It looks like we might finally be getting something that approximates summer weather in the next week or two. (Good timing since it is already August!) I would like to applaud a few students that I have had in recent classes. Without naming names, let me just say that I have had several people take classes in recent weeks for the express purpose of brushing up on their rescue skills. Unfortunately, it has been too long since most kayakers have practiced a wet exit, solo paddle float re-entry, and assisted rescue. At the very least, take the opportunity of warm water on an inland lake on a hot, sunny day and spend some time in the water getting reacquainted with these skills. Take some friends along and make it a “rescue party”! Better yet, after you get good at doing these skills on warm, flat water, head out to Lake Michigan and practice in cooler water with a little chop. You need to make sure that you can perform these rescues in the conditions that you paddle in. Except for beginners, capsizes rarely occur in calm water. If you find you are having some difficulty with some aspect of these rescue and self-rescue skills, it’s time to seek out the help of someone who can help you master them. Don’t go on blindly assuming that it will never happen to you. I can recount numerous examples from my own paddling experience where paddlers have capsized and needed an assist from another paddler. Thankfully, there have always been skilled, conscientious kayakers on the scene ready to perform an assisted re-entry or rescue. And by the way, canoeists need to practice their own set of capsize and recovery skills just like the kayakers!
Kayaking and canoeing are water sports. Capsizes don’t happen all the time, but they DO happen! Make sure that you are prepared, and when a capsize occurs, it will only be an inconvenience and a funny story instead of a tragedy.
It’s a really good time to get wet!