Cathy Piffath, Head Honcho
H2Outfitters' Head Honcho and co-founder, Cathy Piffath (alias "the Monk"). Cathy's combination of flawless kayaking skills, extensive experience, sense of fun and knack for observation make her a top-notch instructor of the art. Whether you are a rank beginner or an advanced paddler, your skills will be significantly improved after a class with her. Cathy is a Master Registered Maine Guide, and has extensive training and credentials from the ACA (American Canoe Association) and BCU (British Canoe Union) in coastal kayaking, whitewater kayaking and whitewater canoeing. She developed the curriculum for the ACA's Coastal Kayak Program in the early 90s and has conducted countless Instructor Development and Certification workshops over the past 20 years. Over the years, Cathy has not only honed her paddling skills but her culinary art as well. She gaining quite the reputation, (and a little weight), as she explores new paths to gustatory delight!
Jeff Cooper, Director of Fun
Director of Fun and co-founder of H2Outfitters, Jeff Cooper, generates an enthusiasm for kayaking that is contagious. A gifted teacher, group leader, and raconteur of tales, Jeff inspires his students with the confidence they need to improve their skills and have a great time doing it! He has spent the past 30 years in the Outdoor Industry and his foresight and creativity have kept H2Outfitters on the cutting edge of instruction and adventure travel. The latest addition to his job description is Chief Scout for all of our international adventures. You may find him absent from the office in the off-season, soloing an exploratory itinerary to some new and exciting destination. When he's not traveling he can be found serving as the maitre'd at his latest venture, Slot Car Junction. Jeff has held the highest level of certification from the ACA (American Canoe Association) and has trained with the BCU (British Canoe Union).
Whitney Smith, instructor
Long-time instructor, Whitney Smith, has been with H2Outfitters since before our hair began to go gray, by our calculations close to 20 years. Quite a feat considering she is only 29! One of our most versatile and experienced instructors, Whitney teaches at all levels, leads trips, drives trailers, writes newsletters, can answer the phone, and scoots to commute when she is in the mood. Often accompanied by one of her assistants, Isabelle or Zan King, who also moonlight as her children, she is always ready to get on the water leaving the children behind!
Hannah combines a patient, gentle teaching manner with extensive paddling experience and a great love of the sport and of the outdoors. She is a dedicated teacher who will have you improving your skills in no time. Hannah is a Registered Maine Guide and ACA certified Coastal Kayak Instructor.
Ward Swann is our leading multi-discipline instructor... if we need to discipline a group or individual we don't hesitate to unleash Ward. Just kidding. However, he does hold credentials in sea kayaking, whitewater, canoeing and motorcycle repair. Affectionately known as the team gear guru, as testified by his testing of his latest helmet design, Ward has a depth and breadth of product knowledge that is unequaled. He keeps in tune by leading the occasional gear shopping expedition whenever he's in Maine! As a teacher, his patience and insight are exceptional and always appreciated by his students.
Dean Roberts has been under the influence of H2O since 1997. A product of our Paddling Series program, Dean has taken that foundation of skills and honed his teaching and guiding abilities for over a decade. One of our lead instructors in our Kids Programs and camps, he's a popular fellow. His long beard and troll-like stature have led some of the kids to believe he lives under the Cribstone Bridge and the best thing is that Dean doesn't deny it, which adds further to his legend. He has guided trips from coastal Maine to the Adirondacks in NY. A talented woodworker, you might see him testing out his latest design for a spoon or bowl while on a trip.
Dave Leshan is the oldest living instructor at H2Outfitters, although we like to call him the senior instructor. Dave was an educator back in the days before automobiles. That's right, he paddled to work along the Delaware River to a small school in Buck's County where he met Jeff as a young lad. It was only a matter of time before Dave was recruited as an H2O intern...30 years. He is a true testimony to Jeff's persistence. But seriously though, he is an English teacher by training and his language skills only complement his ability to paddle. The quality of the teaching speaks for itself (so to speak).
John Engel, is one half of our mid-atlantic instructional team, whether that's the better half or not, is constantly debated. He is a certified ACA instructor and a skilled builder of wooden boats. John is often a co-leader on our Belize and Bahamas trips and is beginning to develop just the right island lilt to his voice when he teaches.
Bob Sewell, the other half our intrepid mid-atlantic team, is a gifted teacher and long time kayaker. A great one-on-one instructor, Bob is always willing to take the time to answer all your paddling questions. Look for Bob on the water, in the pool, and on some of our overnight excursions. Bob is certified through the ACA and can be found paddling the rivers and lakes of Pennsylvania and New Jersey now that he is a retired member of the landed gentry.
So now you know what Santa does in the off season... he paddles for H2O! Tom Boghosian aka S. Claus, resides in the witness protection program in beautiful May's Landing NJ. When not frantically delivering packages, he teaches college kids the finer points of English Literature and when school lets out he gets on the water. A long time H2O student and client, he took the plunge in 2008 and completed his certification requirements. This past season, we worked him to the bone here in Maine to make sure he understood the subtle, and not so subtle, points of a commercial operation. Tom passed with flying colors, receiving kudos from young and old alike for his patience, humor, and teaching abilities. Tom has most likely completed every domestic trip we offer, so don't hesitate to ask for a recommendation!
Freddie Sico, aka "Fernando" is another instructor from our western Massachusetts contingent. A graduate of Greenfield Community College's Outdoor Leadership Program, Freddie is an experienced outdoorsman and kayaker who holds ACA certifications in both kayaking and canoeing. If you hunger for cuisine italiano, Fernando is your chef di giorno. Freddie's recipe for success in paddling is focused instruction spiced up with just the right amount of repetition to achieve your goals. Feel free to ask him for some quick tips on paddling or even a suggestion for the right seasoning for your next outdoor meal.
Ross Corcoran, a graduate of Greenfield Community College's Outdoor Leadership Program, heads up our instructional staff. Ross holds certifications from the ACA, is a Wilderness First Responder, and is an aspiring student of Kendo. Ross will work on the details of your paddling technique and bring them to the next level. Ross leads trips along the coast of Maine, recently returned from paddling the inland sea of Japan, and will be scouting the Amalfi Coast of Italy this October.