Randy Morgart’s article “Cold and Alone on an Icy River” in our August issue drew a response from Moulton Avery, an expert in environmental physiology and the author of the frequently cited article “Cold Shock” from our Spring 1991 issue. Here he looks at a psychology of decision-making that helps explain how an experienced paddler can make a mistake that we would expect of a novice paddler.
The Anatomy of a Bad Decision
By Moulton Avery
It takes a lot of courage to publicly write about making a really big mistake, and Randy Morgart has my respect and gratitude for his willingness to share his terrifying near-death experience following an unexpected February capsize on the freezing Mississippi River. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from his experience, and he did a great job discussing them. I want to add one more to his list.
Reason vs. Emotion
Recent studies of human emotion, cognition, and behavioral psychology have shed considerable light on the age-old tug of war between reason and emotion that underlies decision making and so much of human behavior. If you participate in a sport like sea kayaking and value your life, this process is worth a closer look, because in our sport, realistically and accurately assessing a situation and making a sound decision about how to proceed is fundamental to staying out of trouble.
When it comes to making important decisions, most people will tell you they decide what to do by carefully and rationally weighing the pros and cons of the situation. More often than not, however, rationality is just a bit player in the game; the real decision-maker is emotion.
Click here to read more.
The Key to Surviving?
By Christopher Cunningham
I recently saw an e-newsletter from the United States Power Squadron. The Power Squadron, according to its website, is a “non profit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer.” The article in its October newsletter was titled: “Cold Water Survival: How to beat cold water immersion.” The article outlined cold shock, swimming failure, hypothermia and post-rescue collapse. The aim of the article was to encourage readers to wear PFDs: “Life jackets’ ability to prevent drowning by shock and swim failure make them key to surviving a cold water immersion. So don’t forget to put yours on before you shove off.”
In the February 2009 edition of our Sea Kayaker newsletter I addressed a similar issue with the Cold Water Boot Camp program. Volunteers jumped into cold water first with and then without PFDs on. It was quite evident in the videos that the volunteers were suffering the effects of cold water as much with the PFD on as without it, and were slipping into hypothermia just the same. While many boating safety programs recognize the risks of cold water as we do, the PFD is too often presented as the only solution. While a PFD will provide some insulation and will reduce heat loss by eliminating the need to tread water to keep afloat, only immersion wear effectively limits the loss of physical and mental ability that accompanies cold-water immersion.
In the Power Squadron’s article, one paragraph begins with “When rescuers arrive…” and yet there is no mention of how those rescuers knew to come looking for the person in the water. That some good Samaritan will see you in distress and come to your aid or send help is not an assumption that sea kayakers tend to jump to. We know that we need to rely on our own resources, and in those cases where we do need help, those resources would include signaling devices—VHF radios, EPIRBs, PLBs and satellite messengers—and proper immersion clothing—wetsuits or drysuits. Power boaters would be wise to adopt a similar approach to self-sufficiency when it comes to safety.
By Christopher Cunningham
On a Roll
We’ve been tracking Melissa Spangler’s progress as a new kayaker since March. Her enthusiasm for kayaking is still strong and she’s steadily picking up new skills. In April she joined the Puget Sound Challenge and finished the 13 weekend stages in October and racked up about 200 miles of coastal paddling. At the beginning of the Challenge, as noted by one of one of the group leaders, Melissa was unsteady just getting into a kayak. By the end she was showing off her rolling skills and made her kayak rolling debut on YouTube in “Girl Meets Boat”.
Winter is coming up but I don’t think Melissa will be staying ashore. She’s well outfitted with a dry suit and safety gear and she’ll be looking to push her skills with some the “off” season’s more interesting paddling conditions.
For the latest on Melissa’s first year as a sea kayaker, visit our blog at www.seakayakermag.com.
Sea Kayaker Store
December ’10 Issue
31 Days of Rice, Butter and Lingcod: Soloing the North and West Coasts
of Vancouver Island. Fishing and foraging in a remote region in a skin-
on-frame boat. by Kiliii Yu
Pocomoke Sound: Paddling the Pokomoke and Nassawango: This sliver of
Chesapeake Bay offers miles of opportunities for meandering. by Ralph
Kayakers as First Responders: A couple in a tandem come to the aid of
capsized sailors in Maine. by Ray and Leslie Wirth
Sea Kayaking in America: the 1920s and 30s: A fascinating glimpse at
the folding kayak craze. by Joel McNamara
Toubleshooting the T-Rescue by Sharon & Alec Bloyd-Peshkin
• Namu M by KayakPro
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• Hatteras by Impex Kayaks
Confessions of a Wave Warrior by Eric Soares
"What is it like to experience a lifetime of water adventure?"
