It's been just under one year since I purchased my kayak and took your Kayak Immersion Symposium class in 2013. Thanks to your instruction in the class, I have dove head first into the sport and thankfully not the water...yet. I visited the MSU Quiet Water Symposium in March 2014, saw your booth, and was reminded about your rental shop and classes. I felt compelled to send this testimonial.
Like many first-time buyers, I bought a short recreational kayak. I focused solely on the low price point and not the features, or lack thereof. I had been on the water about a dozen times before signing up for your class. Your class started with the fundamentals and you reviewed kayak and paddle selection, safety gear, clothing items, and things typically found on a kayak. Your website class descriptions speak for themselves, so I encourage web surfers to read them and ask questions ahead of time if necessary.
During and after class, I realized the make and model of my kayak purchase was a poor choice. Besides being heavy and slow moving in the water, it didn't have any bulkheads. While I realized this before your class and had purchased and installed floatation bags (an expense I didn't factor into the initial purchase/ownership cost), your class taught me that a kayak without bulkheads can and will fill with A LOT of water. While plastic naturally floats, and the floatation bags helped, it was nearly impossible for me to flip upright, let alone drain or bail the water that filled the entire kayak.
After your class, thanks to your rental shop, I was able to test a longer and thinner kayak (touring style). You selected a model that was best for my height, weight, and preferred style of kayaking. After paddling that touring kayak around your lake, I realized that was the style I should have purchased. Within weeks after your class, I sold my short recreational kayak and purchased a touring/sea kayak with sealed bulkheads! In my first summer of kayaking, your class gave me the confidence to kayak a 20-mile stretch down the Huron River (solo, single day), participate in my first-ever race in my life (a canoe/kayak race at Kensington Metropark, I came in last and loved every moment!), kayak up and down the Traverse City Bay, and even participate in the Floatilla 2 event in Suttons Bay, which broke the Guinness World Book Record!!!
I wish I took advantage of your rental fleet and "Beginner Plus" class before I made my initial purchase, it would have saved me a lot of money and time by selecting a proper kayak the first time.
For 2014, I look forward to tackling the Detroit River and maybe even more of the Great Lakes!
In short, thank you for teaching me items I didn't or couldn't learn from reading (first hand experience is everything) and instilling confidence in the sport of kayaking.
Ryan Mainz, Whitmore Lake, Michigan
I wanted to take some time to write you before I head off to work and the excitement of this morning is occluded by a busy day at work.
I couldn't have dreamt of a better teacher for my particular issue! You were really wonderful out there and you helped me to make a great experience out of a "training session". You very quickly assessed what was going on in my noggin and got me talking and helped me to be both relaxed and focused. Feeling free, excited and enjoying myself on the water (and really starting to feel like part of the water!) was not on the list of scenarios going through my mind.
To top it off, you have a wonderful warm personality and you have a fine sense of humor. I felt so comfortable even on big scary lake Saint Clair. Thank you so much again for coming out to the lake I will be learning on to help me be comfortable!!!!!
It was a pleasure to get to know you and I hope to see you again soon.
PS I would have given you a great big bear hug today, but not everyone likes the whole Greek hugging thing, but be forewarned and just be glad you aren't Greek or you'd get the Greek kiss on the cheek too! LOL. Believe me, if you want to talk about culture shock, getting kissed by the priest on both cheeks' well the first time was a shocker. Just like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Have a great day!