Category Archives: Safety

Skills Practice Session

Paddlers!  Come play with us.

Let’s take advantage of the warm water with a skills practice. 

We’ll use the usual format – buddy up and work on whatever suits you.

Generally, the veterans join in to help coach, so novice paddlers are welcome to get wet with us, and be prepared for plenty of laughs.

DATE:                            Saturday, July 15

RALLY TIME:                  8:30 am

LAUNCH TIME:              9 am

DURATION:                   1 – 2 hours

LAUNCH SITE:               Aqua Adventures Dock

VENUE:                          Mariner’s Cove, where there’s a nice beach and bathrooms

OPTIONAL:                    Getting wet, or not

RECOMMENDED:            Warm paddling clothes with a splash jacket or a dry top/dry suit

 

PLEASE NOTE:

These paddles are not sanctioned San Diego Kayak Club or Aqua Adventures events. The announcer of this event is not the leader of such, merely a “coordinator.”  

Disclaimer: We will have experienced paddlers on this trip, but they will not be responsible for telling you what is or is not safe for you to do. We watch out for one another and assist one another, but all individuals are responsible for, and manage their own safety. This responsibility includes assessing your gear, skill level, and physical conditioning relative to conditions and location, as well as making decisions about what you will or will not do. Participants acknowledge that kayaking on the open sea or bay is inherently dangerous and can lead to physical injury including death as well as property damage. Participants, on their behalf and on behalf of their heirs and assignees, agree to hold the announcers and other participants blameless in the event of such injury, damage or death. Please join us if you want to mildly stretch your capabilities, but please stay home if you would be wildly stretching them. Participants should have bracing skills, be able to self-rescue and assist in the rescue of others. They should be able to launch and/or land in small surf

Skills Session This Saturday!

Let’s take advantage of the warm water with one more skills practice.

We’ll use the usual format – buddy up and work on whatever suits you.
Generally, the veterans join in to help coach, so novice paddlers are welcome to get wet with us and be prepared for plenty of laughs.

DATE: Saturday, October 22
RALLY TIME: 8:30 am
LAUNCH TIME: 9 am
DURATION: 1 – 2 hours
LAUNCH SITE: Aqua Adventures Dock
VENUE: Mariner’s Cove, where there is a nice beach and bathrooms
OPTIONAL: Getting wet, or not
RECOMMENDED: Warm paddling clothes with a splash jacket or a dry top/dry suit
RSVP: Please let Jane Hardy know if you plan to attend

PLEASE NOTE:
These paddles are not sanctioned San Diego Kayak Club or Aqua Adventures events. The announcer of this event is not the leader of such, merely a “coordinator.”

Disclaimer: We will have experienced paddlers on this trip, but they will not be responsible for telling you what is or is not safe for you to do. We watch out for one another and assist one another, but all individuals are responsible for, and manage their own safety. This responsibility includes assessing your gear, skill level, and physical conditioning relative to conditions and location, as well as making decisions about what you will or will not do. Participants acknowledge that kayaking on the open sea or bay is inherently dangerous and can lead to physical injury including death as well as property damage. Participants, on their behalf and on behalf of their heirs and assignees, agree to hold the announcers and other participants blameless in the event of such injury, damage or death. Please join us if you want to mildly stretch your capabilities, but please stay home if you would be wildly stretching them. Participants should have bracing skills, be able to self-rescue and assist in the rescue of others. They should be able to launch and/or land in small surf.

Skills Practice

Let’s tune up our skills while we have such warm water temperatures.

We’ll use the usual format – buddy up and work on whatever suits you.
Generally, the veterans join in to help coach, so novice paddlers are welcome to get wet with us, and be prepared for plenty of laughs.

DATE: Saturday, August 27
RALLY TIME: 8:30 am
LAUNCH TIME: 9 am
DURATION: 1 – 2 hours
LAUNCH SITE: Aqua Adventures Dock
VENUE: Mariner’s Cove, where there is a nice beach and bathrooms
OPTIONAL: Getting wet, or not
RECOMMENDED: Warm paddling clothes with a splash jacket or a dry top/dry suit

PLEASE NOTE:
These paddles are not sanctioned San Diego Kayak Club or Aqua Adventures events. The announcer of this event is not the leader of such, merely a “coordinator.”

Disclaimer: We will have experienced paddlers on this trip, but they will not be responsible for telling you what is or is not safe for you to do. We watch out for one another and assist one another, but all individuals are responsible for and manage their own safety. This responsibility includes assessing your gear, skill level, and physical conditioning relative to conditions and location, as well as making decisions about what you will or will not do. Participants acknowledge that kayaking on the open sea or bay is inherently dangerous and can lead to physical injury including death as well as property damage. Participants, on their behalf and on behalf of their heirs and assignees, agree to hold the announcers and other participants blameless in the event of such injury, damage or death. Please join us if you want to mildly stretch your capabilities, but please stay home if you would be wildly stretching them. Participants should have bracing skills, be able to self-rescue and assist in the rescue of others. They should be able to launch and/or land in small surf.

