Saturday, October 29, 2011

Best Idea of the Week! 
                                                                       (check out rear deck...
                                                                        yep...a portopotty)
Paddle safe...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So...You know first aid.
   My friend and mentor, John Browning, is like a dust mop that picks up knowledge where ever he finds it. In addition to being a L4 instructor, he is an instructor trainer, and EMT and a Wilderness Medicine Instructor. Not bad. I have learned from him and been along side him in some gnarly situations. I have taken one of his first aid courses (yes, doctors can benefit from such training) and interacted with him in some interesting situations. That's nice. So what is my point, where am I going with this?

   We all know folks who handle their boat well and do some fancy stuff in calm conditions. Some, however, seldom practice that roll or T-rescue in level 3-4 conditions so that when the need arises they do not perform to expectations. (At last, he gets to his point): Some folks have had a high level of training in wilderness first aid, CPR and the like. The thing is (and there is no real way to "fake" this), they haven't had to fact the real thing. They haven't had to deal with the pale and injured person as they slip into shock or, even worse, the close friend who lies before them with no pulse. It is in those situations that we all learn how well we can utilize the "knowledge" we've worked so hard to acquire.
   In medicine, this is accomplished by years of working along side experienced nurses and doctors and emulating their behavior. In that "protected" setting one gets to learn and practice with the safety net of more experienced people. Hopefully, we do that in our paddling as well. We go out in more and more challenging conditions along with highly skilled people who help keep us safe. Medicine, first aid and human lives in danger present a slightly different challenge.
   The father of one of my medical residence once told me that his doctor-son said about me, "He couldn't believe how excited you never got in an emergency." It may be dramatic to watch CPR on television; it is different when it is the real thing and you are the one in the arena. When the need arises, one has to forget about themselves and how they are going to do or how they are going to appear to others. The injured person must become the focus of all attention and thinking...and that is what takes time to master.
   At a recent symposium a shout went out for help. An older woman, near shore, was in great  pain and was holding her left arm against her chest. I waded over and quickly realized that she had dislocated the shoulder. I helped her immobilize the arm as we made our way to shore and got her seated comfortably. All the while, I engaged her in conversation, felt her skin for signs of shock and otherwise kept the process moving.
   Once ashore, I turned her care over to JB and a paramedic from Chicago. Why? I was the licensed doctor on the scene, a specialist in cardiology. Shouldn't I be the one in charge? I have treated these things before, even putting dislocated shoulders back while on ski hills (the sooner you put them back in the easier they go).Well, maybe; but being in charge isn't the same as doing the operation. After all, I had two men there who were experts in field injuries. Upon seeing this woman and realizing her age, I made the judgment that it would be dangerous to try and reduce her shoulder. My medical obligation became making her comfortable and getting her safely to a hospital. The other two men on the scene were experts in doing just that. I was an expert in realizing that and doing what was best for the patient.
 All very nice, but where does that leave all of us who know some first aid and have never applied a band aid? Well, it means re-reading your books, taking refresher courses and, if at all possible, getting some field experience along side a mentor. When all else fails, never forger: First, do no harm.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mama nature and the Humanus Sedatus
(Endangered Species)
   Around here, the maple leafs are turning to beautiful colors and huge v-shaped flights of geese are gathering to head south. Up in the northern woods and not as obvious, bears are fattening up so they have enough calories stored to survive the upcoming hibernation.Soon they will go into a sleep-like state, thereby reducing their metabolic rate and energy needs. Yes, the trees and Ursa have a way of coping with winter that allows for the survival of their kind. If only humans were as wise.
((Head home to the couch?)
For all our smarts and "knowledge", many of our kind will be packing up their toys and taking them home. Many, ignoring the basic physiology the bears seem  to understand, will pack on the calories throughout the winter, eschewing hibernation and its slow metabolism for sitting on the sofa. Not only does this not equate with the slowing of metabolism that the bears will enjoy, it allows the still-awake-but-not-paddling-Humanis Sedatus to remain awake all winter while consuming all sorts of calories while burning few. Still, many will survive the Wisconsin winter while, paradoxically, slowly plugging their arteries and depositing belly fat.

Fortunately, a subspecies (Humanis Activus) has evolved and separated from the behavioral patterns of this group. Notable for their larger brains and more attractive bodies, these specimens also stay awake all winter (except for brief 5-8 hour sessions of refreshing sleep) and remain active, thus burning off much of the caloric load they consume. Unable to grow thickened fur coats, this subspecies has evolved a method of outer and inner wear to protect their warm-blooded bodies from the frigid cold.

Come spring, the Activus group not only weighs less than the Sedatus group: they prove to be (on psychological tests) happier and (according to neutral judges) better looking. It will be interesting to see which of these two groups falls under the factors outlined by Darwin.

Paddle safe...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nature doesn't suffer fools gladly...

 The Lake rested today; but it was blowing like hell a day ago, and some boat owners suffered from having poor holding gear.
 Two sloops were blown to shore which, fortunately, wasn't far away.
 Chaos looks parked, but she had her rudder post bent and her keel cracked at the hull line.

