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Kayaking in PWS
Posted by Brian Richardson on Feb 24 2006
Part of your journey (like many) depends on where you start.  PWS can be a big Ol’ nasty sea when caught out in the open swell, yet mirror flat calm in more protected bays and passages.  

The paramount thing to prepare yourself is identify where you’ll be starting your paddling from, what (places) you chart to visit, and where you’ll end your trip.  Charts, Maps, & basic navigation… plan A w/ contingencies built into your waypoints.  

Next is familiarizing yourself with what boat… length, single, tandem, where the weight is in the craft, how to load, etc.  Also start becoming acquainted with all the equipment you may take along and just how you will put it all together.  

Subsequently (maybe most evident) is benefiting from proper instruction (understand & observe vs. simply taking notes) - hands on practice plus challenge yourself playing up new skills.  Get some mileage before you go if possible.  Fitness prep is another good suggestion.  Clothing selection is key!!!

Beyond that… paying attention to safety instruction, performing safety and communication rehearsals, using wilderness sense, bringing a head net in summer, and being aware/prepare that it can rain or blow or fog or all of the above for days.

I did notice the “I’m pretty strong”

The biggest tip I can therefore give you is that excellence & efficient kayaking is about refinement of skills (finesse), timing, patience, and using your head more than physical power or something of that notion. I would take along a set of paddling gloves (fleece will do fine – nothing fancy) particularly if you haven’t gotten the chance to be in paddling form, plus it will keep you from getting cold hands or worn-out fingers from the newbie death-grab on the paddle.

Have fun & be safe!  Paying attention and using common sense goes a long way!!!  Watch the water, tides, ice, ice walls of the glaciers, and the winds.  Ice can bar you in on a beach head when the winds and drift of the tides is right.  Be conscious of impact on the beaches like stepping on shorebird eggs.  Keep a clean, organized, and manageable camp.  Make camp bombproof if you leave it for awhile (knowing the tide tables) and do not let the sea otters steal your food on the sly.

Brian Richardson

Previous: Bring a headnet NorthRick Feb 27 2006
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