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S ea Kayaking Skills and Adventures, Ltd.

About Us

  Elizabeth   Gordon   Dan   Mascot  
  SKSA, Ltd   ACA   ARC   BCU  

About Our Company

Sea Kayaking Skills and Adventures (SKSA), Ltd. incorporated in 2000 with the mission of providing the people of all ages and skill level with a source of quality, education for paddle sports, kayaking in particular. Long Island has rich shoreline resources with a myriad of excellent paddling locations. We also have many outfitters providing fine equipment with whom SKSA is proud to work. SKSA was founded to provide a highly qualified training resource for the Long Island area. SKSA is here to to guide the novice paddler in developing fundamental skills, to introduce paddlers at all levels to new aspects of the sport, and to help advanced paddler to achieve higher levels.

SKSA, Ltd also acts as a resource to other organizations, including summer camps, paddling clubs, outfitters, paddle shops and training and touring businesses on Long Island. Through the American Red Cross we train and certify low-level instructors for posts in summer camps working in protected waters. Through the ACA we provide assessment services to individuals and clubs where skill certification is required at levels 1 through 4 (Open Water). Also through ACA we are authorized to train, assess and certify Instructors for more advanced posts at levels up to and including level 4 (Open Water) and to provide ACA Trip Leader Training and Assessment.

It is the goal of SKSA to promote the growth of safe, competent paddling on Long Island and also to foster appreciation and understanding of inland waters and our coastal environment. To that end we lead tours where those new to paddling can experience paddling a safe environment, more advanced paddlers can practice skills in the company of experts, and others can simply relax and have fun while developing an appreciation for the coastal environment.

As of 2010, SKSA has spawned a daughter company: Changing Tides PaddleCraft which is based in New Haven, CT. With its associated company, we can now bring quality training to both sides of Long Island Sound. For more information follow the link to Changing Tides Paddlecraft.

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Elizabeth O'Connor - Head Instructor

Elizabeth O'Connor is founder and head instructor for SKSA. She grew up around and on the waters of Long Island. There has been a paddle of one type or another in her hand for more than 20 years. Kayaking has become a major part of her life since 1995. Elizabeth has trained extensively with the American Canoe Association, is one of only three instructors on Long Island with Open Water Coastal certification and the only ACA Instructor Trainer in our region. She is currently serving as Divisional Instructional Facilitator for the ACA - Atlantic Division. She has also worked for years with the local American Red Cross teaching basic kayak skills and is now one of a small group of Instructor Trainers for ARC - Suffolk County. She holds current certification for First Aid, CPR and Wilderness First Aid. She has also trained with the British Canoe Union.

Paddling Credentials:
  • ACA Open Water Coastal Kayak (L4) Instructor, Instructor Trainer
  • ACA Coastal Trip Leader, Trainer/Assessor
  • ACA Open Water Coastal Kayak (A4) Skills Assessor
  • ACA Essentials of River Kayak (L2) Instructor
  • ARC Basic River Instructor Trainer
  • ARC Basic First Aid
  • SOLO Wilderness First Aid

Elizabeth holds a degree in Equestrian Studies and had a career in the breeding and racing industry before quitting to raise a family. She worked for 15 years as an Environmental Educator and wildlife rehabilitator specializing with raptors. When not kayaking she is a wildlife artist working in paints and wood, carving detail bird sculptures. In summer she crews weekly on a racing sloop as the foredeck person. Her interest in carving primitive paddles grew into a business of constructing modern high-tech paddles, and a current area of expertise. As Head Instructor she is often seen traveling with her favorite furry friend "K-Sea" the kayaking K-9. Elizabeth brings a depth of educational resources and experiences to her classes and tours that goes beyond her qualifications as a trainer of advanced kayaking skills.

Elizabeth also is an avid kayak racer. She has successfully defended her title of National Champion Woman's Sea Kayak Marathon racer for the U.S. Canoe Association (USCA) five years running from 2001 to 2005. In 2005 she won both Sea Kayak and ICF Marathon races on successive days. In 2003 she was selected as the senior woman member of the United States National team competing in the ICF Worlds Championships in Valladolid Spain where she was the top US point achiever having finishing 11th in Women's Marathon. She also races sprints and has helped guide the Long Island team to a series of medal wins in the Empire State Games.

