Sunday, September 24, 2006

Any One For Pool?

Soon, the local park will look like this. The over night temps have already flirted with frost, and the days don't get quite as warm as they've been for the past few months. Fall is here. Winter shall ensue. Come even.

Here in Wisconsin, we usually don't get to enjoy the long autumns I remember from when I lived in Washington D.C.. In fact, one year here, autumn was on a tuesday. It generally gives way quickly to winter, and the shores of our launch sites look like this.

Still, being the true seakayakers we are, the hardy paddlers of Milwaukee will head out as long as there is open water and somewhere to launch. It is part of the sport, part of the heritage of the Inuits who gave us this way of being on the water in small crafts.

Still, some of us do retreat to an indoor pool to practice braces, rolls and other maneavures that are more comfortable to do in water that does not freeze your eyelids shut.

Many of us belong to a group called Badgerland State Boating Society, often referred to as BS Squared. In addition to a small annual fee, we each kick in $10 per pool session. For those of you looking to get into this sort of thing, I have listed some of the essential info you will need to stay safe during a pool event. This is by no means an exhaustive list and, as always, one should consult a doctor and avoid excessive use.

1. Have a compass. Our pool is olympic size and, should fog set in, one could have trouble getting back to their launch site.

2. Know the compass deviation of your pool's area (see #1). Decide ahead of time if you will be using true north or compass north.

3. Be sure you have an up to date chart of your pool's waters.

4. As always, check a weather report before leaving home. It may be fine going in, but coming out you could freeze your hull off.

5. Check ahead of time to see if your Marine VHF radio is effective in your pool. Remember that they are line of site and that contacting the Coast Guard may not be possible.

6. Carefully select the flares you carry. This often is determined by the brightness of the lights in the pool and/or the height of the roof.

7. Are your tow lines in good shape?

8. Carry lots of fresh water. Just as ocean salt water is every where yet undrinkable, so too is chlorinated (and sometimes urinated...but I digress) pool water often unpotable.

9. Carry enough snacks in case you find yourself on a distant side of the pool and have to wait out the weather (this can be avoided if you have done, this is, technically, not digressing).

10. Finally, dress properly. Remember, in winter layers are always appropriate. Some pools ar black tie optional.

Extra bonus suggestion: Be careful of those white water paddlers in their little boats. They are fast, tricky and unpredictable, just like all those people your mother warned you about.

In doors or out,

Paddle safe...


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