Oct
26

On the Water Empowerment

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A lot of the focus for NACK is on safety. This surprises no one.

You’ve likely been on outreach events with NACK like the Belmont Lake State Park Pumpkin Tow, Babylon Kayaking for a Cause, or Captree Dockside Festival, among others. If you haven’t…well, step on up and join the fun! Aside from socializing, running technique demos, and having fun, you’ll often find us conveying the importance of paddling safety, and a lot of focus on PFD use.

PFDs and overall basic safety are certainly key, and are an approachable subject for people strolling through our booths and events, but as a NACK member and as a paddler there are far more important safety-related aspects of NACK membership that are often unsaid, so I’d like to take a moment to say them!

Paddling with NACK we find encouragement to improve skills without pressure to over-extend out of the comfort zone. We are monitoring and aware of each other’s daily limitations be they technical, physical, medical, or mental. We all have on and off days, and often don’t know which they are until we are on the water or in the soup. Our members consistently have proven themselves as sensitive to the sometimes subtle signs of cold, fatigue, fear, anxiety, pain, hunger, and a myriad other things that we encounter while out paddling. We rally behind anyone needing an adjustment to the day—whatever the particular change may be—and there is no negative judgement for it. I find that consistent behavior to lend confidence to each of us, empowering us to make appropriate decisions, and make the most (and safest) of any given day. Sometimes it means we push harder cuz everyone is ‘on’ that day, and other times we draw things back as needed.

Some of that trust comes from our efforts at skill building during peer practices, and pool sessions. Much of it comes from days out paddling.

Not every NACK’er is a frequent paddler, and if you only come out now and then, you may not recognize this benefit to the group, but if that is the case, take a look around you on your next NACK paddle and watch those near you. I think you’ll find that we are all carefully watching each other, and making us all stronger for it.

It was a slow year for official NACK paddles, although many of were on the water frequently. I hope to see more of you out on the bays, harbors, rivers, Sound, and ocean soon!

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May
16

What NACK means to me

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I want to spend a few moments sharing my reflections on what NACK means to me. Just what it is I get from it, why, and even how I know it.

I enjoy many types of paddles from the serene and meditational, to the technical aspects of rolling and boat control, to the raucous fun of ocean surf, and of course the challenging tests of foul weather. This past weekend I was able to to head out with fellow NACKers Troy & Alan on yet another foul weather adventure. My new Sterling Progression was in hand and I was determined to get it wet. We knew the weather was going to be a beast, and Troy devised an atypical float plan for it.

It was going to be a predominantly easterly wind due to the storm, so we parked a shuttle vehicle at Crab Meadow beach, and another at Stony Brook harbor, and we then set out from Stony Brook harbor, out Porpoise Channel into the Sound where we headed out from shore a bit to catch the wind and waves and travel the ~11 miles west back to Crab Meadow. The current flooding in through Porpoise Channel was intense and running against us, and we chose to walk the boats the last half of the way out of the channel as it was less work. Once out of the channel we got back in and set off.

As the day progressed the weather worsened as predicted. Winds picked up to a steady 25kt with gusts to 33kt, and driving rain along with it. Waves varied as they always do, but max recorded wave height on the nearest buoy was 4.9 feet. The wave period was listed as 5 seconds, but honestly I don’t believe that they were any longer than 2 seconds. It made for decent travel speed, but not always in the intended direction! Troy got to test the Dagger Stratos in rough and dynamic water for the first time. Alan’s Rockpool Alaw Bach got another notch in it’s belt, and my Sterling Progression was baptised in the water it was designed for. 

Now, this post is not just an excuse to relate trip details, but to explain what NACK is to me.

NACK provides the framework for us to know each other better as people and as paddlers. It allows us to learn our skills and weaknesses and to improve if we so choose. NACK drives us to excel and to enjoy. Can we do that without the organized group? Of course we can, but the group–THIS group: NACK–facilitates that. It makes it easy to find like minded folks to relax, and also push our limits, and a place to come back after and tell our tales. For these things I am grateful. For the opportunity to learn from you all and to teach you anything I may know–or think I know!

