Category Archives: Adventures

LogJam River Rescue. One Adventure. Two Stories.


Do you see me in the picture?

Know the difference between an Outing and an Adventure?
An Outing is what it’s called when everything goes as planned.
An Adventure is what it’s called when things don’t go as planned.
Julie Titone and I shared a whitewater adventure. It took some time to digest the events, but here it is, published in companion articles in American Whitewater. I share it here on my blog with permission, but I encourage you to consider joining AW so you can have access to all the issues online and get new ones in print if you wish, as well as support their efforts to protect our free flowing rivers and our access to them. Seven full pages were dedicated to our adventure. The hope is that you will benefit from our experience. Share it and you may save a friend! Footnote to the story: My GPS tracker indicated it was under 2 minutes before I got there. Time flies!

(Julie’s post of the same article)

Senate Hearing on SB 5176 delayed, possibly dead thanks to your voices!


The Senate at the last minute decided to hold off on the bill hearing. Committee Chair Van De Wege announced that the House is still revising the text of their bill (after all the feedback we gave them) and they will want to wait to get their updates. Word I got afterwards is that they heard loud and clear this isn’t ready for law. (Perhaps that’s what happens when they get over a hundred responses and they unanimously oppose the bill?) If they do any thing more with this bill, they will reach out to the paddling community first. Most likely they will do other things to enhance safety. You can see the start of the Senate meeting and the House hearing below. Visit my post citing my testimony for other details.

A footnote: Senator Van De Wege also noted that someone published the personal contact information of the lobbyist representing the one company that supports this bill and he urged that people not address or harass the lobbyist, but speak directly with the senators and representatives.

Senate meeting today (1/28/2021)

For the record, of the 28 people signed up for verbal testimony, 19 were speaking against the bill, 9 listed as Other and 1 person speaking in support of it. That one would be the lobbyist for Kalkomey Entrprises https://www.kalkomey.com/ the business that would sell the online courses to the millions of people seeking a boater card.

House committee meeting (1/20/2021)

We aren’t out of the storm yet, but the horizon is looking clearer. Well done!

Testimony opposing HB-1018 on boater education


Here is my written testimony opposing House bill HB-1018 (and matching Senate bill SB-5176) This bill is intended to extend powerboat permit laws to human powered boats. I also gave verbal testimony during the public hearing today by the House Committee on Community & Economic Development. You can watch the replay of the hearing here. The committee meeting opens with a presentation about the stats of the Washington State Park system. The hearing for the bill starts at 0:34:00 My testimony starts at 1:19:33. If you want to give them input, they will take written testimony here until 10:00am tomorrow (1/21/2021).

“I grew up in Florida. Florida is the mecca of water sports. I’ve been paddling since I was 10.
I was a Red Cross Certified Lifeguard Instructor and in Boy Scouts I taught paddling safety.
At The University of Florida I handled waterfront safety for our sailboard, sailboat and canoe rentals to students.
I’ve been an avid whitewater and sea kayaker for 30 years and I’m trained in swift water rescue.

Thank you for your efforts on this issue. Having personally served as a water safety professional, I appreciate your passion and efforts to make water sports safer. But trying to force power boating rules and regulations on recreational paddling won’t work. If it were at all viable, Florida would have done it long ago.

The organized paddling community already does a fantastic job of safety education. Whitewater boaters are obsessive about river safety. Whitewater paddlers are statistically far more likely to get killed driving to the river than paddling it. No amount of legislation could match — much less improve — what they already do. Similarly, sea kayakers are very focused on safety.

Every sport has different safety education requirements. Whitewater paddlers use helmets and rescue throw ropes; sea kayakers use paddle floats and lights and have to know how to self-rescue far from shore; paddle boarders and surfers use board leashes; surfers actually avoid wearing a PFD because it would keep them from diving to avoid a wave. One safety class cannot cover all sports and being educated in one sport cannot prepare someone for other sports. So one boater card cannot ensure they have studied the knowledge they need for every craft they may paddle. What is even worse is that it will give holders a false sense of security that they know everything they need to be safe in any circumstance and create a liability for the State of Washington.

This bill includes paddle boards, but excludes sail boards, and makes no mention at all of kiteboards or surfboards. Apart from the kite or removable sail, they’re all about the same thing. The only difference is how they move.

It is ironic that this bill EXCLUDES the 2 groups who are most at risk:

  1. Those who take air mattresses, inner tubes, and single-chamber toy rafts on dangerous waters. They don’t have PFDs because they consider themselves swimming.
  2. Those operating boats with a small engines (under 15 HP). They may be misled by the existing law into complacency assuming that because they don’t have a big motor, they are not at risk. This may create another legal liability for the state.
    In fact, by excluding motors under 15 HP, if I toss a trolling motor inside my kayak, I wouldn’t need to buy a permit.

