I hope you enjoy my blog, a collection of articles and thoughts regarding my interests. I'm a married father of two that loves to write about gliding, hunting, fishing, camping and any outdoor passion. Oh yah, I'm a quadriplegic. I hope this is informative to some, entertaining to others, and interesting to all. Let me know what you think. If you'd like an article for your publication, I've got words I haven't even used yet!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Safety First ... Quadriplegic Kayaking

Ok, I'm no Felix Baumgartner, you know ... the guy that jumped from a balloon capsule over 125,000 feet up. We were watching (along with the appropriate oohs and aahs) the Red Bull stunt live the other day, when my friend casually strolls behind me and nonchalantly says, “With all the safeties built into that thing, you going kayaking is probably more dangerous.”

I had to laugh, as the memory of my ill-fated adventure came back, and acknowledge that he may be right. Funny how our brain will block out life's embarrassing moments, heck I'd forgotten (or at least kept quiet about) this incident until the video camera was unloaded months later.

It was last spring, we were all tired of the winter doldrums and thoughts of summertime fun were infiltrating the old puzzler. As if on cue an email shows up that grabbed my attention ... Disabled Kayaking.

My wife and I had discussed this topic before, and watched Youtube videos on the subject, and I had her convinced that it was safe enough (I mean, how dangerous could it be?).

In replying to the email I asked all the important questions:

“Are you set up for this? Have you handled people with disabilities before?”

“Yep” came the answer, investigation over.

“Sign me up”

Many things in life are dangerous, but the grey matter between our ears is there to help keep us safe and mitigate risk (unless it's gettin' a little too moldy). With careful planning even sky-diving from 25 miles up like Felix can be safe, likewise ignoring clues can make even seemingly mundane activities like kayaking turn into life-threatening ordeals.

We arrive at the kayaking pond, and promptly get to business ignoring said clues:

1 Q. “Isn't the kayak a little small?” I ask.

   A. “Oh no, it's fine”

2 Q. “Where's the seat?”

   A. “I'm going to install it, it just came.”

3 Q. “Any outriggers?”

   A. “Nope, haven't arrived in the mail yet.”

4 Q. “This thing stable?”

   A. “Sure.”

5 Q. “You done this before, right?”

   A. (see answer #4)

After we've completed the difficult 4.5-person-back-breaking-lift to install gimp-paddler (about as easy as transferring a wet octopus), I'm asked “Ya wanna be tied in?”

Ok, even my keen (tongue-in-cheek) spidey-sense rang of potential disaster here, he might as well have asked “Do you want me to remove all possibility of survival in the event of a roll-over?”

“No thanks,” I reply.

“Ok, here goes,” as the expert starts to shove the kayak, and me, out into the lake.

About this time I notice a minor insignificant detail, I have NO LIFEJACKET ON!

I try to let the pros know.

“Uh, 'scuse me” No response, instructor keeps shoving.

“'Excuse me”. No comprendo.

“TERRY!” I get my wife's attention (our resident photographer who is currently pre-occupied assembling her tools-of-the-trade),  “I DON'T HAVE A LIFE-JACKET!” She immediately stops them, thwarting certain disaster. Embarrassed looks are exchanged, the problem is quickly rectified.

The signs were there ... Murphy gave fair warning ... here's the result ...