Kayaking alone...

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Saltyheaven
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Kayaking alone...

Post by Saltyheaven » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:00 pm

..well do many of you do it?

I know the golden rule that you shouldn't go alone but in reality its not always possible to have a paddle buddy. Does this mean you have to sit at home bored?

If you use common sense and keep to what you know and what your skill levels are able for then is that ok? I know its not ideal but I'm ready for this bigtime (both surf and sea kayaking) and I know there will be more days when I wont have a buddy than days that I do.

Just wondering is it more common than I think for people to head out alone for a paddle.

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steddyjames
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Post by steddyjames » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:03 pm

I paddle/surf/climb/mountain bike/snowboard alone a fair amount.

I like being by myself and enjoy just doing my sports. It also means I can go whenever I want, whereever I want.

rockhopper
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Post by rockhopper » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:16 pm

I really enjoy paddling on my own. It's great to be able to go when and where you like without all the organisation of agreeing it and organising it with other people. Also means that you are only responsible for yourself and not having to keep and eye on others however that also obviously means that there is nobody to keep an eye on you. It is fairly essential to take the right sort of gear, let people know your plans and excersise a degree of caution. Luckily, like most people, I tend to find that I am naturally more cautious when on my own anyway so, something that I would attempt with others I really run through the possibilities and dangers if it's just me.


Rog.

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steddyjames
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Post by steddyjames » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:35 pm

True or false??

Paddling solo is safer than paddling with a novice paddler.....

Climbing solo is safer than climbing with a novice climber.....

Diving solo is safer than diving with a novice diver.....

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Kate D
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Post by Kate D » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:17 pm

I really enjoy paddling alone. I can go at my speed and not feel pressured to keep up with someone else, or have to wait. If I'm tired I can rest when I want not when someone else wants. This sounds incredibly selfish but I do a lot of kayak coaching for my job and so in order to make paddling not feel like work I need to make it as different as possible.

My most recent achievement was a solo crossing of the Minch from lochmaddy to Uig. I spent eight hours paddling with only my thoughts for company.

I also find I see more wildlife when paddling alone. Three young otters playing in seaweed on the shores of Lochmaddy etc.

I think solo paddling is great. No one else to rely on, no one else to blame. The only problem I have is carrying my boat at the end of the trip.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:40 pm

Kate D wrote:I really enjoy paddling alone. I can go at my speed and not feel pressured to keep up with someone else, or have to wait. If I'm tired I can rest when I want not when someone else wants. This sounds incredibly selfish but I do a lot of kayak coaching for my job and so in order to make paddling not feel like work I need to make it as different as possible.

My most recent achievement was a solo crossing of the Minch from lochmaddy to Uig. I spent eight hours paddling with only my thoughts for company.

I also find I see more wildlife when paddling alone. Three young otters playing in seaweed on the shores of Lochmaddy etc.

I think solo paddling is great. No one else to rely on, no one else to blame. The only problem I have is carrying my boat at the end of the trip.


Nothing for me to add to this thread - Kate has said it all, perfect summary of why I enjoy paddling alone.
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johnb
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Post by johnb » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:41 pm

I'm happy to paddle solo or with others. The experience is certainly more heightened when you are out by yourself - I've ski toured, solo rock climbed and run in the hills by myself and it's a similar experience - the risk focuses your mind.

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Helen M
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Post by Helen M » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:57 pm

Kate D wrote:
My most recent achievement was a solo crossing of the Minch from lochmaddy to Uig. I spent eight hours paddling with only my thoughts for company.

I also find I see more wildlife when paddling alone. Three young otters playing in seaweed on the shores of Lochmaddy etc.



Well done Kate - we'd have hated it - but then you know that! lol Hope you liked the photos.

H - x

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yellofello
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Post by yellofello » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:02 pm

steddyjames wrote:I paddle/surf/climb/mountain bike/snowboard alone a fair amount.

I like being by myself and enjoy just doing my sports. It also means I can go whenever I want, whereever I want.


Ditto here, well boulder apart from climb alone. I enjoy my own company equally as I enjoy my friends company.

It can be quite theraputic!

Cameron
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Post by Cameron » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:19 pm

steadyjames asked
True or false??

Paddling solo is safer than paddling with a novice paddler.....

Climbing solo is safer than climbing with a novice climber.....

Diving solo is safer than diving with a novice diver.....


I have done them all and my opinion is

False
False
True

It would be hard for a novice to kill you whilst paddling or climbing but it would be easy whilst diving, it is very unforgiving of mistakes.

