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Kayak clinic teaches skills, water safety

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 28, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.

Beginning kayakers practicing in the Gary Moses Municipal Pool on Saturday morning had to keep an eye out for an added challenge -- a floating, but rubber, gator.

5 tips for new kayakersMake sure you have a life jacket that fits properly. Safety is your No. 1 priority.

Any time you're paddling, make sure someone knows where you're going and when you expect to return. That way you're prepared if something were to happen.

Take along sunscreen. You're out in the open and the South Texas sun can be intense. Make sure you're prepared.

Hydration is important. You may be out floating in the water, but you want to make sure there's enough drinking water on hand, too.

If you plan to purchase a kayak, try it out before you buy it. Many places in the area give you that option before making the sale.

Source: Rodney Neubauer, president Coastal Bend Paddlers

Noah Innocenti carefully paddled through the water, tube socks pulled up to his knees, camouflage hat protecting him from the sun and life jacket on, just in case.

The 10-year-old was one of about 50 people who attended Saturday's Kayak Clinic at the Gary T. Moses Municipal Swimming Pool.

The annual event, co-sponsored by the city of Victoria and Coastal Bend Paddlers, is a chance for first-time kayakers to learn the sport and safety information that goes with it, said Rodney Neubauer, president of the Coastal Bend Paddlers. It also allows those interested in purchasing a kayak to get a hands-on look at different types before they buy them.

That was something retired Goliad resident Caroline Hilliker took advantage of.

Hilliker, who enjoys fishing, first kayaked during a New England vacation. She said she hoped to purchase a kayak for herself soon.

"I want to get more familiar with it before I buy one," she said, explaining the clinic helped her realize she might prefer an open model of kayak, since it's easier to get into.

Shane Simon works as the city's recreation services manager and said the event has grown so popular the city might host two in the coming year.

"We might have one at the beginning of the swimming season and another at the end," he said.

The city drains the pool in the off-season, so the window of opportunity is fairly small.

But Saturday wasn't all work for Simon. He also took his 7-year-old son, Kaden, to participate. The duo enjoys camping, fishing and hunting together and said they'd like to add kayaking to the list.

"It's a lot of fun," Simon said, smiling at his son.

This year's clinic concluded with a trip down the river at Riverside Park. That's a first for the event, which is now in its third or fourth year, Neubauer said.

"This is just a good educational experience for everybody," he said. "And I think people really enjoy it."

Noah said he liked the experience.

He attended the clinic with his grandparents, Marjorie and Ron Wilhelmsen, and his mother, Rebecca Innocenti. And, since he's homeschooled, Mom said the event even offered a fun addition to the lesson plan.

"We might do this for P.E.," she said. "Or science and nature, when we get to the river. But it's been fun."

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