Changing The Way We Think
Over time certain ideas change in popularity when it comes to whitewater kayaking and the gear we bring on the water. When I began to kayak whitewater I was told as a beginner that the BIG 5, Helmet, PFD, Paddle, Kayak, and a Skirt were all that I needed. As a beginner I was told to stick to shore if there was a kayaker who had just experienced a boat separation, a.k.a. a swimmer. I was told that I needed training to be useful, and not a hindrance. I was told to take a swift water rescue class, and then after that class I needed to get a throw rope and a river knife.
While I still think there is sound advice in the above statement, I feel that we have a duty to act, a duty of care for our fellow paddlers while on the river. It is this thought that has made me give the following advice to all whitewater enthusiasts from beginners to experienced class V kayakers alike.
Buy a throw rope and a river knife and always have it with you while on the river. It's alright if you have no idea how to use it at first, you do not need a swift water rescue course to carry this basic equipment. 10 minutes of shore time, prior to launching for the day is all you need, to learn how to use this basic rescue tool. For it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
So to all the whitewater kayakers, I give you this challenge. Always bring the BIG 7, (Helmet, PFD, Paddle, Kayak, Skirt, Throw Rope, and a River Knife) and don't be afraid to ask how to use the tools and practice often.
About the Author:
Corey Spoores, is a lifelong water rat. He grew up on the muddy banks of the Maumee River in Northwest Ohio. At the age of 3 he began his paddling career in the center of a canoe, pretending he was Captain Hook. By the time he graduated college he was falling into the death spiral of a whitewater kayak paddling addiction, and has yet to find rehab; stating on many occasions that rehab is for quitters. Corey is an ACA Level 4 Kayak Instructor, IMBA Guide and Instructor, and certified in Wilderness First Aid. He is also a member of American Whitewater, The Keel Hauler Canoe Club, and the Adobe Whitewater Club, he enjoys using a Dagger Nomad, Five Ten Shoes, Immersion Research Gear, Werner Paddles, and Astral Gear.