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paddling out in the ocean?

Posted: Tue May 31, 2016 11:07 am
by marc.cardwell
next week i'll be at edisto island, south carolina. i've paddled in the creeks and marshes often, but am wanting to go out in the ocean this time. maybe.

i have the advanced frame and the advanced frame convertible, no spray skirt, and in good shape for a 53 y.o dude, but i don't paddle that often. i'd wear a pfd, and have food/sunscreen/water/ etc with me. questions:

- are these boats good for ocean paddling w/o a skirt?
- since i've never been in deep water, is it stupid for me to go out alone?
- can i easily launch from the beach, when the tide is going out? this island, on the south side, curves back in and the waves are much less on this side, but i'd have further to paddle.
- not sure what i'm going to do out there, and am concerned w/ currents taking me out to sea or somewhere way out of my paddling range.

thanks for any thoughts on this!

Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2016 3:43 pm
by PJohanson
I'll share some answers to your questions -- :)

These boats are ok for ocean paddling without a skirt IF the weather is good. Stick to sheltered bays and lagoons the first dozen times. Don't launch if the weather is windy or there are waves. With experience you will be more able to handle rough water and able to read the changing weather.

Deep water is not the big problem -- people can drown in ankle-deep water. More important is whether you can swim. Can you swim two hundred yards? If so, dare to go half that far from shore.

It's smart not to go alone. It's fun to paddle with friends, even if you have a kayak & the friend has a dinghy. Have fun towing each other, and on a nice day at a good beach practise falling out and getting back in and "rescuing" each other. Safety practise helps so that if your boat flips, you don't panic.

It's good that you know to be concerned about currents taking you farther out than you want to be, and about the tide changing the shape of a beach. The sheltered bay where I paddle the most has a current just outside the point, that whips by as fast as a river.
Find a local kayaking store or kayak guide. Here's a link to the ones I found on Google at Edisto Island: ... ayak+tours
Ask the guide for advice on where to paddle, what to watch out for, and ideally pay for a two-hour tour with a guide.

Here's a link to a review of what it's like to paddle there Apparently the sheltered side of the island is easy, while the ocean side is more challenging. Maybe the local kayaking club will let you join them! That's a good way to learn a new place and challenge yourself.

Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 6:38 pm
by marc.cardwell
thanks for your reply, PJ! by the time you replied, i'd already been on my trip (i always wait too long to post here before a trip), but i really appreciate your feedback.

i'd watched some YT videos about launching a kayak in the ocean, and had that input. i did wait for low tide, and watched the timing of the breaking waves. i took my boat out several times and it went great, w/ a minimal amount of water in the boat.

what i took note of your post was the question of how far i can swim: this was thought-provoking, really. i can swim, but not that far. i do always wear a PFD in the kayak, however. what is the prevailing wisdom for some one who can swim, but not that far w/o a PFD?

i wound up taking several trips in the ocean at plow tide, maybe went out 200 yards, and several trips from the south end of the island, where the surf was zero, and rode the tide up the south edisto river, and back out again. i saw tons of dolphins close up.

all in all, i had an awesome time.

Posted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:06 pm
by PJohanson
I realized you asked a question, and hadn't yet been answered, about the prevailing wisdom for someone who can swim but not far without a PFD.

One answer is: Do some swimming with friends in safe conditions, so you get more used to swimming and know your limits. Try swimming both with and without a PFD.

Another answer is: What seems like a perfectly simple safe distance from shore is WAY more scary in a storm or if you flip over.

Always wear a PFD. It's not magic. But it lets you rest a bit.

I just learned on the news that on Labour Day weekend three people in a boat capsized in Harrison Lake, BC. The one wearing a PFD was helped to shore by passers-by. The other two were not wearing life jackets, and drowned about 70 feet from shore, alas.

Posted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:45 am
by marc.cardwell
all good advice, and a reminder that i never got in the water for any paddling trips this summer. sigh.

Posted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:36 am
by PJohanson
No beating up yourself for not taking paddle trips this summer! There's always autumn.
It's nicer to paddle in cool weather around here, since ya have to dress for immersion anyway and the ocean water is about 7C or 50F year round. And the leaf colours make lake paddling so nice in autumn!
We paddle year round here, and we are very lucky. Most places on coasts can have paddling in winter, except Northern Canada and Alaska. If you live somewhere that gets freeze-up on the rivers, well, winter is time to watch the videos of Justine Curgenven (a wonderful paddler and videomaker) and to make plans with friends.