Kayaking Technique Forum

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Channel fever
In Response To: Re: Open water safety ()

: OK, here comes another philosophical debate. Stop reading now if you aren't
: up for one of these.

Tim, I love a philosophical debate and having paddled through a chaotic harbour all summer, I have definite opinions about dealing with traffic.

: I think its much better to learn how to deal with shipping channels. With the
: right training, its easy to avoid traffic in a shipping channel. It requires
: that you assume you are invisible and that you track the traffic to avoid
: collision

Tim is right when he says you must pretend you're invisible. To a ship, you ARE invisible. Plus the radar isn't always turned on, or actively monitored. I'm haunted by the story of a trans-Pacific freighter that arrived in Yokohama with the mast and rigging of a sailboat dangling from its anchor chain. No-one on the freighter even realized there had been a collision. And on the east coast this summer, a fishing boat was hit by a freighter, with loss of life. The freighter's captain and crew were in the lounge, watching a soccer game on TV. There was no-one on the bridge.

Tracking traffic? Absolutely! To get out of Toronto (or more to the point, to get to the best coffee and chocolate chip muffins on the Toronto Islands), I have to cross six different ferry lanes -- which means I must figure out where each ferry is and, if it's docked, how long it's been docked. Then I have to factor in the dozen or so cruise boats that are also crossing the harbour ... to say nothing of the sailboats, powerboats and sail regattas. It's like juggling, or doing complex mathematics problems in my head ... except that there's a serious penalty for getting it wrong.

It's useful when you start crossing shipping channels to start estimating how long it will take a ship to go from point A to point B -- and how long it takes you to cross the shipping channel. I found I was consistently underestimating the speed of oncoming ships, a potentially dangerous problem.

: I don't agree with this "avoid danger" attitude that underscores
: much of the
: saftey discusions in kayaking. I much prefer an attitude of "learn to
: deal
: with it 'cause if you paddle enough, you will need to".

IMHO, learning to deal with shipping mayhem does make us safer paddlers and better mariners. But the learning process isn't fun and crossings are often high stress.