Safe paddling

Posted by Robert N Pruden on Jun 1, 2005

I am positive that you could cross under those conditions in any water craft. The REAL question is: are you skilled enough to paddle a boat in those conditions? Kayaking can be done and is done in almost any conditions to be found on water. There are some extreme paddlers who go out only in the worst of the worst to thrill seek. I have paddled in ice choked conditions and in high wind conditions (50 mph winds).

You must have confidence backed up by real self-rescue and (ideally) rolling skills to paddle in any rough weather water conditions. No boat is more safe if you do not know how to help yourself out there. You should know how to self-rescue using a paddle float - bare minimum - if you want to go out and paddle on chop like that. If you are paddling with someone else, then you should both know how to do assisted rescues and self-rescues.

You should also have proper safety equipment including a good pfd, rescue rope, paddle float, spare paddle, cockpit pump, neo booties and gloves (warms extremities), a paddling, flare, and a VHF radio to call in for help. These are critical items of personal safety when crossing large bodies of water under difficult conditions.

That said, I have crossed lakes that have looked as bad or worse. The crossing was very difficult and risky. I am very strong and I'll tell you, I was tired when I was done and I was only out there for an hour. To cross such a body of water you can expect to have difficulties with wind and wave that work to turn you in the direction of the wind. Paddling into the wind is much easier than paddling with the wind. Paddling into the wind is easier because you can steer the boat more easily. Going with the wind means the wind hits the stern first thus causing the stern to turn the boat, a much more difficult situation to control.

I hope this helps. If your skills are up to it and you are totally confident, go for it. If you have any doubts, stick to the shore and learn how wind and wave affects the boat. Make sure you practice on the shore where the wind will blow you towards the shore, otherwise you may end up being blown out into the middle of the water body.

Robert N Pruden

In Response to: Cross this water? by Pierce Davidson on Jun 1, 2005


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