Carl, a bit of a ramble following, but I had to laugh at your post. I was performing Google searches late last week with “Hurricane Irene” and “Kayakers rescued” and didn’t get any hits. I should have kept it up. Too funny, especially after your letter about Google searches. I figured given the increased attention extreme kayaking is garnering these days, that someone on the eastern seaboard was bound to be out there being silly. I see there was another arrest for someone paddling down a main street in another area. I’ve done enough hurricane paddling off Vancouver Island to know you don’t do it where you can be seen and you don’t do it if you can’t exfiltrate under your own stream. No, I don’t do it anymore. At least not for now. I grow horns and can’t be trusted. I’m also a frustrated, depressed paddler these days too but owe it to the community to behave myself – even if Matt thinks that’s a fuddy-duddy stance. Heh heh.
Just so we are straight on this, at no point in my wilder days did I ever actively carry a “help-button” or contemplate calling in a rescue. John Winters always maintained on our Paddlewise forum that if he wanted to go off alone into deep wilderness, he should have the right to do this without a societal pressure to carry rescue communication devices nor the added advantage of knowing you could call for outside assistance if you got in too deep. If he had an unexpected medical emergency, well that’s his problem. How much more so should that sentiment carry forward for those of us who pursue wilder pastimes? And when a paddler wipes out in dumping surf off the coast of South America, his head buried in Penguin poo and their kayak broken in half, do they deserve extraction at someone else’s expense? I don’t frickin know. There are no absolutes in this game. There are lots of opinions though.
I personally put in my rescue practice; I'd often be found dumping solo offshore in conditions that would be a real emergency, maybe even life and death for many paddlers, capsizing and swimming on purpose so as to replicate a real life scenario should I blow a roll or scull recovery. That doesn’t fit into a prudent kayaker mariner profile but it did and will help you understand the dynamics and maybe be part of the reason you make it home for those so inclined to challenge these types of waters. I fear few paddlers really understand how important a commensurate rescue practice regime really is. I had to give up teaching paddle float rescues for our club because no one wanted to pump their cockpits dry as it was too much work and I too insistent that the self rescue wasn’t complete until one was under way, mostly dry, skirt attached, stable and headed for safety. Matt’s Safety Manual made this abundantly clear years ago making me realize my BCU re-enter and roll was only half the battle. By the way, those dump and pump sessions were on flat water with the clubbers – imagine these folks in rough conditions.
As for freedoms and limitations, it really doesn’t matter what you, me or Matt think, the vision and realization for kayak marinership and the requirement for ocean playboaters/ dangerous journey seekers to be prepared and trained properly for their expansive exploits is a matter born by the individual paddler. The individual paddler is sovereign both in life and actions. Carpe libertatem…Matt probably has it right. I’m just trying to find the right balance in all this Carl and maintain some responsibility. Matt is also right about stories like the Storm Island rescue helping us to become better mariners through these lessons learned, as once you are in a boat on the water, you are a mariner with all the implications that carries. That we must all agree on I think. So you are completly right too Carl.