Paddler Tattler Febuary2, 2021

TVCC Officially part of
WaterWays of Chattanooga

By Dixie Riall, Conservation Chair
Recently TVCC adopted a segment of South Chickamauga Creek near Audubon Acres and promptly jumped in to clear the creek of debris, including a large stack of old tires. The adoption was in coordination with the Adopt-A-Waterway Program founded in 2018 on the principle that everyone can be a steward. The program goal is connect as many volunteers as possible to their local waterways, where they will enhance water quality through stewardship projects.

Adopting a stream means a two year commitment to the segment of choice with at least one stewardship project required every year. Volunteers/organizations are recognized on site with a sign, and supported by WaterWays throughout the adoption process.
Pictured above is Dixie and David Riall, receiving TVCC’s sign from the WaterWays of Chattanooga representive. Plans to return to Audubon Acres for a shore line path clean up and invasive plant removal are in the works. Club members will be armed with Privet wranglers and claws to make it easy! We are shooting for March 13th and will provide more details as soon as available..
Thanks again to the TVCC Crew who helped with the recent river clean up.

Are you “into” Social Media?
Are you creative?

TVCC is looking for a special person who loves to post on Social Media!
This individual would need to be good at writing, design and photo editing. If this is you and you would like to help TVCC get the word out to members, please read on.
TVCC needs the right person to get news such as upcoming events and reports out to members on a regular basis. In the past we have used Facebook, our website and a newsletter primarily for outreach platforms. However, it is possible these are not the only, best ways to keep members informed. With the new year, perhaps it is time for a very forward looking person to move TVCC into better and more effective information delivery. If you would like this challenge, we need you. Please contact Darren Caputo ( for more information.

Balancing Posture

Riu Segre, La Seu d’Urgell, Catalunya (Joe Jacobi photo, January, 2021)
The learning curve of a paddler is steep. And slow.
In the beginning stages, it is not uncommon to feel one or all of the following:
Lack of control
Limited orientation
Uncomfortably bound to your kayak
Like embarking upon any challenging activity, paddlesports has a few important elements of your boat, the water, and safety to understand before pushing away from the shore.
But, the initiation of becoming a paddler and navigating rivers is less about words and “how to’s.” It is much more experiential. An important part of a paddler’s development happens through error, discomfort, and repetition. Then, we start to activate a feel for and touch upon the water.
When a beginner takes to the water for the first time, certain elements immediately stand out to me.
Sure, it’s easy to notice the person who comes out with a blazing paddle and frantically pulling hard through the water. There is a sense of doing something with force before force opposes them.
Or, tentative, gentle, and carefully calculated paddle strokes through the water calmly observed by the new paddler. Go slowly and manage mistakes more easily.
But, on this first voyage, one element instantly communicates more about readiness and core attributes of a paddler than all others. That is posture.
In noticing posture, the question I seek to answer is:
How can we position ourselves to better leverage large transfers of energy between ourselves and unexpected and uncontrollable forces of power?
In a kayak, sitting upright and slightly forward moves us closer to the boat’s centering point. Small changes in our posture can dramatically influence how we connect – or fail to connect – with the river current.
An oncoming obstacle, fatigue, or the even a desire to increase comfort affect the quest for better balance, most commonly shifting our posture and body weight behind the centering point… which is the fastest way to lose our balance.. and ultimately give away our valuable energy.
On or off the river, to align with our centering point sounds so simple. But, the moment that an unexpected or uncontrollable circumstance arises, which strengthens the volume of uncertain river currents, alignment with our centering point is immediately threatened.
No matter how forcefully or softly a paddle is pulled through the water, the degree to which a paddler retains their posture signals a disposition to collaborate with the river, not fight against it.
This is the first step in working smarter, not working harder.
A balancing posture extends far beyond the beginner. Attend any elite training session in the sport of whitewater canoe slalom and you will see Olympians and World Champions constantly adjusting and re-adjusting their body positioning when they are at rest with one goal in mind – to position themselves to capture more energy from a source that will always be stronger than they are.
Whether running a kayak school for new paddlers or coaching top-tier athletes pursuing Olympic excellence, posture awareness is the first step of the technical progression that I teach. In this progression, posture draws a clear line between capturing energy we can use to our advantage or… energy given away as a consequence of losing our balance.
When the River of Uncertainty brings us before conflict, negativity, polarizing issues, or other challenges, its desire is not to knock us over. However, such river currents are forces of energy that simply exploit our lack of attention to balance.
Staying centered is not the goal.
The Pursuit of Contentment is the awareness to come back to our centering point after being caught off balance… again, and again, and again.
With gratitude,
By BG Smith