To our knowledge Elizabeth is the first women to circumnavigate Long Island in a kayak. This was accomplished over a seven day journey with her partner Danny Broadhurst, in 2002 as a charity promotion which raised over $165,000 for the Long Island Altzheimer's Fund.

More recently she has taken on the challenge of coordinating major events. With the help of the US Coast Guard, and NYS Department of Parks Recreation and Preservation as well as a host of other groups and clubs she has brought to the public a series of Long Island Paddle Sport Safety Symposiums. Each one has been more successful than tha last with booths, lectures and demonstrations of safety, rescue and kayak rolling. These events have been presented absolutely free to the public.

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Gordon Dayton - Instructor

Gordon Dayton started as an SKSA student in 2002 when an encounter with an unexpected squall galvanized him to find a competent instructor. He has since progressed from a novice paddler through all the training programs offered by SKSA. While training with SKSA Gordon took up kayak racing in a semi serious way, both in sea kayaks and in ICF boats. He has particpated in many local and regional races including the USCA - Nationals in 2003 and 2005.

Not to neglect his sea kayaking skills, he completed his BCU 3-Star skills certification with Steve Maynard in fall 2004, then went on gain certification in kayak rescue techniques (BCU Canoe Safety Test). More recently, working with the American Canoe Association he is certified as Open Water Kayak Instructor and also holds certifications in river kayak and canoe. Gordon is also certified to teach kayak for the Suffolk County Red Cross and maintains currency in Wilderness First Aid and CPR.

Paddling Credentials:
  • ACA Open Water Coastal Kayak (L4) Instructor
  • ACA Coastal Kayak (A4) Skills Assessor
  • ACA Essentials of River Kayak (L2) Instructor
  • ACA Essentials of Solo & Tandem River Canoe (L2) Instructor
  • ACA Essentials of Solo & Tandem Touring Canoe (L2) Instructor
  • ARC Basic River Kayak Instructor
  • SOLO Wilderness First Aid

Gordon has a history of adventure hobbies starting with speleology where he practiced as a cave cartographer for the National Speliological Society in Central Pennsylvania while working as a Professor at Pennsylvania State University. Eventually serving local coordinator for the National Cave Rescue Commission. At the same time he was also developing skills in whitewater rafting and rock climbing. His move to Long Island put a practical end to these persuits and a transition to kayaking began

Gordon has become a key player with SKSA where he also serves as Webmaster. He intends to pursue higher level training with the American Canoe Association (ACA). He continues to lend his time to the American Red Cross, aiding with instruction in their their basic and intermediate kayaking and canoeing courses.

More recently Gordon has taken on a leadership role founding and developing North Atlantic Canoe and Kayak, Inc. a Long Island based paddling club. He currently serves as Founding Director, Webmaster and ACA Liaision. He also commits time to the Atlantic Division of the ACA where he holds the position of Coastal Kayak Chair and at the National Level where he serves on the Board of Directors and as Clubs Liaison to the ACA Safety, Education and Instruction Council. Starting in 2008 Gordon has relaxed his leadership role with NACK in favor of mentoring new staff for the organization. He retains a role as Senior Advisor. he

Beginning in 2006 Gordon joined the Board of Directors of the American Canoe Association, where he specializes in bringing club issues to the attention of the Board. He also heads the Board's Recreation Committee and is serving on its Bylaws committee, working to revise bylaws and create Board Policy.

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Dan Troup - Instructor

Dan Troup has worked with Elizabeth since 1998 (prior to incorporation of SKSA). He has long been an avid local kayaker that is largely self-taught and loves to "play in the waves". He has a depth of "local knowledge" that is an important resource to SKSA during outdoor excercises. He has devoted much time over the years as a leader for Boy Scouts of America and has excellent rapport with younger students. He will often be seen helping as a wrangler and support person on tours and has excellent abilities at demonstrating and executing rescues. Dan holds his Red Cross Kayak Instructor Certification and has current certification in First Aid and CPR. In Spring 2006 Dan was certified as a Coastal Instructor (L3) by the ACA.

