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Posts Tagged ‘Patterson NY’

Christine Pizzuti | Poughkeepsie Journal, link to original post

Many people choose to settle in the Hudson Valley because of its scenic waterways, but kayaking and canoeing offer an opportunity to enjoy the valley from a whole new perspective.

Marshall Seddon, co-owner of the River Connection in Hyde Park, first recognized the benefits of paddling as a child. “I started when I realized I could get to places to go fishing that I couldn’t get to on land, and that was probably around 7 years of age,” Seddon said. “As far as paddling goes, I used everything that floated: canoe, kayak, raft and other contraptions.”

The River Connection’s lessons for beginners start with a tutorial on all the parts of the vessel and related pieces, as well as getting in and out during launching and basic maneuvering. Another important skill is how to handle a capsized vessel. “There are a lot of things you can do with a kayak,” Seddon said. “A lot of skills that will make your time on the water easier, safer, more fun — and not all of them involve falling over.”

The basics classes are for anyone who’s never touched a kayak. Depending on how students progress, they can also learn more fun skills, such as surfing a kayak.

The River Connection provides equipment in its retail showroom on West Market Street, and lessons at a private harbor down the hill. The paddling school’s website is linked up to weather forecasts and tide predictors for local paddling venues.

When it comes to selecting gear, Seddon said you should start with a personal floatation device. He said it’s much like biking or skiing, where better tools provide better performance. “A personal floatation device and paddle are the best two investments a paddler can make,” Seddon said. “If your paddle is 3 pounds, and it’s 1,000 strokes per mile, that’s 3,000 pounds. If you’re doing one and a quarter pounds, you’ve turned that into energy you still have at the end of the day.”

After that, a signaling device, such as a whistle or horn, is useful for getting someone’s attention on the water. “In this area, most folks have a cell phone,” with a dry container to keep it in, “to let people know they’re staying out longer than expected and having too much fun,” Seddon said, adding he and his staff make frequent delivery calls to Hyde Park Pizza from the water and paddle to the ramp to pick it up.

Just about every other Saturday, the River Connection instructors head down to the boathouse at the harbor to let the public try out different types of equipment. Much of what goes into the equipment selection is personal preference. “The type of kayak will be determined greatly by whether you’re touring and sea kayaking, like we have on the Hudson River, or whitewater, which would be an entirely different sport,” he said. “Or if you’d like to use it as a swim platform in the summertime.”

To avoid swamping the boat, or having it fill with water, Seddon said a paddler might want to add a floatation device to the ends. This will lessen the volume of water entering the vessel and keep it afloat.

A spray skirt worn by the kayaker creates a watertight seal around the cockpit and also helps avoidswamping. Without a spray skirt, a kayaker could be confronted with a sizable wave created by motor traffic, and could easily take on water. But if there is floatation at both ends of the boat, it will take on less water.

Seddon said kayaks with cargo bulkheads, or watertight compartments at the front and rear, are good for this purpose. Paddlers whose kayaks don’t have the compartments built in can use floatation bags or a foam pillar.

Kayaks, as opposed to canoes, are ideal for the Hudson River, where currents and winds can be strong. A canoe is better for calm water settings when you have your dog and cooler with you, Seddon said. “Everybody piles on and has a grand old time, but with a three-knot current on the Hudson River and wind conditions, a canoe is harder to use; the free board will act as a sail,” Seddon said. “It takes more experience to get a canoe to behave well, as opposed to a kayak.”

Russ Faller, the paddle chairman at the Mid-Hudson chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said he does both kayaking and canoeing, depending on the trip. If he’s going from lake to lake in the Adirondacks, he’s better off taking a canoe, because it’s easier to carry on your shoulders, unlike a kayak, which has heavy decking and less space for your head. Canoes are also better for camping because you can throw one big backpack into a canoe, whereas bags must be smaller to fit in a kayak’s compartments. “The other difference is a canoe is easier to get in and out of than a kayak. If it’s a recreational kayak, it has a big opening, but if it’s sea touring, it’s harder,” Faller said.

Faller said the main advantage of a kayak is that it’s lower in the water, so when it gets windy, it’s easier to keep the vessel in a straight line. A canoe will catch the wind and be blown around more easily. It’s also faster because it’s narrow.

Faller started paddling in a canoe in the late ’70s. He said he was on the Hudson River with a group of kayakers when the wind picked up halfway through their trip. “It was like a headwind from the left side, and I was having trouble paddling it in a straight line,” he said. “I ended up losing speed, and being left behind, and they were cruising right along. I realized I should get a kayak, too, for waters like the Hudson River.”

In June, the Adirondack Mountain Club hosted the ninth annual Mid-Hudson ADK Paddlefest at Plum Point Park in New Windsor. The event offered free kayak and canoe lessons, guided paddling trips and a used gear sale.

Faller said the Wallkill River is an ideal setting for beginners, as well as Chodikee Lake and Black Creek in Highland, because the water moves more slowly there. You can often paddle both ways on the Wallkill and the creek, and the lake is well-protected from wind. He also recommends the Basha Kill Wetlands out in Wurtsboro, and the Great Swamp of New York in Patterson. “The Hudson is more for advanced (paddlers), because it’s open, so it can be very windy. Some days it’s placid like a mirror, and the winds can just kick up,” Faller said. “Another problem with the Hudson is there’s a lot of powerboat traffic — and that makes waves.”  The shipping channel can also be dangerous if you get too close to a barge or tanker.

