As a paddler, one should always notify others of your intentions. A simple phone call to a loved one, or a friend can be that ONE thing which may save your life. Simple communication is all it takes. With our digital age and access to cell phones – there should be no reason why we can not express to others what we have in mind.
Like most, when the day and the water are calling – the need to get the kayak and hit the water beckons us. We are excited to have great paddle weather, and even better water conditions. As the endorphins makes it way through our bodies as you load the kayak, paddle gear, and all other related items for a great trip – take a moment and think, have I let anyone know what I am doing?
One phone call can make or break your outcome. Prior to the paddle season, establish a contact list with people you know you can count on, should there ever be a need for assistance. Another great option is to send text messages to those trusted people – and ensure they have replied to your text message before hitting the water.
So, what information should one provide (assuming they know you really like to paddle)? When I paddle, I will notify my contact person of my intentions (I have a scheduled paddle pattern). I inform them of the number of people who are present, where I am, my destination/ planned route, ETA of when I should get back to the car, and what the conditions are like. I bring my phone along with me and place it on airplane mode (to conserve battery life), and place it in a water-proof container, within reach – should I ever need it. Once I completed the trip, and returned to the car, I immediately notify my contact person of my safe return. This reduces the stress and worry factor with my contact, and creates trust between the two.
What happens if there is ever a need for a rescue, or the people you paddle with don’t know you/your contacts, or nobody else knows where you had gone, or you went for a solo paddle and never notified anyone (I DO NOT recommend this)? A Paddle Float Plan is a great way to inform others of your intentions as a paddler. Even alerting my contact person, I complete this form. This plan offers the information to others outside your contact circle, a means in which to find you, and to make contact with you should the need arise. This form provided can be laminated and can be used for multiple years. Just use a grease pen or wet-erase marker to write the information on the sheet. Once completed, place it on the dashboard in clear view for others. Rescue agencies can easily spot vehicles with kayak racks/trailers, and will look for this information (should it ever come to that). This provides a quicker response time, narrows the search location, and provides information in which others may not know.
On your next paddle trip, take a moment to complete the form, and keep in handy in your car. Your kayaking pals will thank you – as this may just save your life, but your paddle partners as well.
For the paddler within,