Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dash safety checklist

As we approach Dash Day, here’s a reminder. Last year’s paddling conditions caused one racer / long-time paddling instructor to comment that some racers were “clearly out of their element”. We had gone the first two years with sweet conditions and no capsizes, to last year’s epic seas with racers, safety paddlers, and powerboats teaming up on rescue after rescue. So here are a few things we want everyone to bring along:

Good judgment is your number one safety tool. You are responsible for your own safety, even though we'll have a couple dozen expert paddlers out there along with the sheriff and Cap’n Dillard keeping an eye on you.

There’s nothing wrong with saying to yourself, after checking in and getting your tee shirt, “I may be beyond my capabilities today and I don’t feel like burdening the safety crew”. You still get free coffee, a hot meal, and a chance to win a sweet raffle prize. Keep in mind too, that in an emergency we’re focused only on getting you safely warm and back to shore… which means your $3,000 boat may be long gone because we care less about your gear than we do about you.

Requirements of all paddlers: CG-approved pfd, loud signal whistle, and confidence that you could self-rescue even without safety crew help.

You’re required to stop and help a fellow racer in distress if the safety crew hasn’t gotten there first.

Dress for immersion: This means dry suit or wet suit, to keep you insulated while you’re in the water, even if you get separated from your boat.

Know the course and its hazards!

Recommendations: VHF radio, extra fleece, small thermos with hot drink, paddle float, bilge pump.

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