Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cold-Water Workshop - This Saturday, 4/2/2011, Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CT

Special Notice Tri-State Paddlers: Thinking about breaking out your boat right about now and not sure you know what you need to know for safe Spring Paddling? Please think about joining members of the USCG Auxiliary Norwalk, Flotilla 72, the Mayor of Norwalk, and others (see agenda below for all participants) at Calf Pasture Beach in CT this Saturday, 4/2/2011, for a fun and educational day.

Calf Pasture Beach on Google Maps

News Release Paddlesport Safety Workshop

Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia is scheduled to join members of the USCG Auxiliary and paddlesport experts in a free safety workshop.

When: April 2, 2011: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Where: USCG Auxiliary Base in Calf Pasture Beach Park, Norwalk

The American Canoe Association (ACA) and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary have a Memorandum of Agreement to promote safety among those who use kayaks, canoes and other paddlecraft. The agreement establishes cooperative efforts, such as this workshop, to broaden outreach and education to the paddlesports community.

Paddlesports boating is one of the fastest growing recreation activities in the United States. In 2008 the Outdoor Industry Association reported that approximately 17.8 million people participated in paddlesports getting out on the water nearly 50,000 times daily. The explosive growth has triggered a disturbing increase in paddlesports injuries and fatalities. Often, with little investment inexperienced individuals are on the water without adequate paddlesport safety equipment or training.

The American Canoe Association and the Coast Guard Auxiliary are committed to reversing this trend. With input from the ACA a new Auxiliary Paddlesports America Course is now available nationwide complementing traditional safety courses that have been offered by ACA for decades. This classroom based training provides paddlers basic knowledge needed to safely operate their vessels including: knowing the paddlecraft, trip planning, safe operation, legal requirements, and paddling emergencies. The American Canoe Association and the Coast Guard Auxiliary will also reach out to paddlers through the paddlecraft vessel safety check program. Experts will talk with paddlers as they examine safety gear and provide personalized paddlesports safety guidance.

“The City of Norwalk is proud to continue our partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary as we continually strive to improve the boating safety experience for the recreational paddler.”- Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia. “With this cooperative effort we will reach out to the growing population of paddlers providing needed training to keep them safe on the water” - Arthur Gottlieb Flotilla Commander of the USCG Auxiliary – Norwalk.

Agenda: Preliminary Agenda Paddlesports Workshop April 2, 2011 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM USCG Auxiliary Base in Calf Pasture Beach Park – Norwalk, CT
10:00 Welcome and Introductions - Arthur Gottlieb, Flotilla Commander USCG Auxiliary – Norwalk
10:10 Physiology of Cold Water Immersion by Captain Rande Wilson, USCG Licensed Master
10:30 Cold Water Boot Camp and Life Jackets by Captain Mark Chanski, Boating Safety Specialist, CT DEP (invited)
11:15 Questions and Answers, Break
11:30 Dress to Swim Demonstration by Tom Klinger, Public Education Specialist, The Small Boat Shop
12:00 Mayor Richard A. Moccia Dry Suit Fitting by Tom Klinger and Gaeton Andretta, The Small Boat Shop
12:30 Paddlers conduct kayak in water demonstrations (Chris Murphy, Tom Klinger and Bonnie Aldinger of The Small Boat Shop; Captain Mark Chanski, CT DEP).
1:00 Break
1:30 Paddlesports Program Overview by Ric Klinger, ADSO-Paddlesports, USCG Auxiliary District 1, SR
1:45 Paddlesports Safety Equipment by Windy Farnsworth, Vice Flotilla Commander, USCG Auxiliary - Norwalk
2:00 Vessel Safety Checks by Robert Talley, FSO-Vessel Examination, USCG Auxiliary Norwalk
2:30 Questions and Answers; Break

