Thursday, March 13, 2008
Another call to get wet.
By far the most entertaining event of the Canoecopia was "We don't need no stinkin' badges", a rescue demo put on by Kelly Blades and Danny Mongo. Although I didn't know it at the time we encountered the 'Mongo party' waiting for their table at the Weary Traveler, a freehouse in Madison's fun and eclectic Willy St neighborhood. When the hostess called for the 'Mongo party' I turned and noticed a goateed fellow in a fur coat and Cat in the Hat style tophat. It seemed to fit in perfectly on Willy St.
This sense of style and fun was apparent in the demo that the guys did last weekend. While it was lots of fun and funny as hell, the overriding theme was that if you need to wet exit, get back in your boat as soon as possible any way you can. The classic T rescue where you dump the boat out, swing it around, and have the rescuee clamber up on the back deck and slide in seemed to take forever (as the crowd chanted off the ever mounting seconds). The concept that you'll never get all the water out anyway was a sound one also. Get em in the boat, stay rafted up, and start pumping. As I mentioned in a previous post on getting wet, its a tough sell getting people to play around and practice this stuff. Alex mentioned that when they teach whitewater kayaking they, "often refer to kayaking as a "swimming sport" and even go so far as to swim through easier rapids with our kayaks to show them that there's very little to be scared of". We sea kayakers need to do a lot more of that sort of thing. It is unbelievably crucial when the water is cold that you get back in your boat fast. Small motor control, eg. fingers to grip paddle blades and deck lines, can disappear in about 120 seconds in 35F (1C) water. I know Kelly attempts to get folks in the water, as he did this weekend, when he teaches at seminars and we should applaud both the effort and the concept he is trying to get across. Plus, its one hell of a lot of fun.