I went to a local paddling event in Boone County WV, Kevin’s Lazy River Float. I had attended about 7 or 8 years ago and there were somewhere around 50-75 participants. So I was expecting a similar sized event. There were 494 registered paddlers when I went this time. My hats off to organizers (Coal River Group) for running a smooth, free event, that even featured hot dogs when you got finished with the float. I believe the event shows how much rec boating has grown in southern wv in just a few years.
Boats were better made than the earliest rec boats I had encountered. Most now feature at least a small hatch- thus providing some built in flotation in the stern of the boat. All had drain plugs. What was a bit disappointing was the construction of the hatch. Instead of making a stern bulkhead completely sealed, the boxstores provide just a small hatch area. Some had pieces of closed cell foam for support in key areas and some didn’t.
In terms of posture, most of the seat backs did not look very supportive, more for lounging. Although a few paddlers did manage to sit upright. I Saw a number of SOTs, many designed for fishing- and I helped carry a few of the fishing SOTs. They were extremely heavy. All in all, everyone was well behaved, lots of families floating together. A positive experience for lots of folks. I managed to get out in front of the crowds and enjoy a little small wave/hole surfing in a couple of spots despite all the river traffic.