CT Department of Environmental Protection, Boating Division
City of Norwalk
Town of Wilton
USCG Auxiliary District 1,
SR USCG Auxiliary Norwalk, Flotilla 72
The Small Boat Shop, Norwalk, CT
Captain Rande Wilson

Note - The Small Boat Shop is going to provide dry suits for paddlers to do in water demonstrations. Dry suits will be provided for those who wish to try them. Founded in 1880, the American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to the aspects of paddling, stewardship support to help protect paddling environments; and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition and recreation. For more information about the American Canoe Association visit

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard created by an Act of Congress in 1939. The Auxiliary, America’s Volunteer Guardians, supports the Coast Guard in nearly all of the service’s missions. For more information about the Coast Guard Auxiliary visit

And a meeting to discuss the proposed Expansion of JFK Airport Runways into the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve

"Reclamation", the powers that be are calling the proposal to turn some number of acres of Jamaica Bay into airport runways. "Reclamation", my okole. Here's another notice that should be of great interest to those who love Jamaica Bay. I highly doubt that I will be able to make it because of work pressures, but I did want to spread the word.


APRIL 7, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

NPS Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
Cross Bay Blvd. Broad Channel, NY 11693

6:30 - 6:45 Sign in, Introductions, Acknowledgment of Elected/Agency
6:45 - 7:05 Overview of Regional Plan Association Proposed Plan for
Expansion of JFK Airport- Environmental Response
Dan Mundy Jr. Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers
7:05 - 7:15 Potential impacts of JFK Expansion
Brad Sewell, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense
7:15 - 7:35 JFK Airport Expansion and Bird Hazard issues
Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay Guardian
7:35 - 7:55 Marine Life in the targeted areas; A
Perspective from the local Fishing Industry
Captain Vincent Calabro
7:55- 8:30 Discussion, Q & A
Dan Mundy, Don Riepe
For more information and directions, please call 718-318-9344

Paddling With A Porpoise, Now on NewYorkology

NewYorkology: A New York Travel & Events Guide

More about Vlad & Johna's porpoise and other denizens of the harbor, today on NewYokOlogy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WOW. Amazing harbor porpoise encounter.

Click here for Vladimir Brezina's fantastic slideshow of a New York Harbor paddle that a harbor porpoise decided to join for a while!

And yes, there were seals too. I still love seeing seals. But I have to admit that I really wish I'd been on Vlad's paddle!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


A little Greenland rope gymnastics silliness at the QajaqUSA booth at the Jersey Paddler's annual Paddlesports expo.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shipping Out, the Story of America’s Seafaring Women

Shipping Out, the Story of America’s Seafaring Women

Thank you, Old Salt! somehow I thought this program was this weekend, which is already pretty much taken up with helping out with my club's table at Jersey Paddler's Paddlesports event on Saturday, and probably should do another long training paddle on Sunday (although it's time for Daffodil Hill at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and I love that...). SO happy to see it's on Wednesday of next week - I think I can go!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Plate lunch, with a side of Hawaiian political history.

Unfortunately, the politics weren't as yummy as the plate lunches, but the things that happened, happened, and those who love the islands don't pretend that they didn't, or that it didn't matter.

In this reading from her book Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell does a fascinating job of dancing between the two - and gives a marvelous description of how one of my favorite island meals came to be.

Amazing. It's almost as though Ms. Vowell had decided to answer Essay Question Number Six in Carol Anne's New Writing Project!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Paerdegat Proxigean Promenade -- plus last paddle of winter 2010-11, breezy Breezy Point

If everybody didn't know I was probably at the beach, I would call this picture "Tea in the Sahara".

It's one of a very few I took on my last winter paddle - first off, the weather was extremely breezy & I had to concentrate on paddling, and secondly, I was out of reach of my charger for the weekend & wanted to save the batteries for the very unusual and fun event that some very smart folks at Sebago had put together in honor of the midafternoon arrival of the Supermoon Proxigean Low Water - a shorewalk right in our own Paerdegat Basin!

