General Seamanship^

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General Seamanship^

Post by tg » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:20 pm

Jim placed the ball, so I'll have a hoof at it...

Over the past nine months or so we have developed a regular paddling group through personal contacts and via internet forums.

As such we planning some more extensive and challenging paddles for the coming year. Generally there are a few of us that plan and organize trips although we are keen that others in the group do the same.

So I'd like to precis my thoughts and invite comment.

1) Leadership. Decide on a leader and defer to them without being afraid to question decisions or state your fears (eg; surf launches etc.)

2) Leader at the front, seconder at the rear, third in second place etc. (for more challenging stretches).

3) Group of no more than six. Exceptionally eight (dependant on the overall skill of the group). Be prepared to split into two operating groups. Each being responsible for it's own members, despite paddling together all day.

4) Briefing before the trip all together with route and potential hazards noted. Including whistle and radio protocol and informing all of who is carrying what equipment. see 8), 7).

5) Debriefing (over a pint hopefully) to discuss the trip and make everyone aware of pertinent comment and observation.

6) Planning. Extensive study of the proposed route; tides, races, overfalls, etc. From more than one source.

7) Contingency. Optional get outs. Prepare to ditch and call a cab if neccessary. Location of cafes, pubs or other places of refuge en route. Alternatives should any of the other factors dictate last minute cancellation of proposed route.

8) Weather. Knowledge of the forecast and likely degradation or improvement of weather conditions during the day. Will the wind back or veer. Cold, sunburn, exposure to the elements an how that is likely to effect the paddler.

9) Other potentially limiting factors (eg; Is Tim a bit hungover this morning, physical limitations etc). Is the trip too challenging.

10) Inform others (wifey, husbandy, MCA etc) of your intended route and ETA. Give a call when off the water.

Anything else?

"I sink therfore I am".

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Re: General Seamanship

Post by 7fathoms » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:16 pm

A couple I'd add:

Competency. Leadership without competence is a disaster waiting to happen. Competence is not necessarily measured in years or the number of BCU stars that someone has, it is measured in ability. Note that competency is spelt differently to complacency, and is indeed a different quality, with the two sometimes being confused by the arrogant or ignorant.

Emergency & redundant equipment. A good selection of appropriate equipment throughout the group, not just one spare set of splits, one radio or one set of flares, etc, for the whole group - have multiple. Redundancy is the key to survival. People get split from groups, equipment fails or gets lost. There have been a number of incidents that were potentially contributed to by such a lack of personal equipment.

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Re: General Seamanship

Post by erik » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:26 pm

My thoughts are...
Its great to see someone put so much thought into the process ... as we know PPPPPP ...

A few learing point from my personal experience you might want to be aware of to avoid making the same mistakes...

1) Its great to get peoples fears but they wont always tell you and sometimes dont know themselves. I paddled with a dude for ages who looked competent, talked the talk and stated they were confident in 'all conditions' but then went to pieces and put us all in danger on a moderate surf launch, basically thier idea of moderate surf was 6-8in not 5 foot...

2) Sometimes I think its better to lead from the rear, especially paddling INTO a strong wind. Because... weaker paddlers can soon get left behind and the group sperad out and if theres an incedent it will be blown toward you rather than you chasing after it if it happens behind you. Sometimes I'll be in the middle depends on conditions really... For me leadership is a really big subject and skill to master...

3) Being set up to split up is a brill idea, but make sure there isnt a weaker / stronger group split. We did this once and the coastguard ended up picking up the weaker group - had the stronger paddlers been on scene they maybee (who knows) of been able to avoid or sort the situation out.

4) deffo - be carefull with the language of the briefing, make people aware but dont scare the willys out of the weaker ones, they'll stiffen up and the worse will then happen... 'Theres a brill tidal race - its a great place to learn about rough water' ...vs.. 'Last time we we're on this race Tim swam 8 times and nearly died its really dangerous, be careful!!'' ...

5) a pint?? cumon.. 3 at least! Your sea kayakers not namby pamby river runners ;-)

6) 7) 8) If a local collage or similar runs 'RYA yachtmaster theory' which some do at a very resonable price (£60 near here) its brilliant for this sorta stuff...

9) all good - Tim needs to man up..

10) Yep... dont forget the call in... doh, thats almost never happend.. doh!!

Seems you got it pretty well covered!

Hope that helps...

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Re: General Seamanship

Post by Grahamd » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:33 pm

Is there a standard whistle protocol, if not should there be one?

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Re: General Seamanship

Post by jen2706 » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:09 pm

As an add on to point 10, have a list of 'people to contact in an emergency' for each person that everyone has a copy of. If there's an accident, the last thing you want is to get them carted off in an ambulance/helicopter/lifeboat, and then sit there wondering what their partner/parents names and address are.

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Re: General Seamanship

Post by MikeB » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:42 pm

There's a development of that point about "emergency info", and that relates to knowing whether there are any medical "issues" to be aware of. That does raise the point though as to whether such info should be shared with everyone in the group - or a designated leader / organiser / person.

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Re: General Seamanship

Post by sleepybubble » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:31 pm

Grahamd wrote:Is there a standard whistle protocol, if not should there be one?
Not sure about whistles but there is a whole bunch of paddle signals which are effective when out of earshot. Useful for surf landings. heres a link to some further resources.

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Re: General Seamanship

Post by AllanC » Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:33 pm

MikeB wrote:There's a development of that point about "emergency info", and that relates to knowing whether there are any medical "issues" to be aware of. That does raise the point though as to whether such info should be shared with everyone in the group - or a designated leader / organiser / person.
When I did my last wilderness first aid course I was asked to do a bit concerning medicines as I'm a Pharmacist. I came to the conclusion that telling probably wasn't enough to let the appropriate person(s) know about any medical "issues".

I was addressing this same thing with the hypothetical situation of telling a group leader I was taking medications x, y & z for condition A and after 45 minutes no individual in the room could remember what all three were. So I'd prefer on a bigger more serious trip, or if you are a group that'll regularly paddle together, that each person wrote out and then laminated or safely stored all their relevant medical details, then told the leader or whoever where this was stored. It also means if you end up with a casualty being taken away; completely accurate and unambiguous information can be supplied to the medical services. It also means that no-one needs to know too much personal information unnecessarily, only if the situation arises does anything need divulged.

Allan C

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