Cameron

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yellofello
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Post by yellofello » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:24 pm

Cameron wrote:steadyjames asked
True or false??

Paddling solo is safer than paddling with a novice paddler.....

Climbing solo is safer than climbing with a novice climber.....

Diving solo is safer than diving with a novice diver.....


I have done them all and my opinion is

False
False
True

It would be hard for a novice to kill you whilst paddling or climbing but it would be easy whilst diving, it is very unforgiving of mistakes.

Cameron


Hi Cameron

Disagree with you slightly on point 2. Imagine high on a mountain route, with a relatively inexperienced climber, you are leading take a fall and are knocked out, some height up. No mobile phone, what happens next?

For that reason, I don't go multipitch climbing with a novice.

Whilst if you capsize with a novice, and you know how to rescue, you can at least your partner through.

P

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steve-m
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Post by steve-m » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:55 pm

It's an experience all it's own, a total antithesis to the pressures and controlling intrusions of modern life.
Solo trip camped out on Eilean Troday in the Minch north of Skye
Image
Wonderful, fantastically liberating;
You have no back up so you have to carefully study the weather and the conditions to make sure they are within your capabilities. But having got that sorted go for it.
Steve-M Shropshire

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Pam Bell
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Post by Pam Bell » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:15 pm

I walk alone, paddle alone and wild swim alone. It's fun to do these things in company, but going alone adds a dimension.

No-one thinks twice about a single leader out with a group of novices; but we are more 'alone' with several other people dependant on us.

You'll get used to politely dealing with the (usually) well-meaning people who'll try to stop you.

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Post by Cameron » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:05 pm

Hi yellofello

Disagree with you slightly on point 2. Imagine high on a mountain route, with a relatively inexperienced climber, you are leading take a fall and are knocked out, some height up. No mobile phone, what happens next?

But the question was
Climbing solo is safer than climbing with a novice climber.....
True or False.

In your scenario if you were soloing without the novice and you fell then it is probably going to be instantly fatal. With the novice, who should have been shown how to belay, then hopefully you should survive the initial fall to be rescued or self rescue later. Therefore the statement has to be False. The novice climber can lend assistance in the same way that a novice paddler can. Novice divers on the other hand are a bit of a liability and should be treated with care.

The last time I took out some life insurance was about 20 years ago and I declared mountaineering, hang gliding and diving. Mountaineering was OK, after some discusion with the underwriters hang gliding was OK, but they flatly refused diving.

Cameron

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steddyjames
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Post by steddyjames » Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:48 am

Cameron wrote:Hi yellofello

Disagree with you slightly on point 2. Imagine high on a mountain route, with a relatively inexperienced climber, you are leading take a fall and are knocked out, some height up. No mobile phone, what happens next?

But the question was
Climbing solo is safer than climbing with a novice climber.....
True or False.

In your scenario if you were soloing without the novice and you fell then it is probably going to be instantly fatal. With the novice, who should have been shown how to belay, then hopefully you should survive the initial fall to be rescued or self rescue later. Therefore the statement has to be False. The novice climber can lend assistance in the same way that a novice paddler can. Novice divers on the other hand are a bit of a liability and should be treated with care.

The last time I took out some life insurance was about 20 years ago and I declared mountaineering, hang gliding and diving. Mountaineering was OK, after some discusion with the underwriters hang gliding was OK, but they flatly refused diving.

Cameron


There seems to be endless discussion from divers about diving solo and the argument seems to always come back that diving solo is safer than diving with a novice.

I was wondering if this same way of thinking translated into other sports and haven't really made up my mind.

Jennie
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which is more dangerous?

Post by Jennie » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:03 am

Further to the discussion started by Steaddyjames regardsing solo kayaking / climbing / diving

I think all of them will depend on your own personal skill level and the skill or comon of your novice but:

The only one of the three that I personally would not consider doing alone is diving, even thought I dive with a 3l 'pony' as a personal back up air supply, I still feel that if something goes wrong at depth I'd be stuffed as I can't breath water, but if I had a buddy trained in basic procedures then the chances would be much higher. If the buddy was not trained in basic procedures then we would still be in a swimming pool! Having said that I'm a cautious diver and pretty choosey about my choice of buddy in and more challenging conditions. Just my personal feeling on that one.

I enjoy doing most other sports alone sometmes (except tennis!) Apart from the above I'm undecided on the comparative safety of doing sports alone or with a novice. While there are going to be some increased risks in taking out a novice the chances are (I hope) that you would therefore be in a less challenging environment and however inexperienced they are there is a fair chance they will at the very least be able to summon help.