It was GREAT - thanks to all who helped organize, I really enjoyed seeing our familiar basin from a different point of view!

More pictures from both days (but mostly the shorewalk) can be found here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Good stuff, fresh off the WaterWire!

Waterfront Plan In Place -- Let's Roll!

Just a quick lunchtime link. The news has been out for a while, but the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance has a nice writeup about Vision2020.

Lots of exciting news. I haven't had time to read it all myself, but I expect it's going to be gratifying seeing the results of all those meetings so many of us waterfront enthusiasts of all varieties were attending last year.

And one more sort of silly thought --

It's nice to see Tugster's "Sixth Borough" starting to slip into official use!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sebago Canoe Club Teaches Kayaking to "Swim Strong" @ Flushing Meadow Corona Park Aquatic Center

Sebago ran a special session for some of the kids in New York City's SwimStrong program weekend before last.

I was sorry to have to miss it (tummy bugs don't go well with kayaking OR children), but TQ reported that everybody had a great time, and that's backed up by the faces in Chris's wonderful album! Click here to see more.

(cross-posted from Sebago Canoe Club - probably won't have time to post until the weekend, but at lease I leave you with some cute kids!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wow, that sucks...

And here I thought it was rough when the Hudson River Park Trust said we had 2 weeks to get our kayaks out of Pier 63.


Via Sailing Anarchy. I lurk.

Sweet Bluesette: Helping Japan - Caveat Donator!

Sweet Bluesette: Helping Japan - Caveat Donator!: "A lot of wonderful people want to help Japan recover from the earthquake/tsunami disaster we have experienced. Before you do, make sure yo..."

Give, but give carefully. My gosh, there are some evil people in the world. Pandabonium tells about a scam he's already seeing. Fortunately, he also gives a link to a very good article about how to make sure your donation is used for the purpose for which you intended it to be used (including a list of the recognized good guys).

Good advice for today and forever.

Hm - note, slightly later - I just looked at and they do have a "Give to the Red Cross" banner on their site, which does let you donate through the Amazon payment system. I'm not quite sure why one would give to the Red Cross through Amazon instead of just directly, but this one may not be an actual scam. Still, doing a little research before you give is still VERY good advice. It's not even just about avoiding scams - some perfectly well-intentioned efforts may just not be well-organized. Using Charity Navigator or the BBB charity ratings can help sort out the best organizations to give to - the article Pandabonium links to give a nice easy-to-read list.

additional note, later still - Pandabonium clarified things a bit (and I realize I also may have been reading too fast as I was about to leave for work when I saw it) - it wasn't the giving to the Red Cross through Amazon he was questioning - it was a specific type of comment where a link led to an article, which gave a second link to a page that LOOKED LIKE the Amazon payment site...and there's the rub, in this day of instant web publishing, a seamy, scheme-y schmuck could easily create a copy of the Amazon payment page, link it straight to their personal bank account...go phish. Pandabonium's warning wasn't "don't give through Amazon", it was "if you want to give through Amazon take the split second it will take to type "" into the browser so you KNOW you're landing on the legitimate Amazon site.

It's so infuriating that warnings like that are even necessary - but like Dan Kim said over on my Facebook page, "Unfortunately, there are a lot of scum out there that try to profit from tragedies and disasters like this." Sad, but so true.

Monday, March 14, 2011

5 Ways To Help Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami Survivors

5 Ways To Help Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami Survivors

Pandabonium Is OK...

Terrible, terrible stories out of Japan right now. My thoughts are with them.

I have to say I was looking at placid, peaceful J-bay with profound appreciation on Saturday, having spent so much time hypnotized by videos of swirling angry waters in the days before.

Lots to do today so I will get to the point now - in all the midst of all the awfulness, it is so good to read that friends are OK..

Saturday, March 12, 2011

From The "Mascots That Probably Won't Fly" Files

Introducing Growly the Safe Boating Growler!

