PLANNING a TRIP, NAVIGATION

THINGS TO CONSIDER
• Distance
• Group energy
• Wind, waves, tides
• Campsites
• Water – need 3l/person/day
• Equipment
• Goals of trip: holiday, challenge
• Highlights

IS IT SAFE TO GO?
1. Group’s ability – assess every day. Any injuries? Important to report injuries early but people don’t want to bother or be the weak link.
Get to know everyone’s name (play name games).

2. Assess Conditions and Ocean
a. Tides – the vertical movement of water: high/low, rising/falling
• Affects: 1. Landing and launching 2. Channels that dry 3. Going into caves or not 4. Where you put your tent.
• Keep separate from currents
• Moon has twice the effect of the sun on tides.
Spring tides – with the new moon and full moon when the tidal range is greatest
Neap tides – the lowest tidal range during the first and last quarter
First half of the ~28 day lunar month = waxing; second half = waning

b. Currents – the horizontal movement of water; caused by tides.
Flood current – caused by rising tide (arrow has feathers)
Ebb current – caused by falling tide (no feathers)
• Narrows – look up in Current Tables as may not be coincident with high and low tides.
• Hydraulics downstream – back eddies, standing waves, eddy lines, whirlpools form along eddy lines
• Slack – Find the time that it “turns” and slack is the time before and after the turn when the current is less than ½ knot; may last 5-60 minutes. Call slack current, not slack tide.
Current speed: tidal range today/maximal tidal range X max speed = ~ speed today

c. Weather
Main weather systems
High – winds flow away from and clockwise producing a NW wind or possibly
westerlies. Present in summer. Produces fair weather with blue skies and no rain.
Low – winds flow counterclockwise producing SE winds. More common in winter
and with foul weather. Fronts are usually part of a low like spokes of a wheel.
Cold is often sudden onset and warm is often gradual onset.

d. Wind – what causes the problems / describe by speed and direction / as the speed increases, the force on your boat increases exponentially.
light – 0-11 knots — calm to ripples —- easy paddling
moderate – 12-19 knots — whitecaps/waves —– challenging/fear
strong – 20-33 knots — nasty/knarly —— hard work; should by off the water if wind speed greater than 20k
gale – 34-47 k

e. Waves – caused by wind
The height of waves is determined by
• Wind speed
Fetch – The distance the wind travels over water.
• Duration – The longer the wind blows, the larger the waves
Seas: 1m swell + 1 foot chop = 1.3m combined seas.

f. Traffic
Stay out of traffic lanes: might makes right – in shipping lanes, larger boats have the right of way
Stay close to shore, in shallow water.
Know the local traffic patterns: the fuel dock is often the hot spot.

g. Fog
Pilot – navigate using visible landmarks: hand rail – stay close to shore or don’t leave shore at all.
Dead reckon – if no visible landmarks. Use charts and compass adjusted for declination. Need to know where you start from, speed of travel from experience (adjusted for probable wind and current which is difficult to know in many places), compass bearing, time under way.
Don’t know exactly where you are – in the first leg, end in circle of uncertain size; in the second leg that circle is bigger. Therefore avoid rock gardens. Better to stay at home.
GPS – The most reliable. But not as good as a chart.

h. Night
Avoid paddling as very scary. Add traffic and/or fog and can be very dangerous. Always carry a waterproof flashlight.

i. Open Coast
Swell – waves caused by distant wind
Surf – caused by swell
Boomers – exposed rocks exposed by swell

SAFETY
Difference between fun and safety. If you don’t feel safe, then it will not be fun.
If a paddler does not want to follow the rules, then they may need to go home. To prove negligence 1. you must prove that what happened was forseeable (eg a capsize is a forseeable event) and 2. Was it preventable?
Waivers must be signed in advance with no coercion.
If paddling with friends and you are the most experienced person, then you are the responsible person. Therefore go with people with similar skill set and experience. As leader, you are there for the group and not yourself. Consistency and always doing the same thing is important.

HOW to GET a GROUP OFF the BEACH
Guests are not here to learn, they want to do.
Can prevent most problems on the beach.
Only show people how to do one thing at once.
Move everyone through the same thing at once – don’t let anybody get ahead.