Climbing is a funny one as anything I would happily climb alone would probably be classed as a scramble (I'm not very good!) but there is no way I'd be relying on an inexperienced partner if there is any chance I'm going to come off.

Perhaps that didn't help the discussion much but except for me diving alone is def. a no, anything else is very dependant on the conditions and person and I don't think there is a yes or no answer.

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adrian j pullin
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Post by adrian j pullin » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:47 pm

I have sea kayaked solo on a couple of day trips only. This is because of opportunity rather than anything else. I did take more than usual care over weather and route, resulting in trips that would normally come under our club classification as suitable for less experienced sea paddlers. I suppose I dropped down a grade to pinch river terminology. Having said that, the planning was no different. Just checking that if it goes pear shaped, you can cope. It's just that "you" in this case is literally just yourself rather than the group. When out with groups I am normally leader anyway.

As for "safeer on your own or with novices?" it depends on what you mean by a novice. If you are literally referring to first time in a kayak, then they are likely to be of little help in a situation. If they can paddle in a straight line, at least they could get to shore and call for help.

I agree with the above people on the experience. Everything is enhanced; like watching in colour rather than black and white.

BTW: Kate D - the Minch solo - I am impressed. I don't think I would do the Minch unless it was with a group who were all significantly better than me!
Cheers

Adrian J Pullin
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"No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." - Yoda
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AllanJ
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Re: Kayaking alone...

Post by AllanJ » Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:34 pm

Saltyheaven wrote:Just wondering is it more common than I think for people to head out alone for a paddle.


As you've probably worked out from the replies so far lots of people do. I guess about 95% of my paddling is solo these days. I think your appreciation of your environment is inversely proportional to the number of paddlers in the group.

It's also convenient - boat out of garage, carry to sea, plop, paddle - no phone calls etc.

Whether it's safer or not I don't know. Maybe if you need to ask 'have I got enough experience?' then you haven't.

Cheers

Allan

Cameron
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Post by Cameron » Fri Sep 12, 2008 10:06 pm

Jennie wrote
I still feel that if something goes wrong at depth I'd be stuffed as I can't breath water, but if I had a buddy trained in basic procedures then the chances would be much higher. If the buddy was not trained in basic procedures then we would still be in a swimming pool! Having said that I'm a cautious diver and pretty choosey about my choice of buddy in and more challenging conditions. Just my personal feeling on that one.

Jennie, that appears to be writen from the perspective that you have the problem and are looking at what assistance the novice can provide to yourself. A more realistic emergency scenario, in my opinion, is that the novice has the problem, panics and takes you with them. I think that is where most experienced divers concerns are coming from.

I gave up diving quite a long time ago and am baffled by todays so called 'technical diving'. It adds complexity and associated risk with little benefit other than extended bottom times.


Cameron

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Graham Bland
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Post by Graham Bland » Sat Sep 13, 2008 8:12 am

Image
I enjoy paddling alone - but it is worth ensuring that you are happy with various self rescue techniques - http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=40734
Getting back into a sea kayak alone in anyything but calm conditions is more difficult than it looks http://rollalot.blogspot.com/2008/07/less-than-three.html

Saltyheaven
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Post by Saltyheaven » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:31 am

Really good replies. Thanks folks.

Someone summed it up nicely by saying "If you have to ask yourself if you have enough experience to paddle alone then you probably haven't"

Thanks for the links on the self rescues.

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fneedle
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Post by fneedle » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:11 am

I think there can be little doubt that if YOU get into trouble and there is someone with you then it will obviously be beneficial,but-there is always a but,the partner may not be close at hand,or have seen the incident or whatever.I kayak quite a lot on my own,and have dived extensively solo[sorry dont do climbing]I find personally that it has a self policing policy,in that you think twice about things that you would do gung ho perhaps.I think there is a lot of mis-information about buddy diving especially in UK waters,with often poor visibility then you are solo alot more times than you think!Likewise when I am kayaking with my son we are quite often out of sight of one another,something could happen and by the time someone is aware-well do the math.So kayaking or diving or whatever solo is I think more risky but no-where near as risky as some people would have you believe.I always have the mindset of self preservation first wether alone or in company,you couldnt rescue someone if YOU got into trouble could you!!!
I would say go for it,just make sure you have settled weather(impossible Iknow) and some contingency,escape route e.t.c.One of my favourite paddles is the Stacks on Anglesey,when solo it is very difficult,wind over tide and only one escape route that would require Sherpa Tensings crew,so most times tou have to cut your cloth accordingly.

