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By Doug Poudre
#1627016
In honor of Ms Addicted and for the benefit of all...

There are no specifics but things I think you should know or consider before you venture out on your own:

Instruction - to take or not to take, what can I expect from class, application of what you learn
Basics of paddling technique - you know how to use your rod and reel efficiently, why not the kayak and paddle
Lifejacket/PFD - styles, use and proper fit
Clothing - dress to swim, synthetics vs cotton
Re-entry - solo, with two boat, in a group and differences between techniques in different situations
Re-entry aids - paddle float, stirrup
If you can't master solo re-entry, should you be paddling alone or with other beginners?
Physical Fitness
Debate of waders vs dry suit vs wetsuit
Do you carry a knife, where and why? Now, can you really get to it and use it like you've imagined or is it a peanut butter spreader? (This is very common in whitewater)
Safety and practicality of paddling in groups vs solo
Location, location, location - where you are paddling presents different safety issues, i.e. oystershell in shore vs deep water offshore
Weather conditions - current vs predicted vs mother nature
Float plan - who is it filed with and what to include
Knowing your skill level and limitations and how to improve them safely
First aid kits - what's in it, how do you use it, can you get to it if injured and use it?
When do you have too much "stuff"?
How often do you paddle and how often do you practice?
American Canoe Association - what is this? do I need to join? how does it benefit me?



These are things I think someone should have knowledge of when they start paddling. I'm not the authority, but I have been teaching paddling for about 15yrs. I'm an ACA instructor. Knock on wood, I've never had a major incident thanks to being able to foresee a potential problem and intervening.
Last edited by Doug Poudre on Mon May 09, 2011 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By CaptJack
#1627226
We are taught that it is always best to do these kinds of activities on the buddy system

In scuba diving we teach you that you never want to be more than 10'~15'ft away from your buddy. But the reality is that once you are an experienced diver, most become serious about underwater photography or videography. Then buddies have a tendency to drift apart, just like fishing buddies.

The best idea for fishing buddies is to have small, waterproof VHF radios on channel 69 with the squelch turned up. I wear mine on a neck strap around my neck. I have a pair so if I take someone, they'll have a radio.

It is also important that you take a cell phone - with whatever important numbers you need. And that your phone and car keys are in a waterproof bag or box, attached to your yak so it can't float away, or in the pocket of your PFD. I carry a little Pelican box and my point&shoot camera is in there with my phone and keys.

As Doug has said, it is important to file a float plan - with where you plan to park and where you plan to fish (leave them a map, if you need one, ask me, I'll make you one :wink: If you change your destination be sure and call in and at least leave a phone message of where you have moved to. It is important to clear your float plan when your are off the water and on your return trip (you may have to pick up dinner on the way home :wink:

...and if you only learn one paddle skill...
be prepared and know how to do a deep water re-entry into your boat by yourself

this is a skill I hope you learn
Paddling Technique by CaptJack
Last edited by CaptJack on Fri May 06, 2011 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By CaptJack
#1627231
In the fall & winter it is common for still days with fog
It is important that you carry some type of simple waterproof compass
and a GPS with a waypoint set for where you parked your vehicle is a great thing to have.
I have gone out in West & Christmas Bays many times when the sea fog rolled in and you couldn't see where you parked.

If you go SouthEast you are always going towards the beach

Navigation Primer - The 1'minute Grid by CaptJack
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By saffra
#1627233
Instruction - I get my "instruction" from watching other, more experienced paddlers, and learning from them, asking questions as needed. I don't feel the personal need to take an "official" course.

Basics of paddling technique - Once again, I've learned a tremendous amount from watching the folks I paddle with who have much more experience than I do (Moder, Gumbo, Hirschhunter, DNR, etc....)....... :D

Lifejacket/PFD - Carry it with me, readily available, but seldom wear it. If I were fishing in certain conditions along the coast, or if I go by myself, I wear it always.

Clothing - Usually synthetic pants/shorts, and a cotton t-shirt. I can swim well in this setup, and haven't drowned yet.

Re-entry - I've learned to re-enter my kayak, with no aids....not easy, but doable.

Physical Fitness - No, but thank you for asking.....seriously, I'm not in the shape that I was in my 20's, but I can take care of myself in most everyday scenarios.

Debate of waders vs dry suit vs wetsuit - No preference....I wear none of those.

