Friday, 27 May 2022

Kayaks and canoes need to have float plans, too

With rising gas prices, we can expect an increase in the amount of paddle craft on our lake this year. As the number rises, so does the risk for novice or unprepared operators getting themselves into trouble.

Not long ago, the Lake County Coast Guard Auxiliary rescued seven young men in a motor launch. When their vessel died on the water, they became a manually powered craft equal to a kayak, canoe or other manually powered craft.

Their lack of knowledge and preparedness nearly cost at least two of those young men their lives. Because they didn’t have the proper equipment, clothing, signaling devices, shore contact capability, two of those young men slid into a dangerous level of hypothermia. The outcome? It took three hours to raise their core body temperatures to normal.

Three knots is the average speed for a kayaker. When underwater features cause water to speed up, or shifts in weather create towering waves, experience and preparedness, not muscle power, are what matter. The prepared paddle vessel operator will have a boat appropriate for the task. Paddlers should be in the company of one or more people equally versed in reading the water and capable of self-rescue.

People engaged in paddle sports are a vulnerable group of water sport activists. They need to educate themselves and their families in the safe operation for this craft. Wearing flotation devices is superior to having them on board. The wisdom of putting cell phones and other emergency equipment in floatable, sealed containers and maintaining an awareness of the weather and water conditions is crucial.

Leaving a float plan with someone so in an emergency a search team has a point from which to begin a search, and a grasp of how quickly an overturned, loose craft can blow out of reach are some safety considerations for the paddle crafter. The goal is to enjoy the sport and simultaneously keep the adventure from turning into disaster. Remember a drowning is the same whether from a sail boat, motor launch, fishing vessel, or paddle craft.

Paddle craft operators should take advantage of a boating safety class the same as any other vessel operator on the water.

Currently, boating safety classes are being offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary on May 10, June 21 and July 19 in Lakeport. Topics include signaling devices, proper wear and care of flotation devices, float plans and more.

For more information, contact Betty Strach, Flotilla Staff Officer in Public Education at 707-928-9811 or 707-245-3136. The America’s Boating Course is approved by the United States Coast Guard.

Betty Strach is the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla Staff Officer in public education.


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05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Farmers' Market at Steele
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