By Jim on Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Downwind or paddling for long distances can be fun but alos fought with danger.
I'm a typical Aussie male who thinks, i'll be alright don't worry about it. During the winter I went for a paddle with a friend, we were paddling 8kms into the wind then coming back with the swell, a very familar paddle done by most who enjoy catching swells. We we heading as far out to see as we could so that the swell could be run right back to the beach we had started at. The swell at times was over 8ft and coming from all directions at times. after more then 40mins punching into the swell we landed about 3kms out off the closest point, with 2 minutes to go before we turned around, I got up a lot of speed from a back wash from the point near us, this made me fly over the swell and land on the very close next swell, the ski 20ft long and the ski taking the impact at the front and the tall then my 82kgs landing very hard, the unthinkable happened.My ski snapped, luckly not in half but my concern came as my friend was some way back and I had to call him to know I was in trouble but also not wait in the water to long as I would have sank. On this occasion I was luck to be a good paddler as I could hold the ski together and catch swells and ran some swells back to shore some 3kms away.
The biggest learning thing was when I stepped safely on the shore was how quickly it could go wrong.
I went for another downwind with a group of lifesavers, so you couldn't be with a better group to feel safe. It was a 10-11km downwind with us being 4kms of shore at some stages, great conditions for downwind paddling. 3kms from the finish Luke who is an Australian Kayak Team paddler and NSW Surf Ski Champion broke his rudder cable, he was lucky I was close by and not far from the finish so he could get help.
So again it showed me and also you how quickly something can go wrong no matter how good a paddler you are or think you are.
Here are some of my tips you should quickly check.
Rudder, rudder cables,no holes or leaks and boat is structurly sound.
Sharft is strong, no cracks and blades are secure.
You wear the appropriate clothing for the conditions, both warm and cold. Most importantly be able to swim in no matter how much clothin you wear.
Go for the safe paddling ones not some thin easy cover as alife jacket job.
Phone in zip lock case.
You can see how quickly something can go wrong, so be prepared and enjoy your paddling in safety.
Happy Hoildays Everyone.