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May
04

Dinghy Shop Kayak Test Drive Weekend May 14 & 15

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The Dinghy Shop will be hosting their annual Kayak Test Drive Weekend on May 14th and 15th. This is a great on water event that allows paddlers to try out a wide variety of kayaks and paddles back to back. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current kayak, add to your fleet, or seeking out a new paddle for the new year, there will be something for you. A number of industry reps will be on hand to help you choose the best kayaks and gear for your style and budget.

Also, this will be the first time Impex will be back in the U.S. and they’ll have a full demo fleet available for paddlers to test out.

In one of it’s first public appearances, Wilderness Systems will have a demo available of their new Helix MD Motor Drive. The new electric drive will be a big game changer for fishermen looking to push harder and further.

You only need to bring something you don’t mind getting wet in, and they’ll supply the rest.

Hours are Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

Address: 334 S Bayview Ave, Amityville, NY 11701
Phone: (631) 264-0005

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Winter came to a close with a flurry of back to back pool sessions.

There was great turnout at all six of them, and great to see people keeping their skills sharp and picking up new ones along the way in the “off” season. Self and assisted rescues, new rolls, balance braces, sculling, paddle strokes, and broken paddles all served as a pretext to further not only our skill sets but to strengthen our camaraderie and trust in each other for when we are out on the water.

Below are some bits from the final session. Please note that if you ever want to be filmed for practice, analysis, or to share with your friends and family, always feel free to ask. We have a slew of folks who are camera happy, and they’ll be pleased as punch to record you whether in the pool, out in the wild, or in the parking lot 🙂

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Feb
16

Hard Water

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Pool sessions through the winter are nice, but for five intrepid NACK paddlers, access to open water will not be denied!
The rest of the photos and videos are available here.

Edit:
The seals in the area seemed much more comfortable inspecting us and we got to see some of the more rare local wildlife such as the Cupsogue Yeti. It may have a crush on Mr. Mayors.

Are-we-there-Yeti

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They can close the roads; the water may freeze; the winds may blow; and the pool session may be cancelled, but you can always go out and practice!

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Jan
12

Rescues: why we practice

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One of the frequent activities we do in peer practices and on various trips/outings is to go over self and assisted rescue techniques. The primary reason is of course simply to keep everyone safe. It builds confidence and allows us to push our skills in other aspects of paddling knowing that we can recover if things don’t go as planned. That’s why we do it in pools, moving water, waves, wind, and cold.

One aspect of learning these skills that is often not discussed is that it enables us as the person being rescued to play an active role in facilitating the rescue. Additionally it allows us to better understand what our support roles may be if we are not the primary person assisting the rescue. Rather than summarize them here, take a look at a brief and insightful discussion of this by Neptune’s Ranger member Bill Vonnegut. He also includes in the article a video from a rock gardening outing (that is most of what that group does), showing how much is really going on during a live rescue.

Click here to read his article

NACK is a supportive group, and if at any time on or off the water you feel that there is a gap in your skills you’d like to work on, always feel free to voice that desire and you’ll quickly find yourself surrounded by folks who are happy to take the time to work with you. Whether it is something basic or advanced, we all have skills to learn, improve and practice.

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Jan
10

Back in the saddle again!

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The 2016 pool sessions have started up and it’s great to see John back on the water! …nice to see everyone else too of course 🙂

Click the image or this link to see the collected photos and videos from the day. Note that I did not prune or tune them, so if there are any you’d like added or removed (or touched up), just drop me a line.

Back in the saddle!

Back in the saddle!

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Dec
06

December 2015 Cold Water Practice

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Before the deeper cold of winter sets in, a group of 6 hearty NACK paddlers and a friend headed out to Jones Beach Field 10 for some cold water practice of rescues and rolling, and a cruise by Haunt’s Creek to hunt for some seals. Here is a video montage of that day, Saturday, 12/5/2015. Click the image below, or this link to play the video.

