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Author Topic: article regarding paddling alone  (Read 818 times)

JSharlin

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article regarding paddling alone
« on: January 24, 2018, 09:17:30 AM »

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Tim

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2018, 10:31:28 AM »

Paddling alone is much less safe than paddling with a competent group.  Sea kayaking is an aging activity in most cases.  Potential medical complications alone support the above mentioned assertion.  The other is the human condition that afflicts most of us.  It relates to the accuracy with which we weigh risk.  Men are clearly the worst.  Additionally, some folks really believe they are Nanook of the North.  This is exacerbated by "the freedom isn't free" mindset.  They actually imagine they are "bombproof" and will never have a bad day.  This is a huge potential problem, with the potential for very bad outcomes.  Furthermore, as guys age the level of self delusion relative to actual skill often "tips the scales" further out of whack.  I believe the expression is "old guys behaving badly".  Women are usually more immune to this particular problem.  Consider the politicians that wreak havoc in this country.   
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 02:29:23 PM by Tim »
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FredF

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2018, 11:19:07 AM »

Tim, I agree with you completely.

Having last year reached the age of 70, I'm painfully aware that I no longer have the strength, stamina, or even--despite exercise--the agility I had 10 years ago. For these reasons, I prefer to paddle with people who know how to perform an assisted rescue and take advantage of practicing rescues when you offer workshops to practice paddling and rescue skills.
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Tony M.

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2018, 01:30:59 PM »

Great article, Jon. With 2 outings on the water a week, year 'round, the great majority of my paddling is alone. One factor that I  have observed is the "macho" factor, which, sad to say, I am affected by. I remember once, there was a paddle around Beavertail with some of the Connecticut people. W.S. (a great paddler), N.S. (an unbelievably great paddler), and myself (a relative "ham and egger"  ::)) had our own little sub-group...whatever risky move one of us did, the other 2 HAD to repeat it. Well, when I am alone, there's no one else to one-up or equal. So I proceed one notch safer than I otherwise would with others around, knowing it is me alone with no one else to help. If I do want to up the challenge, I challenge myself in a non-safety related manner (I may paddle harder/faster), rather than do something like a rough crossing. With winter paddling, I make it 2 notches safer, and in the winter with serious conditions, 3 notches. Well, I've said enough for now...Buenas noches!  ::)                          Tony
                                                                                             
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Tony M.

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 06:35:05 PM »

Tim, I also wanted to address what you said about age. We all grow old and die, and in most cases, there is some loss of function, some problems along the way. However, I have seen many people stop doing activities, not because they were no longer able to do them, but simply because of some date on the calendar. It becomes a self-fufilling prophecy, as soon they ARE unable to do the activity. The mind is the first thing to go, and by that, I mean that it starts in the mind, believing that you can't or should no longer do something...and eventually, you can't. On the other side of the coin, you may have a real, definite structural problem that precludes a certain activity. I have gone through this...certain exercises in my weight training regimen I can no longer do, the pain is just too great if I try. These exercises I no longer do...but I don't stop the ones I still can perform. Fortunately, I can still kayak (including surfing and rock gardening) without any ill effect, and will continue with this, as well as my weight training, as long as the Good Lord allows. Look at the late Jack LaLane...he challenged himself long past most of his peers were immobile in nursing homes. Now back to kayaking alone...I actually feel safer out alone, because I know that I have "notched" back on my solo paddles as far as danger and difficulty go. When I go with other competent paddlers, I push the limits more, knowing that they have my back (within reason, of course!). When I go with inexperienced paddlers, I am even more safety minded than when alone. What about having a stroke, heart attack, etc? Well, I drive home alone from work, what if I have a problem while driving? We will all die, but we shouldn't live our lives afraid of every situation...I refuse to live in fear. Besides, I'd rather die alone on the water, (where it's just me), than riding on a highway, where I may unwillingly take out other people as well as myself. Just some thoughts...
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Tim

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2018, 07:53:42 AM »

I do like what you say about aging; however, are we ever really alone when we paddle?  Our decisions and the resulting outcomes have major impacts on those around us.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 07:00:41 AM by Tim »
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Tony M.

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2018, 10:46:41 AM »

    In my estimation, THE most dangerous thing I do is return home from work at 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights. There are cars out there that are obviously racing each other, using other cars the same way skiers use flags to swerve around. We can spend our lives in bed, in an underground bomb shelter, and we're still going to eventually die. Paraphrasing Julius Caesar in Shakespere's play, a coward dies many times, a brave man but once. I refuse to live in fear, so I will go about my life, not taking foolhardy risks, but only those risks that are, in my mind, reasonable. We all will die, and  in large part my attitude arises from being a Christian, knowing that this life is not the end, and that even here and now, I am never really alone. 
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JSharlin

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2018, 10:13:15 PM »