Do you carry a knife, where and why? I carry a knife, with a sharp point, on my person.....it's not a "peanut butter spreader"......I could gut a tractor tire with that sucker. 8)

Safety and practicality of paddling in groups vs solo - I would say that paddling with a group is safer, but sometimes I enjoy the solitude of being alone on the water.

Location, location, location - Mostly the rivers and lakes around Central Texas.

Weather conditions - I like it hot enough to enjoy a cold beer or four, but cool enough not to spend all day sweating. All other conditions that I'm regularly faced with, I can deal with.

Float plan - Someone always knows the section of river that I'll be paddling, and an estimated time of return.......sometimes, that person is with me :shock:

First aid kits - I carry a very simple first aid kit from Academy.

When do you have too much "stuff"? Only between the time that I launch and the time that I take out. :mrgreen:

How often do you paddle? On average, about once or twice a week.


Seriously, most of what I've learned about kayaking has been gleaned from going out with guys from TKF.....there is a great wealth of knowledge here, and I appreciate every bit of it, always. :D
By Jigawatt
#1627241
I can't remember the author of this quote, but the quote sticks with me, "There is no safety at sea, only survivers." All the more reason to be prepared.
By Kayak Kid
#1627278
Thanks DP and CJ for keeping safety in our faces. I recall about five years ago, I posted a martini infused rant about always wearing a pfd when in your yak. It might have been on the 'somewhat too strong" side, but I recall more than a few posts telling me that it was a free country, that kayaking was all about freedom, and that I needed to mind my own business about folks wearing or not wearing a pfd.

That old saying that Marcus Carcus reminded us of, "There is no safety at sea, only survivors", rings so very true. My years in the USCG taught me that it's not only the stupid or careless that can be overwhelmed by the many dangers inherent in the sea, but that the most safety aware and safetly equipped can also be kicked in the butt by the suddenness and variety of it's awesome powers.

When most of us were young, even bullets couldn't harm us, so, we may have a tendency to do some pretty careless things. As the years pass, however, and we realize how precious life is to us and to those who care for us, it becomes us to be a bit more paranoid when venturing into situations that might have a propensity to cause us harm.

And, kayaking has a proven propensity to cause us harmful injuries and death. So, lets listen to guys like Doug and Cap. Jack and increase our odds for survival. They won't always be near to save our butts if we do get into trouble.
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By Birdsnest
#1627296
[Start Rant]

No offense meant to anyone, but I am still gobsamcked by the lack of interest in kayak fishing safety, and the lack of interest in paddling efficiently...

What bothers me most is the potential for the negligence of others to effect my safety and the safety of my friends. If you're in trouble I am gonna try and help so it becomes dangerous for me/us. But, make no mistake, if you are in trouble because you choose to be lazy and/or ignorant... well, that's just weak.

There are so many resources and opportunities out there and I humbly suggest folks take advantage of them.

Most importantly, and I know the subject gets beat to death, but ferf#$%^sake: Wear your PFD.

The "seatbelt argument" is so appropriate here. You can drive for ten years wearing your seatbelt and never need it. But, come the day you finally T-bone another car going 40 you better hope you have it on. A PFD is the similar bean. 99.99% of the time you won't need it, but when you do... I sure hope you have it on.

[/end rant]
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By Justin_Time
#1627301
Kayak Kid wrote:
When most of us were young, even bullets couldn't harm us, so, we may have a tendency to do some pretty careless things. As the years pass, however, and we realize how precious life is to us and to those who care for us, it becomes us to be a bit more paranoid when venturing into situations that might have a propensity to cause us harm.



I wouldn’t have agreed with this 10 years ago, but now that I am getting old (31), I have to agree. 8)
Honestly, KK, I don’t think anyone could have said it better!
By tjones868
#1627307
I'm a newbie to kayaking (been at it for about 6 or 8 months) and would like to take a kayak safety course. I have seen some courses offered, but they have all been on Saturdays and my current work schedule has me working Friday-Tuesday. I would like to save my vacation time for my son's scouting and baseball events. I have gone out quite a few times by myself, but every time it has been in sheltered water where other people are around and I haven't gone any further than I can swim to shore, and always wear a PFD. Even when I go on power boats, my jacket is on before the boat moves and stays on until I'm out of the boat. In my opinion, it only takes a second to be thrown out of a boat, and if it's violent enough, or the current is bad, you may not get to the vest in time. I always let someone know exactly where I'm going and when I"ll be back. I know my limits (probably underestimate them) and will not do BTB until I'm completely comfortable with my abilities and won't go out in unknown water unless there is a group that can watch over me and give me pointers, and knows the area. Hopefully my schedule will change soon so I can take a course. That is definitely on my list of things to do.
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By Coastal Country
#1627309
Birdsnest wrote:[Start Rant]

No offense meant to anyone, but I am still gobsamcked by the lack of interest in kayak fishing safety, and the lack of interest in paddling efficiently...

