KW: "Do as I say..."

I got a kick out of Ken Whiting’s ambivilence about paddling alone. But, he gets paid to be an instructor and role model, etc. I am just a knucklehead, adrenaline junkie who doesn’t have to be accountable for any other knucklehead that wants to get out there to paddle post storm/hurricane surf alone… LOL!

Like KW, I’ll say if you value life at all cost, DON’T PADDLE ALONE. :skull_and_crossbones: :cowboy_hat_face:



I saw that this morning. I love his videos. It really is sound advice, but I rarely have anyone to paddle with, the only one I do have to go with me is my girlfriend, and she doesn’t have the endurance or desire to go out in some of the conditions I have gone out in, so I often go solo. I make a plan, tell my girlfriend where I will be, periodically send her screenshots of my location from Google maps when I check in at certain times, and she knows the numbers to call in case I miss a check in. It’s either that or don’t go, which isn’t an option I’ll choose.


You do better/more than me. LOL! I tell my wife where I’ll be and that if I don’t get home by night time, than she should worry and call out first responders… In honesty, I don’t share very explicitly what I am doing so as not to worry her. I said the same to my son when it was deployed to Iraq. Try to call or email once in awhile but don’t get into too much details. I followed the news and the military media and had a better sense of where he was and what was happening. I kept it to myself. If stuff happened, then we’ll deal…

I keep myself well insured. So, if something happens to me, she is at least financially fine. :slight_smile:



Sometimes I don’t get too detailed with her about the conditions I’ve been out in. I keep it as “I had fun,” or “there were some good size waves.” I don’t tell her the specifics, like when I went out to do a lap around a lighthouse on Halloween after the noreaster that came through the day before, and the swells were still at 10 feet lol.


If I didn’t go alone I’d hardly be out. Groups average about 2.5 mph. I could probably leave my paddle on shore and keep up. One paddling partner I had was good we’d battle it out many times. Rarely a plan just a call I’ll be by in 30 minutes by …


Partner goes from June to October and does decent. She won’t do :cold_face::snowflake:. She has gotten used to me going alone except at night I get the riot act. Came home once at 30 minutes before sunrise it was a great night. She said I can’t sleep when your out there. I said your not going to help me anyway I know how to get the CG.

Solo means no appointment, go where I want, when I want. Funny I just watched his video tonight too.


Kayaking is so personal. I know what it takes to manage “my” energy. Nobody else will do that. They start fast and finish dragging. If conditions are favorable, I keep going. That’s what it’s all about.

I took off paddling in 2015 to built an addition on my house and re-landscape the yard, upgraded the rest of the windows, and replace the roof and siding. After four years I was done, but I still hear, when is this going to get painted? Not sure, looks fine to me.

My sister was the only one who would commit. I knew her abilities and limitations. The great thing about her was that if we heard thunder, I couldn’t catch her. Now she has to get dirt, cut grass . . . If I skip a week or two, I lose conditioning. Can’t do that. If it looks like a good day, I go! Groups talk too much!


I can’t resist… I saw that video and thought “what’s the point of your message and who is it aimed at?”

There are plenty of activities that carry the warning “Don’t do this alone” and I wonder how many people see that and just take a pass on the activity altogether. And the messaging is inconsistent, IMHO: Is there a “don’t surf alone” or “don’t go to the beach alone” warning for those activities? Both carry the same risk of getting in over your head > literally.

I cycle and hike/camp primarily by myself. Both carry significant risks depending on conditions, my behavior and the behavior of others I cannot control. I do them because they bring me joy and I do the best to stay safe. My schedule doesn’t always align with others and, more importantly, I like being alone after a long week of interfacing with people.

I plan to paddle alone at times, with safety equipment and within my capabilities, which for practical purposes as someone just returning to the sport means near shore in one of the harbors near my home and only under suitable weather conditions. I think the “never” messaging is aimed at a different audience than might be participating in forums like this. Still not sure what he accomplished with that video.


I paddle alone all the time. There are many things I do that I wouldn’t advocate others to do

LOL.Yes, too much detail is not helpful in a relationship. My last camping trip (solo), it started raining during the night and I heard a loud 'thump." When I awoke there was a downed tree laying about 30 feet from where I had been sleeping. Deadfall.

Topic never came up when I got home!

