Date: 18 Dec 2012 Comments: 2 so far
SK Team Paddler Update John Radel
“Really?! Me, a blogger?” is as close as I can recall to my response when the news came to me from Sea Kayaker. Call it performance anxiety, but I have spent months agonizing over what great wisdom, epic tale or polarizing issue needed to examined. Seriously, when you get an honor like being an ambassador for an iconic publication – one that has covered the true greats of the paddling community for decades – and they are giving you a voice for the world to hear, you want to deliver! The agony wasn’t all mine. Sea Kayaker was tremendously understanding as they talked me off the proverbial ledge of writer’s block time and again.
So, I enter the blogosphere toe first. Sorry gang, no big splash. But, together I think we can both learn something and have some fun doing it. I could pontificate on facing fear, trying new things or taking stock of what really matters… But, that has been what trips me up. Baby steps…
Despite being involved in paddling as a vocation, it’s surprising how difficult it can be to get together with friends on the water. Schedules and commitments are always conflicting. But, on Friday, December 14, I paddled with Davy Shaw, a buddy I work with at Charleston County Parks and a new friend, Paul Bryan. I will say, before even hitting the water there were some casualties. Another good friend from the Parks was supposed to join us, but he got swept away by some other obligations. I, myself, nearly got tangled up and was over 30 minutes late meeting Davy.
Paul had posted a “meet up” on-line. The tide was right for some great current to be ripping through a local cut and he wanted some company to join him for some “park and play” time, touring kayak style. Davy and I met Paul for the first time at the launch site. There were quick introductions and some really good conversations about what the day might have in store. We looked at the water, discussing the bailout points and hazards. We shared some of our background, skills and comfort levels. We didn’t convene a summit; our pre-launch discourse was light and easy. Often, when instructing new paddlers, I try to demonstrate that all the preparatory protocol is important but does not have to be cumbersome.
For the next hour or so, we ran eddy lines, ferried and worked on skills. Personally, I am focusing on improving my body position and blade placement with my stern rudders. The conditions were perfect for what I needed and I think the same could be said by my paddling partners – smiles abound. Again, skills work doesn’t sound remotely as glamorous as a trip somewhere or surfing three to four footers. But, you couldn’t have known that by looking at us. The time flew by and soon it was time to go.
Okay, so I can’t let it go… There is a lesson that I have to point out: keep it simple. I was able to paddle with a buddy because we didn’t get hung up on launching some extravagant expedition. I got to focus on some fundamentals because I wasn’t distracted by a more dynamic environment. Nothing was complicated and, as much as anything, the simplicity itself added to the fun. Furthermore, I was able to find words and write a blog – because I finally kept it simple.