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Three vital safety questions

I had the honour and the privilege of paddling out with some highly experienced kayakers on the weekend. I knew that with their training, they could handle just about anything that might come up. We decided to tackle a one-hour crossing of a bay on Lake Ontario.

Before we set out, the senior member of the group turned to us and said, "What could go wrong out there?"

For each concern, she asked, "How will we deal with that?"

Finally, she asked, "What's the worst thing that could happen?"

Rain was forecast, so we said lightning. But summer is the time of year for lightning up here. We decided that the probability of lightning yesterday was very low or non-existent. The senior paddler made a judgement call and decided we would play in the surf instead of going out into the bay. After about an hour, the sky darkened and a bolt of lightning flashed into the lake south of us. Because of those three questions, we were in a position to out of the water and off the beach in minutes.

From now on, those three questions will be part of the planning for every paddle I take.