New Paddler's

There’s been alot of discussion about certification , guides , leaders , trips , etc… Most thoughts have come from folk with some paddling experience . I would like to hear from ya’ll about trips you’ve been on with clubs , outfitters , etc… concerning safety , leaders , guides , horror stories , and not . Did the group wait for you , did you need to be towed , rescued . What were your reasons for going aside from paddlingThanks

Are you a lawyer???

HA ! Nice one, no
just a paddler . The post of late about all the cert. stuff have all been from mostly people that paddle some and are concerned about safety issue’s as well as litigation . I want to hear from the folks that show up for trips that are somewhat limited in skills an find out how they feel about being towed , rescued , being all the way in the back by themselves never thinkin they’ll catch up stuff like that . As has been said w/alot of “club paddles” , the group gets strung out , someone paddles into a strainer , stuff like that . I usually do not go on "every man for himself paddles cause I’ll probably be the guy who hangs with the ones that aren’t doin to well , so I 'm sorta workin . I’ve heard of folks goin on trips well below skill standards thinkin so an so is on this trip an they’ll save me if I need it .

My First Club Trip…

– Last Updated: Nov-25-04 5:20 PM EST –

I was paddling alone for a year, mostly on lakes, to practice my own skills and comfort level. Then I joined a club, feeling this would improve my skill level.

On my first official trip, as in with "official leaders", I was with a big group. Every thing was pretty cool. At one point, we hit a strong head wind. I started to crank. It's just something I tend to do unconsciously. Anyway the group leader literally yelled at me for pulling away. Reprimanded like a little boy. I think I would have appreciated being pull aside and told to stay within the group. I pulled away not as a conscious intention but as force of habit of upping the cadence in a head wind. That was my last official touring trip I participated in. That was like almost 3 years ago.

I have also done some unofficial trips and participated, I guess, unofficially with some ww clubs. Some of these I enjoyed because of specific individuals, but I find I tend not to like being in a big group.

I participated in two ww club sponsored classes which I liked and one seakayaking club sponsored surf class which I found fun just because I like waves. I also had several unofficial Greenland coaching sessions that were fun. Aside from that, any skill development (or devolvement) is purely my own.


Here is a lot of bull shit
Your words:

There’s been alot of discussion about certification , guides , leaders , trips , etc… Most thoughts have come from folk with some paddling experience . I would like to hear from ya’ll about trips you’ve been on with clubs , outfitters , etc… concerning safety , leaders , guides , horror stories , and not . Did the group wait for you , did you need to be towed , rescued . What were your reasons for going aside from paddlingThanks

End of your words.

My paddling experience has about nothing related to what you’ve written here.

Have another drink, twinfalls
"My paddling experience has about nothing related to what you’ve written here." (sic)

So why waste time writing a nasty response?

Please excuse me, because I do not understand. I must be wrong, but all I can figure from this post is that you ar a jerk, or a good person in a lot of pain.

Some Rescues
Our local paddling group has a couple of swimmers a year, usually people who are new to paddling or the conditions during that paddle (waves etc). No one has ever gone unrescued. But a couple of times a season it has been necessary to have a couple of so people in the group who knew how to (and had practiced) assisted rescues.


“Classic” Twinfalls’ Post…
strange, like the show of the same name a number of years back… :slight_smile:


Assisted rescues

– Last Updated: Nov-26-04 11:24 AM EST –

Rather than "have a couple of so people in the group who knew how to (and had practiced) assisted rescues", have you considered getting everyone up to a minimal level of proficiency?

To me, it's reckless and irresponsible to paddle without such basic skills. While it's fine to accept help when available, and new paddlers can't be expected to be proficient, these things should be a basic part of paddling, not looked at as extra skills to learn and practice when they feel like it.

As a bare minimum, new paddlers should be able to remount an SOT solo from deep water - or confidently wet exit a SINK while maintaining hold of boat and blade (enabling quick assistance with few complications). A paddle float rescue (or some other solo technique) should be learned ASAP. Some basic assisteds not long after.

Anyone taking people paddling that doesn't cover this stuff is asking for trouble. Bad things can happen fast, even on ponds. In your cold Maine waters, they all need basic skills sooner rather than later.

Sounds like your club needs to plan a trip or two that never gets more than 50 yards offshore for some practice sessions. Few of us practice enough.

W/all respect, this question was on what people’s experience had been, particularly in the area of what kind of support had been found in groups. I didn’t see it as a place to reprieve the several (still running) threads about minimums for group paddles.

On the rest - I greatly respect Maine and other offshore or large waters. My husband and I spend 3 weeks paddling out to islands almost every day (including the rainy ones) in the midcoast region each early summer, which is why we have an Explorer and an Aquanaut and take pool sessions and practice in ponds. And have wet suits, dry suits, Roll-Aid devices, VHF radio, flares, spare paddles and I have spent the last few years getting to a roll with the most frustrating progress of anyone I know.

