Winter Has Arrived!
Winter has poked its head out here in Bellingham & it feels like it’s here to stay. Where else in the world can you surfski on the bay and snow ski all in the same day? Judging by the large numbers of local paddlers surfing out on the bay this morning, it seems like there will be plenty of local paddlers out shredding this winter.
Couple quick thoughts on winter safety when out on a surfski. Jumping on the lake for a flatwater workout in the winter is a completely different game from chasing waves on the bay. All the winter gear is a must; clothing, bomber leash, radio, etc. Also, paddling with others can be good for ‘strength in numbers’ reasons, but the flip side is bad group dynamics can put people in places where they don’t necessarily belong. Though I feel more relaxed in big conditions when I’m paddling with a group, I don’t know how much help strong paddlers really can be in rescue situations in big gusty conditions.
Big gusty conditions we sometimes experience in the winter, coupled with frigid air & water temps, results in an unforgiving outdoor sports environment. Though stepping out of ones comfort zone can be a huge motivating factor which can result in tangible improvements in any sports related arena, I’d like to suggest that winter is the time to paddle well within ones skill level due to unforgiving conditions. It seems like all outdoor sports communities (whitewater paddling, backcountry skiing, climbing, etc) have the conversation that unfavorable outcomes are more likely when poor judgement is a mitigating factor. Defining poor judgement in real time, not 20/20 hindsight, can be difficult – but not unachievable. When poor judgement becomes routine it almost gets accepted as part of the sport. Therefor, I’d like to urge all surfski paddlers this winter to exercise discretion & judgement when enjoying the our sport.
Hope to see you on the water!