Letter to Avon Paddlers


from George Scorbie  > Paddlers' Stories Index 

"As a paddler who was playboating at Bells Rapids on both days of the weekend I must say I am alarmed by the high number of paddlers who seem to lack basic white water knowledge and in some instances the necessary skills to keep themselves safe.

I think it's great that people are out there enjoying the river, but there are some pressing issues that need addressing before we have a serious incident occur, leading to an over zealous and totally unneccessary knee jerk reaction from the powers that be.

To put things into perspective a bit, simply take a look at the figures: The year to June 30, 2004 saw 105 deaths by drowning in rivers/oceans/harbours. Over 500 people drowned between 92 and 98 from swimming/paddling/wading incidents.

The chances of a serious incident are only magnified by a river flooding; (the Avon) that has more than enough strainers and the possibility of foot entrapment (tea trees and the proliferation of rock gardens and debris piles); a seeming lack of knowledge on the principles of swift water safety (people trying to stand in extremely swift water with their feet dangling like huge sea anchors) and the choice of innapropriate paddle craft for your venture (skis are not safer than kayaks - figures show sit on tops are responsible for many more paddling related drownings every year- and many people believe not appropriate for downriver racing)

There are a number of places to learn how to paddle effectively - if being stuck in a kayak is a concern for you, rolling classes are available all year round as well - and places to learn the basics of white water rescue and safety.

Whilst I will still make a point of helping paddlers in distress - after all we are all there to have fun - the majority of responsibility for safety starts with the choices of the individual, so make the choice a correct one and keep paddling fun for all of us. "

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