Washington Kayak Club is a meetup group near Washington, D.C. This is our guidelines for trip leaders on winter paddles:
Washington Kayak Club Cold-Water Rules
Organizers should adhere to the following:
• Limit group sizes (10 seems like a reasonable limit).
• Include the following “Before you RSVP” list in each Meetup invitation.
• Conduct the “Pre-Launch Check” before you get in the water.
• Use the Buddy system in addition to designated Sweepers and Rescuers.
• Have a clear plan…destination, distance, weather conditions.
• Choose calm waters and try to stay close to shore. Think about how long it would take to reach dry land.
• If the group splits up, try to keep at least 3 people (2 at an absolute minimum) in each group.
Participants: Before you RSVP:
If you have never kayaked or have only limited experience, or if you do not own cold weather gear, for your own safety you should not attend this Meetup. If you are a beginner and anxious to get out and paddle, stay tuned, there will be beginner-friendly paddles when the water is warmer!
In addition to Paddle Float, Bilge Pump, Whistle, and PFD, the following is required:
• Dry suit with insulating layers worn underneath it. *NO COTTON*, not even blends; only synthetic fibers like fleece, polyester, etc. that insulate even when wet.
• Or, if you wear a wet suit: NO shorties. A cold-weather wetsuit suitable for 30°-40°F water. Farmer Johns/Janes ONLY if paired with a wetsuit jacket, or with a dry top with thick thermal layers.
• Cold-weather neoprene gloves/mittens. Also consider “Pogies” that go on your paddle and cover your hands.
• Cold-weather neoprene/fleece hat, beanie, balaclava, etc. to keep your head warm if you are immersed. Again, NO COTTON. Baseball caps and cowboy hats are useless in the water.
• Neoprene booties and thermal socks.
• Bring a dry bag with an extra set of thermals, gloves, socks, and hat.
• Always bring a snack. If you end up in the water you may need to generate more body heat. And, you may need the calories for the return trip.
• Water. It’s not just for hot weather. You still need hydration.
• Consider bringing a thermos of hot beverage. Bring extra water if you bring coffee or black tea, because they will dehydrate you.
• Consider your skill and experience. If in doubt, ask first. The Organizer will tell you whether it’s a good paddle for you.
• Consider the weather, especially in relation to your skill and experience. Even if it looks nice, ALWAYS bring all of your cold-weather gear!
• Listen to the NOAA and/or Coast Guard advisories.
• Kayak skirt. Mandatory.
• Paddle float—blocks are quicker than inflatables.
• Group gear (recommend each individual carry these, but if not, someone in the group should):
• Radio (VHF with channel 16 minimum, for Coast Guard): at least one radio per group? For larger groups the more the better, especially if the group breaks into separate “pods”.
• Tow line (one per person? One per pair?)
• Strobe light
• Smoke flare
• First-aid kit
Pre-Launch Check To Be Conducted by Organizer
• Does everyone have the gear mentioned above?
• Is it in good working order?
• Battery-check your radio.
• Do you have spare batteries for radio?
• Who else has a (radio, tow line, etc.)
• SAFETY CHECK: is everyone in the habit of ensuring the pull tab is outside the skirt?
• Ask each paddler:
• Can you roll (and not just in a pool with assistance)?
• Can you do self-rescues?
• Can you assist others with a rescue?
• How do you feel about today’s weather and water conditions?
• Are you willing to obey the leader in order to ensure group safety?
• SWEEPS AND BUDDIES
• Make sure each paddler has a buddy
• Slow group sweep: [assign name]
• Fast group sweep: [assign name]
Recreational Kayak Paddle
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