Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sea Kayaker: Deep Trouble

I received this book as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and I knew right away it would be an interesting read. During the evening’s celebrations, I randomly flipped open the book and the first sentence I read was, “Mike watches as a huge great white shark lunges up through the surface, latches it jaws around the kayak, just behind me, and then blasts more than half of its giant bulk out of the water.” Clearly, this is my kind of book!
But seriously, this book by Matt Broze and George Gronseth is based on the accident report feature in Sea Kayaker magazine. Each chapter of the book is organized similarly to the feature in the magazine: an incident report, followed by a “lesson learned” conclusion. This is my favourite section of the magazine -- informative, educational, and even entertaining if your tastes include a touch of schadenfreude -- and the stories culled for the book fit also that description. Apart from the above-mention shark attack, there’s a number of similar themes that run through the stories: weather that unexpectedly turned bad, novice kayakers that get in over their heads in rough conditions (some of them literally), and experienced kayakers underestimating calm conditions and forgetting their usual safety routines and equipment. And not all the stories end happily.
The book also features a large section on kayak safety and numerous sidebars discussing skills, gear and techniques. Highly entertaining and highly recommended. (You can read it along with the folks at Paddler's Book Club who are currently dissecting it chapter by chapter.)

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