: This morning I was reflecting upon the extraordinary luck our
: community has had in not losing any members due to paddling
: related incidents. This reflection has prompted me to write
: something down.
: A suggestion / request in advance of our next potential
: Many of us have pushed our own personal limits in past paddling
: seasons and God-willing we will continue to do so for many
: seasons to come. We have had close calls over the years and have
: endlessly dissected them on the bulletin board, in our various
: face to face meetings and while lying awake late at night. We
: often debate over the right gear and safety equipment to have.
: We practice our skills. To varying a degree, we condition
: ourselves for our sport. We have worked long hours on Pod
: Paddling Protocols, BOMBER guidelines, etc.
: We have spent immense amounts of energy getting ready for our next
: paddling adventure.
: Yet there is one, often neglected and sometimes painful, decision
: that each of us as a sea paddler must make every time we go out
: on the water in the company of others. ARE WE PADDLING SOLO OR
: AS PART OF A POD? Every time we make this decision, it forces us
: to reconcile two basic truths about sea kayaking that are
: sometimes at odds.
: The first truth is that we are all pilots of our own sea-going
: vessels. As sea kayakers, we REALLY like our independence. The
: second truth is that to travel safely across the ocean in
: conditions as a group requires the commitment of all pod members
: to keep the group together. I don’t mean "a VHF call
: away". I mean TOGETHER, such that when a paddler goes down
: a fellow pod member is literally seconds away… and more
: importantly, the entire group is immediately notified without
: any more technology than a raised paddle, a shout or wave of the
: arms. The pod can then begin to affect competent situation
: management. If you are “a VHF call away”, you are little
: more in tune with your fellow paddlers and likely less help than
: a random fishing boat in the area that happens to be on the same
: radio frequency.
: When you are standing with your friends on the shore about to head
: out onto the chilly, windswept sea, think about what I have
: written here. Really, think about it…
: Make your decision and turn to your friends and say either:
: “I am going to commit to stay within earshot of you today. We
: will paddle as a team and come home safely”
: “I am going to go for a solo paddle today. I will likely paddle
: to this point and back. I’ll call you when I return to let you
: know I’m safe and check to see that you made it back too.”
: -- Your sea kayaker friends will understand. There is a reason
: they too paddle a boat with only one seat.
Thank you for initiating a stimulating discussion Jon. I agree with one of the posters that, in essence, "think first" sums up the issue. Or, put another way, in words previously and eloquently spoken by someone whose name I can't remember "Never put your paddle where your head hasn't been first." Which of course provides only a framework to consider all of the very pertinent points highlighted in the thread's many posts.
This link -- http://travelswithpaddles.blogspot.com/ -- is to a very recent Incident Report by a high level BCU coach in the Netherlands who went out with other highly skilled paddlers "just for some rolling practice." Every one is bound to have their own take away from this contrite and detailed debrief, but it bears reading by anyone thinking about safety, which to me anyway, ultimately translates into being able to continue enjoying kayaking for a long long time with present and yet-to-be-met fellow kayakers :)
The Connyak BBS