Friday, June 29, 2012

Safety...It's the economy

In the August issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine Aras Kriauciunas has an excellent article addressing an important part of kayak safety--the go-no go decision- before setting out on a crossing. What makes this article so unique (and ultimately valuable) is Aras' way of applying his MBA and business methods to making those decisions.

I won't try to reduplicate his info (or the wonderful graphs he uses to make his analogies), but I do want to share one of the take aways I got from piece. It addresses that situation we all run into when trying to get a novice paddler to rethink going out into challenging conditions. Because of their lack of experience, they have trouble assessing the risks...and that's how a lot of us (read me) of limit our thinking in this situation. Using his business model (and some terms unfamiliar to most paddlers), Aras introduces other aspects to consider.

For instance, one is often over-influenced to launch because they have invested lots of time and planning into the trip ahead. To not go, in this way of thinking, is to squander that time and energy used to plan. But, as the author points out, that is a set loss, already gone, and unchanged by whether or not one proceeeds with the trip. More over, folks often inappropriately launch when they do not have (or have not considered) alternative activities available if they stay on shore or (as he shows in one excellent example) play in the cove in front of the camp site, get off the water earlier than if they'd crossed and enjoy a hot relaxing evening meal.

There is a lto of meat in the article, and I highly recommend it to your library under risk assessment and management.

(While you're at it, read the review on This is the
Roll by are own (SE Wisconsin's) Sherri Mertz. It's spot on.

Paddle safee...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The business of fatherhood...

When choosing a career way back when, I chose medicine because it fulfilled several things I wanted in my life. I wanted to help, I wanted to do work that mattered, I wanted integrity in my life, I wanted work of which I could be proud, I wanted challenges and so on. I got all that and more during a wonderful career in cardiology.

Somewhere along the line, while looking at my medical career and my dozens of other interests (judo, photography, SCUBA, HAM radio, etc), I ended up in the hospital with emergency back surgery. Suddenly...I had time to think and to listen to that inner voice. It told me that my real calling was to teach. Duh.

How could I not have realized that what I enjoyed most about everything I liked was teaching it? (It is no less true for kayaking. I would rather be teaching than doing a long paddle...but I digress).

Going halfway back, about 30 years, I figured that all those things I sought in medicine (I will wait while you go back a look) also applied to fatherhood...all of it. And, there was more. Unlike medicine, I never had to retire. I could get more and more benefits as I did less and less work and...I never had considered it...I would get a free (well, kind of free) franchise. I had people and my people would have little people of their own. I ask you, is this not the best deal in the universe?

I get to teach (when I can get little ears to listen), I get to model honesty and integrity...and so on. And, this is the best part, I get to see a part of me going forward after I am gone. I get to see my daughters (married to wonderful men) doing an incredible job mothering.

Medicine and fatherhood. Not to brag, but I am happy with my career choices. I hope you are half as happy with yours.

Paddle safe...

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Waltz in 4 beats...

Even I, jazz musician, knows the waltz has 3 beats...and so does the forward stroke (so we say). I also know how much time we spend struggling to teach new paddlers the wonders of torso rotation, which is important. I have often found that a little 4-beat waltz lesson helps break up the learning.

The (original) waltz was capture-propel-recovery; and I often paddle slowly while humming the Skater's Waltz for the student. This show them how short the propel phase actually is with the paddle in the water only a third of the time. But, in order to make this flow, the waltz requires a 4th beat. Enter the pause. In reality, the waltz continues to have 3 beats but with 4 parts: capture-propel-recovery-PAUSE.

PAUSE: sitting after recovery and while rotating and waiting for the 3rd beat to pass, the boat glides along while we wait to start the next stroke. After all, at recovery the boat is going as fast as it will go with the effort and cadence we are using. Then why would we hurry to start another stroke? It will not accelerate the boat. Applying another stroke to a nicely moving boat is a waste of energy and adds to the number of strokes per minute with no benefit.

In essence: The first beat of the waltz is capture & propulsion. The 2nd and 3rd beats are recovery and pause. Now, go forth and make beautiful music.

Paddle safe...

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Birthing a Boat...Eclampsia

One of the risks of human pregnancies is pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. with wood boat kits, it can be a normal part of the birthing process.
 Using multiple clamps, some from pvc piping (thanks to Leslie), the hull is being re enforced in preperation for mounting the deck
So far so good.

Paddle safe...

Friday, June 08, 2012

There is no doubt that Body, Boat & Blade and its well-respected duo of Shawna Franklin and Leon Somme' are tops in their field. They present themselves well and are highly skilled paddlers and teachers. So, when their new DVD Sea Kayak Rescues came out (along with high recommendstions), I ordered one immediately. It arrived in a few days.

After viewing it once, I must say that I was disappointed or, possibly, missed the intent of the presentation. Don't get me wrong, it's all there to see. All the techniques divided into calm, not so calm and gnarly waters are demonstrated by the capable duo. Yet I was left with the feeling that I got it all only because of my experience and that someone just learning these skills would want and need more detailed explanation.

I own that I may be wrong and would welcome thoughts to the contrary. I will, when time permits, view it again to see if my thoughts persist. Meanwhile, I believe it is a worthwhile view for one who knows the basic concepts of these rescues and can use the visuals to perfect their technique.

Paddle safe...

Monday, June 04, 2012

A picture... still worth a 1000 words. I remember my first lesson when learning to roll. The instructor told me that I was lifting my head too soon. I insisted I wasn't. He videoed me, I watched it and I was lifting my head too soon.

Now, I carry my camera when I teach, as I did this past weekend. It was only after looking at herself in the picture that she had to agree that she was, in fact, putting her left shoulder at risk.

Paddle safe...