I can appreciate where you're coming from. I continue to be somewhat surprised by the seeming lack of interest in more performance-oriented sea kayaking.
We've decided to get more active.
We've actually teamed up for an event this spring with some terrific ACA instructors with an overall goal of making coastal paddling more easily accessible.
The idea was an early season, low cost, rough water paddling event, with follow-up paddles on-going after getting the opportunity for some exposure to rough water. You get the opportunity to meet and paddle with peers with the same interests, get good instruction, and build on it through on-going free club paddles and continued instruction on your own should you choose.
One thing I have noted is that many beginning and intermediate paddlers prefer to seek out paid instruction prior to advancing their activities. So I hope this event will create a win-win between ACA instructors, and folks like you and I who also appreciate those free-of-charge informal open water paddles. I think we all benefit by building the coastal kayaking community.
We're doing this through Carolina Kayak Club, and the weekend is May 17th to 19th. It's the weekend after Mother's Day, the weekend before Memorial Day. The weekend's paddling activities will be held at Carolina Beach Inlet, Carolina Beach, NC. Carolina Beach State Park will be the campground, a short paddle from the inlet. It's a nice campground in the woods along the ICW. We couldn't put this together for free, but $120 to $140 includes 2 nights camping, and we have 6 ACA instructors committed. We are reserving the open spots for introduction to surf and rough water for local area members, and they will have specific introduction to surf and coastal paddling ACA instruction. So if you're from NC/SC interested in some intro to surf classes, this is a great opportunity. But we also want to make this a nice rough water event for intermediate/advanced paddlers who may not be so interested in more formal class sessions. So the idea is to form pods, say 5 intermediate paddlers and an ACA instructor, and have a rough water inlet session, shoals surfing session, beach launch and landing session, following seas session, rough water rescue session - just taking advantage of the skill level of the pod and the conditions that happen to be afforded us that weekend. We'll have 6 hours of mid-day flooding tide into the inlet, which will give us a nice safety cushion should things offer some quite challenging conditions. We'll have the opposite late afternoon and evening for some change in conditons if that makes sense for some folks. And we have full ability to choose the level of waves by moving further into the inlet, or further out into the shoals. I plan to set up shade tents with coolers for drinks and snacks for breaks on the beach. It should be a pretty great set-up for a day of beach play.
Now this is a coastal symposium, so it may be exactly what you're talking about not wanting to do. But I recently paid $73 just for a campsite for 2 nights, so I think it fits more in line with paying for camping for the weekend than paying more expensive symposium prices. My personal thought process was similar to yours when we started talking about this. Why is it that the only way to get into open water sea kayaking is through paid classes, or going it solo? I think the classes are important, but I think peer-based learning is also important. We want the added benefit for our local beginners to be more formal surf zone introduction, and the fun for intermediate/advanced paddlers to be peer-based rough water paddling. We all get to meet and share the weekend. You get an annual membership to Carolina Kayak Club (CKC) as part of the price, which is where you will learn about the posted coastal paddles for the year. And hopefully we can create an annual rough water event that continues to offer low cost, safe accessibility to beginners as well as intermediate/advanced. And hopefully both the free lance paddlers, and the instructors, will benefit from our efforts to build a stronger coastal paddling community.
That was a lot of stuff, but I'm interested where this would fall from your perspective. Does it sound promising, or just another pay-for-paddling situation? Keep in mind, we can, do, and will continue to post free coastal paddles on CKC's calendar, so the regular free postings aren't all talk. And our local area is quite extended, as the club is based out of Raleigh, and it's with a lot of help from the Wilmington members that this has been put together.
As long as I'm at it, I would love to have some of the intermediate paddlers from P-Net sign up and join us for the weekend. So please chime in and e-mail me if you would like to attend. I think at the price point, and given the coastal inlet location, safely organized rough water paddles and ocean beach time would make this well worth the affordable sign-up cost and a bit of travel.
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