Thursday, November 01, 2007

Going It Alone...Again

I and others have written about this before, and it seems we do so in response to yet another tragedy. As of yesterday, a paddler is missing off Waukegan (North of Chicago...but I digress). His kayak was found floating off shore. He had gone out alone.

Sea Kayaker Magazine just arrived and reports a similar event off California. The president of a local kayak club went out alone. His kayak and body were found floating along his usual route. In this instance we have some additional info that is disconcerting. To begin, he wore an ill-fitting wet suit that allowed water to circulate between his skin and the neoprene. Since the wet suit depends on a THIN film of water that stays with the person, he probably became hypothermic and did so quickly.

His paddle float was on his paddle suggesting a self-rescue attempt. We know, however, that he had taken a course 3 years before, was never very good at the technique and hadn't really practiced it since. He probably never tried it in the windy conditions in which he found himself that day.

Sadly, he had planned to paddle with a group but because of a delay ended up going out alone...for the last time. We've already debated and will continue to debate the inherent risk of paddling alone. It's dangerous, and I do it all the time. I do it because I often cannot find a partner with whom to paddle. When I do, I religiously go through my "preflight" rituals. I watch the weather closely, and I choose my battles carefully. There are conditions in which I thoroughly enjoy playing but would not do so alone. In the end, we each make our own decisions on this. In the end, alone or in a group, we are each responsible for ourselves...and one another.

Paddle safe...



Alan said...

Good morning Dick,
Since my last post (on this same topic!) in September, I've not been able to log into my Google account to comment; but that's resolved now. I've been following your blog and have enjoyed your photography. How were you able to take todays picture while paddling alone?

Silbs said...

I paddled alone and took a picture of JB who also was paddling alone :)

DaveO said...

I think we will be discussing this as long as there is kayaking. I too go out alone but maybe not as often. I have often been ridiculed for looking like, as one friend put it, "The Road Warrior" with knife, radio, bearing compass, charts, float, bilge pump, dry suit, etc. Especially for what most would consider a short day trip. I think you just try to prepare and have the odds in your favor if something occurs and let 'er rip.

JohnB said...

I wasn't alone, look at all those sea gulls (lake gulls?) watching over me from their perch on the breakwall.