By Megan Powell, 2014 Clinic Graduate (Sort of)
I just remembered a really poignant moment from my first clinic. I’d been working hard, trying to get a roll. The more I tried, the worse it seemed to get. I swam meat grinder three or four times in a row, hiking my boat back up to it over and over. I was tired and sore, not only from missing the roll but also from hitting my ass so hard on a rock that I lost my bootie. We jokingly changed the name of the rapid to "bootie grinder."
Frustrated, I dragged my boat to the shore and sat there watching everyone else. When a local boater, Terry Ratliff, approached me to ask what I was doing, I grumbled to him about how much I sucked. He was straightforward in his reply:
"Girl, if you're not swimming, you're not trying. Get your little ass back out there!"
So, I did. And I felt better. And I ALWAYS think about that when I'm struggling on the river.
This little anecdote was given to me by BWA member-at-large, Brandy Jones, after I admitted to her that I was having a hard time writing a clinic blog.
I wanted to say something about clinic. I wanted to say a lot of things, actually. Clinic isn't just an introduction to whitewater kayaking. It's an introduction to a lifestyle.
Through working with new boaters at roll classes, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a lot of you. You’ve asked
By Megan Powell, Newbie-at-Large
Gear guidance for the beginner kayaker.
As I have mentioned, my brother got me into this sport. An avid kayaker and hoarder, the contents of his garage could outfit a dozen boaters for a month long expedition to Ecuador (and keep them quite drunk the whole time). I was very lucky to come into this sport with someone I could turn to for all the gear I would need to get started.
A lot of people are able to borrow gear to get them started. A lot of people aren’t. Regardless of which category you fall into, you’re going to need to start looking to buy gear of your own pretty soon.
Borrowed gear is great. The only problem is that it often doesn't fit as well as it should. And that’s fine for a while. Ultimately, you’ll have better boat control and be more comfortable in properly fitting gear.
I am proud to announce that after one year of kayaking, I am now 100% borrowed-gear free. My new Jackson Karma and the other gear I picked up at the NPFF silent auction take my total to two boats, two spray skirts, two helmets, a life jacket (PFD), a paddle, dry box, dry bag, dry suit, Hydroskin top, river shoes, throw bag, and a float bag/blow up doll named Gertrude. Seems like a lot, huh? But all of this was acquired by trolling Craigslist, hitting up online sales, and being very specific with my Christmas list.
Once you get everything you need, kayaking is only as expensive as you want to make it. But getting started can be a little pricey. The best way to manage the start-up cost of this hobby is by prioritizing what you need the most, and by being patient and flexible when buying it.
The following list will help guide you in your purchases….
By Megan Powell (I'm a kayaker, ask me how)
I suffered a small scale anxiety attack when I was filling out my application for last year's clinic.
I mean, the questions, am-I-right? In all fairness to the authors of that application, there are really no better ways to ask them, and they really were written in a way that should have comforted me.
But I gulped as I ranked myself as having the least amount of skill in nearly every category. No, I still can't roll a kayak. No, I'm not particularly comfortable in my boat, even in a pool. My tolerance to cold? Why? Am I going to be really cold a lot?
But I continued the harsh evaluation of myself and diligently named who I was sure would be the last emergency contact I would ever need. And I continued to go to roll sessions, hoping for the best.
I did finally get a roll at my fourth class. It was spotty, like most newly acquired rolls. It came and went. I was sure I had it, and
By Megan Powell, Badass Boater (in training)
So I had decided to dabble in whitewater kayaking.
The only thing standing in my way was the idea of getting in a boat that I didn't quite understand and launching myself out onto a river I didn't know.
I took the best advice anyone has ever given me and started attending roll sessions. Learning to roll your boat in the event that you flip over (and you will) is a fundamental skill of any whitewater kayaker.
Roll sessions are put on weekly in the winter, spring and summer by the Bluegrass Wildwater Association. Volunteer instructors teach the art of rolling a kayak to anyone who wants to learn. The classes are mostly populated by new boaters, but many seasoned kayakers attend to improve their roll, or just to get out of the house.
For the record, it took me six weeks to work up the nerve to attend a roll class. You may remember that I mentioned
By Megan Powell, Aspiring Badass Boater
Before I was Mrs. Eddies, I was Mrs. Adams, a married, socially-awkward recluse with an unhealthy obsession with ten year old syndicated television shows.
When a turbulent divorce led me to re-evaluate my life, I saw a need to step outside of my very narrow comfort zone and out into the world.
The challenge I posed to myself: Say yes.
Say yes to opportunities, to adventure, to things I couldn't afford, to things I didn't have time for, to things that made me uncomfortable, even to things that