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Intro to Kayaking
Spending time on the water is more fun when you have friends along. It's also a primary rule for safety: always go out with someone else. Here are some suggestions on how to find a paddling partner.
The easiest way to get started is to sign up for a trip with an outfitter, who have great equipment, experienced guides, and know where to go. They’ll also teach you the basics of paddling safety. You can also sign up for a lesson with a local paddling school (hint: check to see if the instructors are certified by the American Canoe Association). You’ll learn how to get started, including everything from safety and strokes to the equipment you’ll need. Both of these options are a great way to meet paddling partners at your same level; at the end of your outing, try to swap contact information and make plans to get out paddling.
Paddling & Outdoor Clubs
Joining a local paddling club–groups specifically dedicated to paddling—is another great way to find paddling partners. Such clubs help ensure you have a safe, enjoyable time on the water, while helping you meet other like-minded paddlers. Ask your local retailer for clubs in your area, or visit the ACA Paddle America Club directory (select your location from the drop down menu to see a list of local clubs). Once you find one in your area, start attending club meetings and other functions and sign up for an outing. Also check broader outdoor groups like the Appalachian Mountain Club, that often have sub-categories for outdoor groups like paddlers.
If can’t find a local paddling club, talk to your local retailer. Many rental and retail operations (paddling or generic outdoor) have message boards with people looking for paddling partners. Many also have mailing lists you can peruse to find partners. Also, pay attention to any special events they might offer; that’s another great way to meet like-minded paddlers and grow your partner list.
If it works for dating, why not paddling? Don’t overlook the power of the Internet to find paddling partners. Message boards and discussion forums on sites like Paddling.com, mountainbuzz.com, Boatertalk.com and even Meetup.com all have paddling groups broken down by such categories as watercraft, ability, gender and even age. Such social platforms are especially handy if you’re traveling to different parts of the country and want to find a paddling partner.
What to Look for in a Partner
Don’t settle for any old paddling partner; find one who’s compatible. Paddling.com’s Tamia Nelson recommends looking for four traits: 1) good judgment (“There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots”); 2) good humor: the ability to laugh at small discomforts and frustrations (i.e. mosquitoes); 3) grit, including endurance and physical and moral courage (the water is no place for whiners); 4) and even temper: someone who can keep calm if things get rough. A final partner tip: Don’t start off crossing the Atlantic. Begin with short day trips, and then progress to longer outings.