Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts

Be Safe in the Cold

Fall is descending on most of the nation and even a hint of winter is showing up for a few of our folks up north. My friends in Europe have been experiencing snow for almost three weeks now. As it gets colder, carelessness with safety gets more costly than it already is. Please be safe. Have a float plan. Wear layers. Wear a life jacket.

Here is a video explaining why that life jacket is so important.



Flip That Kayak!

Turtle: Also known as flipping a kayak while you are in it

The idea of falling out of a kayak is the exact reason why people either:

#1 Don't/Won't buy a kayak

#2 Buy a particularly wide kayak

This is nothing new. People don't buy any floating vessel only to end up bobbing beside it shortly after launch but maybe they should try it.


When to Say When in the Wind



Fishing in Texas, wind is inevitable. The problem with it is the constant change and knowing when to say when. Knowing when can be the difference between frustration and potential disaster.

Recently I had a day off midweek and decided I was going to fish no matter what. I received a tip of where some good fish were staging and made the trek to the lake. I looked at the wind forecast and knew it was going to be a little windy (15mph SSE). As I pulled up to the launch the forecast proved wrong. It was closer to 20mph with gusts to what I can only assume were nearing 40.

Decision time. I brought the Commander with me. It has a rudder but no scuppers so I would need to be careful. I knew it could cut the waves and with my anchor trolley I could position my bow into the wind. I did drive all the way down so I figured, let's try it.

The launch was uneventful. As soon as I started heading into the wind the Commander did what it was made to do. The rudder helped with steering and it was fairly effortless to get where I was going. I found my offshore spot, slid my trolley up to the bow, slipped the anchor into the water and started fishing. I won't lie, it was pretty rough. I could feel the waves below the boat as they were parted and spray was hitting me in the face as the rocker split break after break.  Just 15 minutes into fishing I had a decision to make. The wind was gaining speed, the water was visibly accumulating in the bottom of the kayak and to get back to the launch I was going to have to turn broadside at some point to get turned around or try to go Paris Hilton style (backwards) for the 200 yards back to the ramp. 14 feet of kayak is a lot to turn even with a rudder in this chop but I also knew there was a good chance of damaging the rudder once I got near the launch if I went backwards. I opted to paddle away from the launch and turn broadside for only long enough to get going nose first toward the launch.

This should have been my first clue


Now only 20 minutes into my trip I pulled my anchor and started digging into the passing waves. It was a struggle. The wind was pushing 25+ now and apparently some onlookers had gathered. I paddled fiercely and deeply for another 10 minutes and made my turnaround point. As I swung the rudder and plowed the paddle down for the turn a wave smashed the side of the boat soaking everything. I shook it off, made one more hard stroke and had my nose pointed at the launch.


Maybe an overreaction but glad they came to look


It was now evident how dire my situation looked. Someone from the bank had called the cops. A cruiser was pulling up to the launch as I made the turn. I raised my hand to wave at him and gave him an ok sign. He seemed good with that and pulled in to park and watch. With the wind now at my back the paddle back was quick and uneventful. As soon as I made land I waived at the officer, he waived back and headed on to more important things. A few of the onlookers dispersed and a couple came and visited for a bit.

As I loaded up the kayak the wind continued to build. I bailed a little more than 64 ounces from the kayak. It wasn't a dangerous amount of water but that number would have grown quickly had I stayed. Knowing when to say when made a potential disaster story really nothing more than a long blog post and a lot of frustration. That's a lot better than what it could have been.

Should i have attempted it? Maybe not.

So the lesson here is knowing when to give up, regardless of the investment in time or potential benefits. Swamp out my gear to catch big fish? No thanks.

You have to know when to say when in the wind.

New to Kayaking? Check the Law.

In the state of Texas, you don't have to register your kayak in most cases. If it has a motor, trolling or otherwise yes, but in most cases no. Laws are different in each state so make sure you check them out carefully before venturing out. Here is how it reads in Texas:



The following vessels when on Texas public water are required to have current registration, including when docked, moored, or stored.


  • All motorized boats, regardless of length;
  • All sailboats 14 feet in length or longer or any sailboat with an auxiliary engine(s); and
  • USCG Documented vessels (New — see section below).
  • Exempted vessels — Non-motorized canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, or rubber rafts (regardless of length) when paddled, poled, or oared and sailboats under 14 feet in length when windblown. Adding an outboard or trolling motor to one of these types requires titling and registration.
  • An exempt boat may have previously been titled as a motorboat. You can check whether a title has been issued for free.
That is great news but slow down for a second and let's really look at this. Just because you don't have to register your boat (as long as you meet the above criteria) doesn't mean you can stroll down to Mariner-Sails and pick a boat and a paddle and be on the lake before sunset. There are some other things to look at within the laws. 

Just to get on the water you need to read this:

All vessels, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one Type I, II, III or V wearable PFD for each person on board. A Type V PFD is acceptable only if used in accordance with the specific instructions on the label of the device.

Need some help picking one out? Visit a kayak dealer and try some on. For more info, check out this post here. And if you want a direct link to a recommended manufacturer? You should check out NRS or Stohlquist. PFDs are what they do. 

If you are going to paddle at night:

Remember that you must carry one bright white light that can be exhibited in time to prevent a collision. It is recommended that you carry a lantern, flashlight, or other attached white light that will be visible from 360 degrees. Regulations state that canoes, kayaks, and all other manually driven vessels may exhibit sidelights and a sternlight, and shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern, or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.


Need some help? For the absolute best you need to look at the YakAttack VisiCarbon Pro Light. You can find it here with a Mighty Mount (others are available). It also has a hi-vis flag so people will see you during the day as well. 