Our regular local paddle group paddles on inland rivers and lakes. I doubt either of these swims occurred even 50 feet away from shore - one was in a fairly narrow portion of an estuary on an after work paddle and the other was when the group was circumnavigating an island in a lake on a Sunday trip. In the case of the estuary, I was imprecise. Actually there were five boats headed to rescue that person - the trip notes summarized it as one person having won (I was second). The water in both cases had to be near 70 degrees, the air was warm, and appropriate clothing and PFD’s all around.

I obviously agree with lotso prep. But when you live in an area with a river or small pond around every corner like here, those are the places that people will start paddling. It is great when they decide to take lessons first and get some real skills, which is encouraged. But if they are going to “just do it”, a group paddle with a number of skilled people beats going out alone any time.

Back to the original question - one of the real problems in any group activity (we run into the same thing in our biking club) is that “newbies” get into a situation where they are made to feel that they are too unskilled, slow, whatever to ever catch up to the people who are “good” and “know a lot”. I’m not making light of either of those characteristics - I hope to be able to say I fit solidly there sometime. But people also need a place to start. And a healthy organization will find ways like to do this, like flat water paddles in safe environments with help at hand. Personally, I have yet to take an unplanned swim in a real environment and find it unnerving. I’d rather have gone over once and had done with it.


Article in the latest Sea Kayaker…
… shows just how easily something tragic can happen when paddlers go out paddling before ever doing actual wet exits.

There were skilled kayakers (leading this group) just seconds away, much as you describe. That is not enough. Explaining wet exits and messing with a skirt on land is not enough. People can react entirely differently when actually flipped.

My opinion of the events as told: If the water is too cold or rough to have beginners do wet exists to familiarize with procedure and gear (as was decided before the fatality), or do deep water remounts with SOTs, IMO it’s too cold for beginners to be taken out. I also don’t think it was a good idea to be teaching braces (described as leaning just to the point of tipping, then slap recovery) as a missed brace s a sure capsize. Exits and rescue should be taught well in advance of braces.

(Maybe Sea Kayaker staff will be so kind as to put the article here on it’s own thread? Safety related stuff should be shared as widely as possible).

But what do I know? I mostly paddle alone. I do paddle with one relative newbie sometimes. So far we spend half our time on paddling and half doing exit/rescue/roll/play stuff. I had her do a wet exit and some recovery stuff the first time we took her sea kayak out. Actually, I’d already had her wet exit from mine several months before when she had an SOT and no need to learn (planning ahead ;).

Group preparedness
Our ADK paddle group includes pretty much the entire range of skills. For flat warm water paddles, the group is broken into the Lilly Dippers for the less experienced and/or ambitous with both experienced lead and sweep paddlers responsible for the group. This group paddles shorter distance and avoids challanging conditions. The Alpha group also has lead and sweep paddlers assigned. Often those in lead and sweep positions are BCU and/or ACA certified.

More challanging paddles require skills beyond Lilly Dippers. Required skill level is articulated when planned paddle is announced.

Self and assisted rescue practice is common in this group. Though not always on afterwork paddles. Gear and equipment is noted by leaders and new paddlers to the group are usually interviewed by leaders.

This chapter schedules pool sessions from September through May. All are encouraged to participate. Newbies are STRONGLY encouraged.

Tom Bergh says there are two kinds of paddlers, those who have swum and those who will. Everyone capsizes sometime. Even those with good rolls have their roll fail sometime. The two times that someone has ended up swimming when I have been with this group resulted in very fast response from a number of paddlers and quick assisted rescues.

I respect the dangers of the water. I grew up going into the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean regularly, both to swim/body surf and to sail. I’ve spent extensive time paddling on the coast of Maine.

I think that the ADK chapter that I most often paddle with is responsible in its requirements and in its execution of outings.

try this
You have a group of 20 paddlers going along shore. Group leader ok’s that 5 fast poeple take a detour around an island to the right that will add half mile then join group. The idea is to challenge group and stay together. Maybe the leader loves having a badge and some should not be allowed to have a badge because it goes to their head.

Not SOP? Amazing!
When the club I’m with teaches beginners, the first thing we do in the water, before we even hand anyone a paddle, is wet exits and assisted re-entry. We do not leave the beach with anyone who has not demonstrated a wet exit. I’m amazed that practice is not universal.

We agree on this
Shore drills for wet exit. Wet exit with an instructor right by the newbie with no skirt or paddle. then wet exit solo.

If you are not dressed for this, what are you doing here?

For me, paddling is a wet sport, until you get really good at it, then you often choose to be wet.

