End of the Year, Start of a New One…..

Hi All,

It is that time of year when folks go on about how their years went and goals for the next. I will be short  think.  I have been having a bit of trouble finding the right words of late.  This evening finds me in Asheville in my moms driveway at 41 years old with my brother and his family who are helping me finish out the back of the van.  We have a New Years day paddle coming up and plenty of you have been to rolling. I simply want to say thank you to each of you for joining me on the river this past season and I of course would love to see you next season too.  Here are a few things that we plan on coming up this season. Sometime or another Desiree or I will throw some things not the calendar.

Vansion Ambiance, so Cozy. Thats a bath robe!
Vansion Ambiance, so Cozy. Thats a bath robe!
  • New Years Day Paddle  – Hey this is fun all the schools will be hooking up together to run a community paddle. Options for multiple skill levels.  There will be ice in beards, frozen skirts, maybe fire, some snacks and beverages, and maybe an axe or two.


  • Pool Rolling in Jan, Feb, and March. Team River Runner is doing us the honor of hopping in our pool session and we plan to get some of the vets rolling. The plan is for them to paddle the Grand Canyon in the Fall. We are super happy to help out.


  • We have a couple of Asheville Trips coming up in the Spring, with the help of some of our advanced students we have really honed and ironed out the logistics to paddle. You wont even have to take a day off work.   Trips for Intermediate through Advanced will be offered.   If you have a weekend and want to go somewhere we haven’t scheduled something, reach out and we can probably set something up for you.


  • Spring Training this year will be run in a new and fun format designed to bring you guys along from the Class 3 round as per usual, however this year we will have a small program designed to push folks a good bit more.  Monday and Wednesday evening workouts for the main group, sort of our normal well run program with reasonable group sizes and plenty of instruction and guided challenges. And a new Tuesday Evening Workout for those that would like to have the hammer down a bit more.  Saturday workouts we will have extra talent on hand in order to challenge each group appropriately.  Trips to the Various Rivers will be on Saturdays in March with Sundays an extra day for our more seasoned paddlers.


  • May Spring Training for those that just plain are not down with the cold. Those will be Tuesday and Thursday evening workouts with a Saturday river run or day trip.  This is a great program for the Class 2/3 Paddler.


  • Under Construction
    Under Construction

    Private Lessons right now can be had through-out the winter on the Potomac for a great price and whats better the river isn’t crowded and there is plenty for us to work on.


  • Finally, we are offering something new this year that I am quite excited about. Want to get good at paddling? Hate figuring out what things will cost and when to schedule? Me too.  You can now set yourself up for a season pass with us. Any program I mentioned above (cept Asheville Trip) for one price. Thats right, Day trips, evening classes and clinics, Spring Training, May Spring Training, and I will throw in 2 private lessons in with the program.  Basically, whether you are starting out or have a few seasons under you, this program I think will be the best value you are likely to find.  Season Pass will cost you $850, but is good for river and trips from Spring Training pretty much all the way through to Gauley Season.

So that is a bit of whats in store and some of what I have been pondering and plotting.  Come join us on a trip, lesson, private lesson. Tell your friends that you’d like to start out paddling to get a hold of me and we will start them off right.  Pick a weekend and we can do custom rescue courses or pretty much any thing you have a mind to try.  Try using some of the links above to sign up right now for some sweet sweet kayak instruction. (Want to try Whitewater Canoe?, I can manage that too)

Happy New Year!  And also, help us reach you more easily for great deals and even better trips and lessons. Newsletter Sign Up !




Chile is already a go for 2019. We will be heading there over next New Years and Holiday Break into early January 19.  Message me if you want to be on the Chile Info List.

A word about rolling

One of the most common requests we get from our students is “can you help make my roll bombproof” or some other similar wording for what we like to call “a smooth, reliable, and effortless roll”.   I will attempt to start a bit of advice here on the roll and continue to expand on it further in future entries.  No promises as to when the future entries will take place though.

First, get away from the idea that you need a specific roll. C-C, Back Deck, onside/offside, Greenland, Butterfly, Sweep Roll, etc.   Its all too much jargon, it can serve as usual starting point, but we tend to get hung up on terminology. Instead what we should be addressing is the “quality of the roll” .

I just got through with about 3 weeks of instructor courses and we talked a lot about rolling and the teaching of the roll.  To start with, ask yourself 5 questions about your roll.

  1. Is your roll smooth and effortless?
  2. Does it hurt you or put strain on your?
  3. Does it start with your body near the surface and ending near the surface?
  4. Does your roll rely on large muscle groups to function and does it tend to bring the boat around first and the body/head out second?
  5. Does it finish in a strong paddling position?

