Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The gear was packed and in duffle bags, waiting to be picked up for the 4 plus hour drive to the coast early the next morning. I emailed off my final gear list in case the guys - we had since picked up a third - had any final question as this was their first overnight in a kayak. I downloaded the tide chart for where we were going, and the last thing I did was pull up the weather from a couple of different online sources.

That was when the bottom fell out. All three days of the trip the weatherman called for 15 to 20 mph winds gusting to 25 out of the SW. These would not be conditions conducive to a first overnight paddle trip.

I sent off a pair of emails, and waited for the conversation to start. Having paddled the location before I knew that we had two open water crossings of around 2 miles each. This is where the wind would be problematic.

I knew I was comfortable for the short amount of time the crossing called for, but I didn't want to put people in conditions they were uncomfortable with. So I put the ball in their court. I gave them several options.
A) we drive down, and look at the water. If they aren't comfortable we find a campsite, and make our move early the following morning when there will be less wind (In theory)
B) We drive down, and look at the water, if they aren't comfortable we continue our drive to another location that is more protected, but that I haven't paddled. And it was sure to have more visitors.
C) we cancel.

I told them I was comfortable with whatever they decided. That Their comfort was my utmost concern. In the end they chose to cancel. As they didn't want to drive 8 hours for no reason. I think they went Mountain Biking instead. I went paddling with a friend, on a local lake I had never paddled, and had a wonderful time.

These decisions are very difficult in a 'go for it' kind of world. I was never a 'go for it' kind of guy. When I was 19 and rock climbing two weeks out of the month, I rarely took stupid risks. Not because of some amazing self awareness, but because I was a chicken.

The samurai trained themselves to not fear death. This allowed them to attack with no fear of the repercussions, dying. They had no hesitation, and therefore were less likely to suffer the repercussions of battle. While I extol the virtues of the Martial artist and the Zen/Buddhist philosophy, this is not an area I agree with (the Samurai were actually Shinto, but I digress). My goal is to get every one who journeys onto the water with me home safely. And if that means that we never get on the water so be it. I applaud these two gentleman for making the right decision, the tough decision. The decision that I came to as soon as I saw the weather report. I thought about how best to handle the situation if they chose to hit the water in 25 mph winds with white caps, and what I decided was if they wanted to 'go for it' I would put them in boats and we would play in the wind to see their reaction to the power. Some place close to our put in. If they were still comfortable, I would have done the crossing.

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