Seddon agreed, “Anything on the Hudson River, you need to realize, it’s a shared waterway with motor traffic, and you should be aware of where the shipping channel is, what the buoys indicate as far as incoming traffic, and what the rules of the road are,” Seddon said.

Faller said places off the Hudson, such as Constitution Marsh in Cold Spring and the north bay at Tivoli Bays, are pretty ideal for beginner paddling.

Seddon said paddlers should have a good idea of where they’re going, and especially if they don’t have local knowledge, they need a guide book and navigational chart. Seddon highly recommends the “Hudson River Water Trail Guide,” which covers the dam in Troy all the way down to the Battery in New York City. It includes obstructions, anchorages, buoy placement, camps, things to see, etc. “That’s the comprehensive bible of exploring the Hudson River,” he said. “A resource like that, or local paddling experts with local knowledge, will fill you in on critical knowledge you should be aware of.”

For instance, Seddon said, Tivoli Bays is a peaceful setting to paddle but has a very high tide. If you don’t beat the clock, you won’t be able to pass under the bridge and make it out on time. “If you feel like going into marshes like Tivoli Bays, you should be aware of the tides. For instance, Constitution Marsh, you need to go in two hours before high tide and come out two hours after high tide, or you could get caught in a mud flat,” he said. “You can’t walk on it, because the mud’s too soft.”

The Forsyth Nature Center in Kingston has a unique program that includes a quick kayaking lesson followed by a nature tour every Friday and Saturday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. While the nature center itself is based in uptown Kingston, the kayaking tours are given at 6 p.m. Fridays on the Rondout Creek near the Hudson River Maritime Museum, and at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the Hudson off Kingston Point Beach. “So we do a morning paddle and a sunset paddle,” said Steve Noble, an environmental educator for the City of Kingston, which oversees the nature center. “We try to go at the bookends of the day, because during the warm, sunny, hot days at noon, there could be a lot of boat traffic, which scares away the wildlife.”

The point of these trips is for participants to see things they otherwise wouldn’t on land. Common sightings include eagles, osprey and turtles, as well as muskrats.

The center provides the kayak, paddles, life jacket, 20-minute lesson and guided tour for $25 for Kingston residents and $35 for out-of-towners. “I was born and raised here in Kingston, but when I came back here to work, and do the work we’re doing, I wanted to make sure it’s affordable to folks, and have them learn about what we have right here in our own backyard,” Noble said.

The center tries to keep tour groups small — around eight or nine people, so it’s a good idea to call or e-mail the center in advance.

Noble said the tours are the best part of his job. “It’s really exciting, and most of the folks we have are doing it for their first time,” he said. “And kayaking is such a different way to get out there and see things, because you’re so close to the water.”

Faller said places off the Hudson, such as Constitution Marsh in Cold Spring and the north bay at Tivoli Bays, are pretty ideal for beginner paddling.

Seddon said paddlers should have a good idea of where they’re going, and especially if they don’t have local knowledge, they need a guide book and navigational chart. Seddon highly recommends the “Hudson River Water Trail Guide,” which covers the dam in Troy all the way down to the Battery in New York City. It includes obstructions, anchorages, buoy placement, camps, things to see, etc.n “That’s the comprehensive bible of exploring the Hudson River,” he said. “A resource like that, or local paddling experts with local knowledge, will fill you in on critical knowledge you should be aware of.”

For instance, Seddon said, Tivoli Bays is a peaceful setting to paddle but has a very high tide. If you don’t beat the clock, you won’t be able to pass under the bridge and make it out on time. “If you feel like going into marshes like Tivoli Bays, you should be aware of the tides. For instance, Constitution Marsh, you need to go in two hours before high tide and come out two hours after high tide, or you could get caught in a mud flat,” he said. “You can’t walk on it, because the mud’s too soft.”

Adirondack Mountain Club, mid-Hudson chapter
The River Connection9 W. Market St.Hyde Park

Phone: 845-229-0595 or 845-242-4731
Forsyth Nature Center Delaware Avenue in Kingston
Phone: 845-481-7336
E-mail: forsytheducation@aol.com

Picking a kayak
What to consider in selecting a kayak (from The River Connection http://www.the-river-connection.com/canoesandkayaks/kayakselection.php):
Performance: Tracking, efficiency and stability. Think about how you want the boat to behave or “feel” on the water. Consider how you will use your kayak: Will it be for casual outings such as birding or fishing, cruising about for day trips or picnicking, or for adventure such as camping trips or long-distance outings? Covering distance, efficiently and effectively is usually accomplished with a longer kayak.
Features: Safety, storage; rudder/skeg. More hatches mean more storage, but a water-tight hatch is also an important safety feature to your kayak in the event of a capsize. Other features, such as nite-line deck rigging, a metal security lock point, carry handles and rescue toggles are other features that are often overlooked when selecting a kayak.
Construction: Materials, weight, length, width and color. To determine the optimal material for your kayak’s construction, try lifting several kayaks constructed of different materials. If you can lift and easily move your kayak to the launch, you will use it more frequently. Remember the goal of your journey is to enjoy yourself. Frustration at the launch because your kayak is too heavy or cumbersome for your strength is a real problem.
Comfort Level: Cockpit size, deck height and leg room. Choose a cockpit size that fits you: Your hips and thighs should comfortably touch the interior outfitting. Foot braces should be firm yet easy to adjust.

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