nowhere to go.
Luckily, everyone picked up on this pretty quickly, and we progressed to the basic paddling strokes - the vertical stroke, which propels you straight forward, and the horizontal stroke, which allows you to turn. With each stroke, you also must distribute your weight so that your kayak is leaning in the direction you want to go. Pretty intuitive material, but the clear instruction was very helpful, because a solid foundation is essential to long term success in anything, kayaking included. Once we practiced rescuing our flipped comrades, hip snaps, and the basics of rolling upright from an upside-down position (Chris, Allan, & Mark were able to do the roll, I'm still working on it), we went to the Tuckaseegee river to practice our newly acquired expert skills.

Once we ate our sandwiches, we went out on the river and started working on ferrying across currents, turning into eddys (the calm parts of the river behind obstacles like rocks where you can just float without paddling), and other whitewater techniques. This river doesn't get above Class II rapids (out of 5), so it was a good entry-level experience for me. I "swam" twice on Tuckaseegee (when you have to wet exit, and swim out of your kayak), but really gained a pretty good foundation from 9-5 on Saturday.

Samantha and Allan working on Rolling

I went out on Tuckaseegee on Sunday morning, then we went down the Nantahala in the afternoon. I'll post details about it in "Learning to Kayak (part 2/2)". Be sure to check out part 2 for the pictures of me going down Nantahala Falls!

Peace & Love,

1 comment:

  1. John,

    You're cute. How old are you?