This legislation is the same as requiring permits to ride skateboards, bicycles, go backcountry skiing, rock climbing or horseback riding. Yet those activities can be every bit as dangerous as paddle sports. Backcountry skiers aren’t required to take an avalanche class and get a permit. Cyclists aren’t required to pass any test. Hikers and backpackers aren’t required to take any safety classes, yet rescues of hikers happen far more often than paddlers.

Finally, this is a regressive and inequitable tax. It creates another barrier to entry that discriminates against the poor who can’t afford luxury activities.

Testimony was given in opposition by representation in every affected stakeholder group: the national organizations on paddling safety (American Whitewater, American Canoe Association), a kayak manufacturer (Eddyline Kayaks), by a whitewater rafting outfitter, the Recreational Boating Association and private paddlers.

The only verbal testimony given in support of HB-1018 was by the 2 businesses that stand to gain by making a profit from it. That would be Tom Hayward, the Chief Financial Officer of NASBLA, based in Lexington, Kentucky who sustains his employment by providing services to states that implement legislation like this; and Amy Brackenbury from Kalkomey Entrprises https://www.kalkomey.com/ a business that sells the online courses that would be sold to the millions of people seeking a boater card. The deaths Ms Brackenbury cited in her testimony were given completely out of context. She offers no proof that a boater card would have prevented these deaths. Beware of emotional arguments used to sell products. She also made the claim that accidents and fatalities are spiking as people get outdoors more in response to COVID, yet testimony from Rob Sendak, Boating Programs Manager and Washington State Boating Laws Administrator housed under the Washington State Parks Department stated that accidents have actually declined. Kalkomey Enterprises has much to profit for decades to come if this bill were to pass.

In summary,
This is an education problem, not a compliance problem. You are law makers, but not every problem is solved by making a law. “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Making ignorance illegal won’t change anything. If you feel you must do something, then analyze the primary causes of paddle sports accidents and address them specifically. Reach out to the paddling organizations that have many decades dealing in paddler safety. I have included the most relevant ones below:
Washington State Parks already partners with American Canoe Association for paddler education programs. You can find the links here:
https://parks.state.wa.us/832/Paddlesports

American Whitewater even keeps a detailed database of all river related deaths along with a detailed analysis of the contributing factors along with valuable graphics that categorize the causes of these incidents. This is a must-view website: https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Accident/view/

American Whitewater https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Safety/view/?
American Canoe Association https://www.americancanoe.org/page/Courses
North Sound Sea Kayak Association https://nsska.clubexpress.com/
Washington Recreational River Runners http://wrrr.org/category/rivers/river_safety/
The Mountaineers https://www.mountaineers.org/
National Center for Cold Water Safety http://www.coldwatersafety.org
Kayak Academy http://www.kayakacademy.com
Washington Kayak Club http://washingtonkayakclub.org/

Flying Isn’t Always the Entertainment We Want


View of sunset from airplane seat.

(In Lieu of any current travel here’s a tale of a trip I made July 13, 2018)
Boston to Seattle. I am sitting in the window seat. Food and beverage service comes by. “May I have the chicken plate please?” I ask.
“I’m sorry” the flight attendant says, “There was a mix-up in supplying the plane, we already ran out of meals. That woman and her daughter (pointing to the seats in front of me) got the last ones.”
My water bottle is empty. I didn’t get to fill it before boarding the plane. So I ask the flight attendant “Can you pour me some orange juice in my water bottle so I don’t have to worry about it spilling?”

“No, we’re not allowed to pour into passenger’s containers because we may spill. But I will give it to you in a paper cup so you can pinch the top and pour it into your water bottle.” Then instead of the usual low profile plastic cup, she gives me a large paper cup full to the top with orange juice. Too full to try to pour it, I set it down.

Just then I am distracted by a commotion with the passenger behind me and the very large, very full cup of juice tips over, spilling onto my laptop computer and squarely into my lap.

The apologetic flight attendant still standing there with the cart hands me a stack of napkins and takes my water bottle and pours me some orange juice. I give a big grin. “Sometimes you just gotta laugh.” She was surprised I took it so well.

So now I’m trapped in the window seat, sitting in a puddle of orange juice just 1 hour into a 6-1/2 hour flight. How could this get any worse?

A minute later I feel my foot getting wet. The little girl in the seat in front of me spilled her full cup of Sprite between the seats and onto my foot and backpack. At least I already have a wad of slightly used napkins to dry it up. How could this possibly get any worse?

The girl’s mother in the middle seat turns around and apologizes and then goes into a 10-minute rant telling me how bad her flying experience has been today starting with the airline giving her trouble at the baggage check for not having water in the cage for her labra-doodle. How dare they!

She ends with “I’ve had such a bad day! This really is Friday the 13th, isn’t it?” She says.

“Yes it is.” I reply with a wry smile, “yes it is.”

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