We have a guest blogger today. Tim Dyer, owner of White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario has contributed in the past so I’m excited to post this today.
For some reason this winter sea kayak rescue technique seems to be a real hot topic in magazines, blogs or internet forums so Tim asked if he could chime in with several random thoughts on the issue.
Give it a go. There is so much here that it will probably require 2-3 reads to get all the meat out of it.
What do you think? Post your thoughts below.
Staying Alive on the Water – A Critical Look at Rescues
By: Tim Dyer – White Squall Paddling Centre
I’ve been thinking a lot about rescues. Maybe it’s because every time I open a paddling magazine or view the list of topics for symposia, sea kayak rescue in all its guts and glory is dissected ad nauseum. To add to the nausea, I thought I would weigh in so here are some thoughts about that most humbling piece of paddling – saving a life.
Lemons Can Get You
If you haven’t heard of Jim Raffan’s model of lemons – it’s the simplest trick in the book, yet most people don’t use it near enough. Really briefly – every time you head out and forget to think about a possible risk and more importantly how you might lessen or get rid of it entirely – consider yourself in possession of a lemon. A common example is not knowing your paddling partner’s skills – that’s a lemon! Now imagine you’ve got yourself a couple, and you’re trying to juggle them. Two aren’t so bad, but hey – a couple more have just popped up. The juggling isn’t going so well, and you’re now in the land of accidents. Maybe you won’t have one, but the likelihood is strong – all because you didn’t destroy your lemons before they got out of hand. If all you ever think of when paddling is getting rid of these dastardly little fruits, your paddling life will likely last longer, which I imagine is a good thing.
Do No Harm
Don’t go in to rescue somebody with a heroic extrication if you’re not reasonably sure of staying on top yourself. This means hanging your ego on that clothesline in the sky. You’re likely not god’s gift to kayaking so don’t pretend. And you are no good to anyone if you’re upside down in the drink.
A Bird in the Hand
Get whoever else is still on top in a position where they’ll stay on top. It’s a pretty dumb rescue if you haul somebody back in, but while your back is turned, two others go in the drink. How do you stabilize? With a skilled group, have them maintain sea position with each other into the wind. We call it a “hover” and it can also work fine with stern to wind, depending on the situation. Last thing you want is a group trying to round up going broadside to waves and current. If they can stern hover quickly, that’s great – all depends on the wind and their skills. If you have an inexperienced group, it may be all you can do to simply get them to raft up. It won’t be pretty, but they’ll stand a better chance of staying right side up. The raft becomes a big sail, so you may have some chasing to do. If you’ve played your cards well, there’s someone else capable of managing the group while you work the rescue. If not, consider yourself in lemon city.
Make Contact and Don’t Let Go
Once you decide to go in, there are no half measures. Sometimes swimmer and boat are separated, and you’ll have to make hard and fast decisions. Most often, you need to get the swimmer first – but if you can just as quickly get the boat to the swimmer, then consider it. It’s not a lot of fun to deal with someone in rough water conditions if you don’t have a boat to put them back into. Conversely, imagine proudly tagging the boat and then looking around for the swimmer who has just slipped beneath the waves. Whatever you decide, go fast – and once you’ve got them – don’t ever let go.
Talk Loudly and be Tough
Think about it – as a rescuer you’re in wild wind, crashing waves and this sorry dude is thrashing about getting colder by the second. He is not going to listen unless you’re really loud, really clear and really direct. I’ve been on both sides of this and it’s simply no time for your kinder, gentler side.
As you know water and electronics don’t mix very well and paddlers who wear hearing aids always have to make the tough choice every time they go out on the water. They can leave the very expensive unit(s) on shore and not hear well on the water or they can take the risk of them getting splashed with water and shorting out. Tough choice indeed.
I remember having a student a couple years ago who came down to the paddling school for a couple of weekend clinics over the summer. Without his hearing aid he couldn’t hear a thing out there so we had to figure out a plan to keep his hearing aid dry. I put him in a super stable boat and made him aware well in advance if we were working on any skills with a medium chance he was going to fall in. I also gave him a dry bag that he could throw the units in while he was working on rescues. It worked out but it was stressful for both of us which killed the fun.
If you are a hearing aid user you will be happy to know that Siemens has just released what they claim is world's first fully waterproof digital hearing aid.
The Siemens Aquaris is IP57 certified which means that you can safely use them three feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. The moisture sealed unit is also shock and dust proof so it will be strong enough to handle the rigors of paddling, rescue practise or even rough water paddling.
To keep the unit behind your ear, it’s got a non-slip soft rubber surface including an attachable sport clip for extra security.
No word on pricing yet but you can learn more about them here.