A general warning to have your safety items:

Operating Vessels without Required Equipment is Prohibited - No person may operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel that is not provided with the required safety equipment. An operator may not permit a person under the age of 13 to be on board the vessel while the vessel is underway if the person is not wearing a USCG approved wearable PFD. Marine enforcement officers regularly perform vessel safety checks to ensure the safety of boat owners and passengers.

One more thing you will need by law:

Any vessel less than 12 meters in length (39.4 ft.) is required to carry a whistle or horn, or some other means to make an efficient sound to signal intentions and position in periods of reduced visibility.


As you are thinking about total purchase price, a weekend trip down the Brazos, Guad or just a play day at the lake, make sure you have a PFD (life jacket),  whistle, and if paddling at night, a 360 light. 

Stay safe, not only will it save you money but it might save your life!

LED Lights More Than Just Bling

The first time I saw LED lights on a kayak was about three years ago. I thought it could really help me out to attract bait at night so I bought some off the shelf cheap ones. After fumbling around with them I finally got the install working and headed out. They worked pretty well. My positioning of the lights was way off and they killed my night vision but I was a rookie at lights and didn't think too much about it.

I realized what the biggest benefit was when I saw my first set of SuperNovas on Lake Austin. We were fishing well after dark, catching some pretty decent bass when I heard a deep rumbling engine baring down pretty quickly. I looked behind me and see my friend, lights ablaze, in the middle of the channel trying to cross over to the other side. The boat sees him in time and swerves off and is headed in my direction. I have my 360 degree light on and visible with a flag but amongst the dock lights, I realize I am not being seen. I make like a duck trying to lift off of a pond and paddle furiously toward the bank. Blowing my whistle the entire time. The boat never heard or saw me. It's probably hard to see one white light amongst all the other lights and to hear the whistle over the sound of loud music and a rumbling 350 inboard. I made it out of the way and endured the wakes from the big wake board boat. I was soaked but I was alive.

Shortly after that I realized the need for more lights. I did a lot of research and wrote about some differences after the research was done. The main takeaway on LED lights is get high quality casings and 5050 chips rather than 3528. To learn more on that, go here.

Visibility, while meeting the requirement of the law, doesn't come as well in just a 360 degree light. If I am night fishing I want to be visible from Mars. My friend on Lake Austin really had few worries because he was highly visible. Highly visible equates to safety after dark.

I've heard it said many times that LED lights are just bling on a kayak. I don't agree with that. If you chase big bass or trout or other game fish at night where power boats can be or maybe you are going to be in the back bays or under a causeway, you need to be seen! Every kayak I own gets LED lights. Sure I may have to sell a few fishing reels or some tackle to get them but for my money, I don't want the cheapest solution when it comes to safety. If you ever see me out early or late, I'll have my SuperNovas on.

Here are some pictures of current and past kayaks I've outfitted:












Winter Time Protection

With the weather starting to get cooler, your face needs some help too. This mistake from last year left a scar on my nose. I won't be repeating it this Fall and Winter. 

It was chilly that morning. Temperatures had just topped 40 degrees and the North wind was whipping at 15-20 mph. I had gloves on, a cold weather hat, three layers, wool socks and my bibs. I was determined to shoot some test footage with the two cameras I had in tow and wanted to get some time on the water and in my haste had hurried. As I unloaded the boat I went down my mental checklist and had my whistle, my PFD, my paddle, the Mirage Drive, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. The sun was coming out and I had high hopes it would warm up soon as I shoved off and began a great day on the water. 

Fast forward four hours and I was beaching the Hobie Outback and envisioning the footage I had shot. I backed down the ramp to load up and felt an itch on my nose. I scratched it and my face lit on fire! A glance into the mirror reminded me of what I forgot. Sunscreen. 

I have been a big advocate of SPF 80+ for several years and had been on a three year streak of no sunburns. The end of my nose is a thin venous covering because of the years of damage I did in my 20s. Skin cancer is less likely an if but more of a when for me. I am trying to do everything I can but this English nose hides under few caps and without sunscreen it burns. 

I think my fatal flaw was not writing down a list. A mental checklist is only as good as the next distraction. Sunscreen didn't cross my mind because it was cold. That's stupid looking back on it. It's sunscreen, not heat screen. It is the light and reflection of light that chars me, not the presence of warmth. The sun reminded me of that. 

5 days later I was still dealing with the unsightly reminder of my blunder. Please remember to either sunscreen up before every trip or wear an item like a face Buff to protect you. A big wide brimmed hat can also help but is often left behind on a very windy day. 

The action you take today can yield better results down the road. Skin cancer is no joke. Safety is more than just a life jacket. Protect yourself out there. 

The Dreaded C Word



Cancer.

In 2013, the American Cancer Society estimates 1.66 Million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed. 112,000 of those will be in Texas alone. Of the total 1.66M, 76,000 of those will be skin cancer represented as a melanoma. Let me put it a different way. Today, September 24, 2013, 210 new people will be diagnosed with melanoma. This happens every single day.  Not included in the new cases are the number of NMSC (non-melanoma). These are estimated at 3.5 Million for this year. These are people having to get places cut off their noses, heads, ears and hands to make sure it doesn't spread.

So why the gloom and doom?

Cancer has been on my mind alot lately. I have a friend who had a NMSC removed last week the size of a golf ball. I have family I have lost and friends who have lost their loved ones to various forms of cancer this year and my time on the water yesterday afternoon brought it all bubbling up. Needing to get out on the water after a horrid day at work, I was at the kayak launch and was internally dialoguing whether or not to wear sunscreen. I would only be in the sun about an hour. Did I need coverage past the sunscreen? I opted to play it safe. I applied sunscreen to all my skin I could see and then put on my Hoo-Rag to cover even more. As soon as I started toward the west I felt the sun. It felt warm and I knew I had made a good choice.

As a young man in my teens and twenties, I didn't use sunblock. I can remember getting burned to the point of having blisters and welps. Stupid. I now know better. It's a habit you have to build into your routine but if it means being around for your family, friends and fishing buddies a few more years, isn't it worth it?

