Maybe it’s just me but, it seems to me that ocean kayaking has become a "pay to play" kind of a sport on a larger and larger scale. I have noticed it in several different regions to a larger and larger extent.
More and more it seems that if you want to paddle in rough water, surf, do longer open water trips, multi-day trips, etc, that you need to either pay to paddle at a symposium attend a symposium or pay one of the increasing number of folks who charge people to paddle with them.
I find that frustrating because it makes it harder to find competent paddling groups / partners, and because I don't need or want paddling instruction. Many of my former paddling friends have moved away from paddling with friends and with groups for fun, and now approach paddling almost strictly as a business and charge people to paddle with them.
And...some of those folks who are charging people to paddle with them are not what I would consider to be superb paddlers. They are more competent than the people who are willing to pay to paddle with them, but many are what I would consider intermediate skill level. I don't want to pay someone to paddle with me, especially if they are of the same or lower skill level that I am. Many of these folks are certified instructors through the ACA, but if you are willing to pay out the cash that certification can be easily purchased in most cases…not in all cases, but in many it seems based on some of the folks I have seen who have higher level certification levels in the ACA. Reminds me of a story about one fairly well certified instructor who charged a group of people to go on an overnight trip and then got lost and another who charged a bunch of folks to teach them to surf, but according to one of the students in the class the instructor was not able to catch any more waves than they were.
The few times that I have broken down and paid to go on trips with people I have been fairly disappointed as there was little coaching to be had and the activities of the group were limited by the skill level of the weakest paddler. Why would I pay for that again?
I paddle whitewater, canoe and mountain bike with other folks, and in none of these other sports do people charge you to go with them, and there is an
abundance of groups and friends to go with. I can also say that most of the whitewater instructors I know of are pretty highly skilled so maybe the ACA holds them to a higher standard than sea kayak instructors. It seems that a lot of sea kayakers achieve a solid intermediate level of skills and then run out and get an ACA instructor certification.
Has anyone else noticed this?