Night Paddle???

The whole world becomes …
… enchanted and magical in the still of the night when on the water , in the air etc. … it is another world !!! … new life will be born into you , your soul will zoar with intreped anticapations , your eyes and thoughts will understand things differently , and you will find peace as you never knew it existed … but along with all this , you will not want to be a dark spot on the water that power boaters can not see ( and that doesn’t mean turn on a flashlight and point it at them when you think the timing is right ) , it does mean at the least you should have clamp on battery powered standard marine location nav. lights (red and green) 270* , not exactly legal but you can put one at bow and stern , thus eliminating the required 360* white stern light , most every state I know of requires standard marine nav. lighting on any vessel after sunset , imagine a power boater running dark (lights off) , at least they have a good chance of seeing you even if you don’t see them … for the record , I spent an avg. of 500 hrs. a year on the water at night fishing , for 17 yrs. , and weather happens at night also so don’t forget about that , just be well advised in your pre-flight and enjoy the experience , it gets adicting though , maybe even to the point of obsession !! …

My thoughts on night paddling

– Last Updated: May-11-08 10:33 AM EST –

Paddling at night is very different from daytime paddling in two ways. One is the quality of the pleasure experienced and the other is the quantity of safety awareness required. The amount of your consciousness that you should allocate to either aspect of nighttime paddling depends to a great extent on where you choose to paddle.

If you night paddle on small lakes or in small coastal coves unfrequented by power boats you can allow most of your attention to focus on the pleasure and serenity of the experience. For me the epitome of this was one night I took my daughter night paddling in small coves near Castine Harbor that were shallow, protected and full of phosphorescent organisms. It was a warm, clear, moonless night and with the stars sparkling above and the phosphorescence sparking below it was magical.

For me, the other end of the spectrum is paddling in or near Portland Harbor at night. The shoreline is filled with thousands of electric lights and the water is filled with boat traffic of all kinds, big/small, fast/slow, loud/quiet, and drunk/sober. You cannot expect a chemical light stick or a LED 360° light to be seen against the background of all the shore lights. The sound of one vessel can mask the sound of another vessel approaching from aft. If your attention is on a large passing vessel, a small fast vessel can approach unnoticed. In this situation you have to allocate all of your attention on the vessel traffic all around you.

Both the federal Navigation Rules and Maine boating regulations require that paddlecraft have a lantern or flashlight showing a white light that can be exhibited in time to prevent a collision. At night I wear a LED headlamp and carry a bright flashlight. I keep them both turned off to preserve my night vision. Night vision is valuable for enjoying the scenery in protected situations and is important for detecting other vessels that may represent a threat to you. When another vessel is near enough to present concern, I turn on a light and illuminate the deck of my kayak (my deck is yellow and reflects light well.) If the boat is bearing down on me, I wave the flashlight back and forth. If it continues to approach I point both of my lights directly at the approaching boat. I may also start blowing a whistle or shouting (this is of questionable benefit if the approaching boat is a power boat, which is generally the case.) I have never had a close call at night, but I have had situations that focused my attention remarkably.

lake or river?
I’m confused

It’s all fun and games until…

– Last Updated: May-11-08 8:31 PM EST –

your buddy spooks a flock of swans on a dark night and they are coming at you chest to head high. darn things take off like 747!and all that honking.

Smaller river…
…which has a dam that created an almost 1 mile long lake. Minimal power boat activity mainly during daylight hours.


For a real treat…
Check out any yearly list of meteor showers on the net and paddle out on the dates for moonless nights coinciding with with a major shower and enjoy the extraterrastrial fireworks!

The Night Terror of the Geese!!!
Similar to encounters with swans…

Late in our paddle downstream, above the dam, I was cruising “in a zone” (as in “zoned out”). I was certain that we were a mile above the dam; no pre-positioned glow sticks yet.

Suddenly the entire river (75 yards wide) turned white and there was a TREMENDOUS roar… My BP and PR went through the roof as I thought I had passed the take out and was about to “sky dive in a kayak” over an 80’ dam!!!

Just a BIG flock of geese taking off, away from me. Incredible experience! Which is why I keep doing this sort of stuff.

George in Cody

My wife has…
…a real fear of dams in general, not that I am very fond of them myself. We would both have snow white heads of hair after going through an experience like that!