Meet Tom Lambertson — Avid Kayaker

Tom Lambertson

Tom Lambertson

Tom Lambertson recently became manager of the Lab's Site Services Division after serving as the manager of the Lab's Central Fabrication Services Division for 5 years. If you ask him what he loves to do most, he would say his job. But then he would smile and quickly add that he also loves the outdoors, especially kayaking.

An avid kayaker, Lambertson is certified as an instructor by the American Red Cross and the American Canoe Association and spends time training individuals under the "water safety" program sponsored by the Red Cross. His favorite paddling spot is the Peconic River. "I literally can pick up a kayak, walk across the street from my house, and put it in the Peconic River," said Lambertson. "Kayaking is the greatest way to relax and appreciate the beauty of our natural world."

For Lambertson, safety is first in order of importance. "About 20 years ago, fellow BNLer Ernie Jochen told me I should stop windsurfing and start kayaking," he said. "Seeing Ernie's enthusiasm for the sport, I decided to act on his suggestion. But, one day I took a spill in my kayak on Lake Ronkonkoma. That's when I decided I needed lessons from Ernie. The two of us became friends and spent time kayaking in various places around Long Island. But that spill on the lake also inspired me to become an instructor because I realized that safety is key. My motto is PFDs [personal flotation devices] are mandatory no matter what water sport you are doing."

During the 12-week instruction period, Lambertson teaches novices how to balance themselves and get in and out of the boat safely, tie nautical knots, and learn the difference between forward, backward, sweep, and draw paddle strokes. Students learn how to react if their boat flips and how to help fellow kayakers if they encounter trouble. When they have completed the course, Lambertson said he feels like he has enhanced their skills as well as their knowledge of safety on the water.

Lambertson owns several riverboats and kayaks that range from 10 feet to almost 19 feet in length. He explained that riverboats are shorter and better for training purposes. "They have less maneuverability, so every stroke makes a difference," he said. "If you can handle the riverboat easily you can take a step up to a longer kayak." His personal favorite is a 17.5-foot kayak that showcases a wooden maple deck with an Indian motif. "There is nothing I don't like about this boat. It sits low in the water and is easy to maneuver," Lambertson said.

"I spend time outdoors as often as possible," he said. "After all, a day shared with nature is always a good day."

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