Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The World of kayaking...
According to Alan

Alan is a very smart guy (pictured above in '06, before growing a goatee...but I digress). Heck, the guy is a forensic scientist. You know, a CSI guy. He can ID you from the DNA in the snot on your paddle. He actually testifies in court about this stuff. So, if it please the reader, I put him up as an expert witness. But on kayaking?

Alan is also an instructor and has been active in the Sierra Club. He has been known to go for a fun paddle when he is in love. While having coffee a few days ago, we got into a discussion about teaching...rescues in particular. Alan, as I recall, was lecturing me about never paddling alone, something I do regularly (like yesterday). He hammered home his point by telling me that he never teaches the paddle float rescue because 1, no one should paddle alone...especially neophytes and 2, no one can use it in the conditions that would result in a wet exit.

I objected. What if, I asked, a new paddler goes over in calm conditions only to discover that his partner cannot do a decent T-rescue? It went back and forth like that for a while. The best part of it all was that Alan (we were at his house) served sour cream apple pie. Me? I still pack a paddle float every time I launch. What about you?

Paddle safe...



Kristen said...

You bet. And a VHF and EPIRB. And if we could never paddle alone, when c/would we paddle? Pals aren't always able to be there when you've the time to take a couple of hours or a longer trip. I know there are times when I shouldn't paddle alone, but I'll try and be as mindful as possible of conditions to mitigate. And while I enjoy the company of like-minded paddlers on a trip, there is something about the specialness of woman alone.

JohnB said...

Besides, by teaching the paddle float rescue, you are also allowing the student to discover how difficult it can be. . . it's not something to be taken for granted.

Alex said...

Hmm... if I never paddled alone, that would cut out about half my days on the water. Oh and I often don't pack a paddle float either... gasp!

Anonymous said...

Life is risk management. Sports often add their own risk management.

I judged it wrong in mountain biking a few times, and broke a few bones. That gives me extra caution as I think about going beyond kayak lessons to actually owning a kayak.

You aren't supposed to mountain bike alone either, but I'll do it where I think there is sufficient traffic. Or cell phone coverage. But there I could do a night out if I had to. I've got my emergency blanket.

Certainly I'd do kayak exercise loops in Newport Harbor where there are plenty of people in whistle range. But out in the ocean? By myself? Certainly not yet.

You know, the mountain bikers used to put "no fear" stickers on their cars. After they made me stand around in the emergency room for 5 hours before looking at my broken wrist, I decided that slogan less attractive. Fear has a function.

Ron said...

The paddle float seems to be one of those things I always toss in the boat, I've used it as a pillow under my legs during a long paddle, it also makes a great bouy for keeping track of a net full of adult beverages under cold water. We've even used two paddle floats on each end of a paddle to stablize someone and towed them during high winds and waves. But other than during practice, I've never used it for what it was intended. Also, unless you practice with it, it can be a tough self rescue.

DaveO said...

I always throw mine in, mainly because its wrapped around my bilge pump. I agree it would be damn near impossible in big seas. I am always more careful and take fewer 'calculated risks' when I'm alone kayaking/hunting/hiking/back country skiing. I still like to get out solo from time to time with the idea if anything was completely safe I would probably not be interested in doing it.

Silbs said...

Thanks for the great comments, all around. It seems it is the old story of a sport being enticing either because one can beat an opponent (baseball, boxing, golf...) or because there is risk involved and the victory comes from within.

bonnie said...

I carry one & I've used it in a real-world condition.

OK, so the condition was I was with somebody whose seat back was giving them grief & I blew it up & stuck it in there for a little more support. Worked great.

I'm terrible about paddling alone, do it pretty often. Like leaving at my own time, setting my own pace. If I'm paddling after work I never know what time I'm going to get out so it's useless trying to coordinate.

But I do try to play it extra-safe when I'm out solo.

derrick said...

Well, I paddle alone like 85% of the time. I always carry my paddle float. Yet, I can't for the life of me actually imagine using the silly thing. LOL! But, I can be wrong so, better safe than sorry.

You know, if you paddle with someone who does not know a t-rescue, nothing stops you from leading the rescue from the water. "come here, grab my bow. . .".

I think John makes the point too that the PF rescue is not something that you can just take for granted either. And it is good to have students play with it and see other options (paddle float rolls etc).

personally other than very rare cases, in calm conditions I've not seen to many people who can't do a cowboy anyway, much faster than playing with the float in those circumstances. You guys know I'm partial to teaching people to crawl all over their kayaks LOL!

D Winter said...

The paddle float has a marginal weight countered by many benefits not limited to self-rescue.

When learning to roll, this relatively inexpensive and unobtrusive piece to equipment is a helpful aid when developing a hip snap.

Light weight, cheap and multi-purpose... this is as good as a stirrup.

Those who edit or sensor tend to limit the creativity of participants… Stop That.

Silbs said...

I don't understand your last sentence, Doug.

Alan said...

Although this blog topic has generated some wonderful discussion, I must correct the record as to what I actually said (based on my perhaps faulty recollection)of what I actually said to Dick. As an instructor, I don't teach the paddle float rescue. My thinking on this is three fold: 1. It has not worked for me under rough condition during practice or when I really needed it on Lake Superior; 2. I don't want to encourage beginners to paddle alone. I think we implicitly give permission to do so by teaching this maneuver; and 3. I only spend ~6 hours with intro students and I want to teach methods that I think will build their confidence (bow rescue) or may actually save their life someday (assisted T-rescue). As for Dick, I don't have a problem with him paddling on his own. He's an experienced paddler and I trust his judgment but would miss him very much should anything happen to him.
As for the paddle float itself, I am well aware that they can be used as pillows, back supports and perhaps even wilderness inflatable sex dolls on those long arctic solo expeditions.

Silbs said...

So, there we have it. You decide for yourselves.