By way of background; Inland Sea Kayakers (ISK) is a Minnesota based sea kayaking club that promotes safe sea kayaking and the recreational use of the Great Lakes and smaller bodies of water. A little while back, I forget when, I asked Peggy, the President of the Inland Sea Kayakers, the process that the club uses to identify and promote kayaking trips. Not entirely happy or sure of the process, I probed and prodded at the process, raising a few questions and potential objections. It was a good exchange, which ended with Peggy suggesting that if I wanted to affect change I could always join the clubs Board. With Peggy’s help and the support of the previous board members, and many other club members I was elected to the board this month as the Trips Coordinator. Woo hoo now it’s my problem….. (That reminds me of a poem by Roger McGough)
Seriously though, there is a problem. I think it is a problem that afflicts most kayak clubs that have an interest in promoting trips. The problem is, how to attract and retain trip leaders who are prepared to share their scarce vacation time to take others on overnight trips. I don’t have an answer, but it will be a focus area for the Board and me this year. In addition to growing the trip leadership, we will also be focusing on growing the participation at all club events, programs and trips to include a broader spectrum of club members and not just the die-hard core group.
Last weekend the ISK held a cold water immersion class to help people understand the consequences of capsizing and wet exiting in the cold water of the mid-west lakes. It was my first time at this annual event. I was a co-leader of a group of the paddlers and I hope I can speak for all of them when I say we collectively had a fun, safe time and learned a great deal.
Our primary focus was on assisted rescues, the T, the scoop, the bow and crossed paddle. Obviously I spent time rolling, but that was not the reason for being there. Being a co-leader it fell on me to be the practice dummy for the group. I was impressed with how well my gear coped with the chilly water. Admittedly the water was not in the thirties, the weather had warmed it significantly since the lake had thawed but it was still cold enough to take your breath away.
It was interesting doing the T-Rescues to experiment with the different methods of moving around. Jeff (and the ACA) teach us to remain still as the victim and move the kayak around ourselves. This proved a very effective and fast way. It had the interesting consequence of necessitating the rescuer to head for the victim and not the victims kayak, especially its bows which were likely to move considerably during the course of the rescue. Aggressive edging of the kayak proved very effective at reducing the amount of strength needed to raise and rotate the kayak to drain it.
The Tahe was very easy to board, but it did demonstrate to me how such low freeboard kayaks as the Tahe can be a liability in any sea state other than dead calm water. The cockpit flooded numerous times when I was not extremely cautious about keeping the kayak flat. Pumping the kayak out a few times manually reminded my of the effort needed and has reenergized my desire for an electric pump in my trip kayaks.
All members of our group were impressed at how stable the kayaks were when the rescuer committed to leaning across the victims kayak. I had no issue wriggling into the tight cockpit of the Tahe with the help of my rescuer.
If you are interested in the Inland Sea Kayakers you can check out the web site here.
All pictures courtesy Jeff Forseth