Saturday, February 26, 2011

Have You Licensed Your Canoe or Kayak Yet?

TheStar Boaters fear they’ll be up a creek without a $50 licence

The above article refers to an issue that's recently come up in the Canadian paddling community, Transport Canada's new regulations that seem to require the licensing of canoes & kayaks.

This item also appeared in today's CBC News:

I've been aware of the issue for well over a month now, and have resisted blogging about it, primarily because I was waiting to see what it all means, and hoping for clarification of several points. To that end I have been reading the information put out by Paddle Canada, and, as well as following closely (but not getting mired into) the conversations at Canadian Canoe Routes and West Coast Paddler.

These rules are confusing, and there has been a great deal of confusion of how these rules will affect local paddling clubs (like the SCC), Guides, Scouts, schools, and other organisations that are important for introducing canoeing and kayaking to new paddlers.

As an instructor, it's not not the end of the world for me. As someone who occasionally volunteers to take the less experienced out on the water in canoe and kayak, this could be a very big deal. I've been hesitant to take a stance while I've been trying to figure out what it all means. However, I'm more and more of the opinion that this is a bad thing for individual paddlers, and for paddling culture in Canada.

During discussions of these new rules it gets brought up that it will be impossible to enforce. That may be, but they don't need to enforce it at all for it to be very important. It suddenly becomes important when something bad happens on a trip, course or minor excursion, and you are deemed to be a leader.

The good thing here is that they perhaps seem to be backtracking a bit, based on the comments from Chuck Strahl, Federal Transport Minister as reported in the above CBC article.

So, if you paddle, especially if you take others paddling, look into this and form an opinion for yourself. Keep an eye on how this is progressing and if your not satisfied or if this has you worried, consider writing a letter expressing your concern to your elected representatives. Also, spread the word. I think very few of us even know about these regulations at the moment, though the news is spreading.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tough Decisions

Rather than write a blog post, I'm supposed to be packing for a winter camping trip at the moment. A group of us from the Saskatoon Snowshoe Club are to be leaving Saskatoon for Prince Albert National Park in the morning. However, I've had a cold for the last few days and things are not currently getting any better. Late this morning, about 19 hours before Bob & Jeff were to meet at my house to pick me up, I finally concluded that I could not go and made the decision to back out of the snowshoe trip.

It really sucks to back out of a trip like this. It's not just that I really want to go (despite the -34°C overnight low that is forecast), but the feeling of letting others down. In a group like this some of the gear is shared. My pulling out now means that Mike no longer has a place to sleep. Of course he can borrow my tent and stove, but it's really too much for one person to haul in (3 is ideal, 4 will fit and for 2 it's a palace). So, I called one of the other people on the trip and suggested that he and his tent partner join Mike in my hot tent. However, I hardly had the words out of my mouth that I was pulling out before he was telling me that his tent partner was sick and if I was pulling out, she would be too and therefore he wouldn't go either. So, our group of 7 quickly diminished to 4. A phone call to Mark later and now he's out too. That leaves 3, maybe.

So, now I feel responsible for starting the cascade that has essentially killed this trip. But, the more I think about it, the more I know it was a decision I had to make and the correct decision was made.

Had I gone, I might have been on the upswing by then and could have had a great time. However, it seems just as likely that my energy would be low and I'd be dragging my ass to keep up with the group and pull my own weight (not to mention that 100+ pounds on the sled behind me). It also becomes a safety issue. When you are fatigued you are prone to bad decisions. When fatigued due to sickness that effect is likely worse. Also, because I am with a group, my bad decisions may not only affect myself, but also the rest of the group. Another concern I had was the cold weather (did I mention -34°C was forecast?) and the potential effect my sickness might have on my ability to thermoregulate and combat the cold. I don't presently have a fever or the chills, but if that were to set in, I'd rather be at home than in a tent.

Anyway, I could go on listing various scenarios and discussing the repercussions of a decision to go despite a head full of mucus, but I think I'll go make myself a hot toddie instead.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Put The Sheepdogs On The Rolling Stone

Great local band and hot sensation The Sheepdogs have been selected as one of 16 bands that have the potential to earn a place on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine (not to mention a deal with Atlantic Records and a bunch of other cool stuff). They are the only Canadian band among the 16. Help them out and show some love for this fine Canadian band and their great classic rock sound.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Paddle Canada Kayak Course in the Broken Group Islands

Here is a video I came across recently while checking out the SKILS web site. It's a film by The Hurricane Riders of Vancouver while the group was taking a Paddle Canada Level 3 kayak course in the Broken Group Islands. The Broken Group is where I paddled last summer with my family (what a great experience) - trip report forthcoming! Watching this video makes me want to rush out and take an advanced sea kayaking course, especially one that's situated in the Broken Group. Featured in the group is Michael Pardy, the instructor trainer that helped to teach my instructor's course last spring.

p.s. The lost kayaker was part of scenario training, not a real situation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sea Kayak Snow Launch

The Hurricane Riders enjoy a Snow Day in Vancouver (or thereabouts, maybe Deep Cove?). This sort of thing has gotten pretty mundane with whitewater kayaks, but these folks are "paddling" full fledge sea kayaks. Really, when was the last time you saw someone catch air with a sea kayak? Looks like fun!