Assisted rescue practice

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Nov
18

Rescue in the wild

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As fans of cold water paddling and adverse conditions, I found myself at Goldstar Battalion beach in Huntington on Saturday the 14th of November waiting for Alan Mayors to arrive. A gale force warning was in effect. Air temperature was 49°, water temperature 59° and the sun was shining on the whitecaps in the harbor. I had unloaded my gear onto the beach and was partially dressed and loaded. Dry suit was on, but skirt, PFD, and dry bag were resting in the cockpit. I had lent Alan my Gearlab paddle to play with earlier and didn’t bring any of my other Greenland paddles with me that day, except my Norsaq which is always on my deck.

I knew Alan would be running late as there were some closed roads on route to the beach. I strolled into the cool, but far from freezing, water and burped my dry suit. When I came back to shore, two gentlemen, one in his 40s and one around 70, were walking their dinghy to the water to row out to their mooring. I waved and smiled, and they waved back. I didn’t think much about them and carried on fiddling with my gear as the older man rowed off and the younger (turns out to be the son) came back by me and sat in his car.

A few minutes go by and the son got out and walked away down the beach, while I’m standing with a building behind me as a windbreak and to soak some warmth from the sun. My eyes returned to him as I see him jogging along at the far east end of the beach. He jogs intermittently and walks some. Then starts running back towards his car and me. While he is running back my way, I start scanning the water to see what he was reacting to, but I can’t see anything unusual. Just a few boats on moorings, no people, no moving objects. I approach him as he nears, and ask if everything is alright. He replies, “I’m not sure,” and starts to get in his car, when he seems to think a moment and turns back to me.

“I think the dinghy is taking on water and he can’t get into the boat,” he says to me. I ask him where the dinghy is as I can’t spot it. He points out the boat to me, and says that the dinghy and his father are on the far side of it.

I tell him that I’m going to grab my gear and paddle over to him to assist. He thanks me and says he’s going to drive over to the dock that is closer to them (about a quarter mile east of us).

I sprint to my kayak on the beach and grab the dry bag that has my car keys as I don’t have a paddle out, but do have my euro paddle in the car. With speed being my primary goal, I grab the paddle, and put it together, leaving my VHF radio in the car. I put the paddle together, close the doors and sprint back down to the kayak where I quickly pull my hood on, skirt up, buckle on the PFD and literally throw the kayak into the water.

If you’ve ever seen my 6’ 1” body squirm my way into the cockpit of the Tahe Greenland, you know it isn’t always the fastest action, but with haste as my muse I just sat way back on the rear deck, pointed my toes, grabbed the cockpit rim and slammed my legs on in. Snapping the skirt on slowed me a bit as I had neoprene gloves on, and the constant small waves were trying to sneak into the cockpit (which only sits about ¾ of an inch above the waterline with me in the boat). Locked and loaded, I swung the euro paddle around and pushed off. I literally hadn’t used a euro paddle in over a year and it took a good 30 seconds of adjusting to the stroke and feeling it catch the wind in order to smooth myself out and get full control.

Shortly after that I reached the spot I had been directed to, but the power boat was not there. No boat, no dinghy, no person. “This could be very bad or very good,” I thought. I scanned the waterline but saw nothing. Scanned the shore and nothing. I circled around the couple of boats that were moored nearby in case I just had the wrong one and the man was on the far side of one. No such luck. I paused and started to think about the wind direction and tide direction—both of which were strong and westerly—and spotted the son up in the parking lot of the Harbor Boating Club, a few hundred feet further east. I followed his sight line down below and saw his father in the water, clinging to the dock and struggling with the current.

I spun the kayak and sprinted over. The son spotted me coming in but his attention, and mine, were on his father. The father mustered his way onto the dock about 10 seconds before I reached him. He was wearing jeans, a sweater and jacket, and had one calf-high rain boot on. No PFD. The other boot lost to the sea. He was able to get to his feet on the dock but was stumbling around. He was clearly exhausted and cold, and unsure how to proceed. The gangway had been removed for the winter. The dock was not connected to shore. Under the water there was a chain link fence connecting the dock to the shore acting as a strainer, and my hull kept riding up onto it, but I clung to a piling to keep off of it and avoid being swept away over the fence or under the dock.