Here are some of the things I recommend and do.

Sunscreens come in a variety of forms: creams, sprays, gels and more. Find one you can tolerate and keep it with you.

Coverage is another big help. Find a hat. Some people like the wide brimmed ones. Those are best. I have a hard time wearing one so I opt for a ball cap and a Hoo-Rag. The Hoo allows me to cover my ears, face, neck or all three in addition to the sunscreen coverage. I switched to the Hoo-Rag recently because it is a little thinner than a Buff, stretches better and is easier to breathe through. I have four in my collection currently but they have over 30 designs to choose from. I wear long sleeves 95% of the year, especially in the summer. I very rarely wear shorts. And yes, I have a glorious white glow, not that anyone ever sees it.

Reapplication. Sunscreens are usually only good in wet conditions for 60-80 minutes. Keep it with you on the water and reapply often.

Protect your eyes. Find a comfortable pair of sunglasses. I prefer polarized glass lenses and use the Smith Optics PolarChromic Tenet Glasses. The important thing is to protect your eyes. If you want protection AND performance, the Smiths are amazing and light on your nose.


Hopefully this doesn't come across as preachy but I do care about each and every one of you. I hope you and your families never experience cancer and especially one that can be avoided in most cases.

Stay safe out there.


Speak Up or Stay Silent?

My name is Chris and I frequent sporting goods stores. No, seriously. It is frequent. Probably three times a week into each of the two big box stores near me. I don't buy very often but I am always scanning for a clearance deal, new bait or some hidden gem. Both of these stores sell kayaks so I often spend some time looking at the entry level kayaks. I know folks are going to be asking about them on the forums and Facebook so it's better to know what they are talking about in order to give an informed answer.

This loitering causes me some problems. From an early age I have had to learn to keep my mouth shut. Invariably if it stays open long enough, a foot will fly into it. I've gotten better at it but the control factor has me wondering if I am not saying enough. In certain situations anyway.

This week I was in one of the big box retailers and saw a father and son purchasing a kayak. The store associate helping them asked if they needed a paddle or lifejacket to go with it. I waited for the answer, standing in the middle of the aisle staring as if Bill Dance and Hank Parker just offered to buy me lunch. The dad says "No, we have a friend with a paddle we can use and my boy knows how to swim." I wanted to scream but before I could say anything (the shock took a minute to wear off), they were at the checkout line.

I had a huge battle going on in my head. I was debating back and forth whether to approach them and explain the dangers of kayaking without a PFD. I might risk making them angry. Dad was in his mid to late 40s so a younger guy telling him how to parent might not go over so well. A migraine was developing from all the internal dialogue.

Do I speak up or stay silent?

Though I feel regret now, I stayed silent. I kept my mouth shut, my feet on the ground and left. It's torture to want to educate people but at the same time, is a public retail shop with strangers the best place to try to correct a mistake in progress? Hopefully someone talks some sense into these folks. It should have been me.

What would you do? What will you do?

  

Water Safety for Kids

It's too easy to make a mistake.
You're loading up the truck with a kayak or two and that little voice rings through the garage, "Daddy, can I go?" You may have planned on her asking but did you really plan on her going?

According to the CDC, 350 children die every year in boating related drownings.

How do you prevent that?

Planning properly.

It's human nature to think that would never happen to you. You can protect them. You will hold them on your lap. The water's not that deep. I'm a great swimmer.

I've heard them all. The plain and simple fact is no one plans on disaster happening to them. With a little planning, a little awareness and some ground rules, most of those 350 would be at home with their parents instead of living only through the emotional scars their parents now bare.

I know it feels like I am preaching, and maybe I am, but this is IMPORTANT.

Here are the steps I have taken and believe you should too to ensure safety for every child that gets on one of my kayaks. This may not be the end all be all list but you need to have some list of rules and know it by heart. And then, once you have the rules, don't make exceptions. Again, these are my rules, not Texas State Law except where noted.

Any child in a kayak must have a proper life jacket on and secured properly.
Texas law states "Children under 13 years of age in or on vessels under 26 feet must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while underway."
Get a life jacket that is weight rated for the child and fits properly. A Type II is better than a Type III because it will, under most circumstances, float the child face up. PFD Types Click Here

Children under 12 cannot ride alone in a kayak until they have met my adult qualifications.  (My Rule)
It seems archaic and overprotective to some but, using a boat that can flip on top of you, weighs more than you do and is not an easy re-entry if you fall out are recipes for danger. 

All paddlers must go through an orientation with the boat. 
It only takes a few minutes but it is important to know safety on the kayak, regardless of age, but children especially need to know what to do.

Open water re-entry experiences are a must. 
The first time I took my eight year old out with me I explained what we were going to do. I said we would jump off the kayak into the water. I instructed him to stay where he was. I reminded him the life jacket will float him and I would come to him once I re-entered the kayak. I was probably over explaining things but he understood. We jumped off and he did great. He watched to make sure he didn't get run over by the kayak. When it got too near him he pushed himself away while I got back on. I scooped him up and he did great! He didn't panic. I had explained everything. Paddling back to the shore I purposefully dug in and flipped the boat without telling him. I watched him calm himself down quickly and take in the surroundings. He assessed the situation. He showed me he was ok and waited for me to get back on the kayak and scoop him up. Another success. You have to do this with your kids. You have to learn how to coach them when on the water. This is how people survive bad situations. Preparation. 

The water is warm now. Do this now. Don't wait until winter. Don't wait until the water is cold. 


This all takes some time and preparation but if it saves just one life next year that is one more child who gets to become an adult. One more set of parents who aren't grieving over a simple mistake. Take the time to be ready for when that little girl or boy asks to do what you are doing. When they ask to go kayak with you, have a life jacket, have a plan and have a blast making memories that will last forever.  

