Tuesday, April 03, 2012

1st Annual Southern Connecticut Small Craft Symposium

No actual paddling for me last weekend - had a great time gardening and paddling on the first weekend of Spring, the weekend before, but I was thinking that it would've been an even better first weekend of Spring if I could've spared a vacation day to get in a bit of a spring cleaning. Sunday the 1st was actually a lovely day, but after a run of very long days at work, including some weekend days, and a lot of weekend activities on the days that I didn't have to work, my apartment was quite literally looking like it had been ransacked by bandits, so I suppressed my inclination to go paddling (and actually bailed out on dinner with TQ, too) in favor of a good solid day of errands & housework (plus a little relaxation - reading on the Evil Futon of Nap, which naturally segued into napping on the Evil Futon of Nap). Paddling would have been lovely but it was nice to lose the just-ransacked effect.

I did get in some fun of a small-crafty variety, though - Saturday, Walter & Dotty & I all went up to New Haven to check out (and help out with) the First Annual Southern Connecticut Small Craft Symposium at Wilbur Cross HS in New Haven, CT.

There'd been smaller paddling safety events at the same location for the last couple of years, but it had just been a few tables. Last year, though, Elizabeth O'Connor, who's one of the premiere ACA instructors in our area (trained & certified most of the Sebago instructors after we switched from BCU to ACA, in fact) and used to run an instruction & touring company in Long Island, Sea Kayak Skills and Adventure, married her long-time partner in paddling instruction and other such crimes (and anyone who's run afoul of Gordon at an ICE knows I'm not using the word "crimes" lightly, heh heh heh...) & left us for the Nutmeg State.

Up until a couple of years ago, one of her big annual projects was an excellent Spring paddling-safety day called the Long Island Paddlesport Symposium (L.I.P.S. for short). Sebago would always send a squadron -- we would have a table, sometimes we'd help out with a classroom session, and we'd always bring some boats & help out with the on-water demos (which got to be especially fun when the event moved to Dowling College in Oakdale, where the on-water demos were outdoors and people would get to see us not just doing rescues & rolling, but putting on full cold-water riot gear to get ready for getting into the cold water, a good lesson in & of itself). It was tons of fun -- by the time I started going, it was very popular, she held it in March, right when seasonal boaters were starting to get the itch. Great place to see all your friends, start getting excited about the upcoming season, and gather a lot of good information.

The last one Sebago participated in was in 2009 - I think that in 2010, the venue fell through, and by last year, she was no longer in a New York state of mind. I miss the L.I.P.S., but it's really nice to see her getting together with CT boating advocates, including some old friends from some of the cold-water workshops I've had the pleasure of helping out with in Norwalk, to put together something similar there in New Haven. It wasn't a big turnout, despite being perfect weather for an indoor day, gray, cold and drizzly, but they had a nice range of classroom sessions, pool demos (ok, it was fun having those outside, but a pool does let things be a lot more relaxed) and tables for clubs, boating-safety advocates, and vendors (an actual improvement over the NY event, where only not-for-profits & government organizations could have tables - when you're talking boating safety, and people are learning about the equipment they need, it's really nice if they can buy it right there at a discount - I did some shopping myself, got a rolling video and a great 360 degree white light for my stern).

The turnout wasn't too big, but Elizabeth and Gordon had those of us who'd come from longer distances over for pizza (or as they call it in New Haven, which apparently has this massive pizza tradition, "Apizza" - they also invented the hamburger but we stuck with "apizza" and it was a-very a-good-a, a-too) - at some point I mentioned that it was too bad that turnout was kind of small when it was such a good day, and she said that it wasn't too bad for the first, that was about the turnout for the first L.I.P.S., too.

Look forward to seeing this one grow!

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