Paddling Greenland-style

To paddle, or not…?

They write:

Self-policing among many in the outdoor community has seen us reminding each other to avoid putting others at risk by congregating in the outdoors, and by putting ourselves at risk by engaging in backcountry activities that may see us injured and consuming medical resources best preserved for the fight against COVID-19.

white kayaks on an island beach

They ask readers, "...we’re wondering if you’re getting outside at all, and if so, how."

I wrote the following in response:

Exactly the issue I have been struggling with. I am a sea kayaker (Registered Maine Guide) and I live on an island off the Maine coast. Spring paddling always contains an increased element of risk; the ocean temperature today is 39.7°F. I always paddle with a partner in cold weather. I am confident in my ability to choose appropriate conditions and not deliberately get into a rescue scenario, yet things can still go awry. I have solid self-rescue skills (roll and other), but nothing is bombproof, especially in cold water. My potential use of emergency services is what gives me pause. Also, what message would I be communicating to others? As a guide, I feel I should be setting an example. How would my paddling reflect on other guides, sea kayakers, and the outfit I work with?

So I am left with questions instead of answers. What are your thoughts?

UPDATE - April 22, 2020

AP news reported that State of Maine professional water-rescue services had to travel, launch and rescue three men who capsized after going out on a Maine lake on a windy day in their inflatable kayaks. All three spent 45 minutes in the water, unable to get back onto their boats. The three men were showing signs of hypothermia; all were taken to a hospital.


Posted in Kayaking and COVID-19.