Growly Says "Always Wear Your Lifejacket!"
Actually Growly was just being insulated while awaiting the return of thirsty boaters from the bay, 'cause Growly's thermal hamper got co-opted for tamales. The Paddling Chef discovered that a baby lifejacket was the perfect size to make a growler coozy. Brilliant!

We had a beautiful morning of paddling. It was warm and sunny, although quite breezy; Steve had proposed a shortish paddle, nothing extravagant, just something like Ruffle Bar and back.

With an overly-frolicsome wind on the beam (annoying for paddling) when we got out to the bay, we changed that a bit & headed for Floyd Bennett Field, staying more in the shelter of the shore.

We took our lunch break here, on a nice little beach that's very sheltered from a west wind. I won't lie and say it felt tropical or anything, but this was the first paddle in some time where it was warm enough that getting out of my boat & sitting down for a relaxed lunch actually felt good. Sweet. And to make an enjoyable lunch break even better, those tamales I mentioned? Well, Steve had spotted our favorite local tamale lady walking with her cart on his way to pick me up and had pulled over and bought a dozen to share. The tamale lady usually sells at a certain spot on Sundays so it's usually only Sunday paddles when we'll have tamales, so this was a nice surprise.

And Steve's plan for a shorter paddle turned out to be the perfect one for the day - the glorious weather window into which we launched slid shut as we closed in on the Paerdegat after maybe 6 miles on the water. With the warm sun suddenly gone & the gusty wind feeling a little more severe, we abandoned plans for a rolling session and hustled on back to Growly, who was patiently (and safely!) awaiting our return.

Ah, spring boating.

Olympia On The Block

I'm getting ready to go for a paddle, but I'll take a moment to post this link that my dad sent this morning - I'd been wondering what would become of Olympia since my visit to Philly last fall. Well, she's up for sale.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Four-Handed Folk-Gaga - "Bad Romance".

No time for a post today, but I just thought I'd share this weirdness that my friend Di showed me last night. Strange, but fun.

And on a more serious note - glad that the reports from Hawaii so far aren't so bad. My thoughts are with my friends (and friends of friends) in Japan. Awful pictures this morning, I hated to see those.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Steve & Camilla Go Snorkeling

Almost forgot to share this one. My friends Steve & Camilla have managed to work out a way to winter in Hawaii (don't envy them too much, it started with some absolutely-no-fun-at-all health reasons). Here they went snorkelling.

What I really love about this video is that if you listen carefully, you can hear the whales singing.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different. And FUN.

Hey, boats and Irish music (turbotrad variety), how can I not post this?

Don't know why they didn't do the whole song (has to be some good Growler footage out there somewhere, and I know they sail dinghies there too) but what they did rocks!

Details were a little vague, but apparently it's a Jack Tar Magazine contest and if enough people watch it the folks at the US Merchant Marine Academy (King's Point, home of all the featured craft) win something. Go Midshipmen!

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Rescue In Rockaway

I checked in with Viv, and she gave permission to post the email she'd sent around to the club once she'd gotten the story. It ended up being written up for the paper by another reporter there, and I've added that at the end, but I like Viv's writeup - good to have a kayaker's take on the story!

There was indeed a very close call for a Jamaica Bay kayaker who faced possible death from hypothermia on Tuesday, and a well-prepared local resident, who fishes with the harbor rescue guys and knew just who to call, saved the kayaker's life within minutes! Sebago is responding with information and education for the public. Bonnie at "Frogma" and Vivian Carter ("RockViv" of Oy Vey Rockaway!) are on the job!

Rock Viv met the unfortunate (but extremely lucky) kayaker and his rescuer yesterday, and it is a good story. But I don't think either broadcast or print media picked it up, so you may not have heard. There will be a small piece in the Wave on Friday, and hopefully a longer piece on cold-water paddling safety penned by Bonnie for next week. You can buy the Wave on newsstands in Rockaway, at Ragtime in Howard Beach, or at Sherwood Diner on Rockaway Turnpike near Costco. However, the online edition can't be seen until two weeks from tomorrow, unless you have a subscription. This information is important to put out there right away, so feel free to circulate this email widely!