YvonneB
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Post by YvonneB » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:37 pm

A few weeks ago there was an article on of the Sunday papers about the disatrous episode on K2 earlier this year when I think 11 people died. It seems of the fatalities, a good proportion were professionals who died going to the aid of others. The survivor who was the main storyteller had stayed behind to dry out his socks intending to catch up with the main group later. Once alone, he reconsidered the risks and decided not to go.

My feeling is, decide whether you would do a trip solo, if not, then you probably shouldnt do it in a group either. If you do go in a group when you wouldnt go solo, are you assuming you can rely on someone being able rescue you? Seems to me the only reason to go in a group when you wouldnt solo is if someone has local knowledge that you don't have, that tips the balance. Just a personal view.

Groupthink in all walks of life leads to some daft decisions as people tend to fall in behind a dominant character. Some men are very good at taking insult if you don't follow them blindly, and some of us will do anything to avoid offending a leader.

AllanJ
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Post by AllanJ » Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:13 pm

fneedle wrote:I think there can be little doubt that if YOU get into trouble and there is someone with you then it will obviously be beneficial,.


Actually I'm not sure this is true. While its handy to have someone else around to help with minor mishaps I don't think there is much strenght in numbers. On the couple of occasions that I've been in really unpleasant seas (*) I don't believe that if there had been a second kayak present we would have been able render each other any assistance. Just grabbing a bit of chocolate from your BA required split-second timing between the waves.

I like what YvonneB said;

"My feeling is, decide whether you would do a trip solo, if not, then you probably shouldnt do it in a group either. "

Not really practical for a complete novice, but otherwise a good rule.

I don't think that comparisons with other sports are relevant - each sport has its own challenges which may or may not be affected by having another preson present.


* ie. when you're thinking is along the lines of "If I ever touch dry land again I'll sell/burn my boat and never go paddling again, ever".

Cheers

Allan

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Post by Owen » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:15 pm

YvonneB wrote:A few weeks ago there was an article on of the Sunday papers about the disatrous episode on K2 earlier this year when I think 11 people died. It seems of the fatalities, a good proportion were professionals who died going to the aid of others. .


You could take that view. Others might say that they were guides trying to save the punters they'd lead on to ground well beyond the punters ability.

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Cornholio
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Post by Cornholio » Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:31 pm

I do fairly frequently, biggest concern is if something medically goes wrong! The more i paddle with others these days the more i realise why i much prefer lone paddling, even if it means calmer waters. But then just because there's perceived safety in numbers really doesn't make it any safer, I find many people in groups more inclined to be less aware of what is going on around them, thinking someone else "has it covered"...if you're alone you chose your own pace (and are far more focussed), but I think in a group where compromises obviously have to be made regarding pace(and everything else), that having to go artificially slow in rougher water and even stop and wait up if some are seriously lagging puts you in more danger of getting tipped in...
(Miserable lone kayaker, that's me!!)
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adrian j pullin
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Post by adrian j pullin » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:25 pm

YvonneB wrote:
My feeling is, decide whether you would do a trip solo, if not, then you probably shouldnt do it in a group either. If you do go in a group when you wouldnt go solo, are you assuming you can rely on someone being able rescue you? Seems to me the only reason to go in a group when you wouldnt solo is if someone has local knowledge that you don't have, that tips the balance. Just a personal view.


Not convinced by this. If you follow this line of thought, no-one would ever progress in the sport.

For example, how many of us would go round the Stacks (Anglesey) solo? Not me! How many would do it with a group of peers? Probably not me. How many would go as part of a group lead by Nigel Dennis, Jeff Allen etc. etc.

This is not just local knowledge. I am relatively local to this area and paddle other parts of Anglesey regularly. I know where all the launch and land points are and what the tides, races etc do in this area. That is exactly why I would go in a group with more experienced support.
Cheers

Adrian J Pullin
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Kayak lore: "He who capsizes must also roll".

YvonneB
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Post by YvonneB » Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:20 pm

YvonneB wrote:


My feeling is, decide whether you would do a trip solo, if not, then you probably shouldnt do it in a group either. If you do go in a group when you wouldnt go solo, are you assuming you can rely on someone being able rescue you? Seems to me the only reason to go in a group when you wouldnt solo is if someone has local knowledge that you don't have, that tips the balance. Just a personal view.



Not convinced by this. If you follow this line of thought, no-one would ever progress in the sport.


I take the point, Adrian. I would guess it makes a big difference if you are going with people you know and you are practised in rescuing each other . However I still think it is not a bad way to look at things, even if you finally decide that other factors override it.

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