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Instructing on the Hudson

I had another opportunity to instruct this weekend, this time at my “home” club, the Inwood Canoe Club. Located just below Dyckman street on the Hudson River, Inwood is the oldest continuously operating paddling club in NYC -as far as I know.

This year there has been a lot of interest among new members in getting training and certifications. Several took a class last week at Lake Sebago, and wanted to practice this week before next week’s formal assessment. So, I took my notes and put together a day-long cram session, based more or less on the Coastal Kayaking (Level 2) curriculum put forth by the American Canoe Association.

Overall, it went pretty well. I had about five or six students at a time. A couple could only make the morning, replaced by others who could only make the afternoon. Those were there all day certainly got a workout!

In the morning we focused on strokes and maneuvers: forward stroke, sweep stroke, turning in place and turning on the move, stern rudders. We paddled up to a little place I like to practice near Spuyten Duyvil. It’s relatively sheltered from current and other conditions, and worked well in the morning. Then we paddled back to the boathouse for lunch, rest, and some land-based discussions on signals, protection, and safety.

In the afternoon, the current picked up in the opposite direction. We spent some time on edging and braces. One long-time paddler was astonished by edging. “It changes my life,” he said, going on to say, “I never thought a long boat could turn like this.” Of course, he promptly capsized while turning a little too sharply without a brace, but he still loved the new (to him) concept.

My little protected area was not as protected against flood current as ebb, so while we did a little work there, I decided to move us across the river. We still drifted a bit with the tidal current, but not nearly as badly, and we managed to practice some rescues and towing. Contact tows in particular proved to be a hit, since few people have proper tow ropes when they need them.

After that, we paddled back across the water, got out, and washed up. Everyone was pretty well tuckered, but mostly happy with the results. For those going on their assessments next week, I hope it helps. For everyone, every day on the water is a day to improve skills.

For me – I learn from all my students, because everyone learns in a different way. Additionally, I got experience managing a group, and changing conditions. Not all my plans worked out, but I am more or less happy with how things did work out, and I have better ideas on how to manage things next time.

Published in 2013 American Canoe Association Backpaddle ICC Instruction Inwood Inwood Canoe Club Lake Sebago New York

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