Instruction recommendations

I would like an intensive instruction course in kayaking moving water have owned a few kayaks all flat water and have rafted the New and Gauley but wanna get going on Class I and II’s plus gf is interested and i just don’t want to lead her astray as we are dealing with danger. i would like to learn on the New and seek advice to teachers in that area. I joined the WV wild water assn and everyone seems
to know more than me and i just think organized somewhat intense instruction will move me along quickest and safest. Suggestions? btw i live in louisville so this is a real commitment.

Start there.

Hey I am in Louisville, too. You will probably have to travel for what you are looking for. Look on the ACA site, as PaddleDog52 advised.

I was lucky when I was starting out. River City Canoe and Kayak was still open and they brought in instructors for clinics. I don’t know what the options are around here anymore, if any. For future reference, the local Viking Canoe Club and the Bluegrass Wildwater Association (mostly Lexington based) both do beginner whitewater classes, I believe in Spring. And both clubs have roll sessions. I was in the BWA, because I paddle the Elkhorn a lot. Both are great clubs with skilled and helpful members. I suggest you avoid the local MeetUp group if you want to learn safe kayaking.

The techniques that are applicable to whitewater kayaking on one river are applicable to all. So I wouldn’t necessarily limit yourself to instruction on the New or in West Virginia unless that is most convenient to you.

You might look into the Bluegrass Wildwater Association. They have a beginner’s clinic for whitewater kayaking August 27-29 and roll instruction sessions throughout the Summer.

You might also consider going a bit farther southeast. The Nantahala/Tuckasegee area is only about 1 hour farther from Louisville than the New River area is. The Nanatahala, Tuckasegee, and Hiwassee Rivers are all dam-controlled with scheduled releases. There is excellent whitewater instruction available in the Nantahala Gorge at either Nantahala Outdoor Center or Endless River Adventures. Many local canoe clubs including the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association hold Spring clinics on the Class II Hiwassee as well as training trips throughout the Summer.

There is a real advantage to instruction on a dam-controlled river with a reliable and consistent discharge of water as it allows you to repeatedly attempt moves in a controlled environment.

tdaniel well have good info for West Virginia info. He is traveling I think right now, but is active with the state ww assoc.

hey thanks yeah I asked to join Viking and was aware of Bluegrass. I did look into kayaking in Tennessee but had gotten used to going east to or through WV cause used to live in WDC and traveling back there a lot and just like the New River and that open river kayaking. But I am completely open to all the suggestions I was given and not afraid to drive a bit.

I am 62 so understand my limits. I come into this through rowing, sweep and sculling for years, so a sense of being on the water. (I even ran the “learn to row” program for the Louisville Rowing Club for a few years. (someone taught me when I lived in England and it was my give back) And it is my way to focus getting fit, staying fit, returning to some degree of fitness, engaging with my sons (that I exposed all this water stuff to years ago) they love the New- we hit the upper when they were young and last year Nick and I did Bridge day and the Gauley in a raft … obviously I got my ass kicked!.. now Jane, who is a trooper and willing to have a go becomes someone I am responsible for in both learning enjoying and staying safe and one can find fun at all class levels based on skill level and fitness.
She is going away for her school reunion so I think I will buzz off and do an intensive course was my thought, even if I have to pay for personal time. Plus, classic, have a throw bag but do I really know how to use it? no.
So quickest question are Viking meeting that every second Tuesday at that Pizza place on Bardstown Road still, Za’s?
So thank you for responding and I hope we run into each other on the water one day!
I look over at that water at the falls of the Ohio and think … no yet but gosh it looks like nice water!

gwhatley, welcome to pcom and the wvwa. Be sure to register on the wvwaforum so you can see the upcoming trip threads. I’ll be glad to pass on what I’ve learned and will try to limit passing on my bad habits. I mean that quite sincerely. Let me know when you want to go and we’ll learn a bit, have some fun, and stay safe- the goals for any learning day on the water.

The bluegrass folks and viking canoe club are both resources you ought to take advantage of locally. Pool sessions in the winter and laps on the elkhorn will increase your skills.

In general, there are two distinct types of instruction. Clubs do a good job at introducing entry level skills while paid professionals can really help you focus on technique. Both types of instruction have their advantages and disadvantages.

Club instruction is often low cost or free, may occur locally on rivers you are likely to paddle again, and provides paddling members or a community to paddle with, beyond just a single weekend. This allows you to work on skills overtime (people to practice with) and can introduce new skills as part of a mentoring relationship (less intensive but over more time).

