Greetings everyone,
I have read hundreds of listings of guys and they all talk about their activities, but moving to the stage of doing things seems more cumbersome. This year is when we all need to get off our duffs and do something. So much of our gay "community" is disconnected from one another. Therefore, even if we are not 100% attracted to one another, the fact is that life is passing us by.

I want to encourage folks to canoe/kayak/hike with one another in Kentucky and southern Indiana. As Kentucky has more states touching it than any other state and as we have more miles of commercially navigable streams than any other state, then I want to welcome others to do more than write personal webpages while watching the calendar quickly move on.

PLANS: anytime I take a new partner canoeing, I train them at the Long Run Park Lake in eastern Jefferson County (Metro-Louisville) (Kentucky) and this lake is only fed from rain water, therefore, it does not have toxins and problems like some streams with "point source pollution" that might be upstream from whence you are canoeing/kayaking.

KAYAKS: I am not an expert on them and I do not own one. Around Louisville, there are several places for you to buy them and potentially a place or two to rent them.

1. Quest Outdoors;
2. Dick's Sporting Goods;
3. Bass Pro Shop; and,
4. Use Yellow Pages to find other locations.

CANOES: I am an expert on those and I have one of my own. You can buy them at the same list of stores (above) and likely even more places. Normally, anyplace that can be canoed can also be kayaked.

CANOE PADDLES: put the blade on your toe and the top of the grip (handle) should be at your chin. If it is higher, then find a shorter paddle. If it is shorter, find a larger one.

1. American Red Cross has a wonderful and thorough book. You can buy them online or order it from your local American Red Cross office.
2. Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge books, buy the (Canoeing, Swimming, and Life Saving books) all of them are wonderful.
3. Canoeing and Kayaking in Kentucky: this book is helpful, but the DISTANCES ARE WRONG THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK.
4. Even historical books can be helpful as they can warn/teach you about factors you never considered for navigating streams. In some cases, older information has been more thorough than the newer books. I create "milemarker listings" for each stream I canoe and that allows me to take information, historical data, and river data to be all in a singular document, from my hundreds of books on Kentucky, so make a more meaningful listing to know WHERE WE ARE LOCATED at all times.

Whenever I teach partners, it is based on the lessons learned in those books and methods.

SUGGESTIONS: always drive both side of a stream or river before you travel down the stream to become familiar with the topography, geography, egress/ingress points, restaurants along the route, restrooms, boat ramps, and emergency procedures. How something looks on a map can be completely different that particular day if the stream is flooded or at a low-water mark. There are good/bad points for canoeing any season of the year. The fact is that the stream will always be stronger than your body, but your mind can be smarter than the stream. You must respect the stream or become part of it.

As you are driving along a stream, so identify how the bridges look along the way. From the canoe/kayak, you might not recognize the bridge and it could be extra miles of paddling before you find the next egress/ingress point.

PARTNERS: it is always prudent to have at least one partner with you. Having a cell phone does not always help because you might have flipped your boat and it fell underwater and you forgot to have a waterproof case/bag. If you are injured, who is going to help you?

MARINE RADIOS: the larger the stream, the safer you will be to have one of these. Professional mariners never want to run over boaters. Larger vessels often have a radar that can see aluminum canoes, but they are far less likely to see plastic boats or Kevlar boats. You can buy reflective devices and tape to put on your boat so make you visible by radar. Learning how to communicate on a marine radio can be helpful and vital if the weather gets bad and you need help or if you want to communicate with a mariner to avoid hitting one another. Reading the manual can help you.

Marine radios also allow you to talk to the other paddlers in your group. Knowing the proper channels on the radio is important. Read the manual. Many marine radios also have an integrated WEATHER RADIO and addition, if the US Coast Guard or the USACE need to send out an alert, your marine radio should immediately play that alert. This is why you do not just want to have CB (citizen band) radios or other walkie-talkies. Marine radios typically are WATERPROOF (meaning they can fall completely into the water, then continue working).

LARGER STREAMS: obtaining the US Army Corps of Engineers Maps (USACE) is the safest way to get "current" information for the Ohio River, parts of the Cumberland, Green, Tennessee, and some other rivers. If "commercial navigation" (barge traffic) no longer occurs on a stream, then the river is still considered "commercially navigable," but it does not mean that the USACE will maintain the maps or the lock and dam structures along those rivers. For example, the Kentucky River has 14-lock and dam structures built from 1832-1917, but only about the lower four are maintained during some of the year. You need to check with the KENTUCKY RIVER AUTHORITY as they are focused precisely on that river and the Dix River.

NEWER PROCEDURES: after 9-11, boaters are no longer permitted to camp, hike, or even climb out of their vessels while at the lock and dam structures. In years past, you well welcome to camp on the esplanade (flat areas surrounding lock and dam structures) as you canoed downstream on multi-day trips. Now you must seek other safe camping areas or places to use the restrooms.

You need to buy a "current" copy of the USACE charts to be safer. On the rivers no longer updated for the maps, you can sometimes find older versions online, but then you still must know the "Western Rivers Rules of the Road (river)." These methods help you be safe.

If you plan on "locking-thru" a lock and dam structure, then you need to know that process, how to communicate ahead of reaching a lock chamber, how to operate your craft in the area of a lock, the procedural order vessels use, and other facts too long for this note. Certain equipment must be onboard for even canoes/kayaks to lock-thru.

Now you see why we start out on a man-made lake to begin teaching you where no motorized vessels (boats) are permitted to operate (unless it is a battery operated trolling motor). The Long Run Park Lake has picnic tables, restrooms, and other resources to make a wonderful training location. The only bad point is that you must watch out for the duck excrement!!! They love to poop on the boat ramp and near the water's edge.

MY HOPE: it is that this does not sound too complicated. It is not. Safe operations of a canoe or kayak does mean BEING PREPARED in training, equipment, driving along the stream, having food and other resources along with you; being respectful of the environment and those on your trip or those you encounter along the way. I have canoed thousands of miles and always brought hope the fellow paddlers. A successful trip is not by accident, it is in avoiding accidents pro-actively.

Let me know if you are interested in canoeing/kayaking in Kentucky and southern Indiana. We start out simple at the lake and build your skills and confidence and then go to smaller streams which do not have motorized vessels on them, and increase the size of the streams as your abilities improve.