PILOTING
Need charts, tide and current tables, VHF radio (weather reports, call Coast Guard)
Cell # for weather reports: 250-726-3415
Chart Catalogue – find charts you need; free
Sailing Directions – written description of the chart. Read with the chart. Great if planning a new trip
Current Atlas – Need if in Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, or Gulf Islands.
Chart #1 – Symbols, abbreviations and legend. Read introduction and back cover.
Charts: waterproof, in chart case, compass, flashlight.
1:40,000 optimum detail needed for camping and don’t constantly paddle off chart
1:150,000 for the big picture
Topographical maps: useful for land only
Keep track of time, distance and speed. Calculate speeds traveled each day.

DISTANCE – use latitude on side of chart: 1 minute latitude = 1 nautical mile = 1.8km =1.2m
5nm – easy for anybody
10nm – decent day
13nm – most hit the wall
15nm – long day
20nm – like a marathon
Every 4th day should be a rest day
Average ~5-7nm/day in average trip. Best holiday is travel day, rest day, explore day
Hand Span (distance thumb to index finger) – on a 40,000 scale map = 4nm
Use fractions of hand span for shorter distances.
Use string (dental floss) to determine distance around corners

SPEED – use knot = 1 nautical mile/hr (nm/h)
3 knots – experienced paddler
2 knots – average pace with breaks built in

TIDE TABLES – read introduction, map on back of front cover. For charts, need metrics.
Tides are mixed, semi-diurnal – 2 highs and 2 lows of different heights.
HHW – higher high water – the highest high tide of the day
LHW – lower high water – the lowest high tide of the day
LLW – lower low water – the lowest tide
HLW – higher low water
Tide has a daily cycle, monthly cycle (spring and neap tides), a yearly cycle (highest tides around winter solstice, lowest tides around summer solstice) and a multiyear cycle (tables repeat every 17 years).
Depth in metres at chart datum (charts are drawn at tide height of zero) = lowest normal tide but occasionally can have an abnormally low tide that goes negative. Real depth = chart height (datum) + tidal height

PADDLING ISSUES
SKILLS – Sling rescue, contact tow, high brace, carved turns, around boat on deck lines, low brace turn, carrying paddler on stern.
EDDY LINE – don’t go near eddy lines as they can pull you into an eddy
EDDY TURN – When entering into current, must cross the eddy line 1. Go fast using only forward strokes 2. The faster the current, the tighter the angle. If not sure, at least 45° 3. As enter eddy line, make a sweep turn then a low brace turn on downstream side 4. *Lean downstream (edge)
FERRY GLIDE – When crossing a body of water with current, you do not go in the direction your bow is pointing. Line up destination with landmark (mountain top, tree) directly behind. Keeping the two in line will result in going the shortest distance to destination. If aim for destination, end up following large curve. Could calculate current speed, distance of crossing, determine distance the current would carry you and aim for that point on far shore.
SURF – Helmet as rock gardens along open coast. Risks your kayak and other boats.
Coming In: Best paddler first, doubles last, leader on beach and on ocean, use hand signals to when ok to send somebody in.
Getting Out: Assistant or lead and one paddler out first, 2 boats at a time, paddle under front bungies, pusher faces second boat going out, paddler sits in boat, finds foot pegs, paddle at belly, pusher attaches back of spray skirt and paddler finishes skirt, then launched; watch current for movement of people on water (use paddle sighting from beach with boat and landmark behind).
ROCKS THAT COVER and UNCOVER with TIDE = boomer on open coast. * on chart Depth of water. – matters on open coast with swell. Colour scheme on chart: white = deep water; blue = shallow water; green = intertidal zone

(4) – rock or island too small to put the elevation on
4 with line on top – elevation to top of trees; if no overline, there are no trees
4 with line under – drying height above chart datum.
+ with 4 dots – rock visable at chart datum
+ – dangerous rock @ unknown depth
Example: with tidal height of 3m, rock covers at .6m so rock covered by 2.4m of water at high tide. Need to know how much rock is exposed at different tides.
On open ocean and swell, waves will break if swell size two-thirds of the depth of the rock – 1.6m here. If sea state is 1.0m, then will see rock if depth of rock of 1.5m or more (1.0 x 3/2 = 1.5m)
Can go very close to rock on inside but must go well away if on outside of rock as current can take you onto the rock. White foam is not reliable. Green water is aerated water close to rock so avoid.
FOLLOWING SEAS – Paddle hard in the trough before the next wave, then surf.