Paddling Credentials:
  • ACA Coastal Kayak (L3) Instructor
  • ARC Basic River Kayak Instructor
  • ARC Basic First Aid & CPR

More recently Dan has become active a local Paddle America Club (NACK) where he is Captain of the Demo team. Dan regularly organizes activities where paddler participants can benefit local charities.

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SKSA Mascot

K-Sea was born in 1999 in Missouri, then immediately left for Bohemia, NY. Her favorite pastimes are kayaking with "Mom" (Elizabeth) and greeting customers. She is employed full time as a security agent specializing in guarding of kayak transport vehicles. She will be seen often with Elizabeth just before or just after classes, clinics and races. She has become adept at riding on the back of sea kayaks, but prefers not to get her feet wet. She looks a bit like a black-haired standard poodle, sometimes poses as a Muppet, but she "knows" that she is a person.

Sadly, K-Sea passed away in the spring of 2013 after a long and lustrous career. She is sorely missed, will long be remembered, never to be replaced.

Paddling Credentials:
  • SKSA Basic Kayak Deck Rider (L2)
  • SKSA Kayak Group Managment Trainee
  • SKSA Kayak Transport Security Specialist
  • SKSA Client Empathic Response Specialist

In July of 2013 a new four-footed paddler joined our team. Morgan is currenty taking instruction with us in both kayak and canoe. As she develops as a paddler you will likely see her around the put-ins: a fluffy, brown paddler with lots of energy!

  K-Sea the kayaking K-9

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ARC - American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is known nationally for providing basic training in First Aid, CPR and Lifeguarding skills. Less well known are training programs developed for sailing and paddling (canoe and kayak). While these programs are no longer supported at the National Level, there are a number of local chapters where they are still active to support local camps and other organizations serving youth.

The ARCSuffolk County has for many years sponsored a program of basic intruction in both canoe and kayak. Its instructors are trained to teach introductory skills for use on protected waters such as ponds and small lakes. The curriculum is roughly equivalent to American Canoe Association "Intro to Kayak" and is designed mainly to aid camp counselors in teaching youth programs.

In addition, the Suffolk County ARC offers a course of Instructor Training. It is a three-day course of instruction that generally takes place in mid-June.

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ACA - American Canoe Association

The ACA, founded in 1880, is the nation's largest and most active paddle sports organization, dedicated to promoting canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. Membership in the association has increased significantly over the past six years, from a total of 5,000 in 1993 to more than 50,000 in 2002.

For most of the last three decades, the association has been a nationally recognized resource in the fields of paddlesport instruction and education. Currently there are more than 4500 ACA certified canoe and kayak instructors in the U.S. and approximately 240 ACA instructor trainers. Collectively, these instructors teach ACA approved programs to an estimated 100,000+ students each year, primarily through summer camp programs, affiliated groups (e.g. scouts, YMCA, etc.), liveries / outfitters, and professional paddlesport schools (such as SKSA).

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BCU - British Canoe Union

The BCU, was set up in 1936 to send a team to the Berlin Olympics. The BCU is now the lead body for canoeing and kayaking in the UK. The organisation has grown considerably, and the range of canoeing opportunity has increased tremendously. Today the BCU has an individual membership of over 25,000, 469 affiliated clubs and 145 approved centres.

In 2000 the BCU federalised to become the umbrella organisation for the Home Nation Associations in Scotland (SCA), Wales (WCA) and Northern Ireland (CANI). In England, Canoe England was set up, on a par with the other National Associations, as a division of the BCU, to support the development of canoeing in England. The BCU is responsible for leading and setting the overall framework for the National Associations; representing canoeing interests such as coaching and competition at UK and international level. The BCU now has a presence in the United States through: BCU North America.

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Copyright 2000 by SKSA-Ltd. All rights reserved.