June 2016 Leadership Class Report

Click to enlarge photos

Click to enlarge photos

Six people took part in the first Leadership Class offered by the joint effort of the club and Aqua Adventures (AA). Jen Kleck conducted an excellent classroom session covering the topics of Leadership Characteristics, the Role of the Leader, Risk Assessment, Preparation for a paddle, and what to go over with the group prior to a paddle.

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The group looked at a map of Mission Bay and the anticipated paddle route while Jen discussed the various factors to consider on each leg of the trip. The group then formulated a “Trip Plan”, taking into consideration the different risks involved.

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The water session consisted of each member taking a turn at leading the group, and also involved a rescue practice in the open bay. Jen did an amazing job in both the classroom session and the water practicum. She teaches with authority, focus and energy. If you ever have an opportunity to take a class from her, you will not regret it. Be sure to check out all the courses AA has to offer to advance your paddling skills. The club thanks her greatly for her involvement with us.

These joint-effort classes are partially subsidized by the ongoing sales of our club gear at AA, so go in and buy some gear and help contribute to future skills classes for our members. The more gear sold, the more classes we will offer.

Note: The content of this course will be presented in detail soon, and found under the not-yet-created “Skills” tab at the top of this web page.

June 2016 Navigation Class Report

Robin Kedward conducted an interesting morning session at AA on the basics of navigation, covering the topics of magnetic vs true north, latitude and longitude, charts, measuring distance on a map, compass rose, taking and following a bearing, course correction, the parts of a compass, tides and how to deal with them, and the “Rule of 12”. The notes from this class will become a posted article found in our skills group soon.

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Click on photos to enlarge

After the classroom session we went over to the dirt lot and everyone practiced “walking a bearing”. Jane Hardy came by to visit for a while, as she is briefly in town between trips to Wales and Scotland. We also took a minute to present Robin with a club hat and T-shirt as a “thank you” for his many years of service to the club and fellow paddlers.

Thank you Robin for all you do

Thank you Robin for all you do

SDKC Sponsored Beginner’s Class Report

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The first class subsidized by the club hat and T-shirt sales at Aqua Adventures was conducted on Saturday, May 21, and was a big success. Six people took advantage of a good deal and excellent instruction by Jen Kleck, who went through the basic strokes, boat handling, and assisted re-entry. More details on these procedures can be found by scrolling down to our skills practice session reports.

Click on photos to enlarge

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Lois, Theresa, Johnny, Mary Sue, Carol and Mike were all fast learners, and no one tipped over. After some practice of basic strokes at the AA dock, the group proceeded over to the Life Guard Station. The sales of our club hats and T-shirts are the reason these classes will be offered at such a low cost to our members, so stop by AA and get yourself some club gear!

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After practicing the sculling draw stroke, turning and boat handling, the group went back to the AA dock for instruction in how to get back in their boats after a capsize. Steve Wilson assisted Jen during this class, and not only showed off his very cool club hat, but did a few graceful rolls. Many thanks to Steve, and especially to Jen for a very good class in the basics. This is the first of hopefully many classes that our club gear sales will subsidize, so stay tuned for the next one to be announced soon!

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February 2016 Skills Session Report

Group skills session photo

Four skills were practiced by 9 club members at Mariner’s Cove, led by Jane Hardy. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

The “Heel Hook” Re-Entry

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While your boat is being emptied of water, hang on to the other boat and your paddle. As you face your boat before the re-entry, whatever side of you the bow is on, that is the leg you but in the boat first. But before you do that, reach across the boat with that same-side hand and grab the deck lines of your boat and the other boat, then swing that leg in.  More info on this is in the other skills report, located by scrolling down on this home page.

The “Bow Lift”

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This a good way to empty the water from your boat if someone else is not near you. Grab the boat about 1 ft to 2ft from the bow, kick your feet as powerful as you can, and push the boat up by straightening your arms and hold up the bow for a few seconds. You may have to do this a second time, then while holding the bow up, flip the boat over. You can use your paddle to perform this also.

The “Draw Stroke”

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A great way to move your boat sideways, practice this stroke until you are comfortable with it (without capsizing). The trick is keeping your paddle as vertical as possible while moving it back and forth, changing the blade angle each direction.  Two paddlers are using this technique in the far right photo.

