Last week I started a series of posts on how to become an independent boater, i.e. someone who doesn’t need to be led down the river. I looked at safety in my last piece and you can read it here. This week is all about picking your own lines and why this is so important in being able to move away from being led on a river. When talking about lines, I mean the route you take to get from point A to point B on a river. This may be planned out, for example if you get out of your kayak to scout an upcoming rapid. Lines can also be chosen very quickly and from your boat whilst you are paddling down a river. Either way, being able to choose your line is an important skill than can take people a long time to master.
A goal that I believe many kayakers have is one to become an ‘independent boater’. Let me explain what I mean by that phrase. When someone starts off in kayaking, it is often through a club. They are reliant on those more experienced than them to organise and lead trips of which they are invited on. It can be hard to move away from this structured system and become someone who goes kayaking when they want, where they want and with who they want. Whilst many people would like to achieve this independence, they may not feel confident enough in their own knowledge and experience to make this transition. As someone who has largely moved away from club boating and more towards peer paddling, I was considering the steps needed in order to achieve this. I came up with three main steps or sub-goals and am going to dedicate a blog piece to each of them. In this piece, I am going to look at safety and specifically the journey to becoming safe in a kayaking environment.
‘What happens if you fall over?’ is a question I am often asked when trying to explain what whitewater kayaking is to non-kayaking friends. I would usually respond by describing what a roll is. Of course rolling back up after capsizing your kayak isn’t the only possible outcome. If you are wondering what another option might be, it is of course the swim! For a water based sport, I have always been surprised by the variation in attitudes when it comes to swimming out of your kayak. As someone who has had many, many (I’m really not exaggerating), many swims, I feel I should share some of my thoughts on the matter.
When I started writing this blog not too long ago, I asked friends if there were any topics they would like to me write about. A friend of mine, we’ll call him ‘Pyranha Mat’ to preserve his anonymity, suggested one such topic. He suggested that I write a blog called ‘100 things Del loves about Pyranha kayaks’. Being the proud owner of a Pyranha Z.One, I probably could write such a blog. But the issue is that I own several kayaks of different brands and I would end up wanting to write a similar piece about each of them. So I thought why not just write a blog piece about all the boats I love and why I came to love each one.
‘Noor waayy are you going to Norway?’ My friend Sam exclaimed when I told him a week before my trip last August. Sam works in Des Mes (my local kayaking shop) and I had popped in to buy some elbow pads. Whilst Sam’s excitement was probably more due to his creation of such a well worded question, it matched my excitement for my upcoming trip. My purchase of elbow pads however was in response to the extreme nervousness I was also beginning to feel.