Archive for Paddling Gear


DANGER: Cold Water

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It’s mid April, there have been some really nice days, but it’s possibly the most dangerous time to be on the water.  The reason is Cold Water. It is essential that you dress for immersion, not the air temperature.

There have already been several unfortunate incidents in our area.  A couple of days ago the news media carried the story of two fishermen who capsized their canoe in Smithtown Bay at the mouth of the Nissequogue River.  Luckily for them a bird watcher spotted them in the water and was able to notify 911. Nevertheless they were last reported to be in critical condition at a local hospital

In another incident two young men lost their lives in the Hudson.  One apparently fell from a pier and the other jumped in to rescue him.  Neither made it out alive.

Newsday recently published a couple of photos showing people enjoying their day on the water.  The first picture was of a couple of fishermen in their boat on Lake Ronkonkoma.  Both appeared to be wearing heavy thermal hooded sweatshirts…..and apparently no Personal Flotation Device (PFDs or Life Jackets).  That is in violation of NYS Law which requires PFDs be worn until May 1.  The second photo depicted a father and son on the Connetquot River.  The son is in a kayak and wearing a PFD but the father, on a stand up paddle board, appeared to be wearing just a tee shirt and shorts…. no PFD as required.  I will assume that the folks in these photos ended their day successfully but I wonder how things would have turned out if they had gone into the 40 degree water.

Cold water presents two lethal hazards.  The first is Cold Shock.  That’s an uncontrollable gasping reflex-action that occurs when your body gets immersed in cold water.  If you’re gasping uncontrollably while your head is under water you are finished right then and there.  The second hazard is Hypothermia.  That’s the lowering of your body temperature which in itself can be fatal.  It quickly results in a loss of muscular control which causes swimming failure.  You might be a good swimmer but the lack of muscle control will quickly take away even your ability to tread water. Without a PFD you won’t be able to keep your head above water.

At this time of the year, with water temperatures still in the 40’s, it is essential that you’re dressed for immersion in cold water.  Either a drysuit or a wetsuit will provide adequate protection for a brief immersion, and properly fitted PFD will help keep your head out of the water. A heavy cotton sweatshirt will afford absolutely no protection in the water, it will soak up so much water and weight it will be harder to pull yourself out, and once soaked it has no insulating value.  Wet clothing and wind will just add to evaporative cooling and hypothermia.

Don’t take chances, dress for immersion and wear your PFD.

A Public Service Message from North Atlantic Canoe & Kayak. We’re serious about fun!!



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This weekend, the largest canoe, kayak and standup paddling show on the East Coast is taking place in Somerset, NJ. The show features manufacturers of kayaks, canoes, accessories, sportswear, paddling clubs professional instruction and expeditions, as well as lectures and video and slide shows of paddling trips, expeditions and paddling techniques. Paddlesport hosts over 100 exhibitors, including the top names in canoes, kayaks and SUPs, such as Hobie, Ocean Kayak, Epic Kayaks, Perception, Wilderness Systems, Wave Sport, Mad River Canoe, Old Town, Surftech and much more! North Atlantic Canoe & Kayak and the American Canoe Association will both be at the Paddlesport Show all weekend so be sure to stop by and visit. You can talk with NACK members to get first hand information on our club and programs, and see Sarah Kadis, ACA Safety, Education and Instruction Coordinator, to grab some ACA materials or to hear about what’s new with the ACA!


Kayak Gloves for Cold Weather

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With cold weather upon us in the Northeast paddlers are faced with decisions about what to wear. Gloves are a frequent topic of discussion and yet may kayakers are hard pressed to find a pair that meet their needs.

Recently Paul V asked the membership what they preferred.  Colin responded with a recommendation that seems to be most favored by NACK members.

According to Colin what he prefers over gloves are pogies.  “They are warm. With pogies you can easily remove your hands from them when needed and they’re easy to put back on. They are attached to you paddle shaft but it’s not easy to slide your hands up and down the paddle shaft when wearing them.”

