Paddling at night

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Mark R
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Paddling at night

Post by Mark R » Tue Mar 01, 2005 10:40 am

How about it?

Gear?

Techniques?
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Geoff Seddon
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Post by Geoff Seddon » Tue Mar 01, 2005 11:32 am

Can be magical. Very rarely is it completely dark.
Light stick in a prominent position (360 degree visuality) but not upsetting your night vision. This saves all that "Where are you?" stuff. Technique? Well a good catch followed by a long power phase leading to an exit by the hip, whilst pushing with the top hand and .........

Matt O
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Nightpaddling

Post by Matt O » Tue Mar 01, 2005 11:38 am

Fantastic

Tried this just the once on Loch Eishort, Skye. Although I thought I knew the area well it was an interesting experience paddling at night...
Navigation, especially micro navigation was challenging in amongst the islands and rocky reefs. It was the first time I was truly glad I had a GPS unit with me rather than just using it as a toy, especially as it was a new moon, although it was as good as a flat calm
All that aside I would do it again... the adaptation of your senses is amazing. I found myself just sitting listening to every little noise, ripple, bird call etc. undisturbed by the visual beauty of the surrounding landscape.

As for gear, what we had was woefully inadequate - Petzl headtorches do not provide nearly enough illumination when nearing the aforementioned islands. At least our start/finish point was easily identifiable from the cluster of houses by the shore.

This little escapade wasn't wholly by design, just a somewhat extended evening paddle. I would be far more cautious about planning specifically to paddle at night in somewhere less familiar and would want to make myself many times more visible if there was the chance of any other marine traffic around!

Any tips from those with far greater experience would be greatly appreciated!
--- Matt ---

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue Mar 01, 2005 12:15 pm

Red light supposedly does not spoil your night vision, which is why ships bridges are fitted with it, and why squaddies torches have red filters for map reading at night. A simple step from this piece of knowledge would be to use red lightsticks to keep track of each other!

I've only night paddled a couple of times, once on loch Nevis where we were actually the backup for a group of divers (surreal being able to see the shafts from their torches under water!) and once on the Gareloch on a properly planned trip (including telling the MOD police so we weren't arrested as suspected sabateurs). On the first trip it was all a bit spur of the moment, we paddled around in wonder for a while keeping track of the divers so we could point them back at the shore when they were done (or help if required) and I can't even recall if we had torches (the divers had powerful ones anyway).

On the Gareloch we used green lightsticks, but as the whole loch is surrounded by villages and roads there was actually quite a lot of ambient light so night vision was never going to happen! Taping a lightstick to the top of your helmet is the best 360 degree solution but it does require using a helmet rather than a wooly hat! Again I can't recall using torches to navigate at all but the trip was led by a local and I think we just followed a route he knew well.

For my money find somewhere remote (so no bright lights to ruin your vision) and plan for a calm moonlit night. After an hour or so in such conditions you will be able to see quite well enough for everything but map reading, and as long as you use red light for that you should still be able to see when you look up.

Last time we went to the summer Isles, Phil, Geoff and some others paddled back to the start point the evening we arrived to pick up a lad who had been unable to get there in the daytime (I think they went to the pub too) - I think it was pretty much his first proper experience of sea kayaking and they brought him back in the dark!

JIM

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Zoe Newsam
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Post by Zoe Newsam » Tue Mar 01, 2005 12:54 pm

It's fantastic, but it's only really properly a night paddle when you're somewhere with not too much habitation- ie not too much light pollution.

I've night paddled in Loch Leven, Loch Linnhe, and Cuan Sound (the tidal aspect makes it much more 'interesting'- everything has to become instinctive as you can't see what the water is going to do to you next!), and also in Poole Harbour. The latter was a bit of a disappointment as I'd only just moved South & hadn't got used to paddling in places that populated... With that much light around it's not really like night paddling- you can see where you're going & who you're with- I didn't even use a headtorch.

Loch Leven was awesome though- a still, clear, cold starry night with phosphorescence all over the place.

I generally tuck a light stick into either my cap or my ponytail (sorry guys!)- for the Cuan Sound trip I was guinea pigging for a 5* training & we used different coloured lightsticks for each person as there were a few of us. I also carry or wear a headtorch but don't necessarily switch it on. It certainly sharpens up your other senses though- I know someone who paddled to Eigg solo & arrived in the dark- he said he decided the beach he was landing on was sandy because it smelt like it!

