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Paddle for a Cure

The cowgirl’s back, back in the saddle in on a new trail. On Sunday September 9 2012, I participated in the Paddle for a Cure event near Peekskill, catching a ride up with friends and renting a boat for the “poker paddle”. I was in a Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, rented from the fine folks at Hudson Valley Outfitters.

PFAC is a new event; this was only its second year, and nearly tripled the number of attendees from last year – nearly 80 people all in. Contributions go to the Susan Love Breast Cancer foundation, and underwrite a riverside picnic following the poker paddle.

The poker paddle itself was the highlight of the event for me. Participants put in at Cold Spring, then paddle down to Peekskill, collecting poker cards along the way – one each from four guides stationed along the river, with a fifth card given out at the end. The winning hand gets a special prize, and additional prizes are raffled off.

This was a very different kayaking experience for me. While tidal, the strength of the tides this far up is diminished compared to NYC waters – which meant that actual effort was required to paddle, since the current did not exceed 1 – 1.2 knots. It’s also narrow, surrounded by bucolic mountains (well, hills, as our Western brethren might say) and rocks, including Bear Mountain. We passed West Point, some lovely riverside homes (including one with a mysterious airplane in its riverfront yard), and the Bear Mountain Bridge.

Landing at Peekskill was accomplished in a plastic floating dock. One innovation was that grooves were designed into the dock, so arriving kayaks could run straight up onto the dock. As we got out, we carried our boats to a green yard, and then checked in for our final card and lunch.

I got dealt a bit of a bum hand – the best I could muster was two 6s – but won a wine tasting for two in one of the raffles. Curiously enough, one of the promoters behind that prize was a woman on a paddle board, gracefully outpacing the lazier kayaks and taking photos of the event from a higher vantage point. 

Also in the flotilla was a rowing gig, and some tandem deck boats.

A real treat was being able to see the showroom for Atlantic Kayak Tours, located at the end of the paddle. They have a good stock of Nigel Dennis and Valley Canoe Product boats, and I finally got my eyes on some boats I’m interested in – the Anas Acuda, the NDK Greenlander, as well as some variations on the Romany and Avocet. One neat boat they had hanging on a wall was an NDK Explorer, apparently chopped up and re-attached with turnbuckles into something I’d only read about – a sectioned deck boat, each piece no more than six feet long.

I had a great time, and saw several friends, as well as made new acquaintances. I’d recommend this event for experienced paddlers and novices alike – it’s an easy introduction, and there are plenty of people around in case something goes awry. It raises money and awareness for a great cause, too. I plan to go again next year.

Published in 2012 Backpaddle New York

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