The “Hand of  God” Rescue

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This is a fast way to get an unconscious person who is still in their boat back upright, or helping someone who cannot roll up. Place your paddle on your deck and reach across the capsized boat and grab the cockpit coaming. With the other hand push down on the bottom of the other boat in the area right next to you while pulling up the cockpit holding hand to start the roll, then use both hands on the cockpit coaming and pull the far side toward you. There are several good videos on the web to learn the details of doing this, along with the precautions you should consider.

 

Tragic Kayaking Death In Chile May Have Been Avoidable

CPat18[1]Accident Site Map

General Carrera Lake in Southern Chile (Click to Enlarge)

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

The Accident

In December of 2015 a San Diego Kayak Club member sent out a National Geographic story of an incident earlier that month involving well-known world-class outdoor adventurers. Six highly skilled and experienced men, including the founder of North Face were kayaking the northern shore of General Carrera Lake in southern Chile, and were caught 600 feet (a distance of two football fields) from shore in sudden high winds while rounding a large peninsula. Within 10 minutes the conditions changed from calm/no wind, to gale-force winds creating six-foot-high, closely set waves. ** (See link below to read the story first)

An Accident That Could Happen to Anyone

No one, regardless of experience and skill level, is immune from an accident. In most cases an accident is caused by a series of mistakes, even with those events related to severe weather. For instance,  the FAA has found in studying air plane accidents, when human error was a factor, there were two or more reasons, or mistakes, that typically contributed to the accident. They found in almost every case the accident could have been avoided had different decisions been made. And it was found that pilots who took chances were more likely to be involved in a tragic accident. By looking closely at the Chile tragedy, we can learn from what happened, and maybe avoid an accident in our future.

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(Click to Enlarge)

Why They Were So Far From Shore

By examining the incident report, satellite photos and topo maps, it is evident just where the tragedy took place. Looking at the 3 maps above, the most likely reason the group was 600 feet from shore when the winds came up is that they were taking a direct line between two jutting land points in order to save time or some other reason, but it does not appear they were avoiding shallow water. In the above map/left side, the six men were rounding the peninsula going east, and were caught by the sudden wind somewhere in the area of that map marker off shore. You can see why they decided to “cut the gap” along the curved shoreline, taking a direct route across the opening in order to round the point on the far right side of the map. The two satellite photos have a yellow line I’ve added, showing the 600 foot distance they were from shore, a line which would be perpendicular to their line of travel across the opening (orange line on the expanded area photo). The far right photo clearly shows 4 emergency landing sites along that steep rocky shore, places to exit the water before rounding the point on the far right of the photo (the place where some in the group made it to).

The 100 Foot Safety Rule

Crossing large open water on a lake or bay should take several factors into consideration. Group size, boat traffic, water temperature, wind and weather conditions/predictions, working condition of your equipment, time of day, and capability of each in the group. Unless you absolutely have to venture far from land, it is always much safer to stay close to the shore. It may add another mile or so to arrive at your destination, but taking the safer route is always the wise choice.

By simply “Hugging the Shore” not more than 100 feet away keeps you within that distance where you can reach a landing point quickly, while staying just far enough off shore to avoid rocks or other obstacles just under the surface. 100 feet is about six lengths of a sea kayak. By staying close to shore you are hopefully within two minutes of landing, given that you may need to paddle along the shore to find a place. Mild, prevailing winds are not the concern here. If a sudden wind starts up, or a mild wind suddenly increases, that is the time to start moving toward shore and looking for an exit site. If the best exit point is upwind, you will need to make that turn before the wind gets too strong. Closing that  distance part-way will increase your “Margin of Safety”, and will let you get in faster if the wind continues to increase in velocity. Knowing where you are, and the best places to land will allow you to make quick and reliable decisions for the best outcome. In this case under examination, from the account in the article, the two men were being taken by the wind and current out into the lake. Had the group been hugging the water’s edge, that curved shoreline area was most likely in a partial lee from the wind, and not in the current (many large lakes have currents caused by wind, water temperature variants, and inflowing rivers, and the shoreline typically slows down a current due to friction).

Hugging Shore

Hugging the Shore

Resources to Help in Planning and Executing a Paddle

Topo maps are a great help in determining safe places to land on shore, but Google Earth can often be more help in actually seeing what is there. By looking at the topo map and Google Earth photos above, you can quickly see this advantage. Topo maps show the obvious contours of the land, and show the hill on the right side of the peninsula, the place where it was rocky at water’s edge. Google Earth not only lets you see the Lat/Lon and elevation as you move your curser over the terrain, but it lets you look at the features from near-ground/water level as you move along a proposed route. Before you leave on an extended paddle to a new location, study both in order to determine your best places for an emergency landing, and carry a print-out of critical areas along your route. Before each leg in a trip, go over the maps/photos of those areas in order to refresh everyone on an emergency plan. Carry a reliable means of communication. In remote areas, that means a satellite device. If possible, find out what the weather will be that day, but at least know what could occur by knowing the wind patterns for that area. Wind is the most difficult thing to predict, which is why the NWS will not give the wind speeds more than two days out. And wind can suddenly shift directions, which could result in a capsize. The area in Chile where this incident took place is known for sudden, fast-rising, high winds.

