|This photo is borrowed from Whitfield's twitter and the CBC!|
Yes, I know whereof I speak. The nice thing about paddling in cool weather and rain is that I don't feel hot inside my shortie wetsuit like I do in summer. Oh, and the beach is less crowded, as the only people along the shore are willing to cope with a little drizzle. But it's those people who are behind the New Tip for Urban Kayakers.
And that tip is: keep some of your attention on whoever is watching you. Now, for one thing, that means having a ground crew who knows you are on the water and where and when to expect you back. But that part of the tip isn't new. The new part is being aware that other people can see you.
|Can you see Whitfield? He's a black dot in his friend's photo, borrowed from Twitter.|
Concerned citizens can also call for help even when a paddler isn't in trouble, as Simon Whitfield learned on Monday afternoon. You can read the local paper's article about the rescue that wasn't needed, and another article is here on the CBC's website. Whitfield had a visit from the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue station 33 which scrambled from Oak Bay Marina to find him on his paddleboard near Trial Island.
The photo above of Whitfield on his paddleboard was a selfie, taken on Monday afternoon. You can see part of Trial Island behind him, and the fact that he's wearing a proper drysuit. What you can't see is the Search and Rescue zodiac boat coming up on him at that moment for a friendly meeting on the waves. After confirming that Whitfield had a life jacket and was tethered to his paddleboard, the rescue crew suggested that he should also carry a VHF radio with the Marine band. That way, next time someone calls for him to be rescued (and it looks like it could indeed happen again because this is his usual place to paddle) Whitfield can respond to the broadcast to confirm whether he needs rescue.
The photo also shows part of why Whitfield didn't know anyone was worried about him: he's wearing earbuds. Yup, this Olympian triathlete was out in gale force winds playing in the waves of Enterprise Channel, and needed something to occupy his attention. So he was listening to an audiobook.
If you're not a local paddler, I'll put those terms into perspective. You can read about gale force winds here. Now, I routinely go on the water during a small craft warning, but only inside Cadboro Bay and I stick close to the beach in case I tumble. The only time I'm on the water during gale force winds is when a gale blows in while I'm paddling back to the beach... happens about once a year. By the way, looking at the photo taken on Monday afternoon by Whitfield's friend, it wasn't blowing a gale, just breezy as the waves aren't much bigger than he is.
You can read about Enterprise Channel between the Trial Islands and the Victoria city shoreline here, on our blog's post about John and Louise having a lesson on Navigating Currents. The current gets pretty strong here on both a flood tide and an ebb tide. Let's just say that the First Nations name for this channel in Leukwengen dialect of Coast Salish translates roughly as "Nobody talk now while we're paddling through this channel!"
As for the earbuds and audiobook, well... As a half-deaf paddler, I can report that it can be hard to hear exactly what someone on shore might be shouting. But it is worth looking over at the shore from time to time when a random shout carries across the water. So our New Tip for Urban Kayakers is finally: put away the earbuds and recorded music or audiobooks, unless you've got plenty of attention to keep scanning the shoreline for distressed onlookers waving at you.
I'm all in favour of audiobooks. There are loads of 'em at the public library that you can borrow!