Editorial: Encounter with the Anti-Guru

I met Jerry at the Northeast Canoe and Kayak Symposium in New Jersey last September. Jerry was one of the symposium’s volunteer instructors.

Jerry handed me his business card. I use the term business card loosely, for Jerry appeared thoroughly retired. The card bore his name in bold, psychedelic-coloured letters, his summer address in yonkers, his winter address in Fort Lauderdale, and three clipart pictures of a kayaker, a peace symbol and a baker—Jerry’s own personal BCU three stars.

As kayak instructors go, Jerry’s aims were typical—within minutes he was offering to take my kayaking to another level. Yet his methods were unconventional—he proffered a container of homemade brownies, promising they would improve my paddling and possibly make me “a better writer.”

I was intrigued. The man’s reputation had preceded him, however, and I had vowed to eschew any such offer. Hanging with Jerry nonetheless turned out to be a symposium highlight. He gave me a refresher course in kayaking’s laidback and fun-loving side.

Jerry spun tales of work at New York’s Downtown Boathouse, a volunteer-run place where anyone in the world who knows how to swim can walk up, take a lesson and borrow a kayak free of charge at any time. Why don’t we have that everywhere?

Jerry also told me about how he and 60-odd friends paddle around manhattan each August. “If you tell people you paddled around manhattan and Greenland,” he said,“they’ll say‘Wow, you paddled around Manhattan?’”

“Fuggedabout Greenland. manhattan is a seven-hour paddle and the current does all the work. We stop at museums along the way to wait for the tide to turn.”

Jerry also instructed me in the finer points of dock-and-dine, a staple of his Florida winters. Dock-and-dine involves finding a nice waterfront restaurant within easy paddling range for dinner. The key is to phone ahead. mention that you don’t mind sitting on the patio. And, Jerry added, “If it rains, call a cab.”

Before chugging back to the Big Apple in his aging white BmW, Jerry urged me to come down to Florida sometime. “Put a shout-out on a bulletin board. Say ‘I’m coming down. Who wants to meet me at the airport with a boat?’” He assured me I’d be well taken care of.

Want to be hardcore the Jerry way? Try some 5-star dock-and-dine. Just wait until the weather warms up enough for it to be thoroughly pleasant and relaxing. Invite your friends. And remember: If it rains, call a cab. 

Screen_Shot_2015-07-24_at_11.53.46_AM.pngThis article first appeared in the Early Summer 2009 issue of Adventure Kayak Magazine. For more great content, subscribe to Adventure Kayak’s print and digital editions here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here