Florida Canoe Symposium

Good Morning All Y’all,

The complete registration packet for FCS (Florida Canoe Symposium) 2013 is now posted on the freestyle site ( http://www.freestylecanoeing.com/ ). Thank you Laura for doing whatever magic it takes to make that happen. This year’s Florida Canoe Symposium will run from March 15 - March 18, 2013.

The event format is similar to last year’s with one big exception that is highlighted by the name change. We’ve rebranded the symposiums from “Freestyle Symposiums” (the old) to “Canoe Symposiums”. This is more than a name change. It reflects a significant shift in how we teach and in our class offerings.

You we now offer a class called Canoeing Basics for folks either just getting started or who have never had any formal training and would like a solid foundation upon which to build.

A brand new offering is Canoeing for Kayakers. This class is designed to build upon the skills that Kayakers have already developed and translate them to single blade technique. Canoeing for Kayakers will begin with a chalk talk on Saturday morning, where we will discuss the differences between the two craft, the pros and cons of each, some terminology, and basic differences between double and single blade technique. We will then move to the water where we will begin developing single blade, canoeing techniques, while building upon skills that the students already have. By the end of the class, students should have a good grasp of flat water canoeing fundamentals, and feel confident that they now have another option for on water travel or recreation. Note: This class will be in solo canoes.

Creekin Freestyle is a class we began a couple of years ago and has been very popular. It’s goal is to teach the practical application of freestyle technique in real world settings. It’s freestyle, without being showy. Without the fancy stuff. Heel and Pitch are used in moderation. Freestyle maneuvers are used in moderation, to nudge the canoe this way or that around bends in the river. Although we teach in a “flat water” environment, there will be some current and how that current effects the canoe will be utilized to advantage. This will be taught as part of an up and back trip on Lofton Creek, a short distance from the symposium site.

Food is an important part of any symposium. Running an out of town event presents some challenges. After much research and having received several proposals, I have selected “Jack and Diane’s Cafe”, from nearby Fernandina Beach to cater FCS this year. Their menu options seem well suited to our situation and should provide a bit of local flavor to the event. http://jackanddianescafe.com/

If you have any questions about any aspects of the symposium, please email me at mornstein@frontiernet.net. I hope to see all y’all in March.



Please forward this email to all of your paddling friends. If you belong to a local paddling group, please ask to have it posted on their website or reprinted in their newsletter. A flyer is attached to this email. Posting it on appropriate bulletin boards or at paddling shops would be appreciated.

I hope you do get a fair number of folks to sign up for the Canoeing for Kayakers course. I think it is a great idea. I have been trying to get some of my kayaking friends to try out a canoe but my success has been pretty modest thus far.

For those who are interested, can you give a short description of Lofton Creek?

Lofton Creek
is a meandering tidal creek, a few miles east of the symposium site. The current will be dependent upon the tidal flow at the appointed time. It twists and winds, has a few dead end channels and likely some blow downs to navigate around.

It is well protected from most wind. From a scenic standpoint, it’s not bad but not a vacation destination either. Average width, 40ft.±

I’ve had short courses in freestyle from an instructor, and consider myself a fairly detail accomplished and very experienced paddler, but am not very well practiced on the most extreme fancier side of the sport. Regarding the symposiums, I don’t really know where I would fit into the specific classes and what portions of the courses I should take that wouldn’t be too basic for me.

I really like the idea of Creekin Freestyle from a practical point of view, especially if it could be taught as instruction to an instructor. I think I paddle much that way now, but could always use some refinement. Since I teach trek leader guides for the Boy Scouts annually at National Camping School, and I do introduce some of the more advanced strokes to my students, I’d like to learn more about professionally teaching these techniques.

Perhaps I’ll meet with Charlie to learn more about course specifics planned for the Adirondack session this summer.

Good questions
Many FS students are in actuality basic canoeing or kayaking instructors. So the hierarchy is pretty assorted.Some students have lots of experience and others none. You will find an absence of canoe police but a legion of canoe physics students… (why does the boat do THAT?) It is all quite democratic and fun.

Its also common for FS instructors to take a class now and then to make sure their fundamentals are still solid, though there is of course the required every four year skill check per ACA.

Basic canoeing and moving the boat in all directions with draws forwards backs and pries is the first step. Then at FS 2 the use of static paddle placements to move the boat forward in any direction is explored. FS 3 moves on to moving the boat backward in any direction with static paddle placement. 4 is cross forward moving the boat in any direction forward with cross static placements and 5 is cross reverse.

Most FS folks never are not interested in the fancy stuff and more interested in how the FS skill set can improve their efficiency for longer days and more miles on canoe trips…without needless tiring.

Kudos of course to those who can exhibit supreme balanc e and boat control without bobble while entertaining others while paddling to music. It takes a lot of practice and is not for everyone. That’s just fine.

You can move around from class to class if one is not fitting your needs. An added benefit is that instructors swop classes, so you are not stuck with the same one for every session.

I’ve been getting questions
about the new “Canoeing for Kayakers” class to be presented for the 1st time at The Florida Canoe Symposium.

For purposes of this class, a kayak will be defined as a craft in which the paddler sits on or near the bottom of the boat, legs and feet out in front and uses a double bladed paddle. A canoe will be defined as a craft in which the paddler kneels or sits on a seat (or thwart) and uses a single blade paddle.(These definitions may be broad and according to some, imprecise but that debate is for another time.I believe they are adequate for this purpose.)

