First and foremost....WOW. Thanks for all the responses. Now to address some things. First Jeff Shoaf is my brother and so far the one I paddle with (when I can get him to go). We took a couple of beginners lessons. One on a lake and the other on the Dan River. Now he brought up the issue of me not swimming. Last year when we started kayaking I told him I wouldn't do it without a PFD. So we both always wear our PFD's. For those of you that don't know, we went to Roatan off the coast of the Honduras's in March. This was to be a kayaking, snorkeling, shooting pictures trip. We both took our PFD's since we felt we'd be more comfortable in our own. Ended up Jeff couldn't snorkel, he couldn't keep his face in the water. I could snorkel and did so a couple of times. I always had my PFD on. I can float and swim on my back. I wouldn't want to do either for a long distance. I took swimming lessons years ago when I was in my 20's. I have carpal tunnel in both hands all the way up my arms and it can affect my neck. Because of this my arms aren't as strong as they use to be. As far as self rescue, I flipped out and while trying to get back in my SOT flipped out a couple more times. Why, because Jeff, my brother, was trying to tell me how to do it instead of being still and letting me get my wits back. I was laughing at myself and the water was knee deep or just a little above my knees. I bought my SOT which is 14 ft long and yes it is heavy. But its also very stable, tracks well and is manuverable. I always have my cell phone in a dry bag, plus water, snacks and a sandwich and yes, I always have a first aid kit consisting of hand warmers, bandaids, a heat sheet to wrap up in or use as a tent,a couple of different things to start a fire if needed, things like that. I also have a couple of carabingers and some kind of rope. None of this means that I can't drown. I've been trained as a first responder at my job. I'm not usually the one that panics when something goes wrong. I stay calm until everything is over, give it an hour or 2 and then maybe I fall apart. Why am I telling you all of this? Its simple all of you were kind enough to answer. Yes, I have thought about kayaking on my own. I work a rotating schedule. Out of six weeks I'm really only off a total of two complete weekends. I've been doing this job for 15 years and its always been hard to find anybody to do anything with. I'm 50 years old and still get lectures from my parents about the places I go alone....the mountains, riding around out in the country side, etc. I've also taken some plane trips by myself. Rarely have I had any problems. Once again, I'm not saying I won't/ can't have problems. I'm known as being a very dependable, responsible person. Jeff is a super smart computer nerd. I don't want to jinx either of us but I think he thought he was going to have a lot easier time learning to kayak than me. He does all this research bought DVD's and yet I'm the one that has to catch his kayak when he flips out all the time. He acts like I'm not aware of my surroundings and I don't pay attention. WELL I AM AWARE AND I DO PAY ATTENTION. The reason I flipped out that time was because I was coming through a small rapid, was going to turn around to make sure he got through it. I turned a little too soon and flipped out. I am out and about all the time. I've learned to follow my instincts about a lot of things. I'm grateful Jeff cares for me and I've said it before I think the world of him. We live in NC, its been in the mid to high 80's and I want to go kayaking. I like going down the Dan River. Its a small river but its like any river in that it can hide things. The river is about a 15 to 20 minute trip from mine or Jeff's house. I went there last Thursday to check the water temperature and it was cool. If I go kayaking I was planning on wearing my wetsuit and of course my PFD. I was going to get the guys at the Dan River Company to transport me & my yak back to my car when I got through. I'm not going to say I won't ever go by myself. But I'm able to do things in the middle of the week because of my work schedule and it beats the heck out of fighting the weekend crowds. I also plan on letting more than one person know what I'll be doing and where I'll be doing it.
I'm not trying to add salt to an open wound but each time we have kayaked Jeff has flipped out. He even flipped out in the ocean when we were in Roatan. Thank goodness we were in between the island and the the reef. Because of this the water wasn't rough. I'm used to my very stable, steady SOT. In Roatan we were in sit ins, long sit ins. I did fine but I still like my SOT better. My thought is when the same thing keeps happening to me its because of something I've done. I'd like to understand why Jeff always flips out. Is he manuvering wrong, not paying attention, what? I'd like to join a paddling club so we both could learn and gain some knowledge and experience from others. Maybe Jeff could find someone to show him how to stay in the kayak. I'm not trying to be a smart aleck or be ugly by saying that. I just don't want there to be that one time when he flips out and something awful happens.
I hope I'm not coming off as overly confident. Someone told me years ago that 98% of the "what if's" never happen and the 2% that do you either live through them or die. I'm not trying to risk dying. I have a strong belief that nobody dies before their time. I don't want Jeff to quit caring about me. I do want him to start caring more about himself....in all parts of his life. I've worried about him a lot the last couple of years. He's let his health go and I don't want him ending up like some (or one) of our relatives. I want him to wake up and truly enjoy life...not in front of the TV. That's not life.
Once again thank all of you and of course I'll let you know if or when I decide to paddle alone. It won't be without lots of thinking and planning and preparing.
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