Minimum Kayak Requirements Inshore and Offshore

Special thanks to Josh Neumeyer for compiling all of this info. Josh is a seasoned kayak angler on both fresh and salt water. He has worked diligently to compile a succinct and easy to read list. Please read through these, know them and obey them. It could save your life or someone else's. 



Minimum Requirements for Kayaking in Texas

PFD (aka Lifevest) Requirements

  • You must have a Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on the kayak [TWSA Title 4 § 31.066(a)][CFR Title 33 § 175.15]
  • Children under the age of 13 must always wear their PFD [TWSA Title 4 § 31.066(b)][CFR Title 33 § 175.15(c)]
  • Type V PFDs must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's label to be legal [CFR Title 33 § 175.17(a)]
  • Inflatable PFDs may only be worn by adults over the age of 16 and weighing more than 80lbs [CFR Title 46 § 160.076]
  • All PFDs must be in good, serviceable condition without any cuts, tears, rotten material, etc [CFR Title 33 § 175.23]
  • All PFDs must fit each person properly [CFR Title 33 § 175.21]
  • Each PFD must be readily accessible to each person [CFR Title 33 § 175.19]

Distress Signaling Devices - Audible & Visual

  • On inland waters you are not required to have an audible signaling device [TWSA Title 4 § 31.073(a)]
  • On coastal waters you must have an audible signaling device capable of making efficient sound [USC Title 33 Chapter 34 § 2033(b)]
  • You are not required to have visual distress signaling devices on inland waters [TWSA Title 4 § 31.073(a)][CFR Title 33 § 175.5]
  • You are required to have USCG approved visual distress signaling devices suitable for night use when kayaking between sunset and sunrise on coastal waters [CFR Title 33 § 175.115]
  • Visual distress signaling devices must be readily accessible [CFR Title 33 § 175.120]
  • Visual distress signaling devices must be in serviceable condition [CFR Title 33 § 175.125]

Light Requirements

  • You must exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight visible all around the horizon from sunset to sunrise in all weather [TWSA Title 4 § 31.064]
  • All-around white lights must be visible for 2 miles [USC Title 33 Chapter 34 § 2022(c)]

Registration and Numbering

  • Kayaks, regardless of length, do not have to be registered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.022(c)]
  • Kayaks, 14 feet or longer, equipped as a sailboat have to be registered and numbered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.022(c)]
  • Kayaks, regardless of length, equipped with a motor (electric or gas) have to be registered and numbered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.021(a)]
  • If you register and number your kayak know that there are more minimum requirements that apply than listed above

The Sunscreen Showdown


This weekend’s battle featured four different contestants from two different brands. Jess and I tried out two sprays and two gels in SPF 30 or 40 from Aloe Gator  and SmartShield. 

The sunscreens were applied in different places so we could differentiate. I used the Aloe Gator Gel on the back of my neck and ears and the SmartShield for my face. Jesse tried the sprays in the same manner. I retested the sprays myself on Sunday to see just because I was curious. Here are the pros and cons of each and then my overall pick.

Aloe Gator Sport Spray

This spray goes on in a pump style, is PABA free and works pretty well. It left me a little greasy for approximately ten minutes in the sun before it dried and was a bit tacky to the touch. The smell was pleasant and not overly reminiscent of rubbing alcohol. The Aloe Gator kept my skin cool for almost three hours before I could feel the heat of the sun. This is a very good product and with multiple applications could be very effective for water sports and is very water resistant. 
The manufacturer lists it as:

"This quick drying pump spray offers added UVA/UVB protection with Parsol 1789 and is fast drying. Plus it is oil free, PABA free and very water-resistant. With its convenient application it is great for sports and water activities. Add bonus, it is made with the gentle Lil' Gator formulation so it can be perfect for kids."



Aloe Gator Gel

This gel was the most frustrating of the group. Even on a 60 degree day I had to be The Incredible Hulk to get the gel started out of the tube. As I pushed more out it eventually got a little easier but I couldn't imagine my wife fighting with this product. It doesn't spread well either. It is very thick. It holds its shape after forcing it out of the tube and rubbing it in is a chore. I never felt like I was covered well enough and used copious amounts of it. This is marketed towards super active folks but you need an active gym membership to get it out of the tube. I felt greasy the whole time I had it on and wanted a shower as soon as I put it on. I'm not a fan and would not recommend this product. 
The manufacturer lists it as:

"Aloe Gator Gel has SPF 40 and is a total sunblock protection in a super waterproof gel formulation. It's the premier sports sunblock used by paddlers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts!Waterproof up to 8-hours. The products are gentle to the skin, with no PABA or PABA Esters. Four sunscreens combine to ensure product absorbs both UVA and UVB rays."


SmartShield Gel

This gel was a little less than gel or at least what I think of as gel. It was the consistency of a melted Jell-O shot. It spread very easily and dried very quickly in less than two minutes. I could tell where I had applied it because it has a wet feeling going on which went away as soon as it dried. One of the ingredients seemed to have drawn some of the salt out of my skin as I brushed away what felt like sand and I wasn't on a beach. I did get some of it in my eye which stung just a touch and then evaporated or diluted which made it subside in less than 10 seconds. I would not recommend this for faces. It covers well but the chances of it ending up in your nose or mouth are greatly increased by its liquidity. This is a very good solution for hands, arms, backs, legs etc. I started to feel the heat of the sun after a couple of hours and did not reapply it so I could test something else. All in all, good except for faces and longevity. 

This is what the manufacturer says:

"This High-Tech SPF 30 sunscreen gel has a Cooling Alcohol base; great for people who have oily skin or acne. Aloe Vera gel is moisturizing and healing to the skin. This fragrance-free formula won't clog pores, never feels greasy and is waterproof for up to eighty minutes."