Typical “Pogies”, these are made by Kokotat

“For the most part once you Velcro them in place on the paddle shaft that is where they will remain. If you capsize and need to make a wet exit you will first need to remove your hands from the pogies as an added step. If you wet exit your hands will not be protected from the cold which means you must get back into the kayak quickly before your hands become too cold to function. Simple solution to that is don’t capsize. The best pair I found are manufactured by Palm. The tag inside reads “XP150, xtra performance specialised white-water sports”. They have a 100% nylon shell and a removable fleece lining. They are blue and black. They are so warm I have seldom needed the fleece lining and I paddle all year. Unlike most they have a long cuff preventing water from running down into them. I purchased them online from an English kayaking company but I don’t remember the name of the company. Reed, another well known English kayaking company, might carry them.”

“I have tried a number of gloves none to my satisfaction. I settled for a pair of Aqua Lung Thermal Flex 3mm gloves. They are made out of neoprene and nylon. I purchased them in a SCUBA diving shop. Since they are made for scuba diving they rely on water to seep through the neoprene and warm up to keep your hands warm. They are not great for paddling but I can get by. The fingers are pre formed in a bent shape making it easier to hold the paddle and less strain on my fingers since I am not fighting to bend the neoprene. They have little rubber dots on them for better grip. But they are not perfect for kayaking; just like all gloves once your hands get wet they are hard to put back on. I have never found a pair of gloves which are ease to put on once my hands are wet. At some point you will need to remove your gloves while paddling and your hands will get wet. Gloves make wet exits harder if you have a tight spray skirt. I have never tried it but maybe the hand warmers they sell for skiers gloves would work.”

Steve agreed with Colin and added, that while my hands will get wet, they will stay warm. I have neoprene pogies from Warmers that I bought from Captain Kayak and nylon ones by NRS that I picked up at Eastern Mountain Sports.  Both work well. Some folks have tried wearing light gloves under their pogies to address the issue of their hands getting cold when dealing with a rescue but I wouldn’t recommend that. You can’t really wear gloves with them because they may make it difficult pulling your hand out quickly if you have a problem. Like needing a free hand to release your spray skirt while you’re upside down.

If you stop on shore for a rest or lunch you will need something else to put on your hands to keep them warm. For that I use a pair of wool gloves. They’re warm, easy to get on and they are unaffected by wet hands.

Let’s hear what you think.  You can leave a reply or click on “Comments” just below the title of this posting.

Categories : Paddling Gear
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North Atlantic Canoe and Kayak will have a booth this weekend at Paddlesport 2012 the largest kayak show on the east coast, in Somerset NJ. The show features over 100 exhibitors including manufacturers of kayaks, canoes, accessories, sportswear, paddling clubs, professional instruction and expeditions, as well as lectures and video and slide shows of paddling trips, expeditions and paddling techniques.

It’s held at the 70,000 square foot Garden State Exhibit Center located just off of I-287 Exit 10, a 45-minute drive from Manhattan.

Friday March 23 Noon-9 pm
Saturday March 24 9 am-6 pm
Sunday March 25 10 am-4:30 pm

Stop by with us, definitely take in some of the seminars, and enjoy the show.


Be Prepared for Cold Water Kayaking

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New Years Day 2012 on Peconic Bay

We’ve had a very mild winter, Daylight Savings Time has begun, Spring is almost here, and the days have been unusually warm.  Sure makes one anxious to get on the water.  Unfortunately the water is still dangerously cold and will stay that way for a good while.  If you decide to head out you must be prepared for immersion.  That means being dressed properly and you should have had some training and experience in the cold water environment. And don’t paddle alone. Cold water shock and hypothermia are deadly.

Pre-paddle discussion of hypothermia and cold shock

Back in December NACK conducted a special Cold Water Peer Practice at Heckscher State Park.  Air temps were mild but the water temperature was just below 50 degrees.  Not extremely cold but good for getting some experience.  The best way to test your gear and experience cold water immersion is ….cold water immersion.  So after some instruction and discussion about the cold water environment paddlers took to the water…….without their kayaks.