Zoe

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue Mar 01, 2005 1:14 pm

zoenewsam wrote:I generally tuck a light stick into either my cap or my ponytail (sorry guys!)
Why sorry? That would work for me too :D

JIM

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Tue Mar 01, 2005 1:45 pm

Jim wrote:Red light supposedly does not spoil your night vision
I learned on a military course in '92 (I was all set to join the Navy, until their Doctors noticed I couldn't see anything) that this is a myth.

Allegedly the experiments to determine this were deeply flawed, accidentally using bulbs of different brightnesses.

That said, personal experience seems to suggest that red light is less harsh than white light.
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Zoe Newsam
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Not spoiling your vision...

Post by Zoe Newsam » Tue Mar 01, 2005 2:20 pm

Having spent 7 years working in theatre as a Stage Manager & techie, we used to use blue light for seeing in the dark. It is unobtrusive & doesn't stop you seeing too much when you step out of it into the dark. Lighting designers who're fussy about seeing the right colour light etc use it to work in, so it must have something to say for it...

Zoe

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Post by Richard Seaby » Tue Mar 01, 2005 2:29 pm

Do it all winter in and around the Solent. I always carry a white light (the law) but usually have one of these on the very back end of my boat hooked onto the deck line. It has been there for 2 years and works fine. I never bother taking it off.

http://www.peliproducts.co.uk/LightProd ... lasher.htm

I tried fishing rod tip light but water always gets in. I also carry a strobe on my buoyancy aid, and we rarely wander out without flares. We normal have a pack of the mini flares, plus one or two proper flares each.

It is great to be out there but waves can make it very confusing. We often paddle though Hurst (the tide race between the mainland and the Isle of Wight - for non locals). It doesn’t take much to make you feel very unstable. Generally the place is empty.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:57 pm

Last spring I paddled around St Albans Head in utter pitch darkness. All went well, thankfully we caught slack tide.

A kilometre around the Head though, I was speeding along when suddenly there was a sickening grating crunching noise....I had slammed into a shallow reef. No idea how this could have been avoided...?


Last summer Heather and I did an overnight crossing to an island, which was a really special experience... http://www.s106156335.websitehome.co.uk ... y_2004.htm
...funny thing is, I have a feeling that Heather might have been more reluctant to make this crossing in daylight!
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willsc1
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Post by willsc1 » Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:00 pm

I paddle in the dark most days (nights?) for half the year or so. On your own training/locally then just go and do it - no probs.

Groups and/or sea kayak needs a little more 'prep':

Light-sticks - give each person in the group a different colour for I.D. Try tying them to the back of the BA, tucked under the deck-lines works surprisingly well (beyond the deck bag on the front deck to prevent distraction) or sticking out of the top of helmets a la tellie-tubbies fashion works very well for a group! They can be bought reasonably cheaply in bulk over the net, though some colours show up better than others.

(When I take the girlie out she looks like Blackpool illuminations afloat!)

Plenty of reflective tape on each boat (and paddles) is very useful.

For map reading etc I use a McMurdo Lifejacket lamp with saltwater battery, fastened to my BA - lasts longer than the darkness and with a judiscious bit of tape illuminates without spoiling night vision. Very useful - but don't ask me where you get them.

GPS with pre-entered wpts. Don't have to use it, but v.useful when you decide you want too! Placed on the spraydeck with the map/chart it can be easily viewed with the McMurdo.

I have a small shockcord 'harness' fixed to my decklines that holds a lightstick over my Silva, non-glow in the dark, deck compass. A little tape on the lightstick prevents distraction.

With a bit of practice, paddling in the dark is no problem, I really enjoy it. Your world seems a lot smaller, closer and focussed on you than in daylight. When you see the bio-luminescence glowing from your bow or in the splashes from your paddles it really makes it all seem a little more special.

JW

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Tue Mar 01, 2005 10:10 pm

With a group, give everyone a number and every so often "count off" - helps if the group's told to stay close enough that everyone can hear!

Mike.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue Mar 01, 2005 10:42 pm

guidebook wrote:
Jim wrote:Red light supposedly does not spoil your night vision
I learned on a military course in '92 (I was all set to join the Navy, until their Doctors noticed I couldn't see anything) that this is a myth.

Allegedly the experiments to determine this were deeply flawed, accidentally using bulbs of different brightnesses.

