I am a big Matt Broze fan, and always have been. Long before there was a Sea Kayaker Magazine, Matt had written a definitive pamphlet entitled Sea Kayaking Safety, and included it with every Mariner kayak he sold. With Matt's permission, the sea kayaking journal ANorAK published the pamphlet as an integral part of one of its issues. I argued, years ago, that TASK, the Trade Association for Sea Kayaking, at that time the mouthpiece of the sea kayaking industry, replace its sorry little throwaway leaflet Before You Go with an updated version of Matt's pamphlet (it never did). And, of course, over the years Matt largely defined quality writing on sea kayak safety and accident affairs in the pages of Sea Kayaker itself, said writings to form the backbone of the book Deep Trouble. His commentary on the Storm Islands saga continued the standard of Brozean excellence.
That said, I (and I suspect many other readers) was puzzled by Matt's published response to my Letter on the Storm Islands rescue in the October issue. It was as if Matt was replying to some other other Letter that SK received on the subject that stressed "trying to shame the more extreme sea kayakers into limiting their freedom..." and "promoting the limiting of a sea kayaker's freedoms...". I know that I certainly wrote no such Letter, nor did SK publish such a Letter, so the answer may be that Matt's response was, indeed, a reply to an unpublished Letter that may appear in a future issue. My Letter was clearly about reducing the negative component of our public profile by raising the level of prudent seamanship among big-water sea kayakers, reminding them that sea kayaking is not a sui generis activity like whatewater paddlers running waterfalls, but exists instead within a larger context and tradition of marine boating.
Another part of Matt's reply is more troubling. Matt states that he believes the concern for bad publicity is misplaced, and postulates that--just wait--we are going to soon experience a "huge increase" in reported kayaking fatalities, as the explosive increase in rec boats and fishing kayaks makes itself felt. He is very likely correct in his prediction, but he helps to make my case that open-water sea kayakers need to upgrade their seamanship and to become the wisest mariners afloat so as to further distinguish ourselves from both the rest of the open-water recreational boaters (powerboaters, jet-skiers, etc.) and from the impending wave of rec/fishing kayak users with "little or no kayaking expertise" that Matt sees looming on the horizon.
Edited by Strange_Magic (08/25/11 06:35 AM)