Sep
19

West Isles Sea Kayak Symposium – The symposium you never knew you wanted to go to, but do!

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The beginning of September this year found me driving up to New Brunswick Canada, and the magnificent Bay of Fundy for a week+ of exceptional kayaking. We met and stayed with some friends on Deer Island, NB, and then headed to Campobello Island which was the home of the 208 West Isles Sea Kayak Symposium. We spend Friday Saturday and Sunday there although it was only a 2-day event. Those of you who travel or paddle the coast of Maine, will see similar, yet even more dramatic coastlines, and add in the up to 50 foot tidal range of the Bay of Fundy, which can be calm and relaxing or fast and furious for current. Landscape changes as the sea literally falls away or rises up beneath you. We saw no end to harbor and gray seals, pilot whales, minke whales, humpback whales, and porpoises.  They were never far from our paths, and at least one seal even bumped into Shannon’s kayak!

The courses that are offered span from gorgeous journeys, surfing, rock gardening, working in strong currents, rolling, etc. It need not be a weekend of adrenalin, but it can be if you so want it. 

The event is organized by Outdoors New Brunswick and Jeremy Cline, who did a fantastic job on this–the second year of the event–and will no doubt continue to expand on it. Solid Coaches, guides, presenters, and participants. Who knew Canadians were friendly!? 🙂

The day the event ended we drove to Nova Scotia to test our skills on the Shubenacadie Tidal Bore. While not part of the symposium, the weekend had sharpened our skills and allowed us to really feel much more comfortable in the high speed, big wave craziness of The Shubie.

Below is a clip from our friend Ben Fontenot from his GoPro of The Shubie from our trip.

We’ll be back for both for sure. I highly recommend considering it as a destination trip! Next time (2020–it alternates every other year with the Bay of Fundy Kayak Symposium) it will be held on Grand Manan Island

Feel free to ask me or Shannon about the experience or logistics!

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Apr
27

This Is How We Do It…

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Just checking in to let you know that although this nack.club website hasn’t seen much activity lately, the same is hardly true for NACK the CLUB itself. We just finished up another solid & successful six session winter pool season & are all ready now for the ’18 paddling season. 

Last Saturday Paul V. & eight others officially kicked off the new season with a nice trip out on the Carmans River in Brookhaven. The pics looked really great. I’m sorry i had to miss this traditional Bald Eagle season-opening event. 

But our weekly peer practice sessions are starting up next week already, so count me in!

The season truly is upon us even though Mother Nature has been seriously slacking in providing us with some appropriate Spring weather!

Although for many NACK members the previous season never came to an end & as the Trips Coordinator for the club I was very pleased at the great turnouts we were getting for our late Fall & dead of Winter outings, both official & ‘unofficial’ non-ACA-sanctioned trips.

Getting 14 paddlers to actually turn up & head out into the Atlantic Ocean the week after Thanksgiving was very exciting, though as it turned out we were about a week late for any Humpback whale sightings.  But talking to my fishing buddies @ work this week who tell me the bunker & stripers are heavily back into Raritan Bay it won’t be very long before we can arrange for a Springtime welcome back whales paddle. 🙂

Four March ‘noreasters & this seemingly unending string of 38° mornings have left our waters behind their usual warming schedule but it also gave us some later than usual opportunity for some harbor seal watching. Not sure how the gang out at Moriches a while back did but the four of us who launched @Field 10 while a dozen other NACKers were carving their Greenland paddles at John’s shop saw plenty of seals both in the water & hauled out in all their flabby glory in Haunts Creek.

I also saw a bunch of City seals  when Troy accompanied me out to Staten Island in late January for a paddle off of the Verrazano & into Lower NY Bay past Hoffman & Swinburne Islands out to West Bank Lighthouse

As for the more adventurous among us there were icy coldwater blue moon nite paddles in January & March. And our resident “Small Craft Advisory” ended their surf & tiderace season  late & started up earlier than ever in February at Democrat Point christening their 2018 off road beach passes for a 50° day in the 40° waters off of Fire Island.

All in all, I’d say this season is shaping up to be one our best yet. New faces, new skills to test & improve & plenty of unpaddled waters to explore. Debbie has a pair of kayak camping trips (one in CT, one in Maine) already planned out so keep an eye out for them upcoming on our NACK Meetup page. 

If you are currently a NACK member I urge you to sign up right away to our Meetup to get all the info about where & when we are going this season. If you are just visiting & are interested in finding out more, you can find us next Sat & Sun (May 5-6) at the Dinghy Shop in Amityville as we help them out with their ‘demo weekend’ there . if you are new to the sport or are looking to get into a new boat then its a great opportunity to try on the water before you buy.

My apologies to all who worked hard & didn’t make it into the ‘final cut’ pool video above,  but I drew most of the material from the ‘Troy cam” in the diving pool. Though there were plenty of improvers populating the adjacent shallow pool & that low pool is where most all of our personal breakthroughs occur. (will have to talk to troy about switching it up next year!)

OK thats all I have for now but keep an eye on this space as we will have a lot to share this year…   !

“Life’s Short. Start Paddling”  -Alan M.

Democrat Point 2.24.18    photo credit: Jorge Guillot

 

 

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Apr
01

Spring 2018 Newsletter

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Here is the Link to the 2018 Spring Newsletter

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Dec
11

My 2017 Year in Review

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I’m off to Michigan to visit the in-laws and won’t be back on the water until January. Over the past few months I’ve been assembling a fairly massive collection of videos and still images from the people I’ve paddled with, and I have finally completed the 2017 Year in Review. It has many folks, in and out of NACK, and a variety of venues. I feel it tells a wonderful (if incomplete) story, and a fun one to watch and tap your feet to. I had a heavy focus on surfing this year, but there are all kinds of trips in here. The NACK Drone certainly added to the mix nicely.

I hope that in 2018, we can get some great NACK trips out there to include! I know there are a few special ones already in the works, and look forward to them.

Meanwhile, if you have 15 or so minutes, crack open a beer, pour some wine, or brew some coffee, stream the video to your largest screen with the volume up, and enjoy!

Thanks for being a big part of my year.

 

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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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