That said, personal experience seems to suggest that red light is less harsh than white light.
As a keen photographer I note that a red filter reduces light into the lens by 2 stops where other colours only reduce 1/2 a stop (I think, I meter through the lens so don't "need" to know exactly). Clearly filtering the light at source is going to have much the same effect - so whilst the experiments may have been deeply flawed the net result is probably OK. Red light does help because by it's very nature it is going to be less bright than other colours! You could of course go to the trouble to find much darker filters in other colours even neutral, but red filters are pretty easy to find (look for military style right angle torches - I reckon the filter will fit most headtorches without much modification).

That said lightsticks are mush less intense than bulbs anyway so it probably doesn't matter what colour(s) you use in these!

JIM

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capsized8
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Night paddling

Post by capsized8 » Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:11 am

2 years ago I took my then 10yr old daughter for a night paddle along with the Snowdonia CC, 14 paddlers in all on the Menai Straits, it was a spectacular paddle with every stroke and the bow waves illuminated by phosphorescence, even fish jumping out of the water gave a classy display. The conditions were smoother than you would get in a pool session, I have never paddled on water as flat. Or at night with similar conditions.
We were wearing very small (40mm x 5mm) white light sticks. With head torches ready should they be needed, (avoid using lights as much as possible). The small light sticks were very unobtrusive and yet showed were you were quite clearly. Larger white light sticks were also available, but not used.
Designated paddlers were at point and rear. the point would make periodic stops to allow regrouping. Sounds a bit long winded, but it allows people who would probably not venture out at night to do so with a higher degree of safety.
A couple of people have been talking about using red lights. I would suggest that they consult the wet highway code. I do believe they will discover they should only be displaying white lights and isnt blue for the pilot, or is that just flares?

But hey, who cares if its left or right or is that port and starboard :0) even the the possibility of becoming a channel marker -- obviously not all sea kayakers !
peace and good padlin.

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Re: Night paddling

Post by Craig Addison » Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:02 am

capsized8 wrote:A couple of people have been talking about using red lights. I would suggest that they consult the wet highway code. I do believe they will discover they should only be displaying white lights and isnt blue for the pilot, or is that just flares?

But hey, who cares if its left or right or is that port and starboard :0) even the the possibility of becoming a channel marker -- obviously not all sea kayakers !
Strictly speaking the minimum requirement applicable to a sea kayak, is a single white light visible from all directions, light sticks are generally used so that members of the group can see the rest of the group & are not that visible from a long way off, if paddling in a busy area then I would advise the use of a single light as Richard Seaby said earlier, however in a quiet sea area as long as you have some sort of light with you, using light sticks is ideal, some of my favourite paddles have been at night.

A pilot boat can be identified at night by a white light above a red light on top of the mast, not blue, I haven't even seen a blue flare in years.

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Post by Jim » Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:29 am

Pete - I wasn't referring to navigation lights, I would expect the group to stay close enough just to show a white light between them in the direction of another craft if they heard/saw one approaching (but forgot to mention it). In that situation the rest of the group look the other way, so rafting up might a good idea.

Red lights are used for map reading etc, and the idea is that they are not seen by anyone, just give you enough glow to read your map without spoiling your night vision. All ships will be using red light on the bridge for the exact same purpose, but displaying the correct running lights. If every kayak had a bright white light on permanantly everyone in the group would be dazzled the whole time. There is the law, and there is practical application of it! If there are no other vessels to see your running light, who is to say you are not displaying it?

It is up to you to keep yourself safe, if you don't think a single light for the group, shown as needed, is safe enough, don't follow my advice!

White collision flares might be a good idea, but you only seem to get them in big offshore flare packs.

Like I say there is the law and there is practical application, when we were met by the police boat on the Gareloch most of us were only showing lightsticks, someone may have shone a torch for them but I don't recall. They certainly didn't have anything to say about our visibility, and because they had been informed of our plans in advance were just checking we were the group they knew about and relaying the footie scores - Scotland were 1-0 up against England at the time so I kept quiet!

JIM

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Post by DaveM » Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:42 am

I've always done a lot of night paddling for race training and later just 'cos it's fun.
Fantastic night around Mudeford Monday 21st, moon was so bright the sand beach in the spit looked like daylight.

I normally paddle dark, the fewer officials that come to investigate the better.
I can recommend the Krill Extreme electronic 360 degree lightstick as a nav light, I use it taped to a thin bamboo in a tube set in the deck behind me so it can be seen from all round.

I also carry a Sun 4C dive torch (will light a disk on a hill 2 miles away), useful when you need to get someone's attention or light rocks etc.

