JSSKA in the Asbury Park Press

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BEACHWOOD — For the last three decades, Ted DeMott has stood on the banks of the Cedar Creek, watching the launch of kayaks and canoes — after making sure that the boaters had the knowledge and gear for a safe trip. “If you understand what you are doing and respect the water, you should have no problem out there,” said DeMott, operator of Triple T Canoes in Beachwood. “The problems come when people do neither.” DeMott rents out the boats which are launched nearby at Double Trouble State Park in Berkeley. “If you look at the accidents that have happened over the last couple of months, the people involved where not wearing life jackets,” DeMott said. “Any person that leaves out of here has to have a life jacket on, no questions.” The issue of safety has become especially important as paddle sports grow in popularity. About 3 percent of Americans enjoy such boating, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. “Paddling has become increasingly more accessible with communities offering close to home water parks and river trails, as well as advancements in paddling products,” said I Ling Thompson, vice president of communication for the association. A kayaker and a canoeist died in separate incidents recently. Late on the night of July 2, a 49-year-old Brick woman died when the kayak she was riding in overturned in the Manasquan River and she could not make it to shore. Police said she was not wearing a life jacket. On June 10, an 18-year-old Berkeley man drown when the canoe he was riding in Barnegat Bay at night overturned. According to the U.S. Coast Guard statistics for 2010, 141 people died in canoe and kayaking accidents nationwide. Canoes accounted for 89 deaths (86 of which were from drowning), while kayaking accounted for the remaining 52 (42 of which were from drowning). Ed Mann, president of the Jersey Shore Sea Kayakers Association, said people just need to use basic common sense when they are going out. “A lot of it’s common sense,” Mann said. “Before you go out you should always check the weather conditions, make sure you have you have a phone, and just be careful.”(Page 2 of 3) Ruth Jones, whose family has owned Kittatinny Canoes in Barryville, N.Y., for the last 71 years, said staying safe on the water comes down to one thing: wearing a life jacket. “If you have a good life vest, you should not even notice that it is on. It should not be restrictive around the arms and neck,” Jones said. Kelsey Bracewell, a safety education and instruction coordinator with the American Canoe Association, also said that paddlers should always wear a life jacket no matter how confident they are. “Know yourself, know your limits. That is one of the biggest thing a person can do to ensure a safe trip,” Bracewell said. “Let people know where you are going so if there is an issue people know where you went.” The association does not recommend going out at night. “It’s not any safer than walking around a mountain side in the dark,” Bracewell said. Jones said her company does not allow anyone out at night and all boaters are required to come back by 6 p.m. “When you are kayaking you need to be able to read the river. How can you do it if you are in the dark,” Jones said. “It’s not a good idea.” In an effort to educated newcomers to the sport, the Monmouth County Park System offers an basic introduce to both kayaking and canoeing, said Ryan Kimble, recreation coordinator for the park system. “The first thing we do in the class is taking them down to the water, so they get an idea about what its like to be in it for an extended period of time,” Kimble said. “The first thing that we teach in any of classes no matter what is safety. We want people to come and enjoy it but we people to be safe.” The Jersey Shore Sea Kayaking Association does their best to teach their new kayakers safety before they go out.“Sometimes we do safety drills to teach some of the younger people what to do if something would happen out there,” Mann said. “We have them flip out of their kayak and have them swim back to it — this gives them the confidence that if something happens they are ready for it.” (Page 3 of 3) DeMott said people usually start with a canoe then go with a kayak for a different experience. Canoes allow for more then one person in each boat, while kayak is a personalized watercraft that puts all of the responsibility on one person. “During the past three years we have seen a increase in the amount of people who want to use a kayak, I would say it has grown by a third each year,” DeMott said. “In a kayak you are your own person, you have greater responsibility and need to know what you are doing.” Heading out to the larger bodies of water like Barnegat Bay, while it might be rewarding, present a number of issues compared to kayaking on smaller creeks and streams, DeMott said. “The bay is a lot more dangerous, but also is very relaxing and nice to do,” said DeMott, who takes pride in Triple T’s unblemished safety record. “You have to be aware of the boats, and you run the danger of being swamped by the wakes of the boats. You have to be extremely careful, because it can be very unforgiving.” Ruth Jones, whose family has owned Kittatinny Canoes in Barryville, N.Y., for the last 71 years, said staying safe on the water comes down to one thing: wearing a life jacket. “If you have a good life vest, you should not even notice that it is on. It should not be restrictive around the arms and neck,” Jones said. Kelsey Bracewell, a safety education and instruction coordinator with the American Canoe Association, also said that paddlers should always wear a life jacket no matter how confident they are. “Know yourself, know your limits. That is one of the biggest thing a person can do to ensure a safe trip,” Bracewell said. “Let people know where you are going so if there is an issue people know where you went.” The association does not recommend going out at night. “It’s not any safer than walking around a mountain side in the dark,” Bracewell said. Jones said her company does not allow anyone out at night and all boaters are required to come back by 6 p.m. “When you are kayaking you need to be able to read the river. How can you do it if you are in the dark,” Jones said. “It’s not a good idea.” In an effort to educated newcomers to the sport, the Monmouth County Park System offers an basic introduce to both kayaking and canoeing, said Ryan Kimble, recreation coordinator for the park system. “The first thing we do in the class is taking them down to the water, so they get an idea about what its like to be in it for an extended period of time,” Kimble said. “The first thing that we teach in any of classes no matter what is safety. We want people to come and enjoy it but we people to be safe.” The Jersey Shore Sea Kayaking Association does their best to teach their new kayakers safety before they go out. “Sometimes we do safety drills to teach some of the younger people what to do if something would happen out there,” Mann said. “We have them flip out of their kayak and have them swim back to it — this gives them the confidence that if something happens they are ready for it.” (Page 3 of 3)

 

*Article from Aug 3, 2011

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