BAY CITY — Looking to educate local kayakers on water safety, the Houston Association of Sea Kayakers will be sending an instructor Saturday to Bay City’s Riverside Park at 7330 FM 2668.

The classes will target sit-on-top kayaks and enclosed sea kayaks for participants age 13 and older. Classes will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:15 to 3:45 p.m. for novice and seasoned kayakers.

Classes are free and will be taught by Level 2, ACA-certified instructor Phil Salvador. Class size is limited.

“There is quite a difference on how to get back on to a sit-on-top and a sea kayak,” said Willie Younger, Matagorda County Birding Nature Center water activities coordinator. “Just by having a companion will make a world of a difference.”

Those interested can contact Younger at 979-240-4872 or w-younger@att.net.

“I’ve been kayaking nearly 20 years now, and one of the things that it requires is a bit of know-how on how to get back on the boat without turning it over again,” Younger said. “Plus, also a fair amount of upper-body strength to pull yourself back up out of the water. Now some might think that, particularly on sit-on-tops, there is nothing to it. But what shocked me was last year there were nine kayak-related deaths.”

Recovering from a capsized craft is probably one of the most important skills a kayaker can possess, Younger said.

“Yet, the majority of paddlers grossly underestimate the difficulty of righting their boat, and then re-entering it, following an unexpected spill,” Younger said. “Nor do they fully appreciate that the stress and strain of doing so will be measurably compounded if they are alone, notably out of shape, in water of more than 3 1/2 feet deep or facing challenging environmental conditions like a swift current, waves, swells, wind, heavy powerboat traffic or other things.”

Younger stressed wearing a personal floatation device.

“There have been a plethora of drownings and near-drownings in Matagorda County this year,” he said. “It’s been a banner year for those kinds of incidents. Water safety is underestimated. People just underestimate the power of the water.”

Class participants will be asked to sign a liability waiver.

In November, Younger will teach a kayak-camping course at the Birding Nature Center in Bay City.

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160 or at joel.luna@thefacts.com

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