Getting lost

3 weeks 4 days ago - 3 weeks 4 days ago #34967 by SpaceSputnik
Getting lost was created by SpaceSputnik
Just wanted to share my recent experience.
Normally I paddle on lake Ontario near Toronto. It's a large lake that is similar to a sea. There's a couple of harbours, a good view of the downtown skyline and bunch of other identifiable landmarks. You can tell where you are just simply looking around.
Every year we rent cottages on various inner lakes in Ontario. Typically small to medium bodies of calmer and warmer water. Kids swimming off cottage docks, powerboats, jetskis, this sort of thing. You would think paddling there is generally a no brainer.
That's what I thought too and I was doing daily routine "point A to point B to point A" paddles. Until things went weird.
This lake is an irregular shaped one, about 15k at the longest, it has a fairly large island in the middle.


So, one day I set off to what was supposed to be another routine 10k. The water was calm, I felt good and strong so I decided to circle around the island. No big deal I thought, I would probably be 20 min late for dinner, just cut short my usual after-paddle remount practice and fire off a barbecue right away.
Right.
The thing about these lakes is that they have no identifiable landmarks. It's all cottages and docks. The passages between the land masses are also barely identifiable from a distance. No beaches to land on and some parts (especially north of the island) can be completely deserted.
So I kept going around this island until I realized something wasn't quite right in regards to my position. I tried pulling up GMaps on my phone, but the case sprung a leak. This phone is completely waterproof, but in a case full of water it's next to useless. The touch precision is off, it reads the water as a finger, opens random apps and so on. 
Good thing I came across some fisherman how pointed me south. I thought I was going south, but dang it, I was actually going north! I was going on the second circle around the island instead of heading home.

I that point it dawned on me that my GPS enabled VHF radio actually has a compass screen. I never used it before and didn't know if I should trust it as it's a GPS compass that only works when you move (it did work fine).
So I finally get my bearing and start barreling down in the right direction. Still with zero help from the visuals.
My wive gets worried and starts calling me repeatedly. Knowing that my phone isn't working well, I decide not to mess with it, ignore the calls and just get the heck home. But, I am still about 10k away and at this point semi-expecting a police boat to pull besides me. Well, that did not happen. Kind of. Instead, about 1k from the cottage I came across a search and rescue party consisting of a neighbour and my wive on the neighbours powerboat. It was already getting pretty dark.
Needless to say, I feel completely stupid about the whole thing. I simply didn't realize how these kind of waters cannot be navigated by sight alone. Paddling with a downtown core and a shore on one side has spoiled me.
Now, if I haven't met the fishermen, or had no GPS enabled radio, a routine 10k could have easily become 40-50k, most of it at night.
So...lesson learned. Better nav skills are in order as well as better aids. I am picking up a handheld navigator soon with the intention of keeping it on my foot strap and promising myself to better plan my paddles, especially in unfamiliar or semi-familiar places.  

You don't know what you don't know.

To summarize the lessons learned:
1. You need nav aids sooner than you think. Test them and know how to use them.
2. Don't count on someone being on the receiving end of your VHF call. CH16 is next to dead in these areas and I wouldn't count on rec. boaters to have a radio and knowing what to do with it.
3. Don't count on these waters to be always calm and predictable. The conditions on different sides of the island can vary significantly. There's just no good way to tell and if you are in a tippy "grow into" ski that may be enough to spell trouble or slow you down at least. Wasn't quite the case with me, but I can see folks underestimating it.
4. Have a plan and stick to it. Don't be like me and turn a simple 10k into 27k with your wife worrying sick. 

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7
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3 weeks 4 days ago #34969 by PSwitzer
Replied by PSwitzer on topic Getting lost
Thanks for sharing.  That certainly sounds like it was an eye opener to have that happen in such an otherwise benign environment. 

