BANGOR – Mark your calendars for Friday, May 9, for the third annual Paddle Smart Safety Symposium. The Bangor YMCA, Castine Kayak Adventures, the newly named Epic Sports – formerly Bangor’s Cadillac Mountain Sports – and the U.S. Coast Guard have pulled their resources together again to offer the free and informative event.
“I can’t say enough good things,” Brad Ryder of Epic Sports said of this year’s Paddle Smart program.
The focus of the event, as it has been for the past two years, will be safety. Workshops will help participants discover what they need to know to be safe paddlers. More than 250 people attended last year.
During the evening, participants will have an opportunity to try on gear, size themselves up to boats and learn about the latest designs in gear and clothing for paddling. Experts will talk about life jackets that are enjoyable to wear, places to paddle, clubs to paddle with and where to get paddling instruction. Displays will lend themselves to interactive discussions with experts about issues and areas of interests in paddling.
“We offer something for everyone” said Ryder. He said that information would be available for those who have never paddled “all the way up to a proficient paddler.”
Concurrent 45-minute workshop presentations will be offered throughout the evening in locations throughout the YMCA. A schedule will be provided at the beginning of the event for participants to choose workshops they’d like to attend. Workshops include navigation, which covers the basics of what paddlers should know about an area, an introduction to GPS and how it works, and what kind of equipment paddlers should have with them and why.
Karen Francoeur of Castine Kayak Adventures said that more components, such as GPS information, have been added to this year’s program.
“Each year we want to make it more and more exciting,” she said.
A workshop covering how to best contact help, by Marine Band Radio, cell phone or signaling devices, will be offered by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Castine Kayak Adventures will demonstrate kayak and canoe rescue techniques in the pool.
“Basically, what I want to emphasize is safety,” said Francoeur. The sport is a lot of fun, “but there are things that people need to know to be safe. Being prepared allows you to do more.”
Natalie Springuel will give a slide presentation about her Gulf of Maine Expedition.
Tanya Neuschafer, education and outreach manager for the Maine Island Trail Association, will talk about how to make trips to Maine islands and leave no trace.
The event will conclude with the awarding of door prizes that have been donated by industry representatives, area merchants and kayak businesses.
“We have some awesome door prizes,” Ryder said. “On the prize drawings, you have to be present to win.”
Prizes include a Thule car rack valued at more than $200, PFDs, and a perception kayak paddle, a Paddle Boy kayak cart and signed books by author Shelley Johnson.
More hands-on opportunities will be available Saturday and Sunday, May 10-11. Free boat tryouts will be offered by Epic Sports Saturday morning at Pushaw Lake. Castine Kayak Adventures will offer beginner and intermediate kayak lessons from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 10, and rescue clinics at the Old Town Pool will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, May 11. There also will be an opportunity Saturday and Sunday evening for experienced paddlers to learn how to roll their kayaks. Sign up for the clinics before the event by calling 866-3506 or sign up at the event. Space is limited.
For more information about the symposium, call Epic Sports at 941-5670, Castine Kayak Adventures at 866-3506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Preregistration is recommended by calling the YMCA at 941-2815.
The schedule for May 9 is as follows:
. 5 p.m. – Doors open.
. 5:30 p.m. – Welcome and introduction to event.
. 6-9 p.m. – Concurrent workshops, each 45 minutes long.
. Displays and discussion in gymnasium.
. 9-9:30 p.m. – Door prizes, must be present to win.
Interactive workshops include: choosing a boat; navigation for kayaking; low-impact kayaking presented by the Maine Island Trail; essential equipment; on-water communication presented by the U.S. Coast Guardl; GPS navigation, GOMEX – Gulf of Maine Expedition – slide show; demonstration of kayak rescue techniques in the pool.
Displays in the gymnasium include a book signing by Shelley Johnson, “Sea Kayaking Maine” and “Sea Kayaking: A Woman’s Guide”; choosing a paddle; fitting a life jacket by MTI; maps and navigation aids by The Map Store; Maine Island Trail Association; Maine Outdoor Adventure Club; U.S. Coast Guard; understanding Lyme disease and prevention; Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Club; and Macro Racing Organization.