The biggest issue is visual mistakes. Because you have few visual references you CANNOT be sure that what you think you see is what is really there. My log has lots of these errors, non-existent headlands, a dredger that I thought was a jetty and a nearby nav buoy that turned out to be the Needles lighthouse 8 miles away. I've also been garotted by and entangled in hanging lines (have a knife handy).

Night paddling is wonderful, it's a whole new experience.

Dave


Richard Seaby - "Do it all winter in and around the Solent".

Where are you based? You must be the kayker I occasionally see in the distance around Hurst/Keyhaven and maybe Southampton Water.

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Post by Richard Seaby » Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:14 pm

Hi dave

we are based in and around lymington. I do southampton water once or twice a year. There is normally 3 of us. I usually paddle up to any one else I see to say hi.

Richard

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Post by Craig Addison » Wed Mar 02, 2005 5:26 pm

Richard Seaby wrote:Hi dave

I usually paddle up to any one else I see to say hi.

Richard
He usually wears sunglasses & sports a bushy beard (not sure if it's real), but then any one paddling a Sea Tiger would want to be incognito!!

Craig.

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Post by Richard Seaby » Wed Mar 02, 2005 5:59 pm

Beard, Yes, Sea tiger No

lovely quest now! Havent seen you out for ages - still paddling?

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Post by Bertie.. » Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:35 am

time to add my twopenneth...

I use a petzl duo head torch, with the smaller LED lens coloured red with a permanent marker. Gives me the ability to use the white halogen when I need to illuminate something (works like a searchlight on a new battery!) or let others know where I am, and the red LED is great for map reading.

I tend to stick/tape a snaplight on my ba behind me so it doesn't spoil my vision. My boat has SOLAS reflective tape front, rear and sides, which I've coloured red/green as appropriate (again using permanent marker). Not required, but can help another boat work out which direction I'm pointing.

I've also got SOLAS tape on my paddles, but only one on the controlling hand end - if I drop it I can quickly identify which is the control blade.

I use a mini-snaplight taped to the top of the deck mounted compass to illuminate it, if I'm doing a night crossing requiring a compass bearing (which is always fun!)

I'd expect others in my group to be illuminated so I can see where they are.. I also count off occasionally - it's always good practice for leading groups in really bad foggy conditions

WWNLI

Tritium night sticks

Post by WWNLI » Mon May 16, 2005 12:13 pm

Just wondering if anyone has tried the new tritium glow ring nite sticks for keeping tabs on each other?

Obviously these can't be seen over long distances but they last for 10 years so just wondering if they would be useful on clear nights for keeping an eye on group members

Mike

WWNLI

Glow ring link

Post by WWNLI » Mon May 16, 2005 12:42 pm

Cant seam to upload the picture to describe the above, so here is the link to the manufacturer.

http://www.glowrings.com/

They are about £5 on ebay

Mike

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon May 16, 2005 5:32 pm

I thought you were joking at first and I'm still not convinced it's not a hoax.
Is this some new approach to managing nuclear waste?

JIM

WWNLI

Post by WWNLI » Mon May 16, 2005 6:17 pm

"A new method of managing nuclear waste" - now there's an idea to make some money and buy that new composite boat!

No joke, glow ring as seen in April's fantastic Canoe Focus!

Guest

Post by Guest » Mon May 16, 2005 6:40 pm

It isn't a hoax - phosphor coated tritium vials (aka trasers) have been around for a while (tiny ones are used on compasses and watches etc.) They don't emit any radiation (the glass is too thick), and the amount of tritium in each vial is miniscule should you unlucky or determined enough to break one.

Guest

Post by Guest » Mon May 16, 2005 8:35 pm

They're real - I bought a couple a few years ago and they work as described. I've got one on the dog's collar and one to mark the loo in the dark - works well, but you have to be careful to get the right one at night, otherwise the dog doesn't appreciate it.

Not sure how useful they'd be on the water at night though - they glowing bit is only about 20mm long if that.

Cheers,

AndyC

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Post by sub5rider » Thu May 19, 2005 1:48 pm

Anonymous wrote:.....phosphor coated tritium vials (aka trasers) have been around for a while
Just got a couple of these with a few to fitting one to my de-mountable Silva compass (what's the Type number, Jim?). Well, it fits into the tube that the official Silva illumination source goes into - but it's no-where near bright enough to illuminate the compase rose. Ho-hum.
I'll put it on the tent entrance zip, to assist in those emergency exits in the dark....... :D

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