As a brand-new member (since Friday afternoon) I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Veterans Park. Fortunately, John spotted me wandering around and introduced himself. He sent me off to meet Tom so I could sign up for the “Edging and Turning” class.
I'm very new to kayaking and really needed this instruction.
There were about ten students and two instructors – Tom and Eileen. The class was extremely well done and I was very glad I had come. They covered edge turning, forward and reverse sweep strokes, turning in place, paddling backwards, and emergency stops. During the hour and a half class we had sufficient time to practice while Tom and Eileen coached us.
A couple of incidents enlivened the morning. One of the students, while paddling backwards, managed to capsize. Tom used that as an opportunity to demonstrate a partner rescue with a stirrup. Then Tom got a little overenthusiastic demonstrating an emergency stop and he capsized – which allowed him to demonstrate how to roll upright.
About 10:40 they called an end to the class – which suited me just fine. Any more would've been too much to take in. But we weren't finished.
Eileen led six of us—those with sit-inside kayaks—on a short cruise. We paddled up Long Bayou, under a couple of bridges, and over to the KOA campground. The tide was still on the ebb and we had to make our way through a tidal race moving at about 2 knots. Eileen wanted to take us through some channels along the shoreline but the tide was too low; we turned back. We crossed Long Bayou by weaving between the islands until we reached the mouth of Cross Bayou. Then we turned south and made our way back to Turtle Crawl Point.
Along the way we encountered plenty of wildlife, including a mother dolphin and her calf.
I got to practice the lessons I'd learned in the class. At one point I edged the wrong way to avoid a piling—and was very glad I knew how to do an emergency stop!
We finished in a little under an hour. According to Google maps our route was 3.75 miles. We arrived back at the kayak launch simultaneously with the advanced paddle tour. There was a bit of a traffic jam.
The festivities concluded with good food and conversation. The day was far more instructive—and fun—than I had anticipated.