A trip like the one described above makes it easy to see the benefits. It ensured that we all knew each others limits, and how far beyond the comfort zone we each were interested and willing to go. It threw us each differently into adversity. And allowed us each to rise to the challenge and also rise to deal with each other’s adversity! For my part, I was out of shape due to coming off of a back injury and not getting any exercise for weeks. So I was weak, and also tired quickly. Managing my blood sugar as a type 1 diabetic is always hard, and long periods of exercise make it more complicated. My mates knew both my condition and my needs and as always kept a watchful eye on me. It is no small task to monitor a diabetic on the water, and knowing that they’d challenge me and care for me is n incredible thing to have. It is never easy to accept one’s limitations, but not doing so endangers others, so I take it seriously and they trust me to do so. So in the midst of all the rain and wind and waves, and reflecting waves, and diving and climbing blood sugar, I still am spending time watching and evaluating the conditions of my fellow paddlers and ensuring that I am in a condition where I can assist them if and when needed. 

As noted earlier, it is easy to have clarity of these things when trying to navigate the crashing 3+ foot waves that are trying to throw you at the paddler who is out of their boat in the surf zone, and the 25kt wind pushing everyone around. But it also allows me to have the clarity that the reason we are confident enough to test ourselves in those conditions are all the days spent with all of NACK floating, paddling, rolling, chatting, and eating. And again…for that I am grateful. So thanks to Troy and Alan for the trip, and thanks to all of you for being part of the family that makes it possible.

I’ve attached a few stills that the GoPro recorded from the day. As always, the camera doesn’t capture the real feel. You can’t see or feel the wind, the waves look half their height, and the dynamic motion of the water is hidden. But the discerning eye can still interpret it. You can note the height differences between paddlers even though the waves look somewhat flat. You can see the foam pile up over my head while side-surfing a breaking wave to get myself out of the way of the swimmer. You can see the lean into the wind after I dumped my boat on a sandbar to run back through the surf to ensure paddler and boat were safe and not drifting free. Bonus – now I don’t have to worry about getting my first scratches on the gelcoat!

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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Apr
17

NACK Spring 17 Newsletter

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The  Spring 2017 Newsletter is now online.

 

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Apr
16

NACK, We have liftoff !!!

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Things are looking up & moving along. After being greenlighted by substantial unanimity with a vote taken at last November’s general membership meeting, the ‘NACK drone’ has moved from a mere board meeting proposal to becoming a rock-solid (in up to 15mph winds so far) reality.

Definitely a quantum leap ahead of that camera-on-a-pool-skimmer-pole ‘drone simulator’ we played with on Paul’s Gilgo trip last April 30th! Our new ‘DJI Mavic Pro’ landed stateside in early February & shortly thereafter was christened @Sunken Meadow on the 11th of that month with its inaugural flight.

A week later on the 18th Chris K, Chris F & I returned there for a nice paddle up the Nissequoge followed by our first drone filming of an actual kayak.

We’ve made some substantial progress I feel, starting out as raw, absolute beginners & steadily have built up to the point where we now have one pilot (not me) who is comfortable enough behind the controller to fly out over open water.

Nice work Chris. Hopefully as the season progresses we can flesh out the piloting ranks with some more interested folk.

 

 

 

 

I just want to extend thanks here on behalf of our club to the many members who generously contributed to & topped off our ‘drone fund’ in record time. A few were extraordinarily generous & that extra boost bought us some invaluable pre-season time to navigate the intricacies of quadcoptering. There are a LOT of features to absorb. The blurry focus issues from 2 weeks ago in the screenshot examples above have been decidedly improved as can be seen in the latest video below.  

credits here to our Drone pilot/4K Camera control -Chris K., with opening handheld video footage provided by Ron S. 

 

Should be a very exciting 2017 season for NACK.   Let’s Paddle !

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Mar
15

Our Winter Pool

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Has just passed its hallway point & we are down to just two remaining sessions. I understand a lot of folks who aren’t snowbirds or year round cold water diehards kind of just pack their boats & gear away & don’t look back until the azaleas start to bloom.

So if you find yourself in that category you may want to consider getting that kayak off the garage rack a little early this year & hosing out the spiders & joining us on March 25th or April 1st.

Like Steve has mentioned in previous emails, there is always at least one extra spot open at every session by default & additionally you will find at least one or two members will invariably have scheduling conflicts where they can’t make it & generously donate their spots to the first taker.

You would be surprised at how fast you can learn a new skill or overcome bad form with someone right there beside you to coach you out of those ingrained bad habits or show you a new technique.

