Howdy

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by berk81, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. berk81

    berk81 New Member

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    Hey guys,

    I just found the site while looking up kayaking in the Vancouver area. Basically what's happened is that I've finally decided to take advantage of living in the most beautiful city in the world and take up kayaking. I've done it a few times before while on vacation in Maui and am reasonably strong at rolling as well as the basics of paddling. However, I've got a couple questions since I plan on buying all the necessary gear to get started. Namely...
    - what kind of gear do I need to start out with? (other than wet suit, kayak and paddle of course...)
    - what are some good beginner areas around the lower mainland? (from what I can tell False Creek is pretty ideal in Vancouver proper)
    - to keep going with the first question, what are some good beginner areas around the lower mainland to get a good look at wildlife?

    Sorry about the long-windedness of this post and I look forward to getting out there.

    Berk.
     
  2. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Welcome to the site, berk81!

    It depends. Are you planning on overnight trips? If you're just doing day trips, you'll also need a paddle float, whistle, pump, throw bag -- if you're going overnight, you'll need camping gear.

    False Creek is pretty easy (but you've got to watch out for boat traffic). There are also several small places around the Lower Mainland that are good for novices -- Buntzen Lake, Hayward Lake, Alouette Lake, Deas Slough -- check our Paddling Locations section for more.

    Pitt Lake is good, as is Widgeon Creek (when it's not too busy). The Gulf Islands are only a short ferry ride away and you'll see lots of wildlife there. Basically, if you can stay quiet, you'll see wildlife (mink, otters, beavers, the occasional bear) pretty much anywhere you go around here. We've even seen otters in False Creek.

    *****
     
  3. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    Hi Berk

    Welcome. Re kit:

    1. spray skirt
    2. VHF radio (problems can blow up quickly and why not pay what is in effect a $150 insurance premium that keeps on working)
    3. dry suit not wet suit. I am likely to be accused of overkill here BUT I say this because you have clearly done a fair bit already if you can roll (or you are a much quicker learner than the rest of us, you rotter). Nothing has improved my kayaking more than getting a dry suit. If you can roll and getting cold is no longer an issue (dry suits keep you warm and toasty) you will be willing to play and experiment much more than if you are intent on staying the right way up all the time
    4. skeg not rudder on boat - having a rudder on my first boat held up my acquisition of boat handling skills. Knowing how to use all of your boat to move across the water, not just the pedals, will stand you in really good stead right from the outset. Others will, I am sure, disagree.
    5. charts, chart case and compass - not always crucial but learn the skills and practise them even when you are out on water you know
    6. PFD - wear it don't stow it. Knife attached to it. [/i]
     
  4. ztar

    ztar Paddler

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    I'd be inclined to say that's a bit of overkill just to get out and enjoy a bit of kayaking. I like point #6 re the PFD and then Dan's recommendation: "you'll also need a paddle float, whistle, pump, throw bag".

    If you worried about points 1 through 5, you might never get out on the water. Just go out and paddle, paddle, paddle... and have FUN.
     
  5. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I should have also mentioned a PFD and spray skirt. :oops:

    Comoxpaddler, I'm with Dave on this one -- those things that you mention are really necessary only for the experienced paddler -- a novice can easily get by without them. Heck, I've been paddling for several years and have gotten by for most of it without all of those things just fine (although my single boats don't have rudders I could still vehemently argue the merits of having one).

    There is however, one other accessory that I definitely recommend; lessons.

    Lessons will do a number of things for the novice (and the not-so-novice):

    - They will teach better safety practices -- which could save a life.

    - They will teach better control of the boat -- experiencing the nimble mobility of the kayak adds a whole new level of excitement to paddling.

    - They will give you security -- knowing how to deal with different situations allows for much more relaxed and confident enjoyment.

    And once you've had lessons, take Dave's advice and just get out there and play! Don't be afraid to get wet -- find out how far you can lean before your boat tips over, see if you can stand up in your boat. Just play and have fun.

    (And yes, if you've got really deep pockets, a dry suit in our neighbourhood would definitely be a very cool accessory to have right from the get-go.)

    *****
     
  6. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    I knew I would get this response :D

    I stand by my suggestions, though.

    A dry suit can be had for US$360 (Kokatat Tropos). You can wear ordinary clothing straight out of the wardrobe under it, so there is no extra expense. If you buy a farmer john wetsuit (US$110 maybe) you still have to buy other stuff (jackets, a neoprene top if you are going out after the end of September, etc) and the cost mounts up. The difference on - and in - the water is tremendous. The only time I don't wear the drysuit is when I am out with my family ('cause is scares them that I'm going to lead them into trickier stuff than the mill-ponds they prefer!)

    Unless you can be certain that you are always going to be able to get back into your kayak or swim back to shore, never going more than 100 yards from the beach, don't bother with a VHF radio. Otherwise, do, or at least get one soonish. You'll feel (and be) safer.

    As for charts. OK, if you are always going to be on water you know really well, don't bother with charts. But how boring is that?
     
