Thoughts on Local Paddling during COVID

getting ready to kayak(photo courtesy of Pete Lavigne)

Kayak surfers and Aqua-Bound ProStaff team members, Adam Constantine and Pete Lavigne, share with us some of their insights and photos about paddling close to home in these days of social distancing:

By Pete Lavigne

I’ve always enjoyed paddling and exploring locally, and never have had that wanderlust some people experience. We have such amazing local waterways—lakes, rivers and the Bay of Fundy near Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

In all honesty, it wouldn’t bother me if all my paddling took place within an hour’s drive, as I doubt I’d be able to explore all of it!

Once restrictions eased from COVID-19, it was relatively easy to get out to our normal local spots, as some of our put-in spots aren’t heavily used, especially during the spring months. At most, Adam and I might see a few beach walkers. Maintaining physical distance from others was easy.

We were mindful of how others might perceive our choice of physical activity, and took steps to minimize any awkward moments based on those possible perceptions.

pete lavigne kayaking locally
After restrictions lifted, we made our first overnight on local Deer Island (photo courtesy of Pete Lavigne)

Carpooling was put on hold in order to maintain physical distancing, and the performing of capsize practice was reduced and modified. I think many paddlers embraced the challenge of working through different rescues while maintaining physical distancing. Practice is never a bad thing!

With more people staying closer to home, there’s been an increase in people wanting to get out in kayaks. Our company, River Bay Adventures, has been offering coaching, but not currently offering guided tours.
Kayaking through the fog near Saint John

This is, in part, due to our choice to “wait and see” how easing of restrictions works. Our company is in the position to be able to hold off for a season, if necessary.

kayaking local waters(photo courtesy of Pete Lavigne)

Many of our early summer course were cancelled due to the governing body, Paddle Canada, taking the position of not sanctioning courses. As a result, some courses have been postponed to later dates. In these times, being flexible and “rolling with it” (haha—kayak dad joke) is really all any of us can do.

In talking with a good friend, Jeremy Cline, owner of OutdoorsNB, we learned kayak sales are brisk. The sport is definitely becoming far more attractive to people looking for something fun to do, while staying closer to home.

In our home town of Saint John, there were very few confirmed COVID cases. We were fortunate to have relatively loose restrictions, compared to many other communities.

Keeping this in mind, we wanted to maintain the balance of getting out in our kayaks while making sure we stayed within the guidelines set by local authorities. We didn’t ever want to appear to be “looking for loopholes” while kayaking.

kayaker near split rock, bay of fundy
Split Rock, near Gardner Creek (photo courtesy of Pete Lavigne)

kayaker at split rock, bay of fundyKayaking Split Rock (photo by Adam Constantine)

While Adam and I could realistically get out kayaking safely, we decided to avoid any rougher conditions. The last thing we wanted, both as kayak guides/instructors and as professional firefighters, was to put ourselves in any situation that required help.

To put it bluntly, we know better—and ultimately opted to take a little break during the height of the outbreak locally.

Thankfully for us, the break was quite short and we’re doing our best to make up for lost time!

kayakers ready for the local waters(photo courtesy of Adam Constantine)

Thanks, guys—Happy paddling!

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