Also the clear pool water makes it way less intimidating to dunk your head while practicing things like wet exits/self rescues, doing a high brace or learning to roll, re-enter/roll, or even handroll ! Pair of swim goggles & you’ll be instantly more comfortable seeing all your surroundings, paddle position, etc as opposed to the less than optimal <cough> river or bay waters here in Summer.  (& no jellyfish or algae blooms to consider). Can even bring a friend & share the session as two hours straight is pretty tiring if you haven’t been in your boat since october or november.

Below here is a quick click ‘n play video of Mike G coming up on both sides & some assorted pics of the preseason sessions so far.Oh, & Mike, Tom & Troy here playing in the deep end

   

 

 

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Feb
26

A Tale of Joy and Sorrow

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At about 5:30am on February 11th, I loaded the kayak on the car with the help of my wife, before driving her to the train station. We set out pre-coffee, and my brain shifted into autopilot as if it were my normal commute. Add to that, that we were running tight on time for her to make her train. With my focus on getting her to the platform steps asap, it never occurred to me that I even had the boat on the car as I entered the parking structure, and the clearance bar caught under the bow of the boat. 

It pried the bow up until the front of the boat flexed enough to allow the bar to snap free. The front hatch completely blew off, the deck seam split in the bow, and the interior seam tape delaminated in various spots from bow to cockpit. And a few long cracks around the deck and hull to boot. Thankfully I did not have bow lines on or I’d also have a bent hood, and other damage to the front end of the car. The crossbars on the outback bent with the pressure, but they didn’t fail either. 

Homeowner’s insurance is covering the boat (minus the deductible), and a replacement Progression is already being hand made for me. Alan helped me bend the crossbars back, and more or less…all is well. 

The takeaway of this sad tale is simply to remain aware of where you are and what is on your roof!

I put the video together as a part of my emotional healing process. As you can imagine…I too was a bit of a wreck!

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Jan
30

NACK Awards Dinner

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Story by Rhonda Moziy

A stone walled fireplace, dim lighting, living room library setting and sliding French doors set the cozy intimate scene of NACK’s Annual Awards Holiday Dinner . On the evening of Sunday, January 22nd 2017, once again, this wonderful dining experience was held at The Irish Coffee Pub at 131 Carleton Avenue, East Islip.  

The delicious multicourse meal satisfied our palates starting off with salads, appetizers of Penne a la Vodka, Potato Soup or Beef Barley Soup; main course choices of prime rib, salmon with champagne lobster sauce or stuffed filet of sole. The dessert topped off our meal with warm apple crumb a la mode or brownies all served with tea or coffee.

In attendance were Hal and Pat, Paul and Goldene, Chris K, Mike M, Mike G. Troy, Alan, Debbie, Maryann, Rhonda, Lesley, Awards chair Steve and our President John.                                                                                                                                                                  

Our president started off the evening by welcoming us all to the NACK Annual Awards event. In his opening he went on to state that NACK’S first awards dinner was held December 2006 – which makes this is our 10th dinner. NACK has grown and changed a lot since then. He went on to thank the Board of Directors; Elizabeth, Gordon, John, Ann, Steve, Roy, Debbie, Buddy, and Lynne who is our new Director at Large. He also thanked the Executives: John, Alan, Steve, Bob and Committee Chairs; Greeter & Work-Rhonda, Training and Safety-Debbie, Outreach and Picnic-Paul, Trips & Activities-Alan, Newsletter Hal, Website-Steve & Chris K, Facebook-Roy, and Mary Ann for organizing a great dinner for us tonight.

This year’s celebration honored some wonderful NACK members for their outstanding contributions and achievements. All of these amazing members help make NACK the great club that it is.

Most Valuable Paddler was Chris K., Most Improved Paddler was Michael G., The Presidents Award went to Deborah, The Distinguished Service Trophy went to Alan, and the Trip Leader award went to Paul.

Skills Assessment is a vital part of advancing your enjoyment and safety on the water.  Fifteen NACK members earned or advanced their ACA Skills Assessment Levels this past year.

Level 1 Assessment Awards went to Maria and Chris F.

Level 2 Assessment Awards went to Chris F., Vincent, Jonathan B., Michael, Emery, Rhonda, Jahzeel, and Randy 


Level 3 Assessment Awards went to Alan M. and Troy S.

Level 4 Assessment Awards went to Deborah H., Stephen M., Jonathan T. and Mike M.

