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Buddy Paddling

In a group of paddlers, the one simple way to know that everyone has someone looking out for them and to know who you are supposed to look out for is to use the buddy system. Everyone pairs up with another paddler - each buddy looks out for their buddy. In an ideal world each pair of buddies would be evenly matched speedwise making it easier for everyone to paddle in their comfort zone and to keep pace with their buddies. But the reality is that those matches do not always occur. And the paddlers with limited amounts of experience or skill really should be buddied with better paddlers so you are much less likely to wind up with buddy pairings where both paddlers get into trouble and are unable to help their buddy. At least one paddler in each buddy pair should probably be experienced and competent in the chosen paddling conditions, otherwise it probably isn't wise for either to be on the water.

Best Buddy Practices

  • Paddle to the side of your buddy - Larry Bussinger “(….) ….when buddied up, it's still hard to keep track of someone if you get ahead and are flying. It also seems to be human nature for the guy behind to tuck in behind the lead guy. However, this makes it extremely hard for the lead guy to keep track of the guy behind. If you stay well off to the side, all I have to do is do a quick glance over my shoulder instead of stopping and turning around into a compromising position to locate you. If you're right there, we can keep paddling hard. If I glance back and I'm too far ahead, I'll take a breather until you catch up. If you disappear, I know you're in trouble, and I know where to look. BUT STAY WELL OFF TO THE SIDE.”
  • Having checkpoints - It's not a bad idea to have some designated landmark(s) in a downwind course where you agree to pause and check in with you buddy, close enough to have a conversation about how everything is going and whether any plan or course changes need to be made.
    • having such checkpoints is also a test and measure of each paddler's location awareness. Some paddlers are more directionally and orientationally challenged - it is good to know how well everyone can spot landmarks and whether more frequent guidance needs to be given about the chosen course and staying on it. You may also choose a checkpoint where the final destination is visible and communicating where it is so everyone is clear about the direction to paddle to your intended landing.
  • Practice your buddy paddling skills - If you feel comfortable in the conditions (when you are occasionally ahead of your buddy or you can both intentionally slowdown to do this),
    • practice turns
      • learn what wind speed and conditions make it improbable or impossible for you to turn upwind with your current skills - does putting one foot in the water and steering with the other foot help?
    • paddling upwind toward your buddy
    • paddling with a beam wind or on diagonals to the wind - if you have to go sideways to get to your buddy, can you?
    • set aside some outings (probably not the most challenging ones initially - build your skills) for testing and practicing you ability to communicate and locate each other using your chosen tech.
      • phone
      • VHF radio
      • SafeTrx
    • set aside some outings to practice some rescue techniques.
      • make sure that your self rescue skills are sharp (if you can't rescue yourself, you are more likely to get into a situation where you can't help your buddy, and lack of self rescue skills puts more burden and risk on your buddy)
        • remount
        • can you deal with a broken rudder cable, broken paddle
        • are you really dressed for immersion? test your chosen paddlewear out occasionally in cold water at the end of a paddle to stay tuned to how quickly you may get cold during an extended swim
      • practice group rescue
        • can you hold another surfski in waves to help your buddy remount
        • can you effectively use the side-by-side, foot in your buddy's footwell technique for a raft home paddle back to shore?
        • do you carry and can you hook up and use a tow rope?
buddy_paddling.txt · Last modified: 2020/10/07 21:58 by preavley