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For Paddlers, It’s High Season for Safety - NEWS From BoatUS

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Oct 06, 2014 @ 02:01 PM

For Paddlers, It’s High Season for Safety

ANNAPOLIS, Va., October 6, 2014 – It may be sunny outside with blue skies above, but waters are deceptively cold and unforgiving in the fall. For paddlers with just a few inches of freeboard to spare, getting wet this time of year can have serious consequences, so the BoatUS Foundation forBoating Safety and Clean Water has these seven tips for fall paddlecraft safety.Kayaking

Know how to re-board: All paddlecraft are different, so before you hit a lonely, remote stretch of river or bay, learn (in a safe place) how to get back in the boat quickly and efficiently as hyperthermia is a threat that increases by the minute. Some paddlers add extra floatation inside the boat as it can help reboarding. (Tip: this can be accomplished simply by inflating a beach ball or purchasing aftermarket float bags). If you do ever fall out and can’t get back in, stay with the kayak or canoe – it’s a bigger target for rescuers to see.

Don’t keep it a secret: Tell people where you’re going by filing a float plan. It could be as simple as telling your spouse, in writing, where you are going and what time you plan to return. Writing it down makes it become habit. Be as specific as you can – this isn’t the time to forget to mention you’re heading to your hidden fishing hole two miles off the beaten channel.

Understand the basic rules of navigation: You may not be out there with icebreakers just yet, but there may still be some recreational boating traffic and potential ship traffic. The simple challenge is the smallest boats are hardest to see. One simple tip to help visibility is to spray the tips of your paddles a bright color. Paddlers also can help themselves by understanding some basic rules of navigation.

Don’t leave without a bailer: With low freeboard -- or the distance from the water to the gunwale -- paddlecraft are prone to getting water aboard. Once it starts, it’s only a matter of time before your canoe or kayak becomes ever lower to oncoming waves. Keep water out and buoyancy up by having a bailer ready (Tip: tie one to each seat).

Thermal up or down: Neoprene gloves, a drysuit or wetsuit tops and hats are the ultimate protection in retaining body heat this time of year. However, have outdoor gear that offers versatility by being able to cool down or warm up when appropriate. Even if it may feel like summer, never leave shore in just a t-shirt and shorts. It only takes just a short change of weather or a dunking to drench you and the hypothermia clock starts ticking. A bright colored rain parka can also be seen at great distances.

Going remote? Go Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Advances in GPS technology have brought down the cost of personal locator beacons, but if your budget is tight you can still rent a PLB from the BoatUS Foundation for $45 weekly, plus shipping. There are no additional subscriber fees and paddlers going to remote locations can order online at BoatUS.org/epirb or call 888-663-7472 (Tip: mention code “DISC10” for a 10% discount on the weekly PLB rental rate through December 1, 2014).

Keep it secure up top: If you need to get your favorite kayak or stand-up paddleboard to the lake on your car or truck’s roof this fall, go toBoatUS.com/addingpaddlecraft for a quick read on the three basic types of roof rack systems and ways to safely tie down the load. Your kayak has no desire to meet the road or become a hazard for oncoming vehicles.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, currents and tides, Potomac River, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety, Cold Water, Boat US, adult sailing lessons

3 tips on sailing the Potomac River

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 @ 10:57 PM

In the DC area, we are fortunate to have a relatively slow moving river that offers sailing opportunities without having to drive an hour or more on weekends. There is nothing better than being out on the water 20 minutes after leaving downtown DC. While convenient, the Potomac River doesn't have the wide open sailing areas found on the Chesapeake. You won't have a 4 mile beam reach but you're on the water cruising. So what do you need to know?

The Potomac is tidal - When there is a good breeze, tide is a minor consideration unless you are racing. However, in light winds, knowing the tides will dictate your course and time to turn around. There are tide charts available online as well as pocket tide charts at West Marine. River sailors should always be factoring in the tide.

Current can be a factor -  April rains and tropical depressions can create significant currents on the river. Currents will be strongest north of the Wilson Bridge where the river is narrow. Along with the current, be on the lookout for debris coming down the river. During the dry summer months, the current is minimal.

Winds - We monitor NOAA Tidal Potomac Key Bridge to Indianhead for our predicted winds. If Annapolis is getting 12-14 knots, we get 10-12 on the river. South of the Wilson Bridge, the river widens considerably and the winds are usually more consistent.

 

 

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Tags: Potomac River sailing, currents and tides, NOAA