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A good friend of mine died on April 24th. She was driving to Saskatoon with her family to take part in the Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium the next day. Vinessa was a founding member of the Common Currents Paddling Association that I chair, and part of our small organizing committee. The following is an extended version of what I wrote for the Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium website.  

Vinessa speaking at the 2014 Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium that she instigated. Here she displays her ever-present smile in one of it's more subdued forms.  

Passion. Vitality. Energy. Excitement. Enthusiasm. Laughter. Rather busy at times. But above all, passion. These are some of the words and phrases that come to mind as we remember Vinessa Currie-Foster.

On Friday, April 24th, 2015, the night before the Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium, Vinessa was en route to Saskatoon for the symposium with her young family. Tragically, she never made it to her destination and the paddling world, her family, friends, and all who knew her, are left to mourn her passing. Vinessa

Coldspring Paddling Instruction now offeres rolling lessons! Rolling is the ultimate kayak recovery skill, allowing the overturned kayaker to right his or her kayak and continue to paddle without stopping to empty the kayak of water, get back in to the kayak, get sorted out, and finally get paddling once again. Rolling may not be for everyone, but for many of us it is a fantastic goal.

Why learn to roll?

  •     It is a fast and effective recovery technique for when things go wrong.
  •     It helps to develop confidence in the kayak.
  •     It helps us to take on more adventurous water
  •     It helps us develop great kayak control
  •     It's FUN!

These clinics will primarily be offered in the pool, but some may be offered during the summer months at the lake. Click here for the current list of rolling clinics on offer: http://coldspringpaddling.com/lessons/rolling-clinic.html

Last week while packing for a canoe trip I was contacted by Global Saskatoon to comment on how to survive after a mishap on a paddling trip. In addition to being a paddling instructor, I am the Paddle Canada representative for Saskatchewan, and am a co-author of the AdventureSmart paddling safety awareness program called PaddleSmart.

The interview follows on the recent tragic death of David Dice along the Churchill River, a section that I paddled in 2010. I do not know the details of what happened, but according to news reports David was found below Needle Falls on Kinosaskaw Lake. Shortly after David was found by fishermen, his wife Enid Dice was found upriver somewhere along Needle Rapids. She had been there without supplies for 8 days. The reports don't offer much for details, though they do mention she had a fire going (it will make your life easier to have some reliable means of starting a fire on your life jacket or in a pocket, and redundancy is good!). The Dices are very experienced outdoorspeople and paddlers, and David's early death is a loss to the paddling community. My condolences go out to all of those grieving David's death.

http://globalnews.ca/video/1533357/surviving-eight-days-in-the-wilderness A few more details were reported via CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/details-emerge-on-sask-couple-s-tragic-canoe-adventure-1.2750011

One of the first people to speak to Enid after the ordeal was Ric Driediger, owner of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters, who was also one of the last people to see the couple before they set out on their trip.
He says he learned, from Enid, that the couple's canoe capsized as they were navigating a set of rapids on the lake known as Needle Falls*.
They were separated and Enid swam to shore with her husband's backpack that had a sleeping bag and an emergency fire-starting kit. There was no food, however.

*I wonder if this statement as reported is correct. It seems more likely that they were running Needle Rapids (C2+ to C3), about 2.25 km above the falls, or the outlet from Sandfly lake (C3), a further 1 km above Needle Rapids. It seems unlikely that they would have been running the falls (C5), but the earlier sets of rapids are manageable for the canoeist with skills in rapids. This also makes sense since Enid had no gear other than what she swam to shore with and was separated from her husband who was reportedly found on Kinosaskaw Lake in the eddy below the falls. Were the capsize to actually have occurred at the falls, she would have been mere meters from her late husband, the overturned canoe and much of the gear including the SPOT.  A map of the region: Open this map full screen.

Aerial view of the rapids at the outlet of Sandfly Lake. We portaged these.
Class 3 rapids at the outlet of Sandfly Lake.
Uppermost portion of Needle Rapids from the spot where we scouted the set. This is the river left channel. 
Jay & Rod scouting Needle Rapids. 

