tips and stories on solo night paddling

I like night paddles early in the mornin
I like to get up early and time the finish of my trip either just before sunrise or at sunrise.

It is a bit of a pain sometimes (getting up early).

But it offers a few advantages…

Knowing the sun will come up ‘shortly’ is a great moral/confidence booster.

If I do run into problems I know I don’t have long before visibility improves and finding things, or being found becomes easier (hopefully)

You get to see how good/bad your chart and compass navigation skills are when you can’t see landmarks.

Bill, I am curious as to where

– Last Updated: Aug-05-09 8:18 PM EST –

you get that moose have killed more men than anything else in north America? I would have to guess that there would be less than dozen moose attacks in the past decade in the entire US. I don't mean deaths but incidents involving moose attacks. Hardly a big gamble or something to be overly cautious about. I would guess that rottweilers kill far more humans each year than non auto moose attacks. I mean even pit bulls have only killed 130ish people in the US in the past 25 years. I seriously doubt moose have even a tenth of those numbers of attacks.

Hurt by a moose? Maybe in car accidents? 3000 auto collision each year in the US. Roughly 250 each year here in NH. It is a serious problem.
I worked in Maine for a few summers where moose are everywhere. I saw them every day. Sometimes we would see 50-60 in a day. They only time they were visibly upset is when we chased them for kicks. We were dumb and drunk and apparently very lucky.
I have never felt in eminent danger around moose except in fall and winter. When they are tired, hungry, sick, or maybe just horny they don't tolerate too much. Someone would have to be pretty stupid to approach a fired up moose. They look downright scary and unpredictable when pissed off. Moose can carry over 100,000 ticks in their fur. I suppose that in itself could drive them completely mad but I think a sick moose would be something someone would notice instantly.

Someone would have to unbelievably stupid, like being obnoxiously loud by yelling, maybe waving your arms around in a threatening manner, maybe moving quickly towards a moose, maybe trying to retrieve a out of control dog or something, maybe coming between a cow and calf, maybe trying to ride one after a few too many captain and cokes, to get them riled up. There are some prime examples on youtube. Both of these videos show people that don't know how to behave around wildlife. Very obvious. Darwinism at work.

In thirty years of close proximity encounters with moose I have learned to be nearly motionless and absolutely quiet when a moose is nearby. Just to see a moose in the woods I find I have to be alone and extremely quiet. One spoken word will put them on edge. The noise of a closing door. The rustle of something running in the woods. The zip of a tent zipper. Rarely have I seen them agitated by my presence when I was being still and quiet. More often I find them in a pretty agreeable state like the ones in the videos. I know this doesn't mean moose are friendly. I understand they are wild. I understand that there are risks involved in viewing wildlife. I find them to be more curious about me and many times I have had moose walk towards me trying to figure out what I was. I have never felt threatened when a moose was approaching me as long as they were not showing signs of distress like nostrils flaring, hooves stomping, heavy breathing, or head waving. My experiences with them have taught me to respect their size and power. I know they run at 35 mph. I know they can swim faster than I can paddle a sea kayak. I have tried to catch up to a swimming moose more than once. I couldn't do it. I also know motion and noise triggers something in their brain that puts them on the defense.
I think my chances of being struck with a meteor are greater than being hurt by a moose.
Maybe the moose in Michigan are bad ass? Have you heard of people getting hurt by moose there? Around here it would make the news.
Not ranting. Just curious as to the seemingly irrational expectation of a moose attack.

If you are ever attacked by a moose know that any motion will keep that moose coming at you until you stop moving. Get behind a tree or fall to the ground and curl up in a ball with you hands protecting your head. Do not yell. Don't try to scare it. Moose have nothing to be scared of. You will only piss it off more.

light tower
Hmm, seems like quite a few are comfortable going on the edges of the ocean at night - are you guys pretty confident that you can stay out of ship channels and not get pulled offshore? I keep thinking of that poor girl who got lost in the fog below Martha’s Vineyard (even though that was daytime).

In the way of tips - I just found out angstrom also does a version of this - a tent pole can come in handy for night trips. Fix it in place like a mast just forward of your seat, and use a flashlight with a built-in swivel-clamp. This lets you get a light up high and pointed steadily in any direction - point it down and it’s a nice work light. I also attach a small bag with things I use frequently near the base of the pole, to make it easy to find these things in the dark.

Another advanatage may be peculiar to one of my two normal night paddling locales of swamps and small, wooded streams. Here, one of the creepy aspects of night paddling is running through spider webs without seeing them. Usually it’s just those isolated single strands that they can suspend over long distances seemingly without support - not very dangerous, but still unpleasant to catchin the face unexpectedly. And I’ve also caught my share of full blown webs, which used to scare me pretty good since I’ve been bit twice on the hand by poisonous spiders on my local rivers (never saw the bite but my hand swelled up to twice normal size). However, after having faced about a hundred webs in my time, I’ve never been bit and so I assume spiders don’t tend to bite in those circumstances.

Anyway, using a light pole in front of your seat gives some protection against the spider webs. When I don’t have the light pole, I set my fishing pole up at an angle to break any webs I might encounter.

re ocean
I mostly night paddle the ocean after work in the winter (warmer So Cal) when there are few of any boats and we’re not near a shipping channel. I stay within a few hundred yards of shore that is lined with home and such with lights. These lights help define the shore so I stay far enough away to avoid surf/rocks that I know very well from many day trips. I actually never do this alone – partly safety, but just also not as fun for me. No risk of drifting further offshore as it’s easy to tell where I am with the lights (and if not the lights my compass and gps would help). Surf and rocks are the only real hazard to speak of.