Monday, August 31, 2009 9:44 PM
We've had a great summer so far, with quite a few great trips and we have more trips planned for the next couple of months and then we'll probably go into winter mode with more base camp style trips and fewer trips with big crossings that require more forecasting skills than I have ;-)
I've been especially pleased that we've had such good participation in the self rescues, with most nights having a half dozen or more people capsizing their kayaks and getting back in on their own. Some of you exhibit ballet like precision, others power there way through it, but so far everyone has eventually gotten back in to their kayak on their own.
Many of you have asked about classes and training, while I will happily work on fairly basic paddling, bracing and control strokes with any of you, Bob, Barb and George over at the Kayak Academy continue to offer awesome instruction. Bob taught many of our group members before we burned him out on Meetup with flaky attendance, while George worked on skills in a very logical manner with me about 20 years ago, and Barb has taught several of our assistant organizers.
For our newer members, welcome to the group and welcome to a great outdoor activity, we usually have events planned several times per week, with about half requiring significant fitness and skills and the other half being more suitable for beginners.
For most of the events I organize I can bring a significant number of loaner kayaks and related equipment (paddles, pfd's, etc.) simpy put "need to borrow" in your RSVP. I assign singles or tandems with more consideration to how many boats I have, your skill level, the difficulty of the trip, etc., so while most of you request singles, I have more tandems. If you cancel and you're borrowing, you need to let me know at least an hour in advance so that I can take them off the trailer at home rather than get stuck guarding them or towing them behind me to avoid the risk of theft.
With the heavy use of the loaners come a few other headaches, I have to set event limits at or below the number of kayaks I have, so that each person can get a boat. I use the waiting list to manage the overflow, so if you want to do an event and it is full, simply put yourself on the waiting list.
I do play favorites, those of you who consistently help out with loading boats, moving the trailer, cooking on the trips, getting people cracking in the morning so we make our launch, or doing repairs, will generally get bumped to the front of the line.
If people state "have my own kayak and gear" in their RSVP, as long as my limit is based on number of boats and not obtaining permits(The Diablo Lake trip is based on the number of permits so it will stay at 8 or fewer people) , then I'll move you to Yes, pretty much automatically. I have also found that once I start moving people from the waiting list that I have to lock down the abaility to RSVP, since people that own their own kayaks often seem to be the first to realize that they have a conflict, change their RSVP to No and then one of the hawk eyed people that was waiting for an opening and needs to borrow a kayak jumps in to take their place, but guess what, I'm out of loaners, so now I just close the RSVP's so I have to do all of my management via the waiting list. If you're on the waiting list, I can no longer move you to Maybe and have you move yourself to Yes or No (Meetup made some changes and that function doesn't work very reliably any more) so now I just move you to Yes and you need to change yourself to NO if you find that you won't be able to make it.
Camping trips, we have some darn good cooks in the group, so we usually do group meals and can acomodate a wide range of dietary preferences from vegan to vegetarian to pescatarian to ominivore, the group cooking is fun. If you're diet is more restricted (gluten free is one example) then you'll probably need to make your own meals.
Sending messages to other group members, the send email function seems to work fairly well, but it is far from fool proof, many of you have spam filters that block messages and we've found that for trip planning of meals that using the comments section and/or exchanging cell #'s seems to work best.
Assistant Organizers, I am always looking for skilled, energetic yet patient individuals, with sound judgement who enjoy kayaking, teaching others and sheperding the herd of cats that is Meetup ;-)
Once again welcome to the group, see you on the water soon - Saul