Scared Straight - Safety Inspiration

I had two incidents that woke me up regarding “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” I found myself in conditions that were beyond my skills and inspired me to get better; get safer.

The first was when I tried to paddle into an inlet as the tide was rushing out against me. Big standing waves were developing as I paddled. I didn’t have a roll or a real brace and I was lucky to stay upright. The sound spit me out like a watermelon seed. Scared the hell out of me. The second scary thing was when a wave sneaked up on me from about my seven o’clock and flipped me without warning. I swam. Learned a lot that day.

These events were good for me in that they made me realize how green I was and they prompted me to do the Scarlett O’Hara thing. “As God is my witness I will never get caught this unprepared again.”

Any more stories out there about getting inspired by mother nature?

playing around

– Last Updated: Aug-25-16 10:39 AM EST –

in surf I got maytagged before I knew the term. I learned to not give up on a side surf. But I also got knocked over by a wave breaking on my stern when I hit my first real roll, boy was that a confidence booster.

Funny how things work, we tell ourselves not to go into anything unprepared, but OTOH sometimes when we do, we escape with valuable lessons.

In conditions
Beyond your skills ?


YOU are amazing.

Brings up the question
How do you know when its beyond your skills? Its easy to tell for a beginner with no brace or roll. But how about when you can brace and roll. Can self rescue (shouldn’t be needed if solid roll). 3 foot waves, 6 foot waves, 10 foot waves? Type of wave, steep short breakers or bigger roller types. Wind: 20 knots, 30 knots, 40 knots.

I have 2 from my beginning paddles.

– Last Updated: Aug-25-16 9:01 PM EST –

- Much like you guys .I could do a wet exit and rentry but no roll.I was off the beach at Emerald Isle in my first and only sea kayak. I had just launched thru the surf which was growing rapidly. Cruising along behind the surf wondering how I was going to get in and I heard a "SSSSSS".Here comes a big wave. I tried to turn into it and didn't make it. I got to the beach but not like I wanted to.
The one that got my attention the most was when I was paddling the marsh at Hilton Head in my first boat, a 12' Acadia.Ifound myself in a wicked Tstorm. The lightening was striking all around me, wind howling and rain in torrents.All I could do was paddle into the most dense grass and wait.It was over in 10 minutes and my boat had 3" of water in it.My very unhappy wife was waiting at the put in.Our 3 small children were in the house.
I now paddle a Tarpon in the salt and check forecasts before launching.

you’re beyond your skill level when

– Last Updated: Aug-26-16 7:34 AM EST –

fear kicks in. If its "scary" or if you are "lucky" then you've got some holes to fill in your approach....and we've all got gaps- in skills, judgement, preparation.

Make good decisions and paddle within your skill-set- applies to many situations and environments. At the end of the day the goal is always to come home in one piece.

Paddling scared isn't fun for me. On the other hand worrying about the "what ifs" isn't productive either. You don't want paddling to get stale but getting spanked ain't so great either.

For Me
If I’m working really hard to make 2 mph toward a destination that’s several miles away I’m changing the plan. Did this some years back. I had a GPS and my buddy didn’t. He thought we were doing OK with the headwind and I knew we weren’t. I convinced him to turn around and re-think the plan.

roll roll roll

– Last Updated: Aug-26-16 9:25 AM EST –

without the roll n dry suit ....beacon/gps..
wether or not is hard to decipher until you get there.

read the 2 DEEP TROUBLE books from Cunningham. DT establishes something of a bottom line.*

read my roll/hip snap exercise n equippe ? super. roll in 30 seconds.

USK Horodowitch has an excellent dvd on surf kayaking. Maybe here in padnet.

* once ugotta combat roll n equipment then YOU CAN REALLY GET IN TROUBLE.

in the Solstice Titan, I would go out in just under warnings levels n a novice. The practice was never approach a large wave on the beam.

back in the day (whatever this means), I rode into the mtns passing kudzu crossing the road. Riding back in afternoon would find the weed made it to the other side.

I agree - when the fear…
…interferes with your ability to use the skills you have developed. My first paddle out to the Golden Gate Bridge from Horseshoe Cove in June to scatter my sister’s ashes under the bridge was exactly that experience.

I had on drysuit/PFD/gloves/helmet - was comfortable. Had a radio and could use it. Even had a BASKer along as an escort that paddles there frequently.

Rolling? Both sides.

Bracing - thought I was OK.

Paddling in wind - check.

Boat wakes - no sweat.

Waves - a little experience.

I realized I was just outside the limits of my skill set when I approached the bridge and encountered the swell, wind waves, and wakes; saw the freighters and the boat traffic and the fog. I found I was so nervous I could barely turn my boat. My lower back and hips were frozen! All I could do was brace ungracefully and try to stay pointed into the primary swell. Five minutes of sitting in the conditions, signaling to my paddling buddy I was OK, and taking deep breaths got me past the paralysis. I stayed upright and accomplished my goal.

The experience reinforced the ideas

-You have to paddle and practice rescues in a variety of conditions to gain confidence

-Loose hips save ships

I’ve always tried to think ahead and have a plan if everything goes sideways. I’ve actually not had any real bad moments kayaking, except for a couple of encounters with sea lions. With a ton of experience, you will gradually expand your comfort zone, but even then, the occasional curve ball comes along and for that, I try to have a worst case scenario plan.

At my age (73) I’m not into paddling for adrenalin rushes, but I do like to get out in the slop when it seems manageable. Where I paddle, I like to think I’ve seen just about everything that can be a challenge, but you never can allow yourself to get complacent.

I think there is nothing more important than experience and knowing what you and your boat are capable of. For me, it has literally taken years and at least hundreds of miles and hours in all kinds of conditions to trust myself and my boats.

Practice paddling with others in conditions b4 venturing into them on your own. Then practice self & assisted rescues in those conditions with others present.

Check the weather forecast & know the tides for every paddle, no matter how easy it is at the start. And, bring all your safety equipment - doubly important if you are paddling solo.

I’ve always been pretty cautious about conditions, but every now and then, nature catches you unprepared. The first storm I paddled was on a several hour whale watching trip. Conditions were projected to be fair with increasing winds (gusts up to 15-20), 3-5 foot swells. Someone forgot to tell the storm not to arrive about 12 hours sooner than it did. We found ourselves in rolling swells (10-12 feet), rain, 30+ MPH winds, and a minimum 2 hours paddling from our put in. It was fun at first, but as you re-enter Monterey Bay from sea, Pt. Pinos sends rebound waves in odd directions.

I capsized once, but was able to roll up and avoid subsequent failures using braces, altered paddle strokes, and playing with my balance a bit. Doing this in a following sea with rebound waves was…challenging…and not particularly fun in at the time. Some of my companions capsized and were pretty shaky after we managed to get them back in their boats. They learned a few things, but the conditions were simply beyond their abilities and on the edge of my own. After making some progress into the bay, we eventually found a more protected landing and were able to get everyone off the water. Being the 2nd most experienced paddler, I landed first. After paddling in on the backs of the first few waves, I was able to find a decent one and surf all the way to shore (waves were about 4’-5’, but the beach was less steep than most in the area). I was then able direct others in. Several capsized and walked in while I (and those on the beach) retrieved boats.

Oddly, I didn’t feel particularly nervous about being out in the conditions. I was concerned for the safety of the others, but I learned enough about boat handling (and was confident I could swim in from where we were), that I felt reasonably comfortable in the conditions. I probably should not have been, but self-delusion is sometimes a strong point :).