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    Re: Dependence on GPS
    From: Fred Hebard
    Date: 2009 Nov 1, 09:56 -0500

    I would expect GPS units in a wrist-watch or arm-band configuration
    would be less prone to "injury" while kayaking than deck-mounted
    units.  A cell phone or two with GPS should be sufficient electronic
    equipment for most sea kayakers, I would think.
    
    Fred
    
    On Oct 31, 2009, at 9:15 AM, Apache Runner wrote:
    
    >
    >
    > Frank makes a good  point about unnecessarily exposing oneself to
    > risk and thereby endangering possible searcher-and-rescuers.
    > There is this notion of risk homeostasis.   Mountain climbers are
    > often accused of this.   It goes something like this:  "I got away
    > with X last time, therefore I can get away with it next time."
    > And then, they get nailed by putting themselves in some precarious
    > situation.  The flip side of the coin is someone who analyzes a
    > past outing for errors and corrects them.   I'm keenly aware of the
    > issues of putting SAR'ers in jeopardy.
    >
    > I was in close proximity to a sea kayaking tragedy.   On Columbus
    > Day weekend, 2003 (or 2004, I forget), I was kayaking in the fog
    > off of Cape Cod.   The cheapy compass I was using got jammed with
    > sea water, but I did have the good sense to wear a wetsuit - the
    > water temperature was 55 degrees F.   Two girls went out in sea
    > kayaks at exactly the same time as I was out, and they were maybe a
    > half mile from me.   I used the wind and waves as a natural compass
    > and hand-railed my way along the coast to get back home.   They got
    > lost in the fog, and there was a two day search and rescue.   Two
    > days later, they found the body of one of the girls.   The other
    > was never found.
    >
    > By next spring, I had a brand new kayak and when I was paddling, I
    > was about as tricked out as you could imagine.   Three compasses, a
    > nautical chart, a VHF transceiver, a GPS unit, flare gun, combat
    > knife (the kind SEALs use), you name it.
    >
    > Over time, I got more experience and learned that it actually is
    > important to unclutter the deck of the kayak - having lost a lot of
    > gear to waves, and also the junk gets in the way of rescues.    As
    > mentioned, I experienced two GPS failures in conditions where I
    > could've used them the most.
    >
    > My main kit now consists of a deck mounted compass, a hiker's
    > compass in my PFD, a chart if in unfamiliar waters, a flare gun and
    > flares, water, back-up food and protable VHF transceiver.   For
    > longer trips, there's the usual camping gear, and I probably throw
    > a GPS in a dry bag, but mainly as an afterthought.  In the fog,
    > I'll bring a portable fog-horn.
    >
    > I've participated in six or seven rescues over the past five years,
    > including 3 cases of helping motor-boaters who were lost in the fog
    > and even had GPS'es.  Of course, they also had a few cases of beer.
    >
    > The main gripe about GPS'es for me is in the vein of the Charlie
    > Brown comic story about Lucy and the Football.   Lucy convinces
    > Charlie Brown, against all experience, to once again charge and try
    > to kick the football, and she yanks it away as usual.   Last year,
    > I found myself again shelling out $200 for a spiffy GPS unit.  Now
    > my third -  thinking to myself "you're throwing away money...".
    >
    > This fall I'd given my students an exercise to walk from the chapel
    > of the college to a tall building about a mile away and try to
    > estimate the height of the steeple using the distance walked and
    > the angular height.   I wanted to check the accuracy of my dead
    > reckoning and brought out the $200 GPS unit to the college yard,
    > and lo-and-behold - no signal.    Lucy pulled the football away again.
    >
    > There is a definite sympathy to the issue of exposing would be
    > rescuers to unnecessary danger by taking imprudent risks, but my
    > own experience is that the GPS receivers end up being costly
    > unneeded baggage.   This is not a Luddite statement, I will
    > certainly carry a VHF any time I'm out on a kayak, but my
    > experience is that these tend to be more reliable and a much more
    > valuable piece of equipment than a GPS unit in terms of safety.
    >
    >
    >
    > >
    
    
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