The annual TVCC Florida trip,

Florida 2020 from Dec 27th to Jan 2nd, was a huge success. The club decided to venture further south this year and explore rivers and paddle opportunities in and around the Tampa Bay Area. In all, 35 paddlers eventually arrived in Florida. After the first chilly night, the weather the rest of the week was spectacular, straight out of a Florida tourist guide from the Chamber of Commerce. Temperatures during the day ranged from 75-85 degrees and paddle conditions couldn’t have been better. The rivers were all pretty much perfect providing a great variety of scenery, wildlife, and paddling environments.
Our base camp was the Canoe Outpost on the Little Manatee River. Our hosts, Brian Sr, Brian Jr, Angela, and Brandon couldn’t have been more helpful. They helped get everyone checked in and situated and solved many small problems that popped up during the week. Safe to say, we will be back!

Getting everyone situated that first night, Dec 27th, took some juggling and lots of flexibility and mutual support. For those making their first trip south, they discovered the traffic situation can truly screw up the best made plans! Lots of late night arrivals. Then, people needed to change campsites, identify new cabin arrangements, find extension cords, park and set up campers at night, and locate a power inflator … yadda, yadda, yadda!! It all worked out and everyone was ready to roll the next morning on the first paddle!! Awesome job by all!
Due to COVID concerns, the plan was to break the larger group up into smaller groups, but that idea fell apart quickly when the two other co-leads had to drop out. Another opportunity to be flexible! So for Day 1 and Day 2, the Little Manatee and the Alafia Rivers respectively, we paddled as one large, but significantly strung out group. It worked well.

Day 3 saw us over on Shell Key Preserve near Ft DeSoto State Park. After some initial confusion as to the put-in due to weather concerns (wind), we got everyone joined up for an interesting paddle that included lots of birds, some dolphins, crabs, and live shellfish. People found live whelks, oysters, scallops, as well as complete horseshoe crab shells. Lots of fun.
Day 4 we were able to split into smaller groups as Eric Burnett was available to lead a group again. I took my group to the spectacular Hillsborough River while Eric headed to the Peace River. More flexibility needed!! Eric found the primary planned put-in closed due to maintenance so identified an alternate downstream a bit. Eric’s group found an alligator skeleton when they stopped for lunch. Eric preserved the skull and he joined us for our New Year’s Eve celebration around the campfire.
The Hillsborough River was probably the highlight paddle of the week providing a huge variety of wildlife viewing opportunities and magical almost ethereal scenery along the 7.5 mile trip. Alligators were prominent, counting more than 30 sightings, along with 100’s of White Ibis’s and Roseate Spoonbill ibis’s, and of course lots of turtles. Really great to see such a thriving ecosystem.
Day 5 saw the two groups flip their trips and a couple others breaking off to go explore the Florida coastal areas around Chassahowitzka River Wildlife Area to search for manatees and blue springs! They were successful!
This was a memorable adventure. People proved to be flexible and I got great support from everyone to assist with shuttles, boat wrangling, and campground assistance. Many thanks to Eric Burnett for being the primo “Boat Sherpa” … dragging boats down and back on his trailer and all over Florida to support this trip. Thanks to David Nelson and Susan Carroll for also offering up their trailer to support the planning. I cannot thank all the shuttle drivers who willingly provided transport during the week. An incredible group and I am indebted to each of you for making it all work.
We All Know Just How Lucky We Were!

Thank You Dian and BG

“TVCC would like to take this opportunity to extend its love and appreciation to Dian Lawhon and BG Smith for their years of service to the club as they both step down from their board positions to pursue other interests.
Both Dian and BG served during a time where TVCC experienced rapid growth, and greatly contributed to the success of the club’s efforts.
Dian served as Communications Officer since 2017. Her professional expertise and leadership were indispensable to the club as we hosted many successful events and strengthened our relationships with local and national organizations.
BG served as Treasurer for 3 terms. He worked to increase revenue through grants and fundraisers to enhance our programming and support of community partners, codified many of our procedures, and managed through a transition in electronic payment methods. Afterwards, BG assumed the role of Flatwater Cruisemaster after Eric Fleming stepped down following many years of service.
If you are interested in joining the leadership team of the club please contact Darren Caputo at “
Thank you,
Darren Caputo
Tennessee Valley Canoe Club – President