Good private instruction provides specific feedback, may include evaluation and includes tips and drills that you can practice. I like Scott Fisher at the Nolichucky Learning Institute (Erwin TN) he’s laid back, has infectious boater enthusiasm but also has a critical eye for seeing what you need to clean up and work on. Robin Pope is a great technician. Robin’s critical eye will start with a compliment and then having you specifically tucking an elbow, changing an entry or exit angle on a stroke, or having you conceptualizing a move in a different way. Robin is in Sylva NC (nantahala, tuck) and Robin is the board chairman for the aca and also an expert on wilderness medicine . Chris Wing (H2O dreams) near Asheville is not only a gifted paddler but also a great instructor. Chris and Lydia came to wv to do an instructional trainer clinic for the wvwa a few years ago. I also always hear great things about the NOC and Endless Rivers (Bryson City NC) and they both have many loyal followers. Unfortunately, I’m a bit shocked at what H2O Dreams, the NOC and Endless Rivers are all charging now. This past spring I was shopping around a bit myself and I appreciated Scott’s prices at the Noli Institute all the more.

I’m a bit of a cheap skate and a dirt bagger but on the flipside if I’m the one taking a class from a paddling professional then I provide a gift or tip well. I’ve never personally charged anyone for any instruction I’ve given and consider myself just a volunteer (wvwa president, beginner clinic coordinator). I do however get reimbursements from the wvwa for instructor training classes and recerts every time I help coordinate or teach in a clinic for them. My current certification ( I just upgraded) is level 3 river running (kayaking), meaning I can teach on class II ( the upper new) and trip lead in that venue. Getting new artificial hips and getting some formal paddle instruction has helped me improve my own paddling and mentoring.

We have some local raft companies here in wv that provide private kayak instruction. I’d say the results are mixed. I’ve watched really good talented teaching but at other times I’ve been less impressed with what I’ve seen (as a paddler just passing by). So I think the ACE or AOTG instruction is a bit spotty, it just depends on who is doing the teaching.

That’s my take on it. I’ve been out twice on the upper new this past week. I’ll hook you up, the only real question is when do you want to go? My advice is go with my freebe and then follow it up with some professional instruction after you’ve had a chance to practice the basics we’ve worked on.

The list of current aca certified instructors for level three or four kayaking is a really short list in wv. Nelson is active with team river runner and we have volunteered back and forth for each other’s events . Sam works mostly with college students at the Marshall rec center (huntington) and I don’t know anything about the instructor in Morgantown. I have noticed that five other folks have let their certification lapse (Tom Conley, Bill Chambers, Harry Netzer, Charlie Reddington, Chuck Brabec all are wvwa members who have taught in the past but aren’t current).

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Nice to “meet” you! Couple of things - I don’t know when the Vikings meet. I was in the BWA, not Vikings. I’m not up on anything current anyway, as I had to take a number of years off paddling until very recently, due to health problems. You should be able to get in touch with the Vikings to find out their meeting schedule. My advice to you is to listen to @tdaniel - I would love to be in a position to take him up on his amazing offer! I just put my very nice WW kayak up for sale, though. Due to ongoing health issues, I should not be banging my (helmeted) skull on rocks anymore, so I’ll be sticking to the occasional class I-II on my SUP, various local flat water, the Ohio, and hopefully ocean paddling when I can travel again. Sounds boring, maybe, but I am just very happy to be back on the water. I hate giving up on whitewater but I really don’t have a choice.

As to the Falls of the Ohio… I used to do park and play there. It was big fun until I realized what a death trap it can be. There is submerged rebar and even rusted out car hulks under some of that water. We came close to very unpleasant encounters last time I was there and I lost my taste for it. I highly recommend the Elkhorn, the section between the now removed low head dam (YAY!) and the AW parking area. It’s super fun when it’s up. I used to go after work and on weekends, and sometimes we’d do multiple laps. The drive isn’t too bad. Unfortunately it looks like there might be access issue coming up very soon at the put-in. BWA moved their discussions to Facebook, which I ditched, so I haven’t kept up with the details.

If you ever paddle flat water, hit me up! After the pandemic, that is. We are a high risk household and I’m strictly solo right now.

I am completely blown away by your kindness and offer. Humbled also. So thank you and yes. I was thinking the Upper New would be the right type of water, but as you know there is a lot of off water, water management, safety procedures and management and logistics of shuttles etc to learn. I am open to getting to a place where professional instruction. will make a difference and as you know, as why I had joined the WVWA, I am not afraid to spend money, but I do want to step deeper into the sport and it means friendships and being apart of adventures with others. The priceless experiences of life. While at the same time the ability to have the freedom to take a boat, for me, take Jane and hit the water, have fun and be safe.