In the water....without a kayak

Is my dry suit really dry?  Does my wetsuit offer sufficient protection? How about my layering and gloves? Should I wear a hood?  How long am I good for in the water?  All these questions got answered the best way possible.  In the water.

Now it's time to kayak

The park offers the ideal conditions for a session like this.  There’s a wide expanse of shallow, sandy bottom at the launch site so paddlers can easily wade in and out of the water.  They’re always close to shelter, their vehicles, warm clothing and hot liquids.

After 15 minutes in the water they took to their kayaks and paired up for some wet-exit, capsize recovery, rescue and rolling practice.  This was followed by a quick paddle along the shores of Great South Bay.

Paddling on Great South Bay

When back at the launch site members gathered to discuss their experiences while enjoying tea, coffee and pastries.

See more Cold Water Peer Practice photos.

Instead of repeating some information on the subject, here are a couple of links to solid information on cold water paddling.  But remember, you must actually test your equipment, and yourself, before you encounter a dangerous situation.  Reading a book, watching a video or listening to someone talk about the dangers of cold water alone just doesn’t count.

Off-Season Boating, Cold Shock and Hypothermia

For information on Cold Shock and Swimming Failure:

Sea Kayaker Magazine Article

Categories : Paddling Gear, Training
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Kayak Demo Days

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A couple of  local shops have announced on-the-water demo days in the near future. Demo days always generate lots of interest. If you’re new to the sport demo days are a great opportunity to actually try a kayak on the water.

The Dinghy Shop in Amityville will be doing demos on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1, 2011.

Empire Kayaks in Island Park will be doing demos on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

Unless you have the experience, and a really good idea of what kayak you like, it’s important you try it before you buy it. And, if you’re an experienced kayaker there’s always the need to try the latest high performance boat.  Here’s your chance to check them out.

It’s also a good idea to contact the shop beforehand to make a reservation to make sure the kayaks you would like to try are available.

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Hudson River Greenland Festival 2011

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Registration is now open for the Hudson River Greenland Kayak Festival.  The event will be held at Croton Point Park right on the Hudson River and runs from June 24 thru June 26. Several NACK paddlers attended the event last year so here’s a posting from that event.

New to the HRGF this year is a Greenland Paddle making class taught by Chris Raab of Tuktu Paddles.  Chris is a talented craftsman and a great instructor. Having previously taught a paddle making class for NACK on Long Island, we can attest to his teaching skills.  With a few simple tools anyone can make a greenland paddle.  Class space is limited so act quickly.


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NACK Greenland Paddle Building Class in LI Press

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We’re happy to report the NACK  greenland paddle making class last Sunday was filled to capacity and there are now 10 new greenland paddles soon to be in the water.  A video of the event is even featured on the Long Island Press website.

Chris Raab on the left of Tuktu Paddles made the trek  from south Jersey to the Captain Kayak shop in Sayville for the big event.  The air was filled with the aroma of fresh cedar and the floors covered in deep piles of cedar shavings as two by fours turned into authentic looking Inuit paddles. Chris supplied the wood, help us determine the correct measurements  and brought a collection of block planes, spoke shaves and chisels for all to use.  With some expert guidance it was amazing what the participants were able to turn out in just a few hours.

A big thanks to Chris for his patience, humor and expertise and to NACK Director Ann Kaiser for setting up the class.  Chris not only builds some of the most beautiful paddles you’ll ever see but he’s also a great instructor.

Thanks to Captain Jerry Collins (Captain Kayak himself) and the staff who were  kind enough to let us use the shop. We made quite a mess but managed to get it all cleaned up by quittin’ time. 🙂 And a special thanks to the Long Island Press for covering the event.

Additional photos posted in the photo gallery.

Categories : Paddling Gear, Training
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