Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Winter Paddling
It's Not For Everyone
We have had a mild season and, with Thanksgiving just a few days off, we are supposed to get our first lick of snow tomorrow. Some of us will ski, cross country ski and/or snow shoe in order to make the best of the situation. Still, many of us will also continue to paddle whenever the ice allows us to safely get onto and off the big lake. On the other hand, some of our friends will be stowing all their paddling equipment, disappear from the water (until spring) and only show up for coffee.

We all know the inherent risks in kayaking, sea kayaking on large bodies of water in particular. Those risks, along with the need to rely on one's self (and, to an extent, others), is what brings on that delicious tightness in the gut when things get dicey. As I've written before, there are two types of sports.

One type includes team games, and satisfaction generally comes from winning (although all good competitors take pride in their performances). There is little risk in bowling, and basketball is pointless unless there is the other side to play against.

The other type, often done by individuals, offers satisfaction to those willing to take risks. There is no one to triumph over, only one's fears, the environment and our perception of our limitations. Climbing and kayaking are two that come to mind. Having said all that, the risk and the potential satisfaction of sea kayaking, is upped in winter. Ice and the always present risk of hypothermia add to what is already an individual risk-taking sport.

It goes without saying that the sensible paddler who chooses to go out in winter must have a greater sense of his or her skills and ability to take care of themselves. Doing a leisurely T rescue with a friend in summer becomes an entirely different story when someone comes out of their boat in 3-4 foot waves and into near-freezing water. At times such as those, each individual must know their stuff and be able to get it right and get it right fast. I am guessing that knowing this and deciding the risk is not worth it is what keeps some folks ashore during the short days of winter.

I respect that decision. Knowing one's limits and choosing not to put themselves or others at risk makes them, in my eyes, a good paddler. Hopefully, some will use the "regular season" to compile and practice their skills, get the gut feeling to step up the challenge and maybe even join us next winter. Meanwhile, we'll see you over coffee as we thaw out.

Paddle safe...


JohnB said...

Of course those who don't venture out onto the lake during the next few months could take in a few pool sessions and work on some of those skill building exercises. This way they don't lose too much of what was gained this past "season", and hopefully gain some new skills.

avital said...

...or- come to Israel and have a nice sunny day to paddle!!!!!!!

Silbs said...

Both are worthy ideas. I can do the first this week. Israel will take a little longer...but doable.