David & Enid's Blog: David and Enid's Travels

Here are some items you should consider having with you, or on you, whenever you head out paddling. Most of these items will fit into a small pouch that can be attached to the life jacket or contained in a pocket. These items are described as "The Essentials Plus" in the PaddleSmart program:

  • Transport Canada Required Items:
    1. Life jacket
    2. Whistle
    3. Throw bag
    4. Bailer
    5. Waterproof flashlight

  • Other Essential Items:
    1. Fire making kit
    2. Signalling device (e.g. whistle, signal mirror)
    3. Extra food and water
    4. Extra clothing
    5. Navigation & communication devices
    6. First aid
    7. Emergency blanket or shelter
    8. Knife
    9. Sun protection
    10. (the 10th item on the Ten Essentials AdventureSmart list is a flashlight, already lsited above)
In the pocket of my PFD I have a small pouch that in the video linked above has had the contents spread out. The contents include a signal mirror, granola bar, fishing line, snare wire, ~20' of thin cord, orange bandana, emergency blanket, lighter, & fire starter. In the canoe or kayak I also almost always have extra clothing, rain gear, some form of shelter (tarp &/or a bothy bag), extra food, water (though we can usually drink our water from the lake), first aid kit, more lighters, matches and fire starting stuff. 

SPS-logo-finalThe 2014 event was so much fun, we're doing it again!

Mark your calendars! On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, we are having a fantastic event at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon to celebrate all forms of paddling in Saskatchewan.

www.saskpaddlingsymposium.com

Want to get invovled and help to make the 2015 event another huge success? Let us know!

symposium postet web

 

Some of the vendors & organizations involved in supporting this event or attending as exhibitors (so far, and not necessarily complete):

~We'd love to have more exhibitors join us so if you're interested in a table or booth at the show, give me shout: http://www.saskpaddlingsymposium.com/ - see the "Be an Exhibitor" tab, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It seems a fellow I met this spring at the 2014 Pacific Paddling Symposium had some unplanned adventure recently. Although Jaime Sharp found himself in a situation he couldn't get out of without outside help, he was well prepared. Here is how Jaime described the experience on his Yak About Adventures facebook page:

So.... a casual day paddle along the coast of Oregon turned into one of the top 5 epic moments of my life. I had not planned to go rock gardening, and wasn't even wearing my helmet. Tara decided to paddle through a gap in the rocks (I gap I wasn't planning on going through) during a lull in the swell, and I thoughtlessly followed her Assuming she wouldn't go unless she felt real safe (she hates rock gardening). I followed with a giggle that quickly turned into a choke ..... A huge wave formed up and Tara was only just going to make it... I wasn't...

First action make sure will behind me was not coming in too by turning and signalling stop (he was back paddling already) 2nd action I started to turn to face it, thinking "fuck I am not wearing my helmet I am gonna die!" ........A few violent moments later I found my self atop a spire of rock amazed that I only suffered 5 minor cuts, watching my boat sink and get bashed to bits in the surge and rocks, and wondering how to get out of this jam.

This was how we ended up solving the issue... The cost $4000 plus in gear, but the ride home free.

Full incident report, debrief and short action film to come on a blog soon.

While things went badly for Jaime that day, there were a few things he did right. At the end of the Coast Guard video you can see that Jaime had a small drybag with him. This is likely his "ditch kit", stored in an easy to grab spot (on his lap, perhaps) so that when he ditched the kayak he had something that floats and contains his survival "essentials". Jaime or his group also had the ability to communicate their need for help. Jaime is a very experienced ocean paddler and he most likely had a VHF radio on him. From an article on CoastGuardNews.com they shared some details, including how the Coast Guard was contacted:\

Watchstanders ... were contacted via VHF-FM radio at about 1:10 p.m. by a male kayaker who was stranded on the rocks near Cape Falcon after his kayak was pushed against the rocks and sank.

The article also goes on to comment on why this rescue was succesful, and why we can look forward to many more stories frm Jaime:

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