Friday, January 9, 2009

Buddy System Indeed!

Mike O'Connor in Baynes Channel on a 3.75 knot ebb, zero winds Feb. 09. 2008

On a group excursion into an active Baynes Channel Tide Race last week I enjoyed some interesting group dynamics.

Baynes Channel off the end of 10 Mile Point in Victoria BC, under the right circumstances, can be a lot of fun as long as you manage the risk. Seldom do I venture into these waters in these conditions with paddlers who's skills I don't know. This was one of the exceptions.

On this occasion I suggested that if anyone lost their boat that we might regroup downstream on Jemmey Jones Island, if we were fortunate to catch up with the kayak, only to be told you can't land there.

Odd that; as I've stood on top of Jemmey Jones in a 45 knot Gale after
landing with five other kayakers. I know this for a fact as my friend Mike Jackson was standing next to me when he measured the wind speed with his nifty wind gauge.

During the shore meeting last weekend one paddler said she didn't want to paddle in the tide race but only on the edge, I then watched her and her "Buddy" paddle strait into the race. I thought that very odd as well.

I concluded either she has a short term memory problem or more likely does not understand the affects of current. Being familiar with the tide race I had suggested either approaching it from the south, (no one wanted to do that) or that we paddle NE on a ferry glide and slide down onto the shoulder of the tide race to surf the outside breaking waves.

This couple paddled ESE and ended up in the tide race at a point where they would have been washed into the rocks at the end of the head land if or should they have the misfortune to capsized.

One of the other kayakers, a professional coach, was also alarmed by this turn of events. Together we attempted to get their attention and encourage them to play in a more risk free area.

Prior to launching I stressed the need to pay close attention to the group dynamics and to be on the lookout for anyone in trouble but that got over ruled by this woman and her close friend who insisted the buddy system was better.

At the end of the day I initiated an impromptu rescue session by coming out of my boat (planned but unanticipated at that particular point) I washed out at the south end of the rocks marked by the 10 Mile Buoy.

There were four kayakers in the immediate area, two came to assist, while the "buddies" never looked around and paddled off to the put in where they pulled their boats out. When we got back they didn't even know that a rescue had taken place. If things had gone badly we could have been in a bit of a spot.
The "Buddy System" should be the beginning of your group awareness not the end
of it.
When the wind is against the ebbing currents surfing waves form just in front of the distant headland. If the wind builds the waves build as well until break on the rocks. At that point you want to be watching, high and dry, from ashore.

No comments: