Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fantastic Plastic : Redux

A few weeks ago, I put up a post about plastic kayaks. (see here) Matthew Housekeeper from Soundbounder made the following comment:

You make some good points. The plastics introduce many people to the hobby.

This is undeniably true, however, I do have some problems with this. I hate to make a generalization, but people who tend to buy the small, cheap, "cute" rotomolded kayaks, usually have very little training or backround with small boats before they buy them. On the water, these tend to be the people that I see out without a PFD on. They are also the people who can be found in the way of other craft that may have the right-of-way on the water. Sometimes, they are drinking large quantities of alcoholic beverages on the water. They also seem to be the ones who are out in conditions that may exceed their abilities. I doubt most people in these tubby little craft ("But it's as stable as a rock!") have ever deliberately tipped the boat and tried a wet exit and re-entry under controlled conditions, let alone poor conditions.

This is not to say that all people who are out in plastic boats or even these little plastic boats that I describe above are poorly prepared or have little skills. I'm just making an observation based on what I've seen. There are also popular sea-kayaks, whitewater, and whitewater touring boats that are plastic and are paddled by those with excellent background, skills and abilities.

The point here is that these small, inexpensive boats, bring boating to pretty much anyone who wants to paddle. But you should still learn what you are doing out on the water before you venture out and become a danger to yourself and others.

To be equally fair, the same can be true at the other end of the spectrum with the fanciest, most expensive wood or fiberglass boats - paddle, sail and power. They have the money to buy the boat, but not the skills to deal with the situations that may arise out on the water.

Bottom line : if you're going to be operating a boat out on the water, please know what you should be doing, and do it safely.

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