I have gotten fooled in new environments as well.  My first Oyster point run in SF bay, I had scoped the finish and decided to use a line of palm trees as my mark.  It turns out that from the water, there are many many identical groups of trees and I had to circle around and wait for other paddlers to come along who were familiar with the run to point me in the right direction.  That particular area can be tricky with long channels through mudflats, during one of the US champs races my buddy wound up in a blind channel (with Barton) hiking his boat through the mud and weeds overland to make it back onto the course...

 

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3 weeks 4 days ago #34970 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost
Yeah. Even on lake Ontario, we have this spot that has a small sheltered bay with a boat slip and a parking lot next to it. Seems so easy when you take off, but what you don't realize the bay opening is sort of sideways. Coming back you just don't see it at all! Unless you know what to look for (a group of street lights in the nearby park). Fooled just about anyone who has paddled there for the first time.

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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3 weeks 3 days ago #34979 by robin.mousley
Replied by robin.mousley on topic Getting lost
Good post, and thanks for sharing it.

One tragic episode in particular came to mind as I read this: a race a couple of years ago along the coast near East London, South Africa, where a storm arrived earlier than forecast, while the paddlers were still on the water.  Being a national race, there were a number of folks from out of town and some of them overshot the finish.

Most of the paddlers who went past the finish managed to find their way to shore and were picked up, but one ended up not making it.

All kinds of safety regulations resulted from the tragedy.  But since then I have been very careful to think about navigation, especially when I've been on an unfamiliar course:
  • Primary aid is the GPS; I have distance as one of visible metrics - and I make sure to know at what distance I need to start looking for the finish.
  • But even if you don't have a GPS, you can think about rough time - the humble watch can be a useful navigation instrument.  You should know roughly what your average speed is in the conditions - and you can estimate within ten minutes how long the course should take.
Here in South Africa, most of the coastline has good GSM coverage and we use the SafeTrx tracking app (it's not available in the US, but there are other tracking apps that work there).  SOP is to start the tracker and then send a link to at least one of the other paddlers, and also to my family.  If I'm overdue one or both can click on the link to bring up a map to see where I am.  In addition, the Sea Rescue services have access to the tracking data as well.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
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3 weeks 3 days ago #34980 by ErikE
Replied by ErikE on topic Getting lost

SpaceSputnik wrote: 1. You need nav aids sooner than you think. Test them and know how to use them.
 


Great post!  I completely agree with the summary, especially point 1.  Here I'd like to plug the humble magnetic compass a bit.  Since it gives only direction, not position, it isn't as user friendly as a GPS.  But knowing at least the directions can already help enormously.  And it isn't rendered useless by water, neither does it run out of batteries.  The latter also means you never have to recharge it, which means that you can leave it fastened to the deck of your boat between the paddles, which means that you never have to worry about forgetting it at home.
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3 weeks 3 days ago #34981 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Getting lost
I get water in the phone case preventing it from working. A ski is not table enough to fiddle around removing from case and drying iy out, so next best option is to pull up on nearest accessible shore and sort it, pull up a mapped gps to ascertain where you are and make any calls you think may be necessary. As you found persevering blindly can just dig you a bigger hole.

Assumptions are the mothers of all stuff ups

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3 weeks 3 days ago #34983 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost
Thank you.
Yes, having a deck mounted compass would be great. Common on sea kayaks, but I have not yet seen anything I can mount reasonably on a ski.
Any pointers on that?

ErikE wrote:

SpaceSputnik wrote: 1. You need nav aids sooner than you think. Test them and know how to use them.
 


Great post!  I completely agree with the summary, especially point 1.  Here I'd like to plug the humble magnetic compass a bit.  Since it gives only direction, not position, it isn't as user friendly as a GPS.  But knowing at least the directions can already help enormously.  And it isn't rendered useless by water, neither does it run out of batteries.  The latter also means you never have to recharge it, which means that you can leave it fastened to the deck of your boat between the paddles, which means that you never have to worry about forgetting it at home.


Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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3 weeks 3 days ago #34984 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost
In retrospect, I can see that I could totally taken the phone out and used it. It does not take much to get it operational immediately after taking it out of the water. Just shake it off once or twice. 
This is an IPX68 rated phone with a lanyard attached. I am likely better off not even using a case at all. I have done that without any issues (remounts and all). My reasoning for using a case was just to add a level of protection if internal seals inside the phone fail. But it appears it adds risk and complexity so I need to think about it. 

Landing would have been a great option. Solid ground can be very calming in such scenario :D 
But, the shore terrain on those lakes is not great. It has rocks, steep inclines, marches and all that. Climbing on someone's dock with a boat felt like it'd add risk to a "not-yet-an-emergency" type of situation. 

waverider wrote: I get water in the phone case preventing it from working. A ski is not table enough to fiddle around removing from case and drying iy out, so next best option is to pull up on nearest accessible shore and sort it, pull up a mapped gps to ascertain where you are and make any calls you think may be necessary. As you found persevering blindly can just dig you a bigger hole.

Assumptions are the mothers of all stuff ups


Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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3 weeks 3 days ago - 3 weeks 3 days ago #34986 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Getting lost
3m double sided adhesive foam or velcro are good for mounting lightweight items such as compasses. If you dont want it on to top of the the deck as sea kayakers do, use an aluminium angle or similar on bulkhead.

If you ever get caught in fog they are essential, in those conditions water is typically flat so making it even harder to judge directions.

Not having storage on a ski and also a desire for less bulky PFDs often means safety items can be skimped compared to say sea or fishing kayaking. Lack of primary stability also means taking time to actually stop and think about things is not first course of action. Too tempting to just plough on and hope for the best.

problem with salt water and water proof phones is it can corrode the usb port if not sealed. I have a samsung galaxy s7 in an otterbox defender case, while great impact protection if water gets between case screen and phone screen it renders it useless. So it still has to go in a waterproof pouch (finding a big enough one to accommodate phone and case is another issue). Case screen plus pouch screen severely reduces sensitivity of touch screen. Removing from protective case risks damage in a situation where risks is highest.

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3 weeks 2 days ago #34989 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost

waverider wrote: 3m double sided adhesive foam or velcro are good for mounting lightweight items such as compasses. If you dont want it on to top of the the deck as sea kayakers do, use an aluminium angle or similar on bulkhead.


I wouldn't mind mounting a compass just in front of the foot well. But since it's angled there, it'd have to be a ball-type compass. Haven't yet found one that is not too bulky and yet reasonably precise. There are some on Amazon but the reviews are usually not great and a lot of them are automotive, i.e. not water proof.

In regards to the waterproof phones, corrosion is not an issue in fresh water. 
I own a Galaxy X Cover 4, which has it's own integrated case. It has a setting that increases touch screen sensitivity so you can use it while in a case or with gloves on, however with this setting the effect on a water layer in between a pouch and the screen is the worst.
I wonder if in salt water it may make sense to plug in all the ports (usb and audio jack) and still go caseless. I imagine you'd need to rinse it well after each time out to make sure the salt doesn't accumulate in the speaker and mic.

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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3 weeks 1 day ago #34995 by Fath2o

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3 weeks 1 day ago #34997 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost
By the deck you mean the rear deck? I suppose not as it wouldn't be very useful.
Front won't work - too far and way too angled.
Maybe on a gunwale. I need to see if I have a flat area sufficient for that compass.




Fath2o wrote: Here's a simple navigation device that you can silicone to the deck of your ski. SWEET!

https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Scout-Compass-Hiking-Backpack/dp/B07PH1DHR9/ref=asc_df_B07PH1DHR9/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=343276565693&hvpos=1o1&hvnet


Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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3 weeks 1 day ago #34998 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Getting lost
On the subject of using compasses. Having switched to the world of lightweight ski from other forms of kayaks, one thing that struck me was the amount of "ferrying" involved with even slight breezes compared to other forms of kayaks. Skis having tall noses, weighing relatively nothing and being long substantially get deflected off course by side winds compared to other types of kayaks. Having sensitive rudders you dont really notice this much when paddling when you have a visual point of reference. Take away your point of reference by either lack of land marks/ fog and the deviation between ski orientation and travel directions can be quite substantial.

