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How To Tie The Only Five Knots You'll Ever Need

There is a section on "Good Knot-Tying Practices" and instruction for the following knots:

  • Bowline Hitch
  • Two Half Hitches
  • Tautline Hitch
  • Figure Eight
  • Trucker's Hitch

Palmetto Paddlers offers clinic and training opportunities throughout the year. Be sure to check our calendar for listings, training/equipment requirements, and registration info. The club offers a monetary incentive to qualified instructors who wish to conduct training and clinics. As an Affiliate Club with the American Canoe Association, we can also offer insurance coverage for qualifying, water-related events. Read more about our Safety and Training Incentive Program. We encourage all boaters, regardless of skill level, to seek out and maintain training practices in regards to safety and personal development. Please review the Safety Code of American Whitewater.

Paddling Clinics

These clinics are designed for beginner to advanced boaters, both flat water and white water. Instruction includes how to choose the right equipment for your preferred paddling interest, proper stroke techniques for paddling and maneuvering paddle craft on a diverse range of water types. In addition to proper paddling techniques, participants will gain the knowledge in areas such as proper paddling attire, trip planning, ethics, and general safety practices; aka developing “river sense”.

Rescue and Self-Rescue

An important part of any water sport is possessing the knowledge and training to perform rescues of fellow boaters in distress, and yourself. These clinics are designed for everyone, from beginner to advanced boaters. Instruction includes water appropriate rescue equipment to bring on trips, and how to use it; performing wet exits; re-entry into an overturned craft; how to safely manage a swamped boat; rolling; and swift water rescue techniques.


Personal preparedness is vital to increasing fun and enjoyment of paddle sports. Unfortunately, bad things happen with even the most careful planning. Having the necessary skills to aid in an injury or life-saving event is one of the most crucial components of preparedness. These clinics will focus on the unique skills necessary in our dynamic environment and setting.


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Tips to minimize the time you spend readying for a trip, and maximize your water time. This post is from Wet Dreams, a(nother) Kayaking Blog...


The Intangibles of Kayaking

I wanted to write a series of hopefully informative and helpful articles to speed the learning curve of paddlers new to the sport.  The series of writings will focus on specific topics which I intend to explore in detail and will cover in parts.  I have either been taught these things by more experienced paddlers along the way, or have learned through trial and error or in some cases, by happy accident.  I hope readers will be able to avoid some common pitfalls and maximize their enjoyment of kayaking and time on the water.

Part I: Get Organized!

Anyone who knows me knows I can be quite obsessive and turn into a total Type A when it comes to organizing things.  Good organization has been a part of my life since I entered the workforce at the age of 16 (it has bordered on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder more recently).  I have found this skill to be especially helpful in my budding kayaking experience, especially while serving as an Officer with our local paddling club. 

In my experience, nothing has been as valuable as having a clear and concise plan of action.   Organization of thoughts in regards to approaches to problems, training, trip planning, and working with others is all part of the game; they are the intangibles of being an effective task master.  However, the focus of this article is going to be more on tangible organization, specifically, gear.  I can tell you, nothing is more frustrating than being ready to go on a trip and someone totally disorganized holds up the entire group.  It’s like watching chaos in motion; gear is scattered everywhere, they have to make 10 trips back to their car for something they forgot, they can’t find their booties, etc…  Please, do your paddling buddies a favor, and don’t be “that guy“. So here are a few tips to get you started:

Make a list.  The sheer amount of gear needed for every trip can be quite long.  Especially when first start kayaking, it is easy to forget everything you do need.  The list can grow or shrink as time goes on and you refine the gear you haul.  Nothing can be worse than driving for hours to go kayaking, only to discover you’ve left some valuable piece of equipment at home.  Do yourself a favor, make like Santa; make that list and check it twice!  The image below is the list Teresa and I made when we first started whitewater kayaking.  It saved the day plenty of times.

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Sure your friends may laugh at your Type A approach, but you won’t be the one who gets to the put-in to discover you left your PFD at home.

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Post trip ritual, getting ready to rinse all the gear before putting away

Develop a routine.  Get in the habit of making, well, habits.  Repetition goes a long way in getting organized, eventually every task becomes second nature and you can do away with those pesky lists that your friends make fun of you for having.  You will be amazed at how quickly your routines translate to efficiency, and the tasks you used to dread are done before you know it.  An important routine to have is caring for your gear.  Thoroughly rinse, dry, and properly store your gear.  The investment in all that equipment is substantial, and unless you’re made of money, taking care of it will prolong its life and your bank account.

A place for everything, and everything in its place.   Preparing for a trip is time consuming.  Scrambling around, trying to remember where the heck you put your thingamabob is not only frustrating, it can be expensive if you misplace something and have to purchase it again.  I’m sure most everyone can relate to this predicament, and not just in regards to kayaking!  Designate a place for your gear and use it so you’ll know exactly where your thingamabob is every time.  You can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to get everything loaded for an outing if you practice good housekeeping.  I can load all the gear for two people needed for a trip in less than 10 minutes. 

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Designated place for all the essentials. Eliminates the futile search for that critical piece of equipment.

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The bootie rack. I put shoes here to dry after rinsing them out, and they’re right where I need them when it’s time to pack up for a trip.

