Dear Mountain Mama,
I just took a week-long whitewater kayaking course and I’m addicted! During the course I learned so many skills that I want to practice. As much as I’d like to, I can’t afford to keep taking lessons.
How do I find paddling partners?
Dear Just Learning,
Welcome to the amazing community of river folks. Fortunately for you, Just Learning, kayakers are generous with their time and happy to help beginners.
Some of the best ways to meet paddling partners at your level is from the courses you take. Swap contact information and make paddling plans. Also, ask your local kayak shop for the name of kayaking clubs in your area. Start attending club meetings. Often more experienced paddlers host clinics for beginners. Intermediate boaters sometimes offer to safety boat on trips intended for paddlers who are just getting started. If kayaking clubs aren’t an option in your area, kayaking forums on websites like www.boatertalk.com are a good way to connect with other boaters.
Another good option is to go to the take out of a popular run. Your chances of finding someone else to kayak with are higher on weekend days. Go early in the morning, bring a good book in case you have to wait a while, and drive a useful shuttle vehicle. If you’re car is loaded with camping gear or can’t shuttle other boats, you’re not helping your chances that others will want to boat with you.
Just Learning, do your part to create good kayaking karma. That means practicing your roll so others don’t have to constantly chase down you and your gear. Be gracious for any help and tips that other boaters give to you. Buying the bear, ice cream, or gas will go a long way to make a good impression in the boating community.
Here’s to a summer of paddling and new friends!