Windsor-Essex County Canoe Club offers safety tips for new paddlers

·2 min read
Karen Mitchell and John Lesperance, members of the Windsor-Essex Canoe Club stress the importance of safety for new members and new paddlers.  (CBC - image credit)
Karen Mitchell and John Lesperance, members of the Windsor-Essex Canoe Club stress the importance of safety for new members and new paddlers. (CBC - image credit)

Following some recent water rescues, a local canoe club is stressing safety as kayaking and canoeing are growing in popularity.

"If you're fairly new, you should never paddle alone," said John Lesperance, a member of the Windsor Essex County Canoe Club. "If you have a buddy with you, between the two you, you can get back in the boat."

The club has been around as a not-for-profit organization since 1981 but this year, members are noticing a surge in interest from newcomers.

"The numbers of new people are astronomical. I remember when we started, you almost knew everybody that you drove by with a kayak," said Karen Mitchell, another member of the club.

Mitchell recommended recreational Pelicans, a popular entry-level kayak for newcomers. She said they're good for ponds and creeks and "anywhere they can get to shore on their own and not have to worry about getting back into the boat."

"That's what I started in," said Mitchell.

Mitchell said it's important to have a safety kit which contains a rope and a signaling device, and to always wear a safety jacket.

Police rescues

Two pairs of kayakers have been rescued by police boats recently, and earlier this month police boats rescued a kayaker in the water in near freezing temperatures while his partner tried to rescue him on his own.

It's because of recent examples like these that Mitchell and Lesperance stress the importance of travelling in groups and practising safe rescue measures.

"It certainly gives new people a lot of confidence to be in a group of 10 to 15 people. They know they can go a little bit into their un-comfort zone. Just so that they know there will be somebody there to rescue them if they need it," Lesperance said.

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