Yes Carl, I scratched my head too upon re-reading the response in light of some of your concerns, not that folks have not said to me something similar regarding some of your thoughts, but then I’ve been paddling long enough to now get where you are coming from most of the time. Perhaps the Storm Island article opening salvo was simply to walk the reader down the path toward Matt’s notion that the paddle community reacts harshly to these incidents so as to mask their own collective and/or individual fears that this could never happen to them, or as he put it:
“Another factor may explain some of the harsh criticism. Experienced kayakers want to feel that they are, through their skill and expertise, in control of their fate. When skillful paddlers get into serious trouble it may threaten our confidence and make the ocean scarier place. To control our fear we may attack those involved as incompetent. Blaming the victim helps us regain confidence: We wouldn’t make such dumb mistakes. Distanced from those who got in trouble, we can go to sea with less apprehension. In reality we all make mistakes and must be prepared to recover from them, or summon help.”
I’d hate to second guess Matt, as I know that bothers him if I do, and I do respect him (remembering arguments we maintained in print decades ago through glacially slow newsletter exchanges whereupon when I look back now, I realize he was so right on so many points). However, putting aside other paddler’s inward, psychologically-based concerns for bad publicity, there is a legitimate concern – for bad publicity concerns – in the public’s mind. I think the concern IS so very, very valid. You have pointed this out here, in your letter, and on other forums and topics online. I’m not so sure Matt agrees or disagrees though.
Maybe the media backlash toward paddling incidents through the growing rec boat and kayak fisher paddling segments will eventually far overshadow incidents by the other categories of kayak paddlers (?) though it will take some keen reportage to start sorting out all the different types of paddle craft.
Not sure what is up with the signed agreement comments and rescue costs, etc. Perhaps Matt is presupposing those with a bent to limiting our freedoms, even for worthwhile motives, might tend to be agreeing with that agenda (and as you know, there has always been talk about making various recreational sport segments start paying for their own rescues in cases of wholesale incompetence). I would not have assumed you were going down that road from what was in the content of your letter.
Let’s just say I know the three paddlers in the Storm Island rescue story very well and I certainly underwent a personal paradigm shift in my thinking after the incident received the publicity it did – a shift toward a view of a paddler, preferably, as a consummate waterman, a true mariner and a competent seafarer/navigator. Some of that comes with physical age, experience, and maturity. It is also very true that a male’s brain is somewhat immaturely developed until about his mid twenties in terms of risk management and this has been born out in Red Cross statistics and research, as well as by other agencies and well, just look around. So Matt is right on that point, perhaps.
Maybe try and get hold of Matt. He’s pretty quiet on other on-line forums these days but is usually up to a debate I’d dare say. In the meantime, hold on to your convictions. I’d certainly feel remorseful and like something was lacking out there if your voice was muted or you ran away.
Edited by NordkappMan (09/01/11 06:54 PM)
Edit Reason: tiny edit spellig