Read Eric's book, Confessions of a Wave Warrior, a compilation of his action-packed true tales: swimming in cold creeks, canoeing down rough rivers, surviving a super-typhoon in a Navy warship and crashing a kayak into a sea cliff.
Eric Soares is co-founder of the extreme kayak team, the Tsunami Rangers, and author of numerous articles on sea kayaking.
198 pages, $19.95US, self-published
2011 Sea Kayaking Calendars
– Inspiration and organization all in one!
The 2011 Kayaking Calendar offers a year's worth of stunning photographs of some of the most scenic waterscapes around the globe. Each day has enough space to write in your schedule too!
Order one for family, friends or yourself!
Sea Kayaker Magazine, Print and Digital
By Ann Eastwood
What does $4.95 buy?
We offer the magazine in print and digital versions for a single copy. Some readers have asked how we determined the per copy price. Here’s a list of factors that we have to consider:
Printing costs have decreased since the magazine started in 1984 and the cost of a single issue coming off the press is now under $1.00. While printing costs have decreased, shipping costs have increased dramatically, especially with the rising fuel costs. The printed magazine is shipped all over the world to subscribers, newsstands, bookstores and kayak shops. While the methods we use to deliver the magazine have become more complex, they represent our ongoing effort to provide a valuable product with reliable service at an affordable cost.
While the digital version doesn’t incur the costs for paper, ink and shipping, converting the files we create for printed pages to internet-friendly pages is a time-consuming process. It is accomplished page by page. There is not a program to do that automatically. Distribution of the digital version is also electronic, and the cost there too is in the form of employee hours.
The editorial costs apply regardless of the medium. The magazine pays writers and photographers, as well as the costs of editing, proofreading, layout and design.
While we see a growing demand for digital issues, the beneficial economy of scale of the print version is still far beyond that of the digital. In time that balance may shift and be reflected in a lower cost for digital, but at the moment, having the print and digital issues at par is a fair reflection of our cost to deliver each.
Visit Seakayakermag.com/Online Store to order these products and more online. Or order by phone 206.789.9536; fax 206.781.1141 or mail to PO Box 17029, Seattle, WA 98127 (Email orders not accepted)
Fuel for the Journey
Eating well while you’re out kayaking gives you the energy to get the most out of your paddling, but it’s not just about fueling our muscles. Meals that you look forward to can make a long slog tolerable and end your day on the water on a high note. Michael Grey has spent decades traveling by kayak and cooking at shore-side campsites. He has gathered the best of his recipes in a new book, Hey, I’d Eat This at Home! Here’s one you can try on your next outing:
Shrimp and Grits (Polenta)
Due to many good friends from Charleston, Southern Carolina, we had to include this “low country” favorite. This is my version.
Peel shrimp and freeze in a zip-seal plastic bag.
Prep time: 30 minutes / two pots
In a large pot, bring water (1.5 c), dried mushrooms, condensed milk (Ed note: not sweetened), and soup base mix to boil for grits (also known as Polenta). Stir in corn grits, reduce heat a little, and stir often. In a second pot, sauté fresh garlic and chopped vegetables in olive oil for two minutes on medium heat. Add the thawed shrimp and sauté for 5 minutes in the garlic infused oil. Remove from heat. By this time the grits will have started to thicken—time to add salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring and once it has reached the consistency of oatmeal, stir in Parmesan cheese. Ladle a healthy serving of grits onto each plate, top with shrimp and vegetable mixture. You may need to make a batch of sweet tea to go with this.
| Shopping List (to serve 2):
| Corn Grits (non-instant)
| Onion, chopped
| Red Bell Pepper, chopped
| Garlic Cloves, minced
| Evaporated Milk
| Chicken Soup Base
| Mushrooms, dried
| Parmesan Cheese, grated
Herbs and Spices
Tabasco, to taste—use enough and your grits turn pink
Black pepper, to taste
VARIATIONS AND COMMENTS
For a North meets South version, add sautéed asparagus to the shrimp mixture. For extra credit add crumbled bacon bits to the top!
From: Hey, I’d Eat This at Home!: A Fresh and Fearless Approach to Wilderness and Home Cooking
By Michael Gray
Michael Gray has been a kayak guide and instructor for nearly three decades. He’s well known for his camp-cooking presentations at sea kayaking symposiums.
Sea Kayaker magazine, independently owned and operated since 1984