  7. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: [1]: I own a Goretex dry suit, and use it in the very cold water part of the year. I also own a serious Goretex dry top and supplement it with Hydroskin pants and sometimes a Hydroskin top. I use the latter combination when the water temp is higher, but still cold enough hypothermia (specifically loss of hand function) would likely keep me from re-entering my boat via self rescue. I like the dry top/Hydroskin combos because they cover a wider range of conditions than the one-size-fits-all dry suit. IOW, it is more versatile, at much less cost. (A good Goretex dry suit costs US$700 or so; the other combination runs about US$350, with the dry top also Goretex.)

    Both the dry suit year-round, and the other combination (mostly summers, but some shoulder season paddling) work and offer good protection. I agree if Howdy plans to paddle in winter, he needs a dry suit, Goretex or not.

    Re: [2]: : Hunh?? What do you mean? It sounds like you are skeptical a handheld VHF can reach out and summon help, when used from the water. Not the case. There was a rescue of a pair of guys on the US East coast early this year who got dumped in a surf zone (and could not get out) who summoned help with their VHF's. Also, a VHF has other uses than summoning help: weather info, listening for others who need assistance, communicating to your float plan holder than you are OK, just delayed, etc.
     
  8. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Have you ever worn Tropos? I have and compared to GoreTex it's not very good. Prepare for some moist underclothing if you perspire at all.

    What costs mount up? After you've got a wetsuit and jacket/dry top what else is there?

    I think this really depends upon where you're paddling. If I'm paddling mainly in Lower Mainland lakes and salt water locations around the Vancouver area, I certainly don't need a radio.

    While I appreciate what you're saying about gear (and I know -- I'm always looking for excuses to buy new gear) it's not a necessity that beginners have the gear that you've mentioned to paddle safely. It's more than possible for someone to head out around our neighbourhood without a dry suit and VHF and be perfectly fine so long as they don't exceed their abilities. I've been paddling the waters around Vancouver for several years and can tell you that the vast majority of people that I come across in kayaks don't have dry suits, or radios, and they aren't capsizing all over the place -- they're having fun.
     
  9. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    Astoriadave is quite correct - I should have typed "If" not "Unless" at the start of my bit about VHF radios. His surfzone story is exactly why we should take VHF radios with us on all but the gentlest trips. I also think that as responsible users of the water it puts us in a better position to help others, warn the CG and other users of deadheads, etc.

    Of course I take the point that drysuits are expensive, and, yes, I have a Goretex suit and have not tried Tropos. But Berk sounds like a chap who is likely to move on quickly (he can already roll) and if he is thinking of buying drysuit OR wetsuit, and can run to the expense of the former, I do not think he would be disappointed. I certainly don't think a drysuit is essential, but it sure makes for comfortable paddling and, importantly, increases one's willingness to experiment and play in the water year-round. A new kayak can cost $3500 in fibreglass. Buying a drysuit for $700 converts it from something you are likely to use for maybe 5-6 months in the year to something you use year-round. Seems compelling to me (and it was the persuasive argument I used on the family Treasurer!).

    The only downside? A drysuit makes you smell like a goat. And your car like a goat's home.
     
  10. fester

    fester Paddler

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    Radios are a "reactive" measure. That is they are a device which is to be relied upon when your judgement and seamanship fail you.

    Self reliance is they key. Be proactive. To incorporate battery operated gadgets into your risk management strategy is to tempt fate They just might fail you when you need them most. :idea: If you want to warn people about dead heads,carry some flags with you.

    Throw bags are for white water rescue. They are designed to be used from shore or a raft to render aid to a swimmer in fast water. Ones intended for use by professionals are usually manufactured from "spectra" or some other non elastic line.

    Buy a proper sea kayaking tow belt system with an intergal shock absorber,floatation and a large bag which is easy to deploy release and restow. :wink:
     
  11. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

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    Fester, as you will no doubt recall, the Regulations require all kayakers to carry on board their boat a 15 metre buoyant heaving line (PS how do Canadians and Americans pronounce "buoyant" given that you pronounce "Buoy" as "Boo-ey' not "Boy"? ;-) )

    I agree that putting one's faith entirely into a battery-operated bit of kit like a radio would be a mistake. Judgement should come first. But judgement can fail, sometimes because conditions alter in a way not predicted by either oneself or those responsible for maritime forecasting, and it is equally foolish to trust that one will never make a mistake. Use judgement AND a radio.
     
  12. fester

    fester Paddler

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    Of course you must carry 15m of bouyant line. It does not have to be in the form of a $60 throw bag. :idea: I'm only suggesting you can save some scratch by carrying $3 worth of polypropylene behind your seat and therebye have one less piece of useless kit encumbering your deck.
     
  13. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Comoxpaddler wrote: But Berk sounds like a chap who is likely to move on quickly (he can already roll) and if he is thinking of buying drysuit OR wetsuit, and can run to the expense of the former, I do not think he would be disappointed. I certainly don't think a drysuit is essential, but it sure makes for comfortable paddling and, importantly, increases one's willingness to experiment and play in the water year-round.

    Good points. Might be he should invest.

    Howdy -- you still around?