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Pass it Forward, NSPN-ers


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Here's a few examples of paddlers who in the best NSPN spirit have passed seakayaking knowledge forward on to me.

ALEX LANDRUM passed it forward to me after an NSPN-sponsored class with Nigel Foster. Alex had spent about $100 I think to spend the day with Foster. He taught the class the stern-draw stroke, a handy way to prevent a kayak from weathercocking without having to resort to a sweep stroke or skeg. I saw her do it, asked how it was done. She told me who taught it and then taught it to me. No more tiresome sweep correction strokes in stern quarter winds, no more tiring boat lean.

ERICA BERNSTEIN passed it forward to me after learning it from a registered guide she met in Baja and paddled with in Maine. To make on-water navigation easier, pencil in on your chart parallel lines the width of one minute of latitude. Because one minute of latitude equals one nautical mile, all you have to do is count the number of lines between two points to calculate distances.

KEN COOPER passed it forward to me when he demonstrated the whitewater move I call the shtoonk. I saw him take an incoming wave broadside, which for me would have meant broach. He stabbed the blade of his paddle up near his bow, and his boat immediately swung bow-to the incomer.

BOB HAYES taught me the deep value of the securite call on VHF 16 when making fog-bound or nighttime passages. Make this call and all boaters in the area will know who you are, where you are, what you are, and thus will be on the lookout for not running over you.

Anyone who wears a camelback on their back for hydration during a long passage has had that passed forward to them by BOB BURNETT. He was the first around here to do that, and that was seven-plus years ago, or longer than many members have been paddling.

LIZ NEUMEIER passed it forward to me after her trip to Norway. She had still in her house enough home-dried food to feed an army. Main dishes, fruit leather, desserts, energy bars. She leant me her dryer, recipes, and pointers, and I used that stuff for three weeks straight to dry food for a month-long trip to Cumberland Island and southeastern Georgia. I ate well and saved probably 85% of the cost of that commercially freeze-dried crap you see at REI and elsewhere.

If you have or have had similar experiences, I encourage you to post them on the message board. It would be great if we could re-create a groundswell of the original spirit of the club that made the organization materialize from out of thin air. So if you remember another paddler Passing It Forward to you, tell us, using the header PASS IT FORWARD.

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If I understand the shtoonk correctly the function of the paddle is basically to anchor the bow while the wave pushes the stern around behind. Would that be the case?



Traffic Yellow over White

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to take the time to thank everyone who has impacted my paddling life within the club would take days and more memory than this thing could handle. the highlight reel?

jed luby up at mikco managed to teach me to scull for support in about 3 minutes. i was going to defer (nice way to say FAIL) my 3 star on that element and he pulled it all together for me where others couldn't. and since, there has been no substitute in my mind for professional instruction. for that matter to see tom blithely paddle just to the edge of utter destruction, enjoying himself, looking as calm as a duck on a pond in what appears to be to my relatively untrained eye, utter mastery. nothing short of magic. there's a paddling model.

....and roger voeller - there's a guy who can get around and camp well and right and is in general a waterman. thanks roger. you had/have good judgement and that was the right experience for me at the time those years ago.

....jonathan and suze....gourmands! most of us couldn't cook like that with a full kitchen and classes at johnson and wales and yet they pull from the dark confines of hatches meals worthy of some wacky magazine (outdoor gourmet? mmmmmm, dirt) paddle with them...be fat and happy!

....and marjorie. she's about a gutsy as i could ever hope to be.

mostly i'd thank the folks i paddle with. we have been places and in circumstances where i am at times (well, mostly) putting a fair piece of my well being in the hands of others should there be a screw up. i trust these folks implicitly and without hesitation and they know exactly who they are. those miles paddled are/were too short.

thank every one of you for the many lessons about many things and for making the trips we take together so memorable.

sheesh...when IS spring? i'm a little stir crazy...

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RICK CRANGLE taught me the bracing turn and the fundamentals of sculling. He also gave me the basics for my deck tow.

