I’d like to applaud some paddlers I know, who shall remain nameless just in case this embarrasses them.
One former and future student of mine is taking a refresher course this summer wanting to especially learn his rescue and recovery skills. He was already signed up before a recent unexpected capsize reinforced the need to be proficient in those areas.
A couple I know, who have also had previous instruction, took a private lesson to work on rescue skills in a tandem which was something that they hadn’t done before. Having just purchased a new tandem, they wanted to make sure that they knew how to do the wet exits and re-entries under the unique circumstances that a tandem presents. They also wanted to practice using the paddle float and rescue stirrup they just bought.
Why mention these paddlers? Because they are showing good common sense and judgment, and are being proactive about becoming kayakers with efficient and effective skills. When was the last time you tried performing a rescue, in a real or a practice situation? Could you stand to improve your stamina and endurance by learning to execute your strokes with greater efficiency and power? Do you actually know how to use all that safety gear you carry?
The above-mentioned paddlers happen to be students who have taken classes from SherriKayaks Outdoor Programs, but I’m certainly not the only place that you can get good kayaking instruction. You could immerse yourself in skill development and paddling culture by attending a symposium like the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium, among others listed on the “Events” page of this website. I’ll be there too, and while I might be an instructor, I know I’ll be learning a lot myself as I work with the other instructors and the participants who are attending.
It’s important to keep learning and challenging yourself in life, and that applies to your kayaking as well. The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when you learn or master a new skill is like nothing else. The confidence you gain by knowing you can better handle situations as they arise on the water contributes to your overall enjoyment of the sport. And being around other people who enjoy paddling is just a lot of fun!
There is still time to take a class locally, or plan a mini-vacation to one of the beautiful destinations where kayak symposiums are usually held. You won’t regret it!