I guess some of my ancient PADI Rescue Diver training kicked in and I first asked the man if he is injured. He said no, and I mentioned his limp and awkward movement, but he insisted that there was no injury. I accepted that and explained that he was safe, but the biggest threat ahead of us was the cold. We needed to quickly get him onto shore, out of the wet clothes and into dry clothes, or even undressed and in his son’s car. He understood.

I quickly thought about my options for getting him to shore. It was not far at all. Maybe 50-75 feet to the neighboring private beach, but it was across and against the tide and wind, and we had to keep off that fence or risk puncture wounds or being trapped under the water. I was having trouble controlling my kayak while along the dock, and the water was broadsiding me. My first thought was to have him on my foredeck and paddle him to shore. I quickly ruled that out as a) that would put him right up against the fence to start, b) the Tahe has less rigging than most other boats leaving him less rope to cling to, and c) in my assessment, he was too weak to hold on, and having him lose contact and drift into the dock/fence would be a disaster – physically and emotionally for him. I explained to him my plan.

I paddled to the nearby beach, ditched the kayak, and swam back out to him. Then I explained that he needed to get back into the water and rest his back against my chest. This, he explained later to me, was the hardest part of the whole ordeal for him. He had to muster up the courage to slide back in. It didn’t take him long though. He sat on the edge of the dock, and as I explained that he’d be just as warm (if not warmer) in the water with me, he slipped off the edge, and hung on to a piling. I reached under his arm and across his chest and told him that he only had one job, and that was to keep his head above water and let me do the work. With my body and PFD providing buoyancy for us both, I leaned back and kicked off of the piling and fence to get some starting distance and began my side/back-stroke against the current. We moved slowly, but it was not far to go. It wasn’t long before he exclaimed, “I can stand here!” and I stood up and gave him a shoulder to lean on as we waded to shore, up the beach and up a short flight of stairs to the street level.

The private beach was closed and locked with a chain link gate. His son was on the street side, and there was conveniently a storage box a foot or two from the fence. I helped the older man up onto the box, and provided my back as a bridge over to the fence. He slid across into the arms of his son. I made sure that the son understood that the wet clothing should be his first concern and he explained that he had dry clothes in the car for his father. He promptly carried his father around to the parking lot where the car was.

By this time several locals had arrived including a few with keys to the gates. Seeing that he was safe and far from alone, I headed back down to the beach, got back in my kayak and started paddling west against the tide and wind. The adrenaline was beginning to fade and exhaustion starting to toy with me as I made my way all of maybe a third of a mile back to Goldstar.

As I near I see Alan on the shore. Tired, I’m excited to get back and relay the story. I can’t hear over the wind, but I realize Alan is yelling something and has been giving me the bird for the entire time I’ve been able to see him. I finally get in hearing range and he’s clearly upset with me that I was out, not answering the radio (as it was in my car), and nowhere to be seen. We had just talked that morning about always having the radio, so I agreed with him, but between pants I explained the story and his anger and concern changed to understanding. He smartly advised me to check my blood sugar after that adventure (I am a type 1 diabetic) and despite having loaded on carbs prior to getting to the beach, I was dropping quickly. Good call, Alan! (My wife is proud of him for thinking of it!)

As Alan got his gear ready, I saw that an ambulance had pulled in to the parking lot, so I grabbed my radio(!) and walked the road around to check in with them. I got there to find two squad cars, two unmarked cars with sirens, and an ambulance. I spotted the son talking with the EMTs and explained that I’d come over because I’d seen the ambulance, and he said that everything was ok. Another boater who was on land, had called the harbor master on his VHF, and the ambulance on his cell. I chatted a bit with the son, the boater, the EMT and then they explained that the father was “calling for the hero” from the car. I went over and talked with him as he sat in dry clothes and wrapped in a Mylar blanket, for five or ten minutes and then took my leave to head back to Alan again as there was still rolling practice to be had over in Puppy Cove.

–While I didn’t stop to take any photos during the adventure, here is a more fun shot of Alan in training in the much more protected waters of Puppy Cove. 🙂

Alan at Puppy Cove

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