Image Credit: Siemens
Crazy Creek is pleased to announce that it has expanded its sponsorship of the GO OUTSIDE & PLAY ROADSHOWS for 2011. The Roadshows will be taking place throughout the spring, summer and fall at over 100 major outdoor events, races and festivals in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast, Colorado and California regions. Crazy Creek’s support helps to further the Roadshow mission of engaging and inspiring people at the grassroots level to be active in the outdoors and more involved in their local outdoor communities. Each Road Show event also features a raffle for a Free Crazy Creek Chair.
There is a contest on now called the New 7 Wonders of Nature Campaign and a title like that doesn’t need a whole lot of explaining.
Paddlers, the Bay of Fundy sits right between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and is home to some of the most beautiful sea kayaking anywhere in North America. Oh yes, it’s also home to the worlds highest tidal rage which is 16.8 metre (55.1 feet) high.
You can see where I’m going with this. The Bay of Fundy is currently sitting as the only Canadian finalist and it needs your help to get the vote so it can be rightly named as one of the new 7 wonders of nature.
Quick fun fact: Did you know that 115 billion tonnes of water flow in and out of that bay each and every 12.5h tidal cycle?
You can vote here.
Photo credit: wikipedia.org
The Professional Paddlesports Association just announced a new program called the 9th Grade Paddle Pass. As the name implies, it is a program aimed at introducing students in grade nine to paddling by allowing them to get out on the water for free up to ten times throughout the 2011 paddling season.
I think it is an amazing program idea and it’s perfect for introducing kids to the sport just as they are old enough to get seriously hooked.
The only downside I can see to the program is that there are currently only two outfitters onboard and they are located in Ohio and Missouri. It’s only the first year so low numbers are a bit to be expected though I’m surprised that there isn’t a larger group of paddling schools and outfitters onboard for the initial launch. Here is hoping that more sign on to the program soon.
If you are thinking of taking advantage of the program, you have until June 22, 2011 to get your application in.
More info: paddlepass.com
As the calendar moves over into spring, Aquapac® – makers of 100 percent waterproof protective cases – rolls out its brand new Stormproof™ range, a colorful 14-item collection of affordable waterproof packs and pouches designed for outdoor use.
Being delivered in time to stave off April showers, the breadth of the new Stormproof range includes small pouches that hold and protect phones and MP3 players, to camera bags, padded laptop cases, drybags and backpacks. While not intended to be submersible, the Stormproof range offers lightweight and simple-to-use protection for outdoor enthusiasts to safeguard their equipment against the elements.
Spot LLC announced another recall of one of their products. You might remember last year when the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger was having problems transmitting and also got recalled. Now it seems their SPOT Satellite Communicator which comes with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w is having similar issues.
In the press release, Spot announced that, “in certain incidents, intended messages may not be transmitted, including requests for help or emergency assistance, when the SPOT Satellite Communicator is used at temperatures below 40 degrees Farhrenheit/4.44 degrees Celsius.”
It seems that the company manufacturing the communicator substituted a couple of parts that were, “not meeting operating specifications”. Those keeping track will note that is what happened last time also.
Here are the full details on the recall including SPOT contact information.
Want to work for the American Canoe Association? If so, then you are in luck as they just posted the plumb job of Safety Education & Instruction Coordinator.
According to the job description, the Safety Education & Instruction Coordinator position has "primary oversight of the day to day management of the National Paddlesports Instruction Program. This includes working with other staff, individual instructors, the general public, and the appropriate committees and councils of the ACA. The SEI Coordinator must work with a high level of diligence and courtesy while enforcing a national paddlesports standard."
If you enjoy watching big ships on the water you might also be interested in watching and following their route while sitting in your gloomy, broom storage size, windowless office at work.
Marinetraffic.com integrates Google maps with the live transponder data aboard large commercial vessels. With a couple clicks of the mouse you can zoom in and see what ship you are staring at and learn all about it including name, country of origin and what it carries. Many of the ships also have photos listed that have been uploaded by visitors of the site. A great feature is that you can also track the last 24-48h of where the ship has been.
Today on CBC I learned that there is a ship blocking the St. Lawrence Seaway in Montreal. I guess it got sideways and is blocking the entire canal from side to side. Just checked and yep, it’s still blocking everything. Below is capture. You can view the live view here. Looks like the tugboats are on their way.
Do you own this axe? If you do you should know that Gerber has announced a recall of it because the knife was slipping out of the handle and lacerating people while in use. So far five people have required stitches.
If you currently have one, Gerber says to remove the knife from the axe handle then contact Gerber to receive a free handle cap, which will hold the knife in the axe handle during transport and storage.
Maybe I’m just not in touch with my inner lumberjack but I don’t see the improvement of a slip out knife in the handle over a standard axe. I must be missing something there.
Gerber Legendary Blades can be reached at (877) 314-9130 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday. For more info visit gerbergear.com.