Melanie started kayaking as a way to quickly escape the city. After joining Sebago Canoe Club in Brooklyn she was soon introduced to New York City’s tightly knit kayaking community where she felt right at home. After at first refusing to get into a skin-on-frame qajaq (“too tight," “too funny looking,” “why do I need this?”), Milton (her now-husband) got her to try it and she was hooked after mastering her first roll.
Melanie has been an active volunteer all her life and believes in the good things that happen from people just coming together and making things happen without a monetary incentive.
Milton is co-leader with Dave Murphy of qajaq mentoring at HRGF. Milton especially enjoys teaching forward finishing rolls, rolls that end with the kayaker folded forward on the front deck of the qajaq. Watch his video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iqUvF1iafw.
Dave has no paddling credentials at all. He is known to most as "Madi Murphy's Dad," and to some as "Not Your Unkel Dave." He has earned no ACA Instructor certifications, and has received the BCU zero-star assessment. He is therefore a proponent of the "Team Zero" Approach. He has served on the mentoring team at the Hudson River Greenland Festival since its inception. Over the years, he has learned from the best, and therefore seeks to "pay it forward" by passing along what he has learned. Dave enjoys making skin-on-frame kayaks, paddles, and wood/epoxy kayaks. Dave paddles Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes region of New York State. He recently completed a weekend-by-weekend tour of the entire east-west portion of the Erie Canal, with "Unkel Dave."
Madi has been kayaking since the age of 7, rolling since the age of 14, and mentoring since the age of 16. She enjoys being right side up in a qajaq almost as much as she enjoys being upside down. She gets her kicks from teaching people to roll and getting people to do rope gymnastics. She also makes movies for fun and is often seen with a GoPro in hand. Outside of the kayaking sphere, Madi spends her time petting cats, absentmindedly singing, and laughing at Harry Potter memes.
Peter was handed a Greenland paddle by a friend around 25 years ago and it altered his life path. Within months, he had made a few paddles which in turn led to a kayak kit building project. Building led to attending the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat in 1997 which in turn really opened his eyes to both kayak design and the collaboration among that community, but also to the depth of Greenland kayaking skills and culture. At this point Peter has built 12 kayaks, 9 of which are his own designs. Peter has been teaching rolling skills at winter pool sessions in Rhode Island for over 15 years and at Delmarva for over 10. More recently, he has mentored at the Hudson River Greenland Festival, and has been a guest teacher at SSTIKS twice. Peter lives in Rehoboth, Massachusetts and paddles south-eastern New England waters. He also is a passionate saltwater fly fishing flailer from his kayak and is an avid short film maker/GoPro enthusiast. Don’t ask him about his passion for mountain biking or bee keeping.
Jack had been paddling without any formal instruction until he went to the Delmarva Paddler’s retreat in 1999. Having been led into the world of Greenland paddling made a big impression. Attending Delmarva HRGF , STTKS and the Michigan Training Camp gave a great opportunity to learn from some amazing teachers, and led to a teaching/sharing role. Jack was one of the original organizers of HRGF when it went to a multi-day format in 2006. Jack has been running the boat building shop for the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, downriver in Yonkers, since 2002.
Kevin Kehoe has been drawn to water sports most of his life, competition swimming, surfing, scuba diving, and found kayaking in the late 90’s. His first circumnavigation of Manhattan (it is an Island) was 1999 and many times since. Living in a suburb of New York City, Kevin paddles the waters of NJ and NY’s oceans, bays, lakes and the scenic Hudson River’s rural and urban waters.
Soon after trying a Greenland paddle in a rolling class sponsored by Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, he was hooked, and hasn’t turned back. Kevin enjoys carving paddles, building kayaks and sharing the Qajaq experience. He has been a member and on the Board of YPRC for several years, assisting with kayak building classes and introducing kayakers to Traditional Qajaq Skills. Kevin also worked several years on the Hudson River Greenland Festival Team.
James has been kayaking since the mid-nineties - when he convinced his fiancée that a pair of kayaks is way better than a diamond ring - “boats float, rocks sink, Baby!” The pair of Feathercraft kayaks traveled with Juhee and James around the world, and fit in their Battery Park City apartment to boot.
James taught himself how to roll out of a book, but learned to roll properly when introduced to Greenland kayaking while working as an assistant instructor at New York Kayak Company. In this setting he met artist and anthropologist Richard Nonas, who opened James’ eyes to the Inuit culture attached to the qajaq, and the living legacy that Qajaq USA represents and brings forward to future generations.
James has been attending Qajaq USA events at the Delmarva Paddlers’ Retreat and Hudson River Greenland Festival since 2007, and has refined his paddling, rolling, and mentoring skills through this generous, sharing family that bridges cultures, continents, and generations. He returned last year with Juhee and their two children - bringing to a full circle that initial promise: “boats float, Baby!”
Tracy enjoys paddling and learning new skills on Lake Superior and the Hudson River. A rolling session with a Greenland stick in 2012 was the beginning. The last few years have included multi day camping trips along Pictured Rocks and the Apostle Islands.
Brian enjoys paddling on the Hudson River and Lake Superior, where he has taken classes on sea kayaking and more recently Greenland events like HRGF and Delmarva. He likes the paddling group concept of strength and safety in numbers and all are teachers and students.
Rufus, a retired paintings conservator, lived and worked in New York City before moving to Massachusetts. Many years ago, he spent three unforgettable austral summer seasons working in the Antarctic at McMurdo, South Pole, and Palmer Stations as well as on a number of research vessels.
He first encountered Greenland style paddling more than a decade ago at the Mystic Seaport and has been fascinated with Greenland style paddling ever since. He has built a CLC Shearwater 16 kayak and several paddles.