So, I wanted to write a post about how to network around the boating community in the
Boston area because I had the worst time trying to find people, and the community is so big and great! This post is, therefore, about where to go and who/what to look for when moving to Boston so you don’t have to (hopefully) deal with the three month google search failure followed by a month of looking around when finally in the city.
First Note: Kayaking DOES exist close to Boston
Almost every time I told someone I was moving to Boston at the end of August, the invariable reply would be, “Oh, have fun, there’s no boating up there.” Now that I’ve been up here almost two months, I can definitely say that yes, there’s boating up here. While I haven’t done anything as hard as down South, the rapids are still fun, and the rivers are full of surprises (like old mill dams!). We’ve got dozens of rivers around an hour and a half to two hours from Boston.
First Place to Go
Look up the Appalachian Mountain Club Boston Chapter. The paddling group there is the most organized (though also the most bureaucratic) bunch of people, and they are all very knowledgeable of the rivers and rapids in New Hampshire and middle/west Massachusetts. I’ve met some great people from that group, and they’re very inviting (/goofy). You can look them up and just start e-mailing or better yet join the AMC club!
Join the New England Paddlers message board. They’ve also been very friendly and, guess what! A lot of the people from AMC are also part of New England Paddlers. The message board is easy to sign up for and always has lots of information on various trips (not official like AMC, more like pals who’d rather message than text), boats/gear for sale, and other interesting/pertinent information.
Join the Merrimack Valley Paddlers yahoo group. I actually haven’t done too much with this group, but again, a lot of paddlers that joined the other two have joined this one as well. They’re also in the Merrimack Valley area about an hour north of Boston.
You will, not might but WILL get absolutely swamped with e-mails if you join them all at once. Each group does many trips, and many people from each group do their own thing and use the same e-mail lists. Also, because a lot of people, like me, have joined all three groups, they will e-mail all three groups for a lot of the same trips. On top of that, a lot of people will hit “reply all” instead of just replay. So you’ll get a lot of this:
“Important information about paddling, bla bla bla, see you guys this weekend.” -Main e-mail.
Reply to all: “Okay, Carl, can you carpool with me?” unimportant e-mail.
Reply to all: “Yes, at your place?” unimportant reply.
Reply to all: “Yeah that works.” seriously? just hit reply.
Reply to all: “K, what time?” you’re still hitting reply all!
Reply to all: “Okay, see you then!” thanks for sending us 4 extra nonessential e-mails guys…
That said, this is seriously the only annoyance, and given I’ve gotten to paddle because of it, I’m going to stop my complaining.
The Overall Picture
Moving to the Northeast does NOT mean selling your gear and picking up another sport (though cross country skiing’s supposed to be pretty good here). Plenty of rivers exist here, and more important, a lot of groups and paddlers to enjoy those rivers with. I really hope this post helps others who have struggled finding what turn out to be great resources of New England paddling. See you on the river!