Not getting the point. here
Without all the details, I started out with a response that was a lot closer than not to the person who died in the sea kayaker story. I was just plain lucky the first time I flipped over in a pool where there was not an instructor right at hand. Based on my own experience there were several things that I would have suggested be handled differently than in that article, including starting any newbie out in open water with a loose skirt that was likely to fall off the combing. Better to have to pump your boat out than risk a fatal accident.

But, as I said, there are a lot of people who will get a boat and just go out. I wish I had a few bucks for every time someone I work with or meet tells me they just got a kayak or canoe, went out themselves without lessons, and ended up in the water. Two of these in the last 4 weeks (happened over the summer), one of them just missed cracking her head open getting into a Swifty and the other got way too close to hypothermia after going over in a used canoe her husband had just bought. Then there were the two people who went out by themselves in Swifties and wearing shorts in late April on a river a few years ago and flipped over - they would have both been a statistic had they stayed by themselves. Our local paddling group got them to shore and warmed up, which is the only reason they were OK.

It would obviously be best had these people gotten lessons first. In fact I had been urging the one with the Swiftie to get involved with our group and take lessons, giving her schedules, telling her where she could buy a used boat and get a free lesson, for a year prior to her near fatal entry. But in spite of all that info, she still went out and bought a boat and got it wet without getting any help or training.

Obviously taking lessons would have been better. But the only choices these folks were willing to allow was to go out untrained by themselves or go out untrained with a group. Hard to argue that the latter isn’t a better idea.

This situation is probably not at all unusual in inland areas, where people believe that because the water is flat they can be more careless.

Our local group has does not go leaderless. Consensus is a poor way to make a decision in an emergency. Where there is a leader, some of the problems indicated in the original post should be reduced - like people being forgotten and left on their own. (We also have a rule that if anyone does turn back they don’t go alone.)


Lessons? I started alone…
…, and still paddle mostly alone.

When I started in my inflatable, I didn’t practice rescues - but was always in warm water and never more than a couple hundred feet from shore. Short of really rough surf (huge crashing surf)- that thing wasn’t going over. It would flood in smaller surf - big pain to beach and dump - but not dangerous (and I only took it off the beach once). More of an overgrown and ruggedized pool toy than a kayak. That boat was purchased as a cheap test to see if I liked paddling a small boat. 8 boats and a few years later, I guess I did.

Next I upgraded to a WS Tarpon 160 SOT. First day I paddled it I practiced remounts and made sure gear stayed put and did not interfere. Not much later, I found the biggest most confused spot I could and practiced there. Ocean gives very effective lessons.

When I moving into a SINK, the first day it was wet I did wet exits and paddle float rescues. No way was I going from 28" SOT to 21" SINK with no self rescue ability. An year and a half later I now have my roll (still had no lessons) and will continue to refine it, add offside and others, and take them off flat water - all in good time.

I also carry quite a bit of safety gear. Maybe not a whole cold water expedition kit - but then I’m only doing day paddles in warm water in mostly populated areas. For that, what I carry is overkill.

Perhaps, paddling mostly alone, I don’t have the illusion of safety people who are never alone do?

Anyway, lessons are fine - a very good idea - but not taking them for whatever reason is no excuse for being unsafe.

It depends on the group.
You said

“Consensus is a poor way to make a decision in an emergency. Where there is a leader, some of the problems indicated in the original post should be reduced - like people being forgotten and left on their own.”

I paddle every weekend with the same group of skilled paddlers. When we have others with us, there is NO PROBBLEM with leadership by consensus.

If someone winds up swimming, the first paddler who gets to the victim is in charge of the rescue. We all are practiced in performing solo and assisted re-entries and any one of us can easily do a rescue.

We also let the group break down into smaller more manageable groups. For example, yesterday, we paddled out to an off shore oil drilling platform. This put us about 4.7 miles off shore. On the way back, we split up into 2 groups of 2 and one group of 3. Each of the groups stayed within about 1/2 mile of each other.

The weather was fairly calm with a 2-4 foot swell and little wind. All of the paddlers kenw how to roll, wet exit, and re-enter a boat. Four of the seven had VHF’s, all had flares and whistles. Why would somebody need to be “The Leader”?

You Describing A “Team”

– Last Updated: Nov-27-04 5:25 PM EST –

as opposed to a "leader" led group. It works when folks are of approximately the same skill level and have paddled with each other a bit.

Most clubs have a range of paddlers and skills. Within a club, "teams" can emerge but the lower level paddlers will need leaders to ensure some structure to handle an emergency.

Clubs can provide opportunities for different individuals to develop their skills early on and to gravitate towards each other and evolve possibly as a "team" because they share similar perspectives and goals/interests for their paddling.