The Coast Guard’s 2010 PaddleSmart Event

It has been a whirl wind few weeks as we have been preparing for the season! We have secured a very solid Stewardship and Program Intern Crew, performed many site visits to prepare for the full project schedule this season, and have had the opportunity to take part in a series of outreach and educational events like the Coast Guard’s PaddleSmart Event in Portland, ME.

I was very impressed with the Coast Guard’s commitment to paddler safety.  There is a very focused drive to have zero paddler fatalities cause by anything that could have been controlled. Examples of past fatalities that could have been prevented usually revolved around missing a degree of preparedness before heading out.  Some examples:

  • Not using a life jacket
  • Unprepared for the weather, not dressed properly
  • Not following proper protocol when a boat is swamped
  • Not posting a trip plan
  • Not writing a name and address in the water vessel
  • Not having ways for rescuers to easily find you: flares, ample reflective tape

Paul Travis, registered Maine Guide, put together a great power point presentation on “Preparing for and Surviving Cold Water“, that I hope everyone gets an opportunity to view.  It is short and to the point, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact Paul or myself, this is definitely information that can save your life.  I know it is beginning to warm up out there, and even with this topsy-turvy weather it is feeling more and more like summer.  Even so, the water is still cold and this message is strongly advised all year:  Be Prepared for Cold Water.

It was also very interesting to see the different methods used to exit a swamped kayak and then self rescue or T-rescue.  It was obvious that without proper floatation in your kayak, a float bag for one end of your paddle, and a bilge pump, the chances of being able to pull off this maneuver are very difficult if even possible at all:

 

Notice how the kayaker is using the air bag on the paddle blade to stabilize the kayak and allow a pivot point to maneuver back on to the kayak without it flipping back over.  Also notice how the kayak is floating.  In these pictures the kayak is virtually completely swamped and is able to remain above the waterline due in most part to the built in air pockets both bow and stern.

If you ever have the opportunity to take part in an event like this I highly suggest it, I learned a ton and it was a great forum for conversation and networking.  A BIG thanks to the folks at the Coast Guard for pulling this together!  A good quote to remember:

“Safe Paddling = Fun Paddling”

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