Commentaries

Navigation Lesson For several years now, people have been arguing back and forth about the roll of GPS units during introduction to navigation lessons. There are two major schools of thought around the whole thing. The first group says that GPS's shouldn't take a roll and we should be focusing only teaching traditional map and compass skills. The other side of the table sits the group that says that we should be embracing this technology to help augment our map and compass skills. Where do we go with this? It seems to me that anti-GPS crowd is entrenched in their belief but are we putting our own personal prejudices and biases ahead of the needs of our students? I'll be honest, I don't own a GPS unit and for that reason, I don't spend a lot of time talking about them. I teach my lesson not mentioning them, hoping that nobody asks any questions. This past fall I was taking a trip and decided to bring it along. I realized quickly that I there was a whole lot more to this then just turning it on and going. I had to read how to set it up, how to add waypoints, how to figure out what the numbers meant. I then had to figure out how to put the UTM coordinates on the chart as the little map in the GPS was hopelessly pointless with little to no detail. The worlds largest maker of GPS units, Garmin expects to sell 4.6-4.7 million units units by the end of 2006. Those numbers are huge. This shows that the general public is embracing GPS technology as their primary source of navigation much quicker then the maps and compasses that we all hold true to. As paddling instructors, why are we so reluctant towards GPS's? I had one instructor tell me recently; "If somebody came on my course with a GPS, I would tell them to put it away as it has no place here." Is that the right attitude? I am not advocating that you discontinue teaching the use of maps, charts…
Photo by Liz Burnside. Over the past year or so, I have noticed a huge increase in the popularity of videos and photography depicting paddlers surfing, rockhopping, and playing in tidal rips. That's fantastic. It provides great inspiration for new paddlers just getting into the sport and is nice contrast to the popular media depiction of flatwater sea kayaking.
Snooping around on youtube.com, I came upon this footage that got me thinking. Here we have two people out practicing a T Rescue.
There are a couple of things that we can learn from this footage. The total time from start to finish is 4 minutes. For me it is way, way to long especially in those conditions. A good benchmark for the T rescue should be under two minutes.

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