Lynne Basileo earned an Instructor Award.                                                    

Continuing his opening speech, he went on to say that this club cannot survive if it was not for all of our members; we might not be the biggest club around but we are one of the best. I am proud of our expert training and continued training at our peer practices. The paddles we have are expertly run and extremely interesting. Our club is known as a Sea Kayak expert. We have great relations with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the New York State Parks on Long Island, the Town of Babylon and more. We are always proving ourselves at the outreach events.

The Pumpkin Paddle could not have been done if it was not for our Kayakers and participants: Pat, Rhonda, Bob, Jonathan, Troy, John, Roy, Chris F, Steve, Buddy, Emery. Having a presence on Social media is important, it helps to legitimize us. Steve and Chris keep our website up to date and Roy handles our Facebook presence. I cannot say enough about our Newsletter, Hal showcases our club in his quarterly novel. However he depends on all of your great articles and input.

John then went on to discuss such issues like the Drone Proposal and Fund. Alan followed by talking about future trips. Debbie then went on to talk about training, instructors, and possible camping trips.

John informed us that he spoke to leaders about instructor endorsements/updates; skills to teach rolling, strokes skill courses including learning and refining there use. He stated that the cost will depend on how many sign up.

He mentioned that during winter pool session there are open spots and instructors offering the following free mini sessions:

January 21 – Mike – Edging, High and Low Braces, Sculling for support.                      

February 4 – Steve – Wet exits, Stern rudders.                                                     

February 25 – John – re-enter and roll (with and without a paddle float)                      

March 4 – Open choice.                                                                                            

March 25 – Tom – Hand of God/Scoop/Sling rescues.                                                      

April 1- Debbie – warmup yoga, boat carrying, Cowgirl self-rescue, Chest sculling, Balance bracing.

Also mentioned was Peer Practices slated to start in May and we discussed what day of the week we wanted to do practices this year. ACA Day Trip Leader cost is to be determined, it is a 2 day course in 1 or 2 weekends. We have not finalized the cost but after you lead a few trips you will get an amount refunded.

Alan talked about trips and asked members to start sending in ideas.

Debbie then took the stage. She commented on the successful year of training we had which culminated in the ACA Assessments of 16 members.

She spoke of how this reflected all the hard work and determination of the participants as well as the instructors to prepare for the Assessments as well as to administer them. She also gave a summary of all the training that was offered by NACK to the members over the course of the year:                                                                                            

Jan – March Pool Sessions with Kayak Rolling Class given by Matt Kane of Prime Paddle Sport,                                                                                                                    

May- Wayne Horodowich Skills Class & Surfing Class (University of Sea Kayaking, Ca),

June- Level 1/ Level 2 Skills Course given by NACK Instructors (Steve, Tom & Debbie),

July – Level 3 Skills Course given by Nack Instructors (Mike Matty & Debbie),                

July & Aug – 2 weekend trips to Kayakwaveology, Stonington, Conn to train in Tide Races and rough water conditions off Fishers Island.(arranged by Lynne Basileo),                

Oct–Weekend in Stonington at the Autumn Gales Symposium (arranged by Lynne Basileo),

Nov – VHF Radio class given by Troy

In addition she expressed that we had our weekly peer practices with certified instructors in attendance to offer free coaching. Debbie especially wanted to recognize and thank our core group of instructors, John, Steve, Tom, and Mike M. for their time and dedication to our members and the advancement of safe and fun kayaking. She further went on to commend them for their dedication and being responsible for the success of our training program and greatly appreciate all the help and assistance throughout the year and admire each one of them for their knowledge and skill and their desire to impart that to our members.

She further went on to thank all the members for their participation and dedication to become better paddlers so we can paddle with confidence that we are with skilled paddlers and ended by saying “Now let’s all get out and paddle”!  Thank you Debbie for such an informative heartwarming appreciative speech.    

NACK is hoping to have a meeting on March 18 about gel coat repair and more detail using VHF radios by Troy.

It was a wonderful evening. Thanks to all of you, our members, for making NACK the great club that it is. Without everyone’s dedication and hard work we could never enjoy this wonderful and fulfilling club.

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Dec
24

NACK Newsletter Winter 2017

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The Winter Newsletter is now online.  Paddling wild water tideraces, Cycling in the Alps, The Great Pumpkin Paddle, Winter Pool and much more.

winter-2017

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A NYS Not-For-Profit Corporation

Serving Long Island and Northeastern USA "Get the NACK for paddling"