 Find ways and tools to make it easier.  A few simple items from the hardware store can make your life so much easier.  One of my favorite things is a big S-biner.  I clip all the essential gear I wear or carry in my boat (helmet, skirt, PFD, pin kit, throw rope) together.  A nice large duffel bag is great for keeping things like paddling clothes, first aid kit, dry bag, change of clothes, towels, etc…  Essentially everything I need for a trip that is valuable or doesn’t fare well being kept in uncontrolled conditions I keep in a duffel bag.  Whenever it’s time to go paddling, I just grab it and go.  Most of the prep time before a trip is now spent deciding what to pack for lunch and snacks.

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The S-biner, my favorite thing that keeps me all together

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The essentials: PFD, throw rope, helmet, and skirt are always hanging together

Keep it together.  The added value of something like a large carabiner to keep your stuff together is how many ways it keeps everything organized.  I clip everything I physically have to put on before getting on the river to the outfitting in my boat.  I put on a cockpit cover to ensure I arrive at the put-in with all my gear.  If weight is a concern and I have to use a duffel bag to carry my gear, it stays together nicely there also.  After a trip, I clip my gear to the clothesline for drying, and later to the designated spot to hang by the boat rack.

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The biner clips everything inside the boat during transport

Even with careful preparation and planning, it is always wise to double-check everything.  Have a friend ask if you have all your stuff.  Inspect your gear to ensure it is still in good working order.  I start packing for a trip at least a day beforehand, I like to get everything prepped and loaded the night before, when possible.  I load boats and as much gear as possible because it is the most physically demanding part and requires absolute focus.  Early morning departure times can be brutal.  I enjoy being able to sip some coffee and leave with plenty of time to grab breakfast and get to the rendezvous point early.   I don’t want to be in a panic to get everything loaded and properly tied down in the dark and early morning hours.  A few minutes of pre-planning and organization can save you hours of time vs. trying to get organized at the last minute.

Avoid some faux pas so you are sure your paddling buddies will remain your paddling buddies. The following article is from Wet Dreams, a(nother) Kayaking Blog...


The Intangibles of Kayaking

This is the second installment of my series, The Intangibles of Kayaking covering paddling related topics that aren’t part of a curriculum or formal training.  The information I am presenting are basic guidelines to help new or inexperienced paddlers avoid some common pitfalls and awkward situations.

Part II: Trip Etiquette

My friend Allyson Davis wrote some great tips on trip etiquette regarding social media and inviting people along on trips that you are not leading.  It’s a good read, so check it out. Her advice is spot on, so I don’t have to harp on the faux pas of turning your friend’s trip into a giant cluster!

Be Courteous. Chances are, someone spent a great deal of time planning and organizing a trip.  Being punctual is not only a common courtesy, it may also be crucial for a trip on a dam release river, or other reasons.  If you’re running late, inform whoever is organizing the trip as soon as possible.  As my instructor told us at our development workshop, “if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.”

Be Prepared.  You’re heading out on a trip that is a good four hour drive from your designated meeting place.  How should you prepare?  Have all your gear packed and organized so it is easy to move from vehicle to vehicle when car pool arrangements are being made.  If you have offered to drive, have your vehicle fueled and ready to go.  Heck, even if you aren’t planning on driving, it may happen that you have to anyway. Eat breakfast before meeting, bring it with you, or have snacks and munchies for the trip-I mean, that is Road Trip 101, right?  Unless your trip organizer has built in time to stop for gas, food, etc…don’t show up running on fumes and you have to stop by McDonald’s because you’re starving.

Don’t Assume.  OK, this is a big pet peeve of mine.  You may not care if your car smells, has stains on the carpet, and looks like a city trash can; that doesn’t mean your buddy revels in his garbage.  Ask before you bring your cherry Big Gulp and breakfast burrito and proceed to destroy the upholstery in your friend’s new Subaru.  (Just to be clear, I only allow drinks with lids or tops, and I don’t like food being eaten in the car, thanks for asking.)  For goodness sake, don’t wear your stinky, muddy river booties in the car on the ride back from the takeout!

Don’t be a Cheapskate.  Pitch in for gas whenever you ride with someone else.  Sadly, there is a reason this has to be mentioned.

Watch What You’re Doing.  Climbing and reaching over the side of a truck bed or the top of a car with roof racks can scratch a paint job.  Unless asked, don’t start clambering on the running boards of your buddy’s car trying to help tie down boats.  You may have good intentions, but most people are particular about how they tie or strap down gear.  Ask howyou can help, so you can be helpful.

Be a Good Steward.  Tie all your gear in your boat.  Nothing is worse than contributing to the litter problem we all see on rivers.  Bring a bag with you and pick up trash along the way.  Once you become entranced by the beauty of nature, you will want to protect it.  Strive to leave a place in better condition than how you found it.

Stay Home If You’re in a Hurry.  For the most part, people are on what’s known as River Time whenever they go paddling.  Organized trips may list details such as estimated trip distances, paddling time, driving and shuttle times.  If those estimates, and they areestimates, don’t fit into your schedule, don’t go.  Nothing is worse than being on a river and someone asking “how much longer are we gonna be?”, every 15 minutes.

These are some common issues that arise on nearly every trip and whenever new paddlers are introduced into a group.  Keep the above tips in mind, and you will find yourself being invited to many more trips in the future.

Presentation prepared for Nov 2013 Monthly Meeting


View the Presentation Here

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