I was told that due to privacy restrictions, it's often difficult in police and fire rescue, crime and accident cases to find out more from either medical or law enforcement sources. I just happen to know a bay front resident from my church who gave me the name and approximate address of the rescuer. Believe it or not, I found him by looking in the phone book! So retro!

Anyway, here's the story:

Felix lives in the area known as "Arverne by the Bay," near Beach 70th Street on the Rockaway Peninsula. He has a bright orange, 16 foot kayak, and a wet suit. Recently, he's been kayaking several times a week for exercise, launching into the bay at Dubos Point (around Beach 60th Street), heading up past Brant Point (around Beach 70th), on to the Cross Bay Bridge (around Beach 95th), and then returning. Most times, he wears a wet suit. With the warm weather this week, he decided to try it without the wetsuit, although the water temperature was still quite cold (probably in the 40's). He was wearing woolen winter clothes and a warm winter hat (but no drysuit--not even a wetsuit!). He almost didn't return.

Felix launched (it appears) with minimal safety gear. He said that he was hit by a wave and a cross current (probably as he passed Silver Hole Marsh), and capsized. He tried to right the boat but it was filled with water. The tide was outgoing, so he tried to head toward land and wave for help. Not clear whether he had a pump, a whistle, a radio, or a cell phone.

Another neighborhood resident, Francisco, was (fortunately) sitting in his backyard along the bay at noon on Tuesday, March 1 when something orange caught his eye as it floated by. Then he saw a hand reach up and wave to him; he realized it was a guy hanging onto his boat. It was Felix. Francisco fishes frequently, often with the guys from the rescue units, so he didn't call 911, instead he called his buddies at the Parks Police rescue unit at their dispatch location. A helicopter arrived within 3 minutes, and plucked Felix from the water. Another resident had also called 911, police reported. Francisco said that they've seen similar incidents along the bay in that area over the years, and that if he had tried calling 911 he might have still been on the phone with the operator by the time Felix was rescued. So, being prepared and ready to respond, Francisco surely saved Felix's life!

After I got in touch with Francisco, he and Felix came to The Wave to tell their story, and have a photo taken. I hope it will appear in the paper, together with Bonnie's safety message.

Here's the resulting article from today's print edition of The Wave:

So, a happy ending, and an awfully nice lead-in for my annual sermon.

And visiting the Wave's website reminded me - I'm an online subscriber, because Viv does get some fun stories about the club in there. She had a good one with pictures about the Frostbite Regatta - well, we're well past the 2 weeks from publishing during which articles are only available to subscriber, so that should now be available for everyone's enjoyment!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Cold-Water Boating Safety - my first-ever original article on the topic. Honest.

Yes, it's true - for all I must have a hundred posts related to cold-water boating safety awareness, I've never actually written an original piece on the subject myself. I always link to favorite sites and recommend those as places to get the information. For more details on why I finally sat down and wrote an article of my own, see the next post down. Hope you like it!

At the time at which I write (the evening of March 2nd), I haven't heard all details about the rescue of a kayaker which occurred on March 1st on Jamaica Bay, near the Rockaway Peninsula, but those which I do have (a lone paddler, a capsize, and a rescue featuring two helicopters and marine and shore units from the NYPD and NYFD) point to a story that's far too common in the late winter and early Spring.

We're now in the time of year that can be the worst for boating accidents. When there's snow on the ground, only the most hard-core of boaters think of going out, but when the weather turns warm in the late winter or early spring, everyone's tempted to get an early start on the season. Unfortunately, too many people launch on one of these balmy days without realizing the water is still winter-cold, with very little margin for error. This continues to be true through April and even on into May, even if its shorts-and-t-shirt weather on land, and a mishap can turn very serious very fast.

