Apr 11, 2014
Well, goodness, have we got a nice-looking weekend coming up here in the Northeast. Temps in the 60's in NYC, light winds and sunshine - perfect weekend to break out the ol' canoe, right?
And of course the answer to that question is, as always for this time of year,
"Yes, of course, but please learn the risks and have the right gear."
I suspect I'm preaching to a combination of choir and fellow preachers here but I always feel like I have to do this this time of year - the air's warming up but that water is still cold to the point that a mishap that would be humorous in August could actually be the last mistake that person makes.
There've already been a couple of the usual late winter/early spring news stories about kayak accidents doing the paddler social-media circuits - a couple of fatalities, plus one really lucky saved-life story. Naturally the story with the happy ending involved a paddler who was wearing their life jacket - I haven't got time to hunt down the link right now but if I'm recalling correctly, the story was that someone spotted the overturned kayak from shore and called for help. The paddler was past the point of being able to move by the time rescuers arrived but the lifejacket kept them afloat.
In NY State, we're still in the time of year when anyone out in a recreational craft of 20' or less is required by law to wear a properly-fitted lifejacket; that's not the rule everywhere, but a boater who doesn't is taking a big and completely unnecessary risk.
Beyond that, dressing properly is also important - remember that we had a very, very cold winter; I was talking to some of my polar bear swimmer friends last weekend and they were remarking on how cold the water remains right now at Coney Island.
Thinking of doing some spring boating, but not sure how you should prepare, or just feel like you could use a refresher? Visit the links in my Cold Water Safety section on Frogma, top of the sidebar - always good to know before you go!