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GO: Paddling Basics

FIT Staff
Jun 16, 2013

I have a new love- paddling! I know it just seems logical being as I spent my youth in the water but it took me almost a decade after retiring from the lap pool to find the paddle. Last summer I purchased my first kayak- used from a friend of a friend. I thought I might be in trouble when I'd catch myself researching boats and roof racks all winter. Summer two is here and I have to say I'm hooked!

The days are growing longer and the air temperature is rising and that means the water temperature is too! There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to being on the water- the rule of 120. If the water temperature and the air temperature don't reach 120 when added together, stay off the water or take extra precautions while on the water. This means wear a wet suit or dry suit or don't paddle.

When dressing for paddling, remember wicking, warmth and weather. Your bottom layer should wick moisture away from your skin. Even if it's chilly, you're going to get sweaty- these are manually propelled watercraft after all! The second layer is for warmth. Try to avoid heavy materials that will soak up water if you end up taking a dip. I tend to wear a fleece material if needed. The final layer refers to the weather. Wear your raincoat, if needed!

By law, there are some things you must have on your boat when you head out. An absolute necessity is your PFD (personal floation device). Wear it at all times on the water. PFD's come in all shapes and sizes! You can even buy ones that inflate upon entry into the water. You wear those like a vest. The excuse that PFD's are bulky and uncomfortable is a thing of the past my friend!

You must register your boat. There is an alternative registration that you renew every three years for hand-powered vessels. Check out the ODNR Division of Watercraft website for more information on registration. You must carry a sound producing device, such as a whistle, with you. If boating at night, you must have a light. I recommend a headlamp. If you are boating on federal water, you must have a Coast Guard approved distress signal such as a flare. Drinking and boating is just like drinking and driving- don't do it! Check out the Ohio Boat Operator's Guide for more details.

Don't have your own boat or want to buy one quite yet? There are plenty of local opportunities to paddle! Erie MetroParks offer a variety of paddle programs. All you have to do is register HERE for programs. There is a $5 maintenance fee for canoe programs and a $10 maintence fee for kayak programs. You can also rent canoes by the day from EMP- $15 for Erie County residents and $20 for non-county residents. Old Woman Creek also offers water tours of the estuary. You can register for those HERE.

Regardless of what you're paddling or who you're paddling with,  be sure to check out Ohio's Lake Erie Public Access Guide. This handy book provides information on Ohio's ENTIRE Lake Erie shore! From paddling to picnicking to camping, it's all you need to GO!

Upcoming Classes & Events

Tuesdays, 7-8:15 p.m.: Meditation- Converging Paths Meditation Center

Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.: Hawk Talk with John Blakeman- Erie Room, Frost Center, Osborn MetroPark. Come join raptor expert John Blakeman for a presentation about local hawks, falcons, and eagles. Learn from this expert their distinguishing features, prey preferences, reproduction, migration, and life histories.

Wednesdays, July 10- August 21, 2013, 6-7 p.m.: Enchanted Yoga- The Enchanted Cottage, East Sandusky Bay MetroPark, 4011 Cleveland Road. Bring a mat or blanket- no experience necessary! We will be outside on the deck when the weather is warm or perhaps take a winding, walking meditation through the meadows! $10/class.

Thursday, July 11 from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.: Nature Camp- Water Navigation & Extended Paddle! ages 12-17. The Coupling MetroPark. Come learn about water navigation as we take an extended paddle down the Huron River! Pack a lunch in a water tight bag and be prepared to get wet as we explore the riverside! Paddling experience necessary. Enrollment: 10 minimum,20 maximum Fee: Erie County Residents $20, Non-residents $25 NO REFUNDS.
NOTICE: You must complete the on-line camp registration forms found at Nature Camp under the Programs button at the top of the home page on the Erie MetroParks website. This is a Youth Adventure Club (YAC) club event.

Friday, July 19, 2013, 6pm: Kayak Float- The Coupling MetroPark. Meet at the equipment shed for an evening paddle down the Huron River. All participants age 12 and older will be charged a $5.00 maintenance fee. No Refunds. Pre-registration for MetroParks kayaks is required. Paddlers must be 12 years or older and accompanied by an adult. Those who own their own paddle craft are welcome to attend. Please register under Evening Kayak Float - Privately Owned Watercraft.