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I don’t take any big risks paddling solo anymore, but that’s it. We have a lake about a mile from our house that I paddle solo all the time, and a bunch of of other lakes and easy rivers that I paddle on. I don’t do saltwater in open water solo anymore, though. Just the easy stuff that’s sheltered. That said, my better half is also a paddler, and she goes with me a lot.

My neurologist wants me to give up paddling altogether for medical reasons which are not as bad as he would have me think, and finally compromised with me that I never go more than 10 feet from shore even with company. I guess I shouldn’t tell him that I just ordered a new canoe a few weeks ago, and that my kayaks get regular use. After 40+ years of paddling, I’ll know when it’s time to reel it in some more, or stop completely. Just hope that day never comes.


Freedom sometimes has a price. Everybody needs alone time. I do go out with other compatible paddlers when our interest coincide, and I take people who truely want to learn and improve their skills, but being out in the middle . . . alone . . . No substitute!


I feel you, Wayne. I have a leaky mitral valve that was repaired 11 years ago but is now leaking again. My cardiologist monitors it annually with echocardiogram. He says it’s a matter of time when I will need a valve replacement.

Until then… I just keep plugging away. I have noticed the gradual changes in my aerobic/anaerobic capacity. The last couple of years, I don’t go out in anything that is significantly overhead (i.e. bigger than 6-7’) anymore. In the MMA gym, I still spar with the young’uns but no more than 2-3 rounds. While my speed and reflexes are still pretty good, my wind just ain’t what it used to be.

I am just glad I can still plug away. I gonna drive this body until it can’t move anymore (As a fighter, I am believe going down swinging is honorable). :slight_smile:



That’s what I’m thinking sing. Do it until you can’t do it.

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You gotta love Ken. Well, that video was almost one long equipment ad, but at least he mentiond the company Level Six, which has some really nicely made stuff (including my skirt).

For a Canadian dude with a mostly American audience, it was funny to see him slip a couple of times and say kilometers. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Regarding paddling alone, he was oh soooo very careful about what he said we all should do and not do, and some of the fottage probably never made it to the final cut.

The Ottawa is his “home river”. Too bad the video ended where it did. Another 3 or 4 days downstream on the mostly flatwater and he’d be at my house.


Ha… with Level 6, forget their mitts. I just mentioned in another thread how I had two pairs of Level Six mitts, both of which could not make it past one season of winter paddle surfing without blowing out a seam. (I think i had “rant level” thread about Level 6 Mitts some years past. LOL) Sorry, I am NRS Toaster mitts guy all the way. Definitely, not a pogie guy for winter surf or WW paddling.


Good video, I thought he kept it real. Ken admitted he no longer liked rolling, assumed and recognized the additional risk of paddling alone.

This is probably not the best video for a new boater- taking a new to him ocean kayak (he was reviewing it) on some significant rapids on a pushy river in the winter and focusing on filming- A lot could go wrong there. He pulled it off and made a nice video. Good for him but maybe not so good for those who don’t understand the skill level and dedication required to make that happen. You can talk about it on film but that doesn’t mean it really sinks in with folks.

It is a pretty select crowd that takes skinny boats down ww. Even smaller crowd that does it alone while making a movie, reviewing gear, during the winter. This all might be pretty tame for Ken but for folks like me not such a great idea. For most of us this would be really sketchy. Part of Paddling Boats Responsibly (PBR) is understanding, accepting the risks involved., and having the skills required to be successful.

I found myself paddling alone for a good portion of “the lost Gauley” yesterday. Every ten years they draw the lake down to the original river bed level. I was one of three paddlers and a bit more determined to make it to the takeout (Summersville Dam) before it got dark. My paddling partners weren’t as concerned. I knew getting out at the dam would be difficult for me. I really relied on them at the takeout. We got the boats loaded just before dark (5:30 pm) with them carrying my boat up the 350’ for me. My shoes got sucked off three times (astral brewers are a poor choice for muck). I needed the support a lot more on land than on the water. The reality is if you are not going to be close by to assist with a swim then it doesn’t matter if you are in sight or not. If I swam I was going to self rescue. It was just that simple.

I found myself running a bunch of new to me class II-III rapids for the first time ahead of the other two paddlers. When things began to get a bit strange (fast moving water, standing waves in heavily silted channelized river/lake bed) then I made sure the others were close. You didn’t know what debri was in the bottom of the river/lake bed. About four miles of the 13 mile run had a kind of glacial feel only with smelly decomposing organic matter stuck in the mud banks which would have made climbing out difficult. The last few miles were “dreaded” flatwater. We don’t always do what we are supposed to do. You can be part of a group and still end up paddling alone.


