Photo Jan 12, 1 41 58 PM

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The PaddleVa Family is one that we've celebrated every chance we get. That family vibe has long been a cornerstone of Appomattox River Company. Two years ago I decided to focus in on the PaddleVa domain name as a way to highlight the great family of paddlers in Virginia, and beyond. Why? Because you represent the best of what we do.

From the beginning the idea was to celebrate everyone who does it right, regardless of their status in the respective subsets of our industry. We wanted to celebrate the amazing ambassadors and the folks next door, who just make us smile and reminded us to appreciate the many gifts that come from a life lived on the water. I hope we've done that in some small way with our social channels and our Friday Finds posts. We're going to continue to find ways to share other stories with you besides the ones we produce here at ARC. I did a quick scan recently of the stories we shared from the Family this past year and settled on a few that did in fact make us smile. Here are a few. Enjoy. And thank you to everyone who's shared their story with us, and to everyone who's helped write ours by spending time in one of our 3 brick and mortars, or online. All of you have contributed and helped make 2016 a heartfelt rewarding experience.

From kayak fishing, to whitewater, to canoeing, to SUP, to sea kayaking, and just good ole river floating; we are a family of paddlers, and we're grateful for the opportunity to share in this collective passion for paddling on the water. Thank you.

First:

For me, this one was personal. I'd worked with this young man's mother as she sought to buy a fishing kayak for her son. He loves fishing and was looking for a new way to get out on his own, on the water to catch more fish. She ultimately bought a Pelican Catch 120 Kayak. After a couple months she emailed me this video and told me how psyched her son Steven was to be out there getting after it. And get after it he did! This video, and the expression that you can read on Steven's face, even through the face shield and sunglasses, is precisely why I love doing what we do. This is gold.

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Second:

Rob Choi aka RMFC, Ocean Kayak and Old Town Canoe & Kayak Pro, is the man. He's based out of RVA, and is a devoted family man who seems to always strike fishing gold whenever he hits the water. He's also long been a lover of the paddling part of kayaking, but on this day he found himself pedaling and a shift in the force happened. RMFC pedaled a kayak and caught a Cobia. Then he broke the internet with his report. Read the full story or just bask in this sight. :) Angling Addict.Com

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Third:

The crew in RVA is a constant source of inspiration. Them folks get after it on the regular, and they usually have great documentation of those exploits. Tijo Media has long been producing quality media in RVA. This time they film some of the Richmond whitewater crew throwing down on some low head dam action. And yes, they include an excellent disclaimer.

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Fourth:

Mark Vlaskamp left his day job and embarked on a life-affirming road trip across the country . He'd long been the Marketing guy for Yak Gear and decided he was tired of looking at photos of others adventures and needed to have one of his own. Mark is a wordsmith and I found his blog posts to be excellent reading, and they are accompanied by excellent photos. Mark covered 15,482 miles, including a stop here in Farmville. This is Mark's rec-cap and you can find the rest of his travel journals by clicking here; Canoe Vibes.

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Fifth:

The Home on The James crew intermittently hits us with amazing stuff out of Richmond. This Snow Day video dropped early in the year and has remained a big hit. This is RVA.

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Sixth

Kayak Kevin is a legend in these parts, and across the country. As an Ocean Kayak and Old Town Canoe Pro, he has been in the game for a good bit, and his skill set is vast. But he tends to focus on redfish, and big redfish at that. He put out a redfish release video detailing the best way to revive these beauties while practicing catch and release. It was a hit and much needed.

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Seventh:

Free Fall Visuals. Seriously. We love these guys. They go out and do awesome stuff, get awesome footage, share it with us, and inspire us. Fo Reals. Check'em.

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Eighth:

This has absolutely nothing to do with us. We don't even sell Yeti. We don't know these folks. But this video made a major impact on me, and many of us in the angling world. It's amaze-balls.

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Ninth:

The Boondoggle is an event we try to make every year. Why? Well this video does a good job of explaining the appeal. Jameson, of Jackson Kayak, crafted a nice re-cap of the 2015 Fall Boondoggle. It's all about the community, the fish and the fun.

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Tenth:

Last but not least, is Josh Dolin, Jackson Kayak Pro, and one half of the Peelin Drag Fishing crew in RVA. Josh chased down a giant Alligator Gar in Texas and got all internet famous for his effort. We love Josh and his fishing partner Grant Alvis, for all the expertise and motivation they bring to the game. Cheers fellas! And hella fish.

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So many of y'all drop excellent content throughout the year and we thank you all for it. When we switched over to the new website we lost a lot of our blog posts, so I know I missed some great stuff that we posted this year. But I want to say thank you to all the PaddleVa paddlers out there who continue to be good ambassadors and great content creators. I look forward to 2017 and giving witness to all the great adventures you embark on.