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Ripple Effect: The One Thing You Might Be Forgetting To Take On The Water

Sup board and jetboat ona beach

Humans are instinctively a self absorbed species, essentially that’s how we survived. We are also inherently kind and caring but oftentimes we just don’t realize our effect on others. It’s impossible to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes if we haven’t experienced it ourselves.

This pertains to everything in life. It’s hard to imagine being a parent if you haven’t been, we can try but the visceral involvement is so different from our imagination. 

Consider when you’re driving on the road, the experience of being in a small car is different than a large semi truck with a heavy load. Much of our frustration in life stems from not being able to identify with another person’s point of view regarding a situation.

Picture this: 

A beautiful summer evening on a long weekend, calm glassed out water, the birds are singing, the sun is setting, it just doesn’t get anymore quintessential. You float in your kayak enjoying the moment. Along comes a large wakeboard boat at speed pulling a water skier leaving you with a huge wake to deal with and carnage ensues. You drop your phone in the water, you nearly capsize and the perfect moment becomes a mess. You’re frustrated at the lack of awareness of the boat.

Now picture this:

It’s the perfect water to head out for a water ski after supper, the family hops in the boat and you watch the skier perform amazing tricks and carve effortlessly behind the boat. The sun makes it hard to see at water level with the reflection.  Suddenly, in the middle of a lake in your view comes a kayaker that was difficult to see being so low in the water. You veer off to the right missing the kayaker but you’re exasperated by the fact they’re in the middle of the lake where boats usually take skiers out.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? 

Ah the grey area in life…

Consider a couple of points:

  • The kayaker has every right to be in the middle of the lake; it’s open to all watercraft.
  • Long weekends are always the busiest as it’s the only time most people get out to use their boats.
  • The sun and reflection can play large roles in visibility for bigger boats, you need to be aware of the boat and blow your whistle, wave your paddle to be visible if you think they can’t see you.

What could we do instead?

  • Yes, as a kayaker or any human water powered watercraft; we have the right to be on the lake. Consider though I wouldn’t ride my bike in the middle of a busy freeway even if I am allowed. The risks outweigh the rewards. 
  • Stick to the edges away from traffic and unless it’s early morning or a quiet time on the lake avoid crossing it when there is heavy boat traffic.
  • As a boater, I may need two spotters on a busy weekend. One in the front and one behind watching the skier. It is hard to always look forward as it’s natural to want to check on the person you’re towing. Even with a boat mirror your eyes are not always looking ahead.
  • Give non-motorized watercraft a wide berth so your wake doesn’t become a hazard for them, leading to capsizing.

Consideration of others is what we’re forgetting on the water. We get so caught up in our own experience we are unaware of the ripple effect our choices can have on others.

We all share the same water for our own mutual enjoyment. If we can play together with the intent to have a good day on the water we all win!

Check out some great resources:

Canadian Safe Boating Council
Paddle Smart

Lisa Stocking
Paddle Canada Stand Up Paddleboard Instructor
AQ Outdoors Ambassador