SmartShield Spray

I reapplied after a couple of hours with this product. I continued on another four hours with this applied and had no heat sensation at all. This pump, non-aerosol went on very easy, was light on the skin and had no odor I could detect. I could feel the coverage as it was applied and then it dried very rapidly in under a minute. It was a little shiny on the skin, as most are but lacked that tacky, sticky feeling most other sunscreens give, especially aerosol spray-ons. I used this again on Sunday and the same results were found. 

This is what the manufacturer says:

"Protect your skin from UV rays with a light, oil-free formula that absorbs and dries quickly- without leaving behind any greasy residue. This light, waterproof sunscreen will keep you protected with SPF 30. PABA-free. Contains aloe to soothe your skin."




Of all of these sunscreens that were tried, Jesse and I both agreed that the spray on products were superior. A hybrid between the two gels would be a nice sunscreen but neither are great for all application areas. The fast drying, non-sticky feel of the SmartShield really won me over and for the purposes of this test, was the winner. I wish they made it in an SPF60 or higher. 


Both of these brands were tested by request of Mariner-Sails of Dallas. They are available in their store or check them out on the web at www.mariner-sails.com or www.mariner-kayaks.com.


As a side note, a nice gentleman I met from Colorado at the kayak launch allowed me to try a sunscreen lotion he really loves. It is called Rocky Mountain and he has been using it for years. I tested some on my left hand and it repelled water nicely as well as keeping the sun at bay. I may look into it further. It was an SPF50 and went on better than most lotions I've tried. 



Water Safety for Kids


*As Spring is all but upon us, this is an important reminder I posted last summer about kids' safety on the water.


It's too easy to make a mistake.
Type II Child PFD

You're loading up the truck with a kayak or two and that little voice rings through the garage, "Daddy, can I go?" You may have planned on her asking but did you really plan on her going?
According to the CDC, 350 children die every year in boating related drownings.

How do you prevent that?
Planning properly.

It's human nature to think that would never happen to you. You can protect them. You will hold them on your lap. The water's not that deep. I'm a great swimmer.

I've heard them all. The plain and simple fact is no one plans on disaster happening to them. With a little planning, a little awareness and some ground rules, most of those 350 would be at home with their parents instead of living only through the emotional scars their parents now bare.

I know it feels like I am preaching, and maybe I am, but this is IMPORTANT.

Here are the steps I have taken and believe you should too to ensure safety for every child that gets on one of my kayaks. This may not be the end all be all list but you need to have some list of rules and know it by heart. And then, once you have the rules, don't make exceptions. Again, these are my rules, not State Law except where noted.

Any child in a kayak must have a proper life jacket on and secured properly.
Texas law states "Children under 13 years of age in or on vessels under 26 feet must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while underway."
Get a life jacket that is weight rated for the child and fits properly. A Type II is better than a Type III because it will, under most circumstances, float the child face up. PFD Types Click Here

All paddlers must go through an orientation with the boat. 
It only takes a few minutes but it is important to know safety on the kayak, regardless of age, but children especially need to know what to do.

Open water re-entry experiences are a must. 
The first time I took my eight year old out with me I explained what we were going to do. I said we would jump off the kayak into the water. I instructed him to stay where he was. I reminded him the life jacket will float him and I would come to him once I re-entered the kayak. I was probably over explaining things but he understood. We jumped off and he did great. He watched to make sure he didn't get run over by the kayak. When it got too near him he pushed himself away while I got back on. I scooped him up and he did great! He didn't panic. I had explained everything. Paddling back to the shore I purposefully dug in and flipped the boat without telling him. I watched him calm himself down quickly and take in the surroundings. He assessed the situation. He showed me he was ok and waited for me to get back on the kayak and scoop him up. Another success. You have to do this with your kids. You have to learn how to coach them when on the water. This is how people survive bad situations. Preparation. 

This all takes some time and preparation but if it saves just one life next year that is one more child who gets to become an adult. One more set of parents who aren't grieving over a simple mistake. Take the time to be ready for when that little girl or boy asks to do what you are doing. When they ask to go kayak with you, have a life jacket, have a plan and have a blast making memories that will last forever. 

Safety is More Than Just a Life Jacket


It was chilly that morning. Temperatures had just topped 40 degrees and the North wind was whipping at 15-20 mph. I had gloves on, a cold weather hat, three layers, wool socks and my bibs. I was determined to shoot some test footage with the two cameras I had in tow and wanted to get some time on the water and in my haste had hurried. As I unloaded the boat I went down my mental checklist and had my whistle, my PFD, my paddle, the Mirage Drive, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. The sun was coming out and I had high hopes it would warm up soon as I shoved off and began a great day on the water. 

Fast forward four hours and I was beaching the Hobie Outback and envisioning the footage I had shot. I backed down the ramp to load up and felt an itch on my nose. I scratched it and my face lit on fire! A glance into the mirror reminded me of what I forgot. Sunscreen. 

I have been a big advocate of SPF 80+ for several years and had been on a three year streak of no sunburns. The end of my nose is a thin venous covering because of the years of damage I did in my 20s. Skin cancer is less likely an if but more of a when for me. I am trying to do everything I can but this English nose hides under few caps and without sunscreen it burns. 

I think my fatal flaw was not writing down a list. A mental checklist is only as good as the next distraction. Sunscreen didn't cross my mind because it was cold. That's stupid looking back on it. It's sunscreen, not heat screen. It is the light and reflection of light that chars me, not the presence of warmth. The sun reminded me of that. 

5 days later I am still dealing with the unsightly reminder of my blunder. Please remember to either sunscreen up before every trip or wear an item like a face Buff to protect you. A big wide brimmed hat can also help but is often left behind on a very windy day. 

The action you take today can yield better results down the road. Skin cancer is no joke. Safety is more than just a life jacket. Protect yourself out there. 