I paddle alone in the summer and fall mostly to fish and get a workout.
I also go out in the spring but as Tony said I take it down
a few notches. One doesn’t usually push oneself out of the safety zone
when going it alone. For this reason I think there is a limited skills learning experience. The fall back
of being in a group gives you an excuse to push and learn. It’s the benefit of having such a supportive and accomplished club.
There is an inner journey when going it alone and there is much to be gained towards the inner journey.
I find I notice subtle variations in posture, breathing and stroke that I wouldn’t otherwise pay attention to in a group.
I can listen to the that voice inside my head or just be in the moment.
Wayne’s article points out these positive attributes. Safety never should be underestimated.
I think that after paddling for many years you get to know your body’s limits and listen to them.
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FredF

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2018, 10:01:18 AM »

I wasn't sure whether to post this as a new subject, but Moulton Avery posted something interesting about the "bombproof" roll on the Strictly Sea Kayaking FB page, which I think is relevant to this discussion. If one has a bomb-proof roll among other skills, he or she would perhaps be safer and have more confidence in paddling alone, right? Maybe not....

Avery writes as follows:

THE PROBLEM WITH BOMB-PROOF ROLLS

For a number of reasons, I think instructors who perpetuate the concept of a "bomb-proof roll" do their students a disservice.

First of all, there really is no such thing as a "bomb-proof" roll. The term alludes to a roll that's so reliable, and so fine-tuned, that it never fails. That's misleading and unrealistic. Every experienced instructor knows that given sufficient "conditions", everyone eventually bails and swims - and in fact, the best paddlers I know have all taken swims at one time or another.
It's also a potentially dangerous idea to plant in a student's head because, as many studies have amply demonstrated, people have an unfortunate tendency to overestimate their abilities, and deluding yourself into thinking that your roll is "bomb-proof" can have undesirable consequences – particularly for less experienced paddlers.

Think about it: If you have a “bomb-proof” roll, why would you waste time worrying about the possibility of a swim? Why bother learning or practicing rescues? Why bother dressing for the water temperature? Why practice swimming with your paddle? Why avoid paddling solo in gnarly conditions? For that matter, why would you even wear a PFD?

"It's no biggie, Dude, 'cause I got a bomb-proof roll!" is the kind of attitude that can get any paddler, no matter how experienced, into "deep trouble”.

As instructors, we should be discouraging our students from thinking this way, because when it comes to safety, a humble and realistic mindset is our friend, and machismo is our enemy. Despite what a lot of hyperbolic writers have written over the years, nobody "conquers" a mountain, or a river, or the sea.

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Tony M.

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2018, 10:28:20 AM »

   Jonathan - Important aspect of paddling alone I failed to mention, the contemplative side to it...thank you for bringing it up!
   Fred - It is related, and an excellent point...NOTHING is bomb-proof. (just as anyone with kids knows nothing is unbreakable...my kids could break a cannonball!)
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JSharlin

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Re: article regarding paddling alone
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2018, 04:00:45 PM »

Wayne Horodowich responds.

Jon sent me an e-mail saying there was some discussion among RICKA members regarding my article “Paddling Alone” posted on Paddling.Com. I have to say I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject. I was fascinated about the Tim’s comment about sea kayaking being an aging sport and how the discussion thread followed that line.

Before I comment on your thoughts it is interesting to note I wrote that article over 15 years ago and posted it on my website in Nov 2002. Back then there were no comments about being older and the concerns raised in your recent comments. All comments were either for or against, with the focus on safety in numbers, which is a different topic that was also addressed in a different article.

As for sea kayaking being an aging sport I agree completely. When sea kayaking was in its infancy and the beginning of its growing curve (mid 1980’s) the demographics were ages 30 to 50.  We are now 60 to 80. The phone calls I now get from old paddling partners is not let’s go for a paddle. They call me with the latest joint replacement or who recently passed away.

Personally I spend less time on the water than years ago even though I am retired and have more time. I still teach kayaking classes and go on solo weeklong trips. I freely admit the degree of difficulty, regarding the paddling environment, has lowered as I have aged. I realize my brain wants to write checks that my body and skill level can no longer cash.

However, I still love to paddle alone and I am fully aware of my new limitations. As a side note, when I finished my 30 day Outward Bound course at age 26 I believed all limitations were self imposed. After my knee replacement, hip replacement, elbow surgery, shoulder surgery and occasional a-fib incidents I am fully aware of the fact that there are physical limitations. I am not even going to mention the challenges of the aging brain. I am tired of trying to remember why I come into rooms. Even with my new limitations I feel I have a good sense of what I can and cannot do. I constantly do risk assessments for all of my activities. That includes getting on the roof to blow of the pine needles.

After reading your comments I still believe in my reasons for writing the article, which are the confidence and satisfaction of being able to go out and do something on my own, even if it is a half hour paddle on a calm lake. I can still push my limits even as those limits decrease. I prefer to do that than say I can no longer do something just because of the date on my birth certificate.

When will I stop? When I can no longer do it. How do I know I can no longer do it? When I try it and I cannot. The key is to test yourself in controlled environments to see if you can still do it before doing it in a more risky situation.

I want to thank you all for your comments. It has motivated me to write an article regarding the aging paddler. I better write it now while there are still enough of us around to read it.
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