Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's Called Sea Kayaking
I enjoy a lazy paddle on flat water as much as anyone. There are days that I take the Pygmy Arctic Tern I made and paddle the Milwaukee River. I can even entertain myself rolling in a pool. But, at the end of the day, I much prefer to sea kayak.

Now, we don't have a sea around here, however Lake Michigan does have its moments when it offers up some nice conditions for paddling. As a bonus, we don't have to figure out tide tables or wash salt off our equipment afterwards. The trouble is, many local paddlers won't go "outside" if there is so much as a wrinkle on the surface of the water, and this includes a few basic instructors.
In my judgment, this will result in arrested skills and, eventually, to boredom with the sport. Please understand, I don't think everyone should get out in the waves. After all, its not for everyone, and everyone is entitled to do their own thing. But not improving one's skills deprives one of many opportunities to have a challenging day on the water.

I believe, as well, that this improvement can be done safely with a little planning. Let's say that a person is comfortable in level 3 conditions. In order to grow their skills, they need to get out in level 4 conditions, and I suggest they do so in the company of paddlers comfortable in level 5 conditions (the levels I refer to are arbitrary numbers and do not correspond to any BCU or ACA ratings). Being out there with more competent paddlers provides safety as well as a reservoir of knowledge and teaching.

If you haven't gotten into rougher stuff since you took your intro course to sea kayaking, you're missing a whole lot of the fun of the sport. So, what are you going to do?

Paddle safe...

DS

7 comments:

JohnB said...

Looking forward to retirement. . . or perhaps more "mental health" days. Do I feel an illness coming on?

steve said...

Totally agree with your view of rough water paddling. Besides being important for safety reasons,[ the conditions can change in the middle of an outing], rough water kayaking is a whole lot of fun. Its like being at the funfair, so I also say get out there and improve your skills. This will allow you more freedom and boost your confidence too.

Michael said...

Good post! We'd never learn to walk without 'getting out there' and it's the same with paddling. There's nothing so fun as a good 'run' in a seakayak!

suzette said...

WOW! that is the only word i have for you!

DaveO said...

My 'buddies' were all dividing up my gear when I went out in some big water at the tip of the Keewenaw to see how it was to roll in those conditions. I've found kayaking to be similar to skiing in that if you push yourself to try a bit bigger and more difficult hill each time, you just naturally get better.

derrick said...

and besides, it's the big stuff that really get's fun!

Silbs said...

Thanks to all who commented. Hopefully, a few folks who wouldn't have done so will push themselves to higher skill levels.