There's a wealth of information available on cold-water boating safety, but a person has to be aware that the risk is there, and it sometimes just isn't that obvious. I grew up in warmer climes and had some learning to do when I started kayaking in NYC. I was lucky, though, and learned my lesson my first year by watching a wetsuit-clad friend capsize in a lake that had turned cold by early October. She came up gasping, confused, and almost stunned. She recovered and kept paddling, but she was still shaken at the end of the day. As we'd been moving into the fall, our instructors had been telling us repeatedly about the dangers of cold water, but that was the first time I really understood just how dangerous an unexpected immersion could be.

What I watched my friend experience was one of the most dangerous of the physiological effects of a sudden off-season ducking – cold shock. People think of hypothermia as the primary hazard of falling in cold water, and it's a real danger, but to die of hypothermia, first you have to survive the initial impact. Cold shock can cause involuntary gasping (possibly fatal if the victim's head is underwater), hyperventilation, and severe disorientation (the victim may not know which way is up or even be quite sure where they are for the first moments). In the worst cases, cold shock can cause cardiac arrest. Hypothermia only comes into play if the boater is able to recover from these uncontrollable responses to that first moment in the water.

It sounds awful, and it can be for an unprepared boater – but for all that, I'm now part of a group of experienced Sebago Canoe Club paddlers who paddle out of the Paerdegat Basin in Canarsie twelve months of the year. Off-season is a wonderful time on the bay. You can be out for hours and only see the NYPD launch or one of the Coast Guard's RIBS the whole time. The bay teems with overwintering ducks and geese, and curious harbor seals may pop up anywhere. We love it – but we also have a lot of respect for the hazards and do everything we can to minimize the risk and maximize the fun.

Here are some of the safe-boating practices commonly followed by the Sebago off-season paddling crew:

1.Always wear a properly fitted lifejacket. NYS boating law requires that all boaters in recreational craft that are less than 21 feet in length wear lifejackets from November 1 through May 1. If you happen to fall in, it will mitigate or maybe even eliminate the cold-shock effect by keeping you from going as far under; you'll have a better chance of having your gasp reflex in the air instead of underwater, it'll bring you up if you've momentarily lost your sense of direction, and then it will keep you afloat without having to swim (which just speeds up the hypothermia process).

2. Dress for the water, not the air. Different people have different levels of tolerance, but the rule of thumb among most of the trained paddlers in the area is drysuits and neoprene hoods if the water's under 50, wetsuits for the 50's and 60's.

3. Boat with friends. Assisted rescues are almost always easier and less tiring than self-rescues, and if hypothermia sets in the other members of the group can see the symptoms and render aid.

4. Carry a VHF radio, and know how to use it. Cell phones aren't so good; most can't stand much water and, more importantly, 911 operators may not know the waterways or have any way to dispatch a boat to help you. A VHF is a much better way to reach someone who can actually help you (Coast Guard, Harbor Police, or even a nearby angler).

5. Carry supplies to help combat hypothermia – these can vary according to your tastes and the space in your boat, but I usually carry a thermos of hot cider, something to eat (the body burns calories just staying warm), gloves, a space blanket, spare dry clothing, and if it's a really cold day, a windproof balaclava.
Ha! A good point was made in the comments - when I say "cider" I'm talking the US, non-alcoholic variety, of course, not the UK version that you'd have a pint of in the pub. The usual recommendation is a hot, sweet beverage that is non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated. Thank you, Teàrlach!

6. File a float plan. Tell someone where you're going and what time you expect to be back. If you don't check in at the expected time, they can kick off a search.

7. Play it safe, don't push your limits. Our winter paddles tend to be much shorter than our summer trips, and we get much more conservative about the weather conditions in which we'll run a trip (we pay very close attention to the forecast in the days leading up to a trip).