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3 weeks 7 hours ago #35002 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost
Well, compared to the only non-ski paddle craft I have ever owned, a 14 feet sea kayak without a rudder or skeg, skis are marvels of directional stability. That boat would weather-cock if you sneeze nearby.

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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3 weeks 1 hour ago #35003 by waverider
Replied by waverider on topic Getting lost

SpaceSputnik wrote: Well, compared to the only non-ski paddle craft I have ever owned, a 14 feet sea kayak without a rudder or skeg, skis are marvels of directional stability. That boat would weather-cock if you sneeze nearby.


Totally agree skis have excellent directional stability. Mainly due to under hull rudder which is designed to cope with following seas and surf, the most testing of conditions for any boat.  "Ferrying" (sideways drift) due to side wind is not the same as weathercocking (nose trying to turn into wind). Dont know what it would be like trying keep it on track if you lost the rudder without jerrying up a fix, probably impossible

A ski will point to wherever you want it to point. But without having a fixed point of reference, a compass direction is an orientation not a specific point, it will drift sideways due to wind far more readily than a heavier boat. Thats why a leash is essential in a ski, you fall out it quickly turns side on and blows away far quicker  than any other type of boat.

Easiest demonstration of this is if you are approaching a marker or bouy broadside to the wind, even in calm conditions with say only a 5-10knot wind the marker will start to move across your bow even though you are pointing straight at. assuming no tidal flow, and you will need to correct. In a heavy sea/fishing kayak, that drift in those conditions would be barely noticeable. Paddling blind with no point of reference over say 5kms, that is going to push you a long way of course, if you dont preempt it. Thats the big difference between having a gps map tracker and just having a compass. Surf skiers rarely routinely go that far offshore nor in poor visibility, hence usually have a point of reference. So not normally an issue

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2 weeks 5 days ago #35009 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic Getting lost
Spacesputnik, Yeah it was simple on my old double footwell XT. Wondering if there is room on the hump between your knees or sole of foot well?
Also can be tied to PFD with string ideally right along side your very loud whistle.

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2 weeks 5 days ago #35011 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost

Fath2o wrote: Spacesputnik, Yeah it was simple on my old double footwell XT. Wondering if there is room on the hump between your knees or sole of foot well?
Also can be tied to PFD with string ideally right along side your very loud whistle.


Not on Think boats, the footwell and bucket is very narrow (which I like). Been trying to mount a small gps navigator and no luck so far. Not good on the strap since it falls down with feet out and gets in a way of getting feet back in. On the hump is also a big no since there's just no room. 
For now, I will keep in on my pds shoulder like I do with my radio on the other side.

I could glue a tiny compass on a gunwale.  

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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2 weeks 5 days ago #35012 by Wingnut
Replied by Wingnut on topic Getting lost
I got a little confused once in Florida when paddling around an island with a lot of inlets.  I was using my GPS watch which while not perfect helped me a lot.  I feel much better paddling in places I don't know well with my GPS enabled watch. I just set a waypoint before i take off.

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1 week 3 days ago #35054 by ErikE
Replied by ErikE on topic Getting lost

SpaceSputnik wrote:

waverider wrote: 3m double sided adhesive foam or velcro are good for mounting lightweight items such as compasses. If you dont want it on to top of the the deck as sea kayakers do, use an aluminium angle or similar on bulkhead.


I wouldn't mind mounting a compass just in front of the foot well. But since it's angled there, it'd have to be a ball-type compass. Haven't yet found one that is not too bulky and yet reasonably precise. There are some on Amazon but the reviews are usually not great and a lot of them are automotive, i.e. not water proof.
.


My solution was a  Silva C58  compass that I glued to the bulkhead. Works nicely, without even getting in the way of my drinking bottle.
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1 week 3 days ago #35055 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Getting lost
That looks good!

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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