Popsy appears to have dragged an anchor. I do not know if that was added after she went aground or that was her poor substitute for a proper mooring. Her rudder was nowhere to be seen

Anyway, it was a lot calmer today.

Paddle safe...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Et Tu, Valley?

  Valley has a long (and good) reputations for building fine sea kayak, most with traditional lines and fish form (widest ahead of cockpit) shapes. Heck, they brought us the Nordkapp. As you probably know, I paddle a P&H Cetus MV which has a Swede form (widest behind the cockpit) hull.
  Today, while reviewing issue 27 of Ocean Paddler, I came across a review of Valley's new Etain 17-5 (there is also a 17-7); and, lo and behold, it is a mild Swede form. Interestingly, the reviewer comments on the fine initial stability and acceleration, two qualities I have noticed in the Cetus series.
  I have to wonder if we will be seeing more of this shaped boats coming out and how folks will respond to them. What next, a Swede form skin on frame?

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You live in our memories

                                                              You left us too soon
Paddle safe...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Contact: Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office
Coast Guard searching for missing kayaker in Lake Michigan after 2 rescued by local responders

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard and local first responders are searching the area near the New Buffalo, Mich., beach breakwall for a missing kayaker Saturday evening after two others were rescued from heavy waves.
Missing is Mitchell Fajman, 18, hometown unknown. The identities of the rescued men are not known at this time...

...On scene weather is currently 8-10-foot seas, with waves of 14-15 feet closer to shore.

These paddlers were in proper dress (including helmets) but aparently in conditions beyond their abilities. It seems I have been seeing more of these types of articles lately. Why?

Is it just that there are more of us going out in kayaks? Are we getting too over confident? Is it just my imagination?

Paddle safe...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A new Religion?
or just art?
This structure is on the break wall, not far from where we launch. It has taken on different forms; but recently I noticed the "child" at the top. Perhaps it is an omen, or, maybe not. I have seen similar structures on the beach south of here.

paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For The Children...

I realize that my recent weekend camping/paddling with the CASKA folks was really a family affair. Strong, brave men passed up the opportunity to go off into the rugged wild to be sure that the two youngest members of our "family" got the experience they deserved.

Moms, aunts, dads and friends made sure the young men with us had a good time.

That meant we had a good time.

Paddle safe...

Monday, October 10, 2011

To be fair...and clear...

My last post was meant as an inquiry and not a condemnation of NRS products. Many may have had similar experiences with others' products. I am asking if that is so. Is my experience (and that of those with whom I've spoken) the same?

Paddle safe...
Just Wondering...

It came up in small talk while paddling this weekend. Seems a few of us have purchased NRS gloves in the past and experienced poor workmanship. In particular, the stitching came out in different places on nearly every pair. Have others had the same experience?

Just back from a weekend at Pottawatomie State (Wisconsin) Park with some CASKA (Chicago Area Sea Kayak Assoc.), and had a fine time with them and a few of their young children. Also got in some rolling with the Greenland stick. Pics to follow.

Paddle safe...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

It Is Encouraging:

I am aware of more than a few students in our area who seek out a certified instructor to take them out to work on strokes and/or rough conditions. These are folks who have good basic skills and who, in many instances, have taken formal basic sea kayak instruction. Seems they want to get better at it. I take heart from knowing that amongst the oft publicized stories of "kayakers" needing to be rescued and found to be lacking in skills and equipment that there are those who want to get it right.

In my personal experience with some of these folks (there are 3 active level 4 instructors here in our area,,,one an IT) I have found them to be serious about their sport and most open to suggestions. Not surprisingly, they pick up things quickly and want to immediately get out to try them. Instructing such folks, especially those wanting to go out  on to "big" water, raises my concern about the safety of the instructor.

Personally, I like to see their hanging draw stroke as I feel it can be a life saver when going after the bow of an over turned boat. I like to see it near shore and then in progressively rougher conditions. I watch to see if a picture-perfect hanging draw with good edging becomes a so-so dip of the paddle when waves exceed 3 feet. If it does, we have something to work on before going on the other side of the wall. And, while all this is going on, I assess how relaxed (or not) they remain and whether or not they start having a death grip on the paddle. It doesn't take too long to get a feel for how safe I am going to be out there with them.

I then introduce them to the gap where some of the bad stuff rolls into our anchorage area. I sit and watch as they cross this area parallel to the waves and then re enter it and turn 360 degrees. Doesn't sound like much on paper but, in a 25 knot wind with big stuff rolling in, this exercise can take 30 minutes or more. Depending on how it goes, we may spend the entire lesson in these conditions or, if skills warrant, we head out into it. This is where my concern over my safety comes in.

These lessons can involve an instructor ending up needing a rescue from someone unable to get to their bow in what are new and more challenging conditions. Therefor, before heading out with someone unaccustomed to the big waves, I assess their rescue skills and get a feel for how calm (or not) they are likely to behave when things get hairy out there.

The  payoff is that by time we get off the water I have the joy of seeing their improvement and knowing there is another paddler with whom I can count on out there when the going gets rough. Is this not a great sport?

Paddle safe...