This will be a full three session (3 hr. each) curriculum. It will cover similar material to that covered in Freestyle Basics (formerly FS 1) and will brush lightly into Freestyle Forward, (previously FS 2). The twist is that the foundation for the instruction is the kayaking skills, the students already have. Class size is limited to 5 so instruction can be tailored to the various skill levels of the students.

The class will begin with a short “chalk talk” where we will talk about the similarities and differences between the two craft and double vs. single blades. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each and we’ll discuss a bit of terminology. The chalk talk should last an hour or less. After that, instruction will be on water.

All instruction will be in solo canoes with single, straight shaft paddles. To the extent possible, each time a stroke or maneuver is introduced, it will be related to it’s kayaking counterpart. Many strokes and maneuvers share strong similarities. Others will require grasping new concepts.

Hull physics between the two craft are pretty similar. The same goes for stroke principles.

The goal is to present kayakers with an alternative solo option and to build upon what the students already know.


Canoes and paddles will be available for rent, with advance notice only. There is a place on the registration form to indicate that need.

Looking Forward
The being there, teaching, dining large on the Island, etc.

Creekin Freestyle
Perhaps I can clarify what the “Creekin Freestyle” class is all about. Several folks have recently inquired.

Creekin FS is about putting the FreeStyle techniques to practical use, in a real world situation. This will be combined with some light duty river reading, as we will be operating on Lofton Creek, a tidal stream, near the campus where we hold the Symposium.

The emphasis will be on efficient and graceful control of the canoes. Freestyle students of all levels can take advantage of the class. Those relatively new will stick to forward quadrant maneuvers. Those more advanced may take advantage of cross, reverse or perhaps even cross reverse maneuvers if appropriate to the situation.

We’ll maneuver around the bends in the stream, around and under deadfalls, read the eddies if appropriate as we work up stream and with some luck, I’ll lead a few up some dead ends, necessitating reversing or cross reversing out.

Extreme heeling and pitching are are not the norm, nor are they expected in this venue. It will be a fun afternoon, exploring a local waterway while putting your newly learned techniques to use.

Those who are taking the “Canoeing for Kayakers” class will get a real appreciation for a venue where canoes excel.

Rental boats

– Last Updated: Dec-28-12 6:14 AM EST –

Each year I get inquiries about rental boats. Generally they are from folks who will be flying in and can't bring their own. This year, because of the new class "Canoeing for Kayakers", I'm getting questions from those folks as well. Most questions are about the suitability of the rental boats and about size.

The "rental" boats generally come from either of two sources. They are boats owned by our instructors or they are manufacturer's demo boats. Rental fees are in fact paid directly to the boat owners. All are suitable for freestyle and we make a great effort to pair a suitable boat with each paddler. Generally, when a request is received (it's part of the advance registration packet)I call or email the prospective renter and discuss his/her needs. I then line up an appropriate boat for him/her. This process is similar at the other canoe symposiums.

Available rental boats this year will likely include;
Flashfires, Wildfires and Starfires from Bell, Placid and Colden,
Various Loonworks boats,
A Dogpaddle Jun Bug an Illusion and a Duet (not to be confused with a Loonworks Duet).

Paddles will include, Dogpaddles, perhaps a Quimby or two as well as other fine sticks.

If you are contemplating coming to FCS and will require rental equipment, please fee free to contact me at dogpaddle@frontiernet.net.

Marc Ornstein
Dogpaddle Canoe Works
Custom Canoe Paddles and Woodstrip Canoes

From 5000 miles away …
Please present to people they do NOT ’ have to ’ use such ridiculously overly long, double blades as typically recommended by ‘experts’ in canoes … THANK YOU ! : )

To clarify
Canoeing for Kayakers won’t be using double blades. The course is designed to build on the boat physics that kayakers are already using to hasten progression with a single blade.

I’m sure the question will come up re using double blades in a solo canoe though, and that advice to use a shorter double blade is sound. Perhaps some double blade forward instruction will be called for…but not in FCS scope.

Though there might be a double somewhere in someones car trunk…a 230 or 240.

Trailer Camping On Site Allowed?
Will dry trailer camping be allowed on site with the tents? Will have a small dog too as this will be the end of a month-long camping/paddling adventure in north central FL? Main interest will be skill development for tripping and a Northern Forest Canoe Trail adventure this summer. Tks, R

Best to email Marc

I have not seen a dog on site…its at a college. And I have not seen anyone with large trailers…Its a little tight in there.

You will see some one or two person trailers on site.

Lofton Creek Campground is quite close. Allows pets. Rate looks reasonable


Deadline Reminder
The deadline for FCS registrations (without a late charge)is January 31st. A fair number of registrations are already in. Emails received and inquiries promise many more to come.

I recently met with our caterer and am more confident than ever that a good choice has been made.

I’m in the process of fine tuning the curriculum for the new “Canoeing for Kayakers” class. I’ve received great input from several top instructors who have reviewed the 1st draft.

If anyone has any questions regarding classes, registration, accommodations or other issues, please contact me at dogpaddle@frontiernet.net.

Marc Ornstein

Loften Creek Campground looks fine
and good location. Will book there. Hopefully can park the MH at a lot on site during the day so wife (FStyler but recovering from shoulder surgery) can be on the site with us. Thanks, R


Weather update
According to the Weather Channel it will be 71 Fiday, 78 Saturday & Sunday and 80 on Monday. Nights will be cool, great for camping. Could be a little windy during the day. The pollen count is very high right now so if you have Hay Fever or allergies bring your meds for it. Don’t forget hats & sun screen.

See you there.


Many Thanks to the organizers,
instructors, and fun fellow students for a great learning, paddling, and fellowship event. Super weather too. Trust all getting home safe. Off to practice - see you all in the Adirondacks. R