If I have a heart attack when pushing hard alone or something else so be it. It will beat looking at a hospital ceiling for a while and then kicking.

I just have all my gear and use my head.


There is a man I used to paddle whitewater with frequently when I lived in northeast Pennsylvania. He was a pretty rugged and highly skilled whitewater kayak, frequently paddled the Upper Yough, etc. He bought his son a whitewater kayaker when he was a preteen.

I had lost contact with him for a few years but later had a chance encounter with him years later. Only I didn’t recognize him. He had lost a great deal of weight and did not look very healthy. Then he told me the story.

He was kayaking with his son who was around 13 at the time, on the Lehigh River Gorge, a stretch that was very familiar to him and for him would have been a piece of cake. It was late Fall and there was nobody else on the river. And he did indeed have a heart attack. His son had to get him off the river and cover him up with spray skirts and leaves to try to keep him warm, then run several miles along a rail trail to summon help. This was well before there was any cell coverage on the river.

My friend would certainly have died had his son not been with him. Unfortunately, he did suffer quite a bit of myocardial damage before he made it to intensive care. I think that was the end of his kayaking career. But he was still alive.

You’ll get no argument out of me that paddling with others is a good idea. Who you paddle with also matters. Generally I like a bit of space in rapids (at least three or four boat lengths) but with cold water I like to tighten up the trip spacing. With big groups I like to break into pods. At this point in my paddling I’m a bit like Ken and like to stay dry (no swims or rolls). So I’m backing off rather than pushing limits. That doesn’t mean I don’t do my share of “adventure paddling”. Generally I like to paddle with folks who keep an eye on each other. Group dynamics are important.

While the three of us communicated well at the put in for the lost Gauley about spare paddles, first aid kits, and snacks we never got on the same page about trip pace. My two companions wanted to take pictures and eddy hop. I was more concerned about finishing before dark and having time to paddle the flatwater at the end of the trip and the carry out. Those conversations at the put in are real important. Our expectations didn’t quite match up so we weren’t a cohesive group. That’s pretty unusual for a group of three.

I do quite a few day hikes on my own. Usually I have my wallet or phone with me so if I keel over from a heart attack the first responders will have something to identify my body with. Paddling I’m not likely to have the cell phone or wallet (usually leave them in the car or camper). Something for me to think about if I do any rec style paddling by myself.

As far as Pete’s story goes, I paddled the Lehigh Gorge by myself and lived. I was more worried about catching a shuttle ride than the rapids on the river. I was a lot younger back then. Look at things a bit differently now.

Paddle what you would be comfortable doing by yourself (within your skillset) but enjoy the company of others. Best of both worlds.

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I think about 70 yrs of life, the close calls, the downright bad calls, putting your life under the control of the government to be moved into harms way to protect others, time where you voluntarily insert yourself between danger to protect the ones you love.

Life comes with risks and benefits. I like to be around people. I like to share an experience and encourage others to share in the experience. I spent my life raising a family of four kids. I hike with them, bicycled with them, bought things so they could enjoy the outdoors, carried them on my shoulders when they could no longer keep up, sacrificed everything so they would succeed. My body is worn out from it all, so now that it’s time to enjoy the things I always wanted to do, everything hurts. I keep going because I figure out ways to minimize the impact and the pain, and can still do it without medicating.

I’m running out of time to wait for other people to do what I want to do. Many people my age watch TV all day (present company excepted - some of you are plumb crazy, and shouldn’t do what you do at any age, but you obviously have the talent for it so you keep at it).

I can’t wait until somebody paints a room, or cuts the grass or washes the siding, or goes grocery shopping, or moves shrubs or changes oil, or brakes, or wash and wax the car(s) . . . I only kayak when the water and air get warm enough that it doesn’t kill me if spend too.much time in it. I’m running out of time and can’t with for somebody to baby sit me on the water. My ability to handle conditions and distances safely diminishes daily. If I wait long enough, I’ll need a tandem. I like being safe. I agree, so if it’s a bad day, I stay home. I still have a few years left. It’s bad to die kayaking, and it is heart warming to know people who share my passion are concerned for my safety. I wish members on the would have the same concern that I could have a heart attack pushing the lawnmower. Thank for the concern.