A Disaster Averted



This story starts like most of my stories. A guy in a kayak is fishing up a creek. The only thing is, it’s not just a story; it’s true.

During the only real cold snap that Central Texas saw this year, a few anglers found a pattern that was producing fish: the colder the weather, the better. If you were layered properly, the cold didn’t bite much and the fish would be there waiting for you. As Jesse launched that afternoon into the sub 50 degree and dropping air temps the day’s outlook was chilly but favorable. It was warmer than it had been but still cool enough that the fish should be biting and layers were necessary. The north wind was dropping the temperature but as long as he kept dry everything should be fine.

He paddled the half mile to his starting point and began seeing fish. A buddy had joined up to fish and the day was shaping up. Jesse’s friend spotted a tremendous fish lounging under a mat of vegetation near some vines and beneath some overhanging branches and called him over to try his finesse bait. This wasn’t the common four or five pound fish found in these waters but a true giant he estimated at over 10 pounds. The fish of a lifetime. He pitched his bait to the behemoth and watched her take the bait and start swimming away with it. Heart racing, mind in a fervor, he set the hook, watched the bait sail out of the fish’s mouth and entangle itself in the branches and vines seven feet overhead. Adrenaline still pumping, Jesse decided to try to untangle the mass above while balancing in his 28 inch wide kayak. It wouldn’t be an easy feat but he could do it.

Standing up seemed to be easy and he soon discovered keeping his balance would be the issue. Moving toward the bow of the kayak he steadied himself by grasping at the branches above with one hand and untangling the line in the other. In a short time he had all but one loop undone but every time he reached for it the branch it was on would sway out of the way.  Jesse knew he would have to get closer and tried to steady himself by grabbing a branch in each hand. As he made the move the kayak shifted and a shudder went through his body as his center of balance unwontedly shifted. Instinctually he released the newest branch he clung to, a two inch thick limb of trouble and tried to regain his balance. While trying this the cold, damp thoughts of falling out of the kayak seemed to be playing in slow motion simultaneously with his efforts to regain stability. The kayak started to list and he reached for the limb he had previously held. Facing the water the limb gave way and the thought of submersion was becoming a reality frame by frame as Jesse belly flopped into the water and out of his kayak.

At this point his Navy training, his preparation for re-entry, his studies of just this type of situation paid off. While the water was warmer than the air Jesse knew the timer had started. Dismissing thoughts of continuing to fish for that 10 pounder, he climbed back on his kayak. As he surveyed the deck for losses, he realized everything was still there. His lashing and leashing had paid off. Now it was time to move. Knowing the cold that would soon settle in his bones, he started paddling toward the launch at a very brisk pace taking deep breaths and focusing on the task at hand. When he cleared the mouth of the creek onto the main lake the wind cut him and the cold was seeping deeper as his fingers began to numb. Jesse had several layers including wool socks, Patagonia Capilene upper and lower base layers, ski bibs treated with a water repellant and an North Face 800 Goose Down jacket to keep him warm even in wet conditions. It wasn’t luck, it was preparation. He reached the launch, cold, numb in places not as well covered and wet. The cold air wasn’t making this easy. He remembered that you are supposed to get the wet layers off of you but he didn’t have any other clothes to change into. He decided to shed a couple of layers and it proved to be a mistake. With nothing to change into, and still wet, the cold north wind cut through him like a dagger and he began shaking. A mistake he wouldn’t make again. Jesse found a towel in his vehicle and dried off as much as possible and then let the heater do its job. When he had finally recovered from the cold he recounted what saved him that day. Preparation for just such an event by practicing and watching videos, multiple layers of good water wicking materials, and not succumbing to the temptation to stay out longer and fish were all key players that day.

We can learn some dos and don’ts from this story but most of all I hope we all take the potential threat of cold water submersion as a real one. Failing to plan is planning to fail. 



Safety By The Numbers


We must do better as a community. The number of deaths in boating accidents went UP 14.8% from 2010 to 2011. Please help spread the word. Share, link, embed it or just tell folks but please help get the word out. If you are on the water, please wear your lifejacket. 



The Pause Button

Can you smell that? That coming rain smell? This morning in Central Texas the skies are a puffy gray, bloating with rain and just waiting for the right moment to let the dry ground drink. It feels like Spring. It smells like Spring but it's still January. Basketball is still going strong but more and more people are venturing out on the water.

Inevitably as more crowds emerge, more problems will as well. In short order we will start to hear more complaining about a certain person or kayak or power boat in "my spot". The talk of "meet me at the ramp" will bluster up and someone will get hurt. Sometimes the cops are called, sometimes not. One of these times it will escalate and someone may well lose a life, maybe not intentionally but it will happen. Someone will slip when pushed, hit their head and the lights will fade out. A family will be in mourning because of a dust up over "rights" to be somewhere or do something involving fishing.

This year needs to be different. This year we need more fishermen to hit the pause button. While the pause button is a metaphor for self control, it works in practical application. The fact of the matter is, when we get upset we need to step back and hit pause. Especially when we are fishing. Look at this rationally right now as you sit at a computer reading this. Do you fish to provide your family's only food source? Most of us will answer no. Do you fish in a tournament to provide electricity and shelter to your family? Most of us will answer no. Will the fish in this "spot" have a tattoo of your name along their lateral line saying they belong to you? No. They won't.

Will your world change if you can't fish that spot right now? No, it won't.
Yet, a lot of people act like it will. I've been guilty of the grousing that comes with finding someone already located where you want to fish. It's disappointing. Is it worth a life? No. Most folks won't evaluate it that way. What's a little yelling? Maybe a little pushing? The fact of the matter is, you don't know what the other guy will do. You don't know what you will do if the adrenaline gets going. Don't let it get up. Be a bigger man and understand: IT'S JUST FISHING.