Other Considerations

  1. Wear the right safety gear and protective wet/dry suit for the water temperature, covering your whole body with one immersion suit (our legs comprise the largest percentage of skin area of our body, and a one-piece suit also protects your mid-section). Protective clothing will also help stave off shock from sudden cold water immersion. If you find yourself suddenly in cold water, you have about two minutes before you become numb and unable to function, so act fast. Know how to perform the “Heel Hook” reentry and a “Quick-Tow” if you cannot get back in your boat with two attempts. If both of these procedures fail, or you are being blown off shore, then a back-stroke swim to shore is your last resort, followed in by the other kayaker instructing you which direction to swim.
  2. Constantly check your equipment to make sure everything is working properly. If not, stop and fix it before proceeding. Carry a back-up and repair kit for the most critical items. One very important safety item to have is a paddle tether. There are choices in tow lines. My quick-tow line is deck mounted, and always right in front of me ready to use. It has a carabiner at one end for a quick attachment to the other boat. I have a small “jam cleat” mounted on my deck just behind me on the right side for a quick attachment of the other end, and a quick release if needed. The line is small diameter but strong, and long enough to have two feet over my lap, and a four foot gap between the boats.
  3. During each paddle, especially in a new location, observe the shoreline as you proceed in order to note the immediate best exit point. The more you pay attention to that, the more it will become an automatic observation.
  4. One more critical thing that is sometimes not considered essential: Fueling up prior to, and during the paddle with high-energy food. Even though adrenalin kicks in during an emergency, having enough energy to deal with high levels of exertion, and guarding against hypothermia is a vital consideration. That also means staying hydrated with water from an insulated container on cold air temperature paddles. More information on all this can be found on the San Diego Kayak Club website in the Safety articles (which have been given a “Thumbs Up” by the local Coast Guard).

Conclusion

It is most likely the group had been paddling close to shore that day as they went around the peninsula, until they came to the place where the shoreline fell away to their left. Seeing the other point of land to the east, they decided and assumed the sunny and calm conditions would hold while they crossed directly to that point, which was less than a mile away. Relying on their vast experience and skill level, they took a chance because it seemed easy. For those men on the lake that day, the difference of 500 feet distance from shore may have been the difference between life and death.

**- Details of the incident can be found with the following link:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/151213-doug-tompkins-chile-north-face-rick-ridgeway-patagonia-yvon-chouinard-death-general-carrera-lake/

Skill Practice

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Let’s tune up our skills before the water cools off. We’ll use the usual format – buddy up and work on whatever suits you. Generally the veterans join in to help coach, so novice paddlers are welcome to get wet with us, and be prepared for plenty of laughs.

DATE: Saturday, September 12
RALLY TIME: 8:30 am
LAUNCH TIME: 9:00 am
DURATION: 1 – 2 hours
LAUNCH SITE: Aqua Adventures Dock
VENUE: Mariner’s Cove, where there’s a nice beach and bathrooms
OPTIONAL: Getting wet, or not
RECOMMENDED: Warm paddling clothes or a dry top/dry suit

PLEASE NOTE:
These paddles are not sanctioned San Diego Kayak Club or Aqua Adventures events. The announcer of this event is not the leader of such, merely a “coordinator.”

Disclaimer:
We will have experienced paddlers on this trip, but they will not be responsible for telling you what is or is not safe for you to do. We watch out for one another and assist one another, but all individuals are responsible for, and manage their own safety. This responsibility includes assessing your gear, skill level, and physical conditioning relative to conditions and location, as well as making decisions about what you will or will not do. Participants acknowledge that kayaking on the open sea or bay is inherently dangerous and can lead to physical injury including death as well as property damage. Participants, on their behalf and on behalf of their heirs and assignees, agree to hold the announcers and other participants blameless in the event of such injury, damage or death. Please join us if you want to mildly stretch your capabilities, but please stay home if you would be wildly stretching them. Participants should have bracing skills, be able to self-rescue and assist in the rescue of others. They should be able to launch and/or land in small surf.

Tragedy in Washington

You might have not seen this tragic news. Two kayakers died and another was critically injured while paddling back from a day outing in Dungeness Bay in northwest Washington state on Saturday. Our hearts break when tragedies like this happen. Even is ‘warm’ San Diego, we need to be cautious when paddling our bays and ocean. Always dress for immersion, and wear your life jacket. Get more paddling safety tips here: www.americancanoe.org/Top10