LIZ gave me a bunch of great ideas, the only one I can remember at the moment is putting a nylon stocking over my head before putting my drytop on so that the gasket doesn't tear my hair out.

SCOTT CAMLIN showed me that my paddle was definitely too long.

JED taught me the all-in rescue.

JED and SCOTT taught me the last pieces to a scoop or hand-of-god rescue.

MIKE CROUSE taught me the static brace.

ADAM taught me the J-lean.

BRIAN NYSTROM's website taught me how to fashion a new seat out of mini-cell foam.

And there are so many more!

Dee Hall

Impex Currituck, Blue over Smoky Ivory

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Here's a few of my highlights -


- increasing my water awareness.

- showing me haunts around Cape Ann that I never would have found alone.


- teaching me high brace & eddy turns in Woods Hole and making me look cool.

- showing me that I am not really that fast after all.


- teaching me numerous new paddle strokes and improving my old ones.

- demonstrating the importance of watching current when navigating in fog.

- introducing me to surfing (can I ever thank you enough).


- teaching me to roll, and patiently standing in cold water to spot me while I messed-up.


- making the penny drop for sculling for support.


- the volumes I learnt on the leadership course.


- letting me in on his secret on how to paddle a boat fast - "Paddle really hard".

While I've decided to move on and paddle in a different direction to NSPN, the club has undoubtedly made me a better paddler. I've made friends (not just paddle buddies) and enjoyed comradery on glorious summer paddles and dreadful winter slogs alike.

Thanks very much. Keep it all about paddling.


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Ah, happy memories. Let’s see

Adam Bolonsky who taught me how to fish from a kayak, thus combining two of my favorite outdoor activities into one.

Ken Cooper for teaching me how to play in and out of the rushing tidal rips at Woods Hole.

Rick Crangle for teaching me to roll and Mike Crouse for spotting me in the pool as I performed my first unassisted roll. What a moment!

Liz Neumeier for teaching me how best for large groups to cross a channel (i.e. all in a line together).

Scott Camlin and Rick Crangle for all of their patient teachings during the leadership training last summer.

Andrew Binks for teaching me that elusive sculling brace. That sucker took me a long time to learn.

Michael Brookinshier (or Brookshears; sorry Mike, I haven’t seen you in a LONG time) for letting me use his Greenland stick for the first time. That was a world-changer!

Alexandra Landrum for her near-encyclopediac knowledge of all things sea kayaking.

Jeez, that’s just a partial list but many happy memories indeed. And I’m sure there are many more to come!


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An attitude of gratitude helps to keep things in perspective!

Thanks to:

Michael Brokenshire for convincing me to step up to a sea kayak from a Keowee!

Lisa Evans for telling me about NSPN when I met her while paddling solo in Buzzards Bay.

Bruce Gordon, Mary Mlodjinska (sp), Jill Aaron for spotting me during those first pool sessions while trying to learn to roll.

Karen Knight, Jill Aaron, and Jed Luby for the pearls that helped me find my roll at a later pool session.

Bob Burnett for standing by and giving me some pointers when I first rolled in the actual ocean.

Keith Attenboro and John Raleigh for introducing me to skinny stick paddling, and patiently coaching me to find a balance brace.

Rick and Scott and Jed and Buddy and Jim and all the instructors and assistants in my trip leader class for allowing me to stretch my perceived limits and find a new level of confidence on the water.

Ken Cooper for finding new ways to play in tidal currents.

Brian Nystrom for showing me ways to refine my paddle-making.

The list goes on...every time I go out and paddle with my NSPN friends. Thank you all!