No one should have to pay fines, go to jail, get seriously hurt or die because you WANT to fish a spot. It won't always be the other guy who gets in trouble. We have to be more like men and less like school yard kids. Hit the pause button and think about what you are upset about.

Some may say this is not an issue. I've personally witnessed three fights in the last two years. It never ends well. It also doesn't speak well to the sport we all love so much. Refined sportsmen react with patience and are slow to act on anger. Take a deep breath and paddle on. We need more sharing and less flaring to truly make others feel welcomed.

Share some time on the water with friends this week if the weather cooperates in your area and enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer. Enjoy the brushstrokes of purple and orange as you watch a sunset from your kayak. Hit the pause button and soak it all in. And remember, keep that remote handy in case you have to hit the pause button again when someone else catches a fish in your spot. Instead of wanting to slap them, slap them a high five and share in their success. Stay level and have fun. That's why we do it, right? To have fun. 

I Want A Kayak! But Which One?



It's that time of year. It's cold outside and people have a chance to sit inside and dream of the spring. This is also the season when people start thinking of boats and kayaks. Every winter the kayak fishing forums light up with requests about which boats to look at, which one is for me and myriad other questions.

So which boat should you get? It's not that simple.

You may as well ask which one main dish your town would like to eat every day for the next year. It just isn't that simple.

People have different expectations for everything. We are all unique individuals with very specific things we are looking for. Kayak fishing is no different.

So what do you do? No one will give you the answer. So what now?

Here are a few steps to help make the right-for-you decision.

#1 Make a List

You need to make a list of all the things you are going to do in the kayak and how it will be used.
Are you fishing in big lakes, the ocean, rivers, bays or all of the above?
Are you wanting to troll, drift, sit, stand, paddle, pedal or use an electric motor of some sort?
Are you fishing for bass, crappie, cats, specks, reds, flounder, anything you can catch or all of the above?
Who will be using the kayak? Will it be just you or will others be sharing it?
How will you transport it? Do you have a truck, trailer, car, van? Do you have a roof rack? Do you have cross bars on the roof rack?
How much storage do you want the kayak to have?
Do you fish in the cold much?
Do you fish in the wind much?
Where will this kayak be stored? How much room is in that place (size limits)?
Do you have any health issues that will play into your decision (bad back, bad heart, arthritis, etc)?
How much weight can you lift above your head? How much weight can you raise to your waist?
How much does the heaviest person weigh that will be using the kayak?
How tall is the tallest person that will use the kayak?
What weight capacity, gear and people, will the kayak need to have?

This is by no means the full exhaustive list but it will get you in the right frame of mind to discover what you need.

#2 Budget

This one is tough. Most people decide they want to get into kayak fishing with a max cap of $500. Some have a smaller budget than that. The problem with that number is that will usually only get you a kayak. Let's say you go to Academy and by the Perception Sport Pescador 12 ft kayak (the old Tarpon 120 body). It'll cost you $500. After tax you are already over budget. Now you need a paddle, lifejacket (PFD), and whistle just to be legal and able to go to the lake. This adds another $60 if you get the absolute cheapest stuff that's made. Throw in tax and your $500 budget is now at $670. This is when most people start to look at used boats and settle on a boat in their price range. Usually the kayak doesn't fit that list of things you wanted and more often than not, your $450 you spent on a used kayak turns into a loss because now you are selling the used kayak and stuff for $350 on Craigslist because kayak fishing just isn't for you.

Don't blame the kayak. If you take a date out to McDonald's and tell her to order off of the Dollar Menu only do you think you'll get a second date? Rarely. When you buy a used boat on the cheap that you've done little research on and doesn't meet your needs, your time in kayak fishing is usually, not always, but usually short lived.

Make a realistic budget for what you can do and stick to that but make sure it meets your list. If it doesn't meet your list, save up more money to expand your budget or keep waiting. Trust me here. A boat that meets all of your needs rather than just the desire to get on the water will make you much happier in the long run.

#3 Demo, Demo, Demo

Before you make a purchase, demo lots of kayaks. Technically speaking, there are demo days almost every day of the year. Lots of dealers will meet you at the lake with a few boats you want to try. Meet up with folks who have the kayak already and give it a try. Please don't buy a boat without trying it first. It usually ends in heartbreak. Take your list and check off how many of your desires each boat has. If it is out of your budget, look for a used one or save some more money and get the one you really want.


#4 Research

Talk to people who have the kayak you have narrowed it down to. Do some web research. Look at the manufacturers website. What would they change? How did they rig their kayak for fishing? Would they buy that kayak again? Make an informed decision.



Even if you follow all of these steps, it doesn't guarantee a perfect kayak for you. Chances are, you'll change boats a few times in your life and that is good too. As your preferences change, possible so will the type of kayak you need. But, the chances of you buying the right kayak the first time without any of the above steps is not a very likely scenario. To try to make it easier, I have made a sheet for you to take to the stores, dealers, boat shows, etc. Try it out and see how you like it! If you hand this to the knowledgeable folks at a kayak dealer in Texas like Mariner Sails, APT, Mountain Sports or others, they'll be able to help you find that kayak that is the right fit for you. If you are a little further east than Texas, HOOK1 in Hendersonville, TN or YakCity in Lake Wylie, SC are the best of the best and will have you paddling the right boat in no time at all.

Click to increase size and then right click to save or print




My Goals for 2013. What are Yours?

Welcome to 2013! The Mayans were wrong. We're all still here and we need to keep moving forward. The last four months of Payne's Paddle Fish has been a great one and I sincerely thank those who have visited and keep visiting the site. I couldn't have predicted what has become this truly great experience. I have met so many bloggers, fishermen, kayakers, interested onlookers and outdoors types since August and look forward to meeting, fishing and paddling with many more of you in 2013.

I have, for as long as I can remember, been against making a resolution on New Years. When I think about what I would resolve to do, it's often things I don't want to do in the first place and it becomes counter productive. They are great for most people, just not me.

