Cape Breton Annual Paddlefest is now in its 6th year. The festival runs over 3 days in September and includes both kayakers and canoeists although most of the attendees have a kayak in tow. Each year the festival is held in Richmond County – another one of those unkept secrets of Cape Breton Island. What I like the most, and this may change, is the ratio between instructors and students. Some years, I think the instructors outnumbered us!
Cape Breton Paddlefest is where I go to network with fellow paddlers from across the province of Nova Scotia as well as to learn. The Festival offers paddling skills, safety clinics and my favorite, guided tours of the local area. This is the place to hone your skills as a paddler, paddle around the variety of waterways, and get lots of excellent advice and tips from those that have paddled in every type of situation. It is both an education and an eye opener. Two of the courses available are rolling and rescue clinics. I got the bruises to prove it. This is an important part of the festival experience. You can never be too careful.
Most years we get a frank talk from the Coast Guard on the dangers and hazards of the water, and hear of close calls, and rescues of unprepared paddlers. We need to hear this, as sometimes we can be a little too bold and confident. I’m talking first hand here as just last year, I got into a bad situation paddling by myself without being prepared. You can never be too careful and you have to follow the rules. Some paddlers do not even know the rules. This is another benefit to the Festival. You will know the rules before you leave.
So if you are thinking of trying kayaking or simply want to improve your technique, the Cape Breton Paddlefest is the place to go. Check them out on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/CapeBretonPaddlefest/.