The Paddler’s diary/log

A paddler’s ‘diary’ or ‘log’ book is a means in which one can keep track of your adventures on the water. It is a written account of your paddling and has detailed data (as much or as little as one wishes) of what you encounter. This information can be a great resource for you, or others in the future, as I’ll explain this later.

What info does one place within the log? That is the beauty of a diary, it is totally user friendly and you may place any details within which you can refer back to in a future paddle. Here are some notions in which I find useful to have. This is a capture of a portion of a log from 2017.

Date          city         temp   wind        location   yak    paddle        miles hours       training      notes

4/25/2017green bay525lily lakezegulgreen31.5fine tuning rollsfront recovery 8/standard/angel 5, tulik
5/3/2017green bay575the bayzegulgreen5rollspadle with ken, dry
5/4/2017howard605duck/bayzegulgreen6wfrv, rollssafety interview, dry
5/6/2017horicon5510horiconzegulgreen8rolls x 6NEWP, Dry
5/8/2017two rivers435lake mzegulgreen6rolls x5Dry
5/13/2017kewaunee585lake mzegulgreen6rolls x10tulik
5/14/2017high cliff605lake winnyCetusgreen103rolls x6FVY, Dry
5/17/2017wrightstown735foxzegulgreen5rolls x5gusts 10, tulik
5/22/2017port washington6210lake mCetusgreen8gusts 15, 1 to 1 1/2 footers
5/24/2017green bay5810baycetudgreen1.5open water rescueTRR, Dave gets rescued
5/26/2017Door county645lake mCetusgreen13.5rollsx4 plum/pilot  island ,dry
5/27/2017door county635lake mCetusgreen12.7rollsx3ellison->sister->ellison bay,dry
5/28/2017door county635lake mcetusgreen/euro7.5rolls/butterfly/fogsandbay ->south->return,dry
5/29/2017Door county655 to 10lake mCetusgreen6.8rolls/butterfly/rainto cave point return,tulik

I like to make this a spreadsheet format – as I find this the easiest to maintain. Most of the categories are self-explanatory. But I shall expand on them.

Temp- This is the air temperature, not the water temperature (however, I do include this in my planning for paddle trips).

The winds I find useful to record – as this will dictate either the direction I go, location I paddle from, or just how far I am away from shore (depending on the wind direction). For both the temperature and wind speed, I will use a local city weather report or other various resources at hand. (Where to obtain reliable weather conditions/water conditions will be in a future blog.. stay tuned).

For both the yak and paddle sections – I like to practice with the different items at my disposal and the conditions will dictate what I use.

Miles – For planning a trip (in a location in which one has never been to before) it is always a good idea to map out the mileage beforehand.  I find Bing maps helpful in this, as one can zoom in, right click and use the map distance option. I have found this to be pretty accurate, if I maintain a relatively straight line. Otherwise, I can research various sites to get the distance from fellow paddlers who did the area before me. If I really am curious, I will bring along a GPS tracker and map out the exact mileage.

Both the training and additional notes- I like to have this placed in there to remind me of some paddling specific training I did, or making account of unique paddling environments I encountered. For the cooler weather paddling – I like to list what type of protective clothing I wore (or how many layers I wear underneath) as this becomes very useful deciding what to wear when it isn’t always 75 degrees and sunny. There are trials and pitfalls trying to figure out what to wear in the cooler weather – and trying to figure out that clothing combination without either overheating or being too cold does take time, and patience. Having a record of what did or didn’t work may alleviate some future headaches.

Why is this important information to have? As mentioned, I like to use this as a personal reference guide. This has numerous benefits not only for personal use, but for others as well. It provides me enough information to plan future return trips to areas in which I love to paddle. If someone asks me, “Say, have you ever done this stretch – just how far is it anyway.. how long did it take you?” I can answer that by just looking at my spreadsheet. In my early years of paddling, I would have never thought about creating one of these. It was only just before my interest of becoming an instructor did I learn about doing this. Good thing I did create one a year before undergoing my certification, as the Instructor Trainer (the person who instructs the Instructors) asked all students for proof of their log. Some didn’t ever create a personal log, until that day – but believe me, they maintain one now. For you see, as an ACA Instructor, this log acts as a resume for your paddle experiences and training. I do not know of any Instructor who isn’t proud of showing off their Paddle diary/log to whomever asks wishing to view it.

Make it a personal goal – starting this year- to keep track of your paddle activities. You will find it a joy to reflect back to your activities years later, as your expertise increases. When seeking out an outfitter or going on a trip with a company – as the lead person about their experiences both as a guide and/or instructor. There should be no reason they would object to providing documentation of their paddling experience to you. Wouldn’t you want your safety net to be fully competent in what they do, should the need arise?


For the Paddler within…….

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