What bothers me most is the potential for the negligence of others to effect my safety and the safety of my friends. If you're in trouble I am gonna try and help so it becomes dangerous for me/us. But, make no mistake, if you are in trouble because you choose to be lazy and/or ignorant... well, that's just weak.

There are so many resources and opportunities out there and I humbly suggest folks take advantage of them.

Most importantly, and I know the subject gets beat to death, but ferf#$%^sake: Wear your PFD.


The "seatbelt argument" is so appropriate here. You can drive for ten years wearing your seatbelt and never need it. But, come the day you finally T-bone another car going 40 you better hope you have it on. A PFD is the similar bean. 99.99% of the time you won't need it, but when you do... I sure hope you have it on.

[/end rant]


Yuuuuup, most can never understand how much more enjoyable your paddling experience so much more better 8)
User avatar
By billy bobba
#1627427
Lots of good tips above.
Here are a few more things I thought of:

Shelter in place:
Too many people try to out run bad weather -- trying to make it back to shore, car, or boat.
Often this leads to them being in worse shape than they were to begin with.

Be visible when paddling or wading:
Wear a bright, colorful, hat or shirt
Put reflective safety tape on paddle blades / I wish paddle makers would build a reflective strip into paddle blades
Use a light at night / flashing is more visible

When in deep channels -- watch out for boats trolling baits (speaking from personal experience here) .
It is no fun being yanked from your kayak by two sets of treble hooks stuck in your forearm.
Which leads to two more --

Keep a safety knife at hand / clipped to you.

Carry wire cutters which can cut through hooks for removal.
By Abraham
#1627460
Try as much as possible to keep entanglements to a minimum, i.e., lines snaking all over the kayak and such.

While I know to observe this admonishment, on my trip before last, as I was getting off my kayak, I somehow got my left foot entangled in a line on my kayak and found myself hanging smack up against my kayak, pinned to it. I couldn't get loose, but I keep a folding knife attached to my PFD front that I can easily remove and open with one hand. I quickly removed it and cut myself free. Without it, the situation could've posssibly have been lethal...

Rarely, do I see other kayakers with easy to reach knives for the remedy of entanglement.
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By Doug Poudre
#1627883
Abraham wrote:Try as much as possible to keep entanglements to a minimum, i.e., lines snaking all over the kayak and such.

While I know to observe this admonishment, on my trip before last, as I was getting off my kayak, I somehow got my left foot entangled in a line on my kayak and found myself hanging smack up against my kayak, pinned to it. I couldn't get loose, but I keep a folding knife attached to my PFD front that I can easily remove and open with one hand. I quickly removed it and cut myself free. Without it, the situation could've posssibly have been lethal...

Rarely, do I see other kayakers with easy to reach knives for the remedy of entanglement.


Getting yourself out of something that sounds preventable is not the same as foreseeing situations that are potentially dangerous and remedying them before they become a problem.

I know an instructor who puts paddlers in situations so that he can rescue them. This isn't my idea of safe or a good instructor.
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By saffra
#1627903
Am I as safe as I could be when out on the water? No, surely not. What about when I'm driving my truck, mowing my lawn, firing pottery in a wood kiln, or even just walking down the street? Once again, no, I'm not. I don't think most people are, either. We participate in all kinds of activities regularly that we could be doing in a safer manner, but the reality is that most of us just don't have time to master our skills and prepare for everything we encounter in life. We keep up with the basics, and we do what we can, but in the end, you obviously can't prepare for every eventuality on the water, or anywhere else,for that matter.

I learn something new every time I'm out with a group of paddlers. Once I identify a problem with my technique or equipment, I look to those who have more experience than I do to see what they're doing, and adjust accordingly. I'm also very comfortable in the water, and manuevering in different kinds of current, and that gives me much more confidence on the water. Could something still happen to jeopardize my life and/or safety? Sure, you bet it could.

As for those who don't want to be responsible for rescuing "stupid" out on the water......well, what can I say? :roll: Those are probably the same people who wouldn't go out of their way to help a person in trouble anywhere else, either.

