Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Safe and/or fun?
My basic truth about sea kayaking is simply the bigger the waves the more fun and more thrilling the sport can be. I have a friend in Ironwood MI (he does own a kayak) who's motto is, "If you took the time to do everything safely you wouldn't get nuthin' done!". And yes, he is still alive although there have been countless close calls. My idea of balance between the safe and the thrilling is to have good gear (wet or dry suit, radio, pump/float, spare paddle, tow line, etc) and the set of skills necessary to deal with the big water. A solid wet exit and reentry is crucial but if you go over in big water I think you need a rock solid brace and a bombproof roll. Plenty of people don't and thats fine 95% of the time. But trying to do a paddle float reentry in 4' - 6' seas is shaky at best. I also think that 'roll for show, brace for dough' is a key point also. If you have a solid high, low, sculling, and maybe even a static brace you might never have to roll. Unless your paddle breaks, as mine did while testing my new Valley Aquanaut last spring. It was a couple high braces on the left, a couple on the right and on the last one I heard a snap and was upside down before I knew it, a half mile off the entry to the Port of Duluth. THEN you need to know how to roll, although I was with another guy, the seas were calm, and a reentry would have been a piece of cake. Anyway, in the thrill v safety debate you need to remember, as always, that the lake is the boss.