8. Practice rescues in controlled conditions and work on them until you can get yourself and/or a friend back in a boat without having to think about it. Don't assume that you're not going to capsize or fall in; accidents can happen to the best.

9. Take care of your gear, and test it occasionally to make sure you can rely on it. Rescue practice is the best time to find out that your drysuit is leaking. Tugging at the buckles and straps of your lifejacket can reveal seams weakened by age and UV exposure. If you keep flares or other emergency gear in a zippered pouch, check the zipper now and then to make sure it hasn't seized up from the salt air, and so on and so forth. Basically, if you would need it to work in an emergency, don't wait for the emergency to find out if it works.

10. Educate yourself! I've just given an intro here. There's a lot more information out there, and all sorts of ways to find it. You can surf the web, pick up a books or pamphlets at your local outfitter or chandlery, ask experienced boaters for advice, attend a cold-water workshop run by a local club or boating shop, or all of the above. Whether you want to boat 12 months out of the year, or just break out the skiff on a nice day in March, you're sure to have a better time if you've taken the time to learn what you need to know about cold water boating safety.

Happy boating!


P.S.: It was very strange writing a response to an incident when I had so little information about the incident. As I mentioned, the bare-bones outline I had pointed to the classic warm-air, cold-water situation that's so common this time of year, so I based my story on the assumption that that's what happened, and that I had some useful information to share that would help others avoid getting into similar straits. I was a little worried, though, that the incident would turn out to be somehow NOT cold-water related - a stroke, chest pains, dislocated shoulder - any of those and, well, the cold-water warning wouldn't tie so well. Went ahead anyways, though, I thought that the probability that it WAS cold-water related was high enough that it was a reasonable gamble of a couple of hours.

The interesting thing was that by the time I sent the article to Viv this morning, she'd tracked down the rest of the story through some good old-fashioned reporter work. She'd talked to the kayaker himself and the guy who spotted him and actually knew who to call to get help (he was an experienced boater, knew the problems with 911 and had some good contacts for getting a rescue going)and it turned out that what actually happened tied in almost perfectly with what I wrote. Loved it. I have Viv's story in my email and it's a good one - I'd be tempted to just put it up, but I just want to make sure that it's OK with her (and her editors at The Wave!) before I do. And besides, I think I've got enough words, words, words here for one day. One week, even. So that's all for tonight!

Spring Boating Safety - Why I finally wrote my own.

Viv hasn't posted her full story yet, but being an impatient blogger instead of an actual writer, I'm going to go ahead and share my response now.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I (like a lot of trained paddlers) am very into spreading information about the hazards of cold water boating, especially here at the end of winter and on into early Spring, when we're getting a blissful sprinkling of days that tempt people to just get the ol' boat out of the garage a leeeeeetle bit early. Plenty of people do just that, stay in their boat and rightside up all day, have a lovely day on the water and come back just fine, not realizing that they really had a very lucky break -- had they ended up in the water, they might have found themselves in much more trouble than they ever imagined.

Unfortunately, boats being boats, and people being people, accidents do sometimes happen, and it always seems like March and April in the temperate zones always feature an unfortunate number of news stories about those less fortunate souls.

Friend and Sebago Canoe clubmate Viv, who is a writer for the Rockaway paper The Wave and blogs about life on the peninsula at Oy Vey Rockaway!, got wind of just such a story on Monday. She emailed a few of the winter paddlers at the club asking if we'd heard anything about it - details were sketchy, basically that it was a solo paddler, he capsized, there was a strong possibility he wasn't wearing a drysuit, and there ended up being a rather large rescue effort involving a couple of helicopters and land and marine units from the police and fire department. Great thing was, this one had a happy ending.

Being a writer for the Wave, and knowing that there was likely to be something in the Wave about the incident, and being concerned about another possibly negative image of kayakers (we are not the most highly regarded variety of recreational boater out there & we always sigh when something like this happens - there's a whole pack o' 'yakkers out there all winter, but this ends up being the one you read about), Viv reached out to the group she did to suggest that we provide some kind of response talking about the safety precautions that the paddlers of Sebago Canoe Club take during cold-water season.