If you can check yes on most of those, especially 1 & 2, then you are on right track.  If not, read on.



Here is a slightly different spin on the same topic I wrote some years back.

Rolling can be a tricky thing.  Many people have thoughts on it and various perspectives.  It is often hard to know what is the best approach or the best roll.  What I and many other instructors have come to think is that there is not one best way to roll (probably while thinking our own way is the best one :).  If a variety of friends, fellow boaters, or instructors are giving you advice, you may be confused and overwhelmed by the different versions and prescriptions.  When seeking out a source for rolling advice I would look at the following things.

Look at your would be instructors roll first.  If it it appears smooth, graceful, and effortless then check consider lending an ear.  Next can they break down what they are doing and relate it back to you in way that makes sense?  Can they adapt their approach to your situation?  If yes, then continue to contemplate what they have to say. Finally, can they analyze what it is you are doing and present you with a potential remedy? If the answer is yes to these, I would begin to listen to what the yahoo has to say on rolling.  There are a wide variety of folks who may fit this criteria who you boat with regularly or recognize from a video or have had a lesson from in the past or present.  

The following statements I find important to remember when it comes time to discuss or teach a roll.  These are what I consider universal ideas that apply to most all rolls.

  • A good kayak roll is smooth and feels effortless. If it puts strain on you, it needs more work. 
  • Most all rolls start and end with the body/head at the surface of the water.  This is most evident in the c-c roll or EJ rolls, but is also true of the sweep and rodeo rolls.
  • The boat comes up first or at the same time as the body.  
  • A good roll is driven from and relies on torso and/or hip movement. 
Keep these in mind when you are working on or trying to improve your roll.  Here is a bit of a video I recently put together on rolling.  Be patient with me as this is my first time putting one of these together.  You can slow it down with the pause feature to look read the tips or more closely analyze a movement.  Happy rolling!

Here are a few of my favorite links from the inter webs on the roll.

This link is a great start and Chris’s presentation I think is pretty spot on and non-dogmatic.   He’s not selling you on anything, except a speedo.

Sort of Slow Jam with Jimmy Fallon meets good rolling ideas and a solid video presentation,   So hip!  Love a good pun.

A bit wordy and technical, but he’s so nice, Hey!    I like Ken’s presentation on the back deck or rodeo roll the best. I don’t believe in climbing angle for the sweep roll 🙂

More back deck rolling and good ideas, everything is cooler with sunglasses.




Then there is this fellow.  It makes me want to shoot myself. Yes, it is for real. You can always get yourself and Hi n Dry after learning from this video.

In short, stick that paddle out there a bit and do something to rotate your boat a bit!  One day I swear I will do my own video, this one needs some editing.  🙂

Keep Paddling and Roll – On.   We offer rolling sessions and private lessons, use our calendar to see the schedule.  Our weekly practice nights are on Wednesday evenings ! 


Hangin’ from a tree!

Bad Boat!
Bad Boat!

Whats that you see? A boat in a tree?  Indeed it is.

So, you’ve decided you don’t really want or need the “extra” rocker in your boat.  Perhaps your boat fell off your vehicle, took a tumble down a hill, ran a bad line, or had a sledding accident and has now been re-engineered.  Don’t worry, we are here to help!

Step one – Move your boat to a place that you can get some height.

Step two – Grab your 2nd favorite throw rope.

Step three –  Put a kettle on the the stove

Have a spot of tea!
Have a spot of tea!

Step four – While kettle is going, hoist your boat.

Step five – Realize this will go better if you remove the outfitting.

Step six – Put kettle back on after wife got tired of it over boiling while you messed with outfitting.  Bring new kettle out and pour into hoisted boat.

Step seven – Wait a bit, if things aren’t popping back, add a new batch of boiling water.

Always add more.
Always add more.

Step eight – Apply hot water to outside then massage outside of boat a bit with a hard object.  I’ve seen it done with a broom handle adding pressure to dent from the inside, but you will want to pad the handle as I have also seen what overzealous broom handle usage can do to softened plastic.

Step nine – Get things all the way back in line or call it close enough and lower your boat back down.

Step ten – If it is a warm day vs a cool day, add cold water to let the new shape set.

Before. But actually just after I did some work on it on the ground.
Before. But actually just after I did some work on it on the ground.

There you have it. An all too elaborate explanation of how you get that boat back in alignment. You could use a heat gun, but that requires, skill, patience, and a lot of care.  Many a boat has been botched up with a heat gun.   Try this first, then if that fails, consider harsher alternatives.

After, aka, good enough.
After, aka, good enough.