Instead of resolutions, I like to set goals. I try not to make them too lofty but also not too easy. For 2013 I have several. A list of goals helps me forecast the year, see progress when it is made and refocus energies when necessary. If you don't yet do this, I encourage you to pick one or two things you really want to work on this next year and write them down. Even better yet, make them public. When others know what you are working on, they will often provide encouragement, ask about progress and keep that fire stoked to push through the slow times.

Without further ado, my goals for 2013.

1. Sponsored Fishing Partnerships-

As of today, I don't really have any fishing sponsors. I work with a couple of really great vendors and do some gear reviews etc but the long and short is, I pay for almost all of my stuff. Reels, rods, boats, paddles, pfd, fishfinders and other gear comes out of my pocket. I feel I have a lot to offer as an ambassador to the sport of kayak fishing. I have a platform that is both informative and has a worldwide reach to those into kayak fishing and just curious onlookers with many questions. I would love to be able to travel to trade shows and talk to more people about kayaks, rigging, finding the right kayak for each individual person, fishing in both fresh and saltwater, gear, gadgets and more. I'd like to be able to pair with a company that feels the same way I do about the sport, wants to grow the sport as much as I do and in the end, I can refer people to this company and know they will be taken care of individually and not just put in a boat. Ideally the company would be able to furnish a kayak or two for me to demo with people and then refer them for purchases. I know these opportunities are few and far between but you dream big to achieve big.

2. 300% Growth in Monthly Visits-

The site is still in a growth pattern but has averaged a few thousand visits per month. I'd like to grow that number to 100,000 visits for 2013. It's an aggressive number but I think that as our sport grows more and more people are searching for content, instruction, humor, recommendations and answers. I hope that I can be one of those places that are sought out. I also hope that visitors will visit the sites that I read. Alan, Pat, Bert and others do a great job of providing fresh new content. You can see their newest posts linked on the right column of any page.

3. Participate at Three Trade/Boat/Tackle Shows-

Helping others understand the intricacies of kayak fishing is important. Finding the right boat fit, rigging and gearing up are all important aspects of kayak fishing that are done too hastily and too cheaply at times. Being a 10 year alum of the School of Hard Knocks with a major in Kayak Fishing has taught me many things (and cost me lots of money). If I can save just one person the headaches and money pit that I endured, it would be worth the trip. This is a venue (or 3) that would allow the largest reach for a live audience.

4. Instructional Videos-

I will produce 12 instructional videos over the 2013 calendar year on different kayak fishing topics. Some people just don't like to read column after column on X or Y. They want a 5 minute video showing them what they need to know so they can go on about their business. I want to reach that market in 2013 and give those folks what they are looking for.

5. My First E-Book-

I have been working on and plan to release a kayak fishing book in the late spring. It will be an E-book so I can offer it for free. It will have some stories, some instruction, some insight and really highlight the fun and adventure kayak fishing can bring to anyone's life. It's not so much about a budget as it will give options regardless of available cash flow. I hope everyone enjoys this book and it becomes a resource for teaching others why we love this sport so much.

6. Tournament Fishing-

I plan to fish 8 tournaments this year. I won't be able to start fishing them until March so it will mean some cross trail fishing but that's okay. In fact, it will allow me to meet more people who share the passion. This year won't be about placing as much as fishing and networking. I look to fish in the NTKBF, NTKT, PKAA, KATS and KBF events this year. The NTKT will be a primary focus for me.


Maybe these goals seem out there to some or too easy to others, but the important thing is, they are out there now. If we cross paths on the water or at a trade show, ask me about them. I hope to meet even more of you on the water this next year. If you would like to partner with me on any of these goals please send me an email : paynefish@gmail.com.  Have a great 2013!!!

An Open Letter to Jackson Kayaks



Dear Jackson Kayaks,

My name is Chris Payne.

I am an avid kayak fisherman and have been known to drive hours to try new water and search for fish with fellow kayak anglers. This past weekend was no different. I made plans with some friends and started my journey at 4 AM to travel the 131 miles to the meetup. I carried my Coosa on top of my small SUV, which is the norm for me and it was fairly uneventful.

Because there was a per car fee at the park we were going to, I opted to put the kayak on a trailer which my buddy had and has used to haul kayaks all over the Texas landscape. We lashed it down and headed off to the gas station for a little fuel and some snacks for the day. A few minutes later we were pulling into the gas station and confusion set into my friend's face. He looked into the side view mirror and the nose of my Coosa was pointing toward the heavens!

I got out of the truck and can only imagine what my face looked like. A mixture of confusion and panic I would think would be the best way to describe it. Apparently the straps had come loose on some of the bumpy roads and my Coosa thought it was time to launch.

I heard apologies on top of apologies from across the trailer. He was sure my kayak was a goner. He had a backup kayak at his house but I hadn't lost hope yet. I knew there was some hope left.

Last week I had installed a new keel skid plate. The other was wearing down from dragging it down to the water and over sand bars in the rivers. It was time to replace it, so for $10, I did.

I walked around to the keel of the Coosa which was kissing the ground like a long lost love and raised it up. There, in all of its glory was the new skid plate. It had a sharp angle on it but had saved the kayak from any structural damage. I inspected it for a couple of minutes, checked inside and out and I couldn't find any damage!

Thank you Jackson for thinking of the skid plate for the keel of this boat. Without it my day and my boat would have been ruined. With it, I fished 9 hours without a care in the world in MY kayak. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference and today that held true. Any other kayak would have been done but like a true champ, the Coosa took a huge punch and got right back up.

For $10, my boat will be good as new and should I ever need it again, that skid plate will be there. I know you don't recommend pavement skiing for your kayaks and I might not be so lucky next time but, this time it made all the difference.

Thanks so much,

Chris



Jackson Coosa Skid Plate
Saves the Day





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