-- Last Updated: Sep-24-12 12:36 PM EST --
find themselves stumbling into situations like this every day and most of the time, not always, they come out of it just fine. The dangers associated with paddling are not immediately apparent to the average first time paddler. Some people involved in promoting the sport are disinclined to spend a lot of time explaining the dangers because they don't want to scare people.
To put this in perspective - I have paddled canoes all my life. I am 60 years old. I have paddled a great deal in significant white water and on many extended trips - some in the arctic. I have made mistakes and fortunately lived to tell about it. I have a lot of experience - still I consider myself just an intermediate paddler. I have enough experience to recognize dangerous situations - usually. That is perhaps my biggest strength.
I started paddling a sea kayak for the first time in my life last year. I have a good sea kayak and it fits me well. I have a fair amount of salt water sailing experience - most of it in fairly protected waters (long island sound). Even with this experience I know that I have significant limitations as far as kayaking goes. I do not have a roll yet. I have not been out in truly rough salt water yet. I am confident these things will come with time - and probably quicker than they would come to people without the experiences I have had. Still, there is zero chance that I would go into an area like you describe without a good well fitting sea kayak and at least one - preferably two - experienced paddlers with me. Also, I would not go into that sort of area unless I had the ability to re-enter my kayak and pump it out in rough water which is not an easy thing to do. While some may disagree on this I personally would probably no go in that sort of area unless I could roll my kayak confidently.
I will admit that I sometimes paddle alone. But I know that I am taking a significant risk and I take steps to control that risk as much as possible. One thing for sure, at my skill level (advanced beginner at best) I only go out alone on calm protected water long before dark and I carry a communication device and a PLB as well, and I leave a trip report with a relative.
This is a dangerous sport, make no mistake about it. It takes a long time to develop the skills you need to control your risks. Take it seriously, be cautious, (not fearful), and find some folks to paddle with and they will bring you along to the point that you will be able to paddle almost anywhere with a great safety margin.
PFD's (Life Jackets)
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