So when works? Is it too soon to say this coming Saturday or Sunday? Ie July 31 or August 1. And if so what time works best for you as I have a 4 hour drive. Not afraid of it, just gotta plan. If we make it Saturday Would probably head up Friday evening and throw a tent at like Meadow Creek campground. (I only say that campground as I was scouting them so that if/when my son comes over from WDC and meets me half way in the future. I would know a good spot) If you have a recommendation however I will take it on that issue. And I am an early riser so as early as you feel comfortable getting going. You are the one doing me the huge favor!
Again, sincere thanks! And I look forward to plugging into the WVWA and being more than a member on paper!!
I would certainly camp however, Jane and I have a couple of different tents.
And if we met Saturday, then I could try to get on the water and work on some things on Sunday.

Yep I now remember you said Bluegrass and not Viking. Thanks for the info on the Falls. I guessed there were potential issues in that area as one doesn’t see many kayaks at all and I bike over there regularly on the Greenway. Hey I see your flat water offer and I will take you up on it when the time is right. I live about a mile from the community boat dock at the Louisville Rowing Club building and launch from there and head up Beargrass Creek a bit. Jane enjoys that type of kayaking and I don’t mind it… a lot like rowing and sculling really.
Oh btw, I bought a Dagger tandem last year. (don’t remember name but it has a drop down skeg that I am struggling with) If you ever want to borrow it. Feel free. I got it so Jane and I could paddle together and hit some different water, travel a bit quicker, and I finally got the single I have wanted for a while, a dagger katana. I had bought Jane a cheap kayak that was too big for her, she took my old one and I had been paddling this department store mistake waiting to find this Katana … it only took a year!
Jane and I ran the Elkhorn a couple summers ago. Obviously middle of summer low water was not ideal but she enjoyed her taste of moving water which is a very good way to be exposed to it. And it shows how big a newbie I am to these things that we did n’t even have a plan for a shuttle… ultimately got a name and called someone… and frankly that adventure just added to the fun.
Maybe the answer to NOT giving up on whitewater is rafting? It might let you taste bigger water than you would be comfortable in a kayak anyway.
I took my 3 boys to the New and we did duckies and then rafted the lower and they loved it and I thought, this is cheaper than a day at DisneyWorld and a heck of a better life experience. To this day my kids remember those times and ask to go again. My oldest was just back from his 2nd deployment with a marine unit (he is a corpsman) and his idea of getting together was to hit the Gauley… which we did on bridge day last year. I am humbled by that river and feel so blessed to have it so close to us.
So anyway we live in Clifton and let’s make a plan. Jane and I and you and whomever some flat water on the Ohio. She has wanted to launch up near Westport. We noodled around Rose Island not that long ago and she buzzed up 14 mile creek with our neighbor.

Graham I can’t do this weekend, I’ve got family obligations out of town, I am free starting on Mon. the first of Aug all the way through Aug. 8th. After that, just on weekends as I head back to work (school teacher). feel free to personal message me via this site to work out details.


Stick around on this site, or pm me your contact info. Once the plague has cooled off, I’d love to meet up with you and your lady!

You’re a good one.

The New River Gorge is my old stomping grounds. I haven’t been back in about 10 years. I miss it.

Hi Tony. I am a bit lost in this system so have gone back to my original message to you. My email is and if we could communicate there, I would appreciate it and if you have emailed me there, then it shows how lost I really am!
Of course you were out of town last weekend and I got completely into finishing this brick patio for Jane while she was up at Smith for her reunion. I have not gotten on the water since we communicated which was my plan and… but I am still completely wanting to schedule with you and come to West Virginia in August, certainly before I go to England on September 7. I am in Pittsburgh next Monday and Tuesday, heading there on Sunday. So if I had thought about travel and schedule I could have tried to set something up with you for this Friday… tomorrow!!! Saturday and Sunday but I did not do that… plus come to think of it I did not know Jane’s schedule and she was out of pocket to communicate with in upper Mass.
Can you let me know your availability for pulling this together therefore and I can work off of that. I do know that I am out of pocket Labor Day weekend… as you probably are.
Sorry for the dead air. Kayaking is one of those things that allows me to pull away from the crisises of life I deal with all the time as a GAL for disabled people, probate attorney and general counsel to a couple of healthcare companies. I look forward to your email and remember one from you with direct contact information… just can’t find it…

email sent, I’m not complicated. I pretty much boat every weekend through oct… It is just a matter of getting it coordinated. just spent weekend with Tony Daniels I learned alot!

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That’s wonderful to hear!

Any photos? I would also like to hear a report if you have the time.