I have been fortunate both in my teachers and in my paddling partners for most of my time on the water.
I remember talking to Derrick Mayoleth once a few years ago when I made the trip to Wisconsin with the family about this. He noted how fortunate I was to have so many skilled paddlers to paddle with on a regular basis. Derrick essentially had to learn a lot of his skills and experiences on his own. For this he is to be commended.
Where as I have been fortunate to have an active club full of relatively skilled paddlers. So at times it strikes me as both funny and frightening when outside of this somewhat dense area of highly skilled paddlers. There is a vast difference between this cold, windy corner of the world where we have both big water, and good people to push you to the next level. The other part though is up to the individual. Whether or not they choose to engage and learn the skills or to bluff it. Having been exposed to the bluffers at sea, they can kill you. Accept no substitute. Know who you paddle with. (or with whom you paddle)…
WMCKA Symposium is around the corner for those looking to see what further horizon might be out there.