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Liz N for making me feel welcome. Sabin for the original bulletin board. John Leonard for inviting me on my first drysuit paddle. Jim Brayden for his stature, knowledge, and generousity, Christopher Godfrey for his lack of judgementalism, bright enthusiams for all things fun, and and constant encouragement. Rick Crangle, Ken Cooper , Brian nystrom, Rick S, Jed Luby, Lai Yee, Sanjay, Sing, and others for countless lessons (and assisted rescues)on the water and good times off. A second mention to Brian for the workshop help, Patty Phelan for laughs. Richard N for unique enthusiasm and humor. Scott Camlin for many lesssons especially for lessons on how to be a wise human! Buddy Hogan for his unflappable sense of generousity. Dottie for her grace. And all the ladies for not slapping me once. Marjorie W. for help with my roll and anybody who would call me a friend for their questionable taste.

And of course to Bob who set the founding note with his friends.

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Just thought I’d add my past if forward list to the thread.

I can not remember the name of the first person but he sold me my first Kayak and after I had paid him he said check out NSPN.ORG they can help you learn a lot and keep you from hurting yourself and he was right.

Then came Jed, I’m pretty sure he saw in me everything that I didn’t. Four million bad habits when it came to paddling and a slow learner but he suffered through the summer and taught me self rescues and got me to see ant tried to correct most of those bad habits. He gets the credit for any proper paddling strokes I use and I get the credit for all of the bad habits that I still have.

Scott & Rick for all they taught me is trip leader training all the things that you need to learn to do before you get on the water so that the one the water part is fun for everyone.

Jim for teaching me about how water reacts to rocks and how to trust myself and commit to things whole heartily and then trust that the practice is going to work.

A whole bunch of other paddlers for the many little things (like brownies do taste good with oatmeal cookies, cupcakes can be eaten one handed if you have to hold on to the mooring float to keep from moving while eating ect.) that you learn just being around people that love to paddle and have fun.

The number of names in my list may be smaller than others and that is not because people have not taught me many things it is because I can’t remember the names of all the people that have taught me so much. Heck, I still get my kids names messed up half the time.

Bob Lambert

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  • 3 years later...

Just want to bring this back to the front. Please don't forget what NSPN is all about. Keep the spirit alive and pay it forward my friends.


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Sometimes what is learned is never explicitly taught, but absorbed though the example of others. Five years ago I was playing around with my kayak at Walden Pond when Leon G. introduced himself and invited me to go out and paddle on Cape Ann. Until that moment I hadn't even realized that kayaks were meant for salt water. Five years of following Leon around the North Shore as best as I could gave me the gift that keeps on giving!

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As a newbie there were a lot of people I'd like to thank ...

Ernie (aka The Subaru Guru) - For introducing me to the sport in the first place, and for hooking me up with a great paddle.

David Lewis - For lending me his boat before I owned one and for the great instruction sessions on the Mystic lake.

Brian & Gillian - For the great instruction sessions in Salem.

Adam - For his great blog and videos.

Roger & Bob - For rescuing my sorry ass off the back of Bakers Island!


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Perhaps I am a Grinch or at least a misanthrope for saying this, but methinks the best and only meaningful way to remember and demonstrate appreciation for all those who have played a role in our becoming paddlers of some sort is to do for others as they have done for us. Otherwise it becomes perilously close to an inward looking mutual appreciation endeavor which is the antithesis of our mentors' spirit.

I say this to encourage all to use the new approach of the new year as an opportunity to in fact "pass it on". Not to deprecate the expressions of thanks.

Ed Lawson

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Linda and Brian - Monomoy Seals

Liz - Spectacular people are everywhere

Bob - Learning can be fun

Mike - Kayak Camping

Karen - Luxury provisions

Leslie - Good humour

Adam - You can look good in a kayak, even with grey hair

Jason - That little push now and then

Walter - Warmth, kindness, and local lore

Brad - A buddy when I was unemployed

Bill - Saved the day on the final episode of "Surfing with Rodni"

Carl - A warning, if too late

Roger - A buddy for several years

Barry - The recipient of a joint rescue that was rapidly and wordlessly executed

Jonathan - Leaving no trace

Cathy - Selflessness and years of membership

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