Winter paddling forces us to adapt to new rules on the water. Seasons change and so must we. Listen to mother nature and play by her rules. In December its easy to start late when the warmer hours come for the Crack Of Noon Club. But from the moment your eyes open in the morning, maybe before dawn, Nightfall is hurling itself at us silently creating drama hours away. Get as early a start as possible.
Routinely stressful late takeouts are caused by the same reoccurring events, late starts, difficulties due to swims, lost gear and finally squeezing in that late afternoon run anticipating speed. I like the following article written from a woman’s perspective, a loved one’s perspective about an afternoon late run. The author is empowered by trust in her husband and understanding what he does.
A paddler’s family sees the addiction for boaters getting the good run while the water is up. Sometimes the water comes up high with multiple added challenges of cold, ice and marginal amounts of daylight. If the ones we care for don’t understand “the plan” for when things go unexpectedly all sorts of issues spiral out of control, stress rules the day. Their sphere of awareness is singularly trained on whether or not you are standing in front of them. Talking about what ifs ahead of time is important. Things going unexpectedly does not mean calamity, in fact an unexpected challenging day is more the norm than not in our risk based sport. We train every day to manage these challenges.
Once you ring the Fire Bell, it is rung, and it needs to be done so with care (911). For me personally my wife trusts that I will overnight successfully in the woods or hike out through the night before getting the pro’s involved. Your family choice might be different, but I never call my wife when I am off the water for the day. Getting that call I feel trains my wife to worry and its been so for 1o+ years. Ever since my early trips into the daks without cell service we’ve been ok with this plan.
I suggest a short call list of close friends and expert boaters that know the areas you paddle. Give this to your friends/family and make a plan for when you don’t show up on time.
A good read touching on this opening: http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2011/12/03/when-the-water-rises-and-you-run-out-of-daylight/