HOW to KEEP a GROUP of PADDLERS TOGETHER.
Pod boat-like formation with lead and sweep prepared for bad conditions. When all look ready, say “Let’s get going”. Think of as a ‘slinky group’.
Group Formation on Open Coast: Because of swell, if two paddlers are together, the up-wave person can be carried onto down wave person. If coming into shore, keep at least one boat distance between boats as swell can carry you onto someone. Watch for big swell. Therefore: single file (often go double file but be aware, don’t cut corners (inside guy goes slower), don’t necessarily follow boat ahead of you but leaders route.
Communication between lead and sweep 1. Voice – need to be tighter in the wind.
2. Shoulder checks – “hook and look” – turn to right, put paddle against right bow.
3. Paddle signals: Help/Emergency – wave paddle over head. Stop – hold paddle horizontally over head. Go this way – point paddle in direction. Come ahead – hold the paddle vertically.
Hand signals: Pat top of head – “I’m OK”.
Lead boat – watches traffic, route finding, slowing down speedy paddlers, frequent shoulder checks, be consistent, never stop paddling (fake strokes if need to slow down)
Sweep boat – coach, watch lead, count heads, assess group
Other Formations: 1. Narrow channel, against current – single file, stay 1 boat length away from shore to avoid wakes from tossing you onto rocks.
2. line abreast – when crossing a channel at the same time.

WEATHER
Weather Reports: new report 4 times/day at 0400, 10:30, 16:00, 21:30.
Must write it down
a. Prediction:
1. Synopsis – the big picture of entire BC coast. Weather systems of highs lows and fronts – how many systems, what kind, weak or strong, intensifying or weakening, where located, where moving and how fast (high is round, high ridge is elongated oval, trough is oval low, depression or disturbance is a low, intense low is a storm).
2. Forecast – Specific for next 24 hours: wind speed and direction, precipitation (rain, drizzle, fog can all affect visibility), seas (seastate is combined wind wave and swell height and need to determine how much each is)
3. Outlook – Following 24 hours.
b. Observations:
1. automated stations – destaffed light houses
2. buoys –
3. light house reports – every 3 hours starting at 04:40. If in protected location, will not reflect actual paddling conditions.

NAVIGATION
TIDE HEIGHT: Rule of 12’s – describes the rate at which the tide changes. Much easier if depths are in fathoms (then tides in feet), not meters
1. determine the tidal range (in feet) 2. Calculate 1/12 of that range (in inches) 3. Time between high and low (usually about 6 hours)
Hour 1 – tide changes by 1/12
Hour 2 – tide changes by 2/12
Hour 3 – tide changes by 3/12
Hour 4 – tide changes by 3/12
Hour 5 – tide changes by 2/12
Hour 6 – tide changes by 1/12
CURRENT SPEED: 50/90 Rule – Must know time of slack to use. On open ocean, slack is exactly at change of tide. On inside, exact time local knowledge.
Assume that time between slacks is 6 hours.
Hour 0: slack
1 hour: speed 50% of maximum
2 hours: speed 90% of maximum
3 hours: speed at maximum
4 hours: speed 90% of maximum
5 hours: speed 50% of max
6 hours: slack
As fastest current 2-4 hours after slack, if want to get somewhere faster, travel in this time slot. If a rapid, don’t travel.
Not actual speed that is important, it is the hydraulics created: standing waves, eddy lines, overfalls.
TO NAVIGATE: with grease pencil, write down on chart tides for day and heights using the rule of 12s. Write down currents for day using 50/90 rule (need to know slack)

PADDLE LOG – keep daily
Date, Trip
Weather Report: time, synopsis, forecast, close buoys and light houses record sky, visibility, wind, seas
Speed of Travel: calculate using hand spans and dental floss, experience

CAMPING
Distance between kitchen and tents – 50
Times: Up at 7am, breakfast at 07:30, away by 09:30 or 09:45, back at 4.
Toilet: kit consists of paper, soap, lighter (if not toilet), in plastic bag
Handwashing hygiene more important than water drinking
If no toilet, use intertidal zone
Burn toilet paper. Can use shells, leaves (thimbleberry best, use 5-ply), cones (Sitka spruce cone best). Put in brown paper bag and burn
Tampons: Leader should carry extra.

About admin

I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am “home”, are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking.
I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.

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