As for anyone paddling with me who may end up in a troubling situation? I've got your back, and will do whatever necessary to make sure you make it back safely. That applies whether you are ACA trained and certified, and a "master" on the water, or if I don't know you, and it is your first time out. I'd like to believe that most of the folks I regularly paddle with feel the same way. :D

We all have varying knowledge and skill sets as human beings, and we've got to look out for one another anytime we can. :D
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By Kingz
#1627919
saffra wrote:...we've got to look out for one another...

I would agree, and by the same token I think when kayakers disregard basic safety steps and put themselves in dangerous/publicized situations it reflects a bad light on themselves, as well as the kayaking community in general...
.
Yep, we got to...
saffra wrote:...look out for one another...

...Good post Mr. Poudre...G
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By billy bobba
#1627927
Everyone must decide for themselves how much safety equipment they will carry on a paddle trip, but I often see people leave essentials that they already own, either back at the car, house, or in the power boat (eg: cell phones, knife, rain gear, etc)

It sounds obvious to say, but that stuff will not do you a lick of good unless you have it with you -- as in -- the kayak.

A good example of this occurred on a mothership trip myself and a friend took in the Lower Laguna, about this time of year, several years ago.
We were chasing Reds under birds with the kayaks, when a strong cold front blew in. We were only about 1 mile away from my power boat, but it was raining so hard we could not see where the boat was anchored, and I did not want to risk getting turned around or sepearted trying to find it. So -- we hunkered down to ride it out. I put on my rain coat and pants and expected my bud to do the same. He looked over and said ," I left my rain gear on the boat". I mean this guy owns every piece of Patagonia clothing they make, and he did not have a stitch of it with him. After about 15 minutes of sitting there in the rain and wind, he began to shiver, and I feared he might get hypothermia, so I forked over my rain pants to try and help him out. It did seem to help.

Moral: Carry that safety gear WITH YOU.
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By CANADA
#1627943
Good post Doug..

I'd like to re-emphasize the importance of having a float plan AND calling in to report back when you get off the water. The person that you have following it, must take it seriously when you don't call in the designated time frame. I had a serious issue once and didn't call in until 3hrs after, I said I would. My go to people are now VERY careful and call me if they haven't heard from me in the required time.

A lot of us carry an old disc for a reflective aid. When I had my incident, and needed it, it was underneath my deck and I was unable to get to it in time. My whistle which was attached to my pfd, did not help me, as the person that I was trying to
get to come over, did NOT hear the sound over the wind and waves. It was my bright colored, overturned kayak rolling in the waves is what caught his attention. I might add I also said a pretty strong prayer for assistance..

I learned a lot that day, and found out pretty quickly how tired one gets getting in and out of the kayak repeatedly. When your adrenilin is pumping, the air temp drops several degrees in minutes, it doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in..

Life can be a -----to learn by mistakes made..much better to try and prevent things from happening from the get go..
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By karstopo
#1627960
Yes, one thing I have noticed from some of these posts is that we should really consider what is going on with the weather and all of the potential problems it can cause. I never go out without a look at a forecast and the radar and potential for dangerous weather. Dangerous weather includes, but is not limited to: Cold fronts, thunderstorms, wind changes, extreme high temperatures, falling temperatures, fog.

Body thermal conductivity in water is 26 times faster than when exposed to air. 50 degree water equals 15 minutes before incapacity and/or unconsciousness with life jacket on. 50 degree water equals 9 minutes before incapacity and/or unconsciousness without a life jacket. Maybe this isn't the time of year to worry about hypothermia but more like hyperthermia, still weather is a huge issue for kayakers as we do not have the ability to run quickly from bad weather. Stay tuned to the weather sites like weather underground. Learn to read clouds. Keep your eye to the sky in thunderstorm weather and learn to how to see a developing thunderstorm
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By Mullet Key
#1628858
MJ, that day still haunts me. I shoulda, coulda, woulda planned several options that would prevented you having to paddle back alone. I'm relieved you made it back, I hope you got a new camera you like, Chris
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By OrangeQuest
#1629144
Did you hear about the guy that took off kayaking and didn't pay any attention to safety and wearing his PFD or even learning how to get back in his kayak after falling out?




I didn't think so, he never came back to tell of his adventure. :wink:
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By CaptJack
#1629215
OrangeQuest wrote:Did you hear about the guy that took off kayaking and didn't pay any attention to safety and wearing his PFD or even learning how to get back in his kayak after falling out?
I didn't think so, he never came back to tell of his adventure. :wink:

but they found his kayak - they always do.... 8)

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