Specifically, she asked me if I had anything here on Frogma that could be quickly whipped into shape as a quick column.

The interesting thing is that for all I must have a hundred posts on the topics of boating safety, winter paddling, spring paddling, and cold water workshops, I didn't think ANY of them would be suitable for what she wanted.

How does that work? Simple!

There is so much great information about cold-water boating on sites like Chuck Sutherland's coldwater pages and the Atlantic Kayak Tours Expert Center that I have never bothered to write something of my own on the topic. Why bother when others have done it so well? Instead, my safety posts are almost always reposts of the latest story (all too often with a tragic ending), followed by a mention that these stories are all too frequent in the spring, followed by a link to one of those hightly informative sites with a strong recommendation to go read all about it over there. The other sort of safety posts you'll frequently see here are of course announcements and reviews of cold-water workshops - I'm always happy to spread the word about those, but again, I'm usually just reposting something sent by the club or outfitter that's running it.

So -- no. I had nothing for Viv.

But even though we didn't have all the details yet, the bare-bones outline she had provided sounded like the classic late Winter/early Spring warm air-cold water story. And with a happy ending. A perfect cautionary tale. In kayak-coach school, you learn the term "teachable moment" - that's what you call it when life is kind enough to drop something in your lap that, with a little attention, can be spun into a good lesson.

The cold-water boating lesson is one that's important enough that I thought it would be a shame to let it slip by. A happy ending, Viv offering to try to get something in the paper if it could be organized quickly - what a chance to get the message out to a better audience than I'd ever reach on this blog (I always feel like I'm preaching to the choir here, I think everybody who visits here knows as much as I do on the topic). I told her I'd come home and write something last night, and I did. Ended up being a late night, but if with Viv's help, it can get some circulation beyond "the usual suspects", it was absolutely worth a little sleep deprivation.

I'll be posting that here shortly, and I hope you all think I did OK!

Spring Sermon Time Again!

Hmmm...warm days, cold water...must be about time for my annual Spring Boating Sermon, right?


This year's starts close to home (not my club, but definitely my stompin' grounds) and for once, I'm happy to report that there's a happy ending.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Buoy Afterthoughts -

There were a couple of links that ended up not making it into "Buoy Crazy" - but they ended up in comments or on Facebook, so I figured I'd go ahead & put 'em up here today (for fun, and because I haven't got anything else to say today anyways).

1. I like the way that living things other than humans also seem to like buoys. I'd ended up deciding that that aspect was a little off the tack I'd taken, but then Pandabonium mentioned fond memories of sailing out to a quarter-mile buoy to see the sea lions, and that sent me straight to Buzznet on my lunch hour to retrieve this.

An opportunisitic mini-ecosystem!
An opportunisitic mini-ecosystem!

2. The wonderful Bowsprite had an illustrated story a couple of weeks back that would have fit in PERFECTLY at the point where I mentioned the fact that buoys do occasionally MOVE. However, I was afraid to send you over there that early in my post because you might have been so charmed over there that you would forget to come back. This is a known risk of linking to Bowsprite. However, I think I can send you over to her cautionary tale now.

3. The connection between this link and buoys is that I'm adding it because Joel at Sailing Rocks! liked my mnemonic enough to pass it along, and told me about it, and I went over to see, and I got to looking at his other posts, and Helicopter-Assisted Sailing completely cracked me up.

4. And to REALLY get into Byrnesian navigation:

I wrote a post about buoys
There was a mnemonic in my post
Joel put my mnemonic on his blog
According to Joel, sailing rocks
Rap Replinger rocked
Chant'um, tita!

ps - that last link is entirely Pandabonium's fault.

pps - Captain JP - I say "BOO-ee", how 'bout you-ee?