Doug, having read Matt's response several times, I'm more puzzled by it now than I was at first reading. Herewith additional grounds for puzzlement:
1) Are we or are we not, as sea kayakers, to be concerned about bad publicity? In the Storm Islands article, Matt brings up the subject as the first item on his agenda, noting that the incident made the news, that the accounts may have been sensationalized and in error on several points (he doesn't give his opinion), and that many in the local kayaking community were upset by the bad publicity. We need not wring our hands over the possibility of sensationalism and errors; that's inherent in coverage of such stories, and needs to be factored-in as an ever-present possibility, even reality, in kayak accident/rescue reporting.
But if we are not to be concerned about bad publicity, why did Matt introduce the topic right from the get-go? What's his point? Then later, in answer to my Letter, he suggests that, while worrying about bad publicity about sea kayaking may be "misplaced" (what does that mean?), we should gear up for an onslaught in kayaking fatality stories resulting from all those rec/fishing kayak users out there who will be dying like flies. Will that be misplaced?
I just don't get where Matt is at, on this topic of publicity. I wish and hope that he, or somebody, can explain. Are we to ignore reportage, publicity, and public opinion entirely, or to instead pick-and-choose those parts that suit us (Freya circles Australia!), or to strive to be invisible (by being the wisest and most mature boaters on the water--my view)?
2) Where does the idea of making paddlers sign agreements to not seek outside help come from? The mind boggles... Who would one sign such an agreement with? And what would one get in return?
3) It is refreshing to have Matt's forthright assertion that sea kayaking is a dangerous sport, and that we are only a capsize away from an emergency situation. What is really new is his notion that there would be "a lot more" sea kayaking fatalities (and, I guess, accidents and rescues), if under-30 paddlers were out there on the water in force. I'd not ever considered looking at sea kayaking through this lens, but it sounds like Matt is saying something like I am: we need more maturity, more emotional stability, more experience, more knowledge, more judgement, more common sense, more simple caution and prudence out there on wide waters in our tiny, narrow, "tippy" cockleshells than maybe we have at present, and that we need to upgrade our expectations of responsible seamanship of ourselves and our peers. Is that the same thing as "shaming more extreme sea kayakers into limiting their freedom"? If people think it is, we've got problems.
In closing, I note that the Michipicoten Island rescue story in the same October issue raises some points of interest, for instance the thinking behind the purchase of the ACR PLB. Would the couple have considered repeating the crossing to & from Michipicoten had they not had the PLB? But that's a whole other subject.
Edited by Strange_Magic (09/01/11 02:39 PM)