By their own admission, most Alaskans will admit to having a knack for getting into difficult outdoor situations. After the first big move to Alaska, it is a wonder we survive first contact with the wilderness just outside our door and lessons it holds for the unprepared. More deep trouble for kayakers is the theme of a new book published by International Marine.
One activity popular in coastal Alaska is sea kayaking. It is an efficient and affordable way to access areas little seen or visited by others. In the unforgiving climate of the maritime north, ignorance of basic safety practices can kill. Christopher Cunningham, editor of Sea Kayaker magazine, offers a series of stories that highlight what can go wrong when safety concerns are left ashore. In Sea Kayaker’s More Deep Trouble, Cunningham presents 29 tales of close calls and disasters that provide hard earned lessons learned from other’s mistakes.
Chris Cunningham says of his work, “The aim of More Deep Trouble is not to make kayakers more anxious. It is to make kayakers more aware. While the book’s title seems to emphasize trouble, what you’ll come away with after reading these stories will make you not only a safer kayaker, but also one more in touch with the land, sea and sky. Be fully present, be safe and enjoy the time you spend on the water.”
Attacked by a Bear in the Middle of Nowhere
Most kayakers wouldn’t think being attacked by a bear as a typical kayaking occurrence. The story of Steve Byers experience at Mitchell Bay on Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska could change that thought. While packing up his camp, Steve was unexpectedly attacked by a Brown bear. The bear struck his right side, leaving multiple gashes and puncture wounds. Far from the nearest community of Angoon, Byers started paddling toward the small town seeking help and managed to contact a fishing lodge with his handheld VHF radio. Through the efforts of the local clinic and assistance from the Coast Guard, Steve was flown to Sitka, Alaska and survived the ordeal.
There are many lessons to be learned from this experience. Admiralty Island has one of the highest concentrations of Brown bears found in the country, making contact with a bear likely. Steve’s campsite was sheltered from the bear by a screen of thick vegetation, possibly masking his presence from the animal. The sudden appearance of a person in the bear’s territory could have sparked the attack. The biggest mistake lies in camping alone in bear country. Having another person present would afford more warning to neighboring bears and needed assistance in an emergency. Having a handheld VHF marine radio at hand was surely a lifesaver.
As a follow up to the bestseller Sea Kayaker’s Deep Trouble, More Deep Trouble reinforces its predecessor’s focus on safe practices and lessons learned. The marine environment offers little refuge or concern for the unprepared and this book is an enjoyable way to learn more about safe sea kayaking and outdoor recreation. Sea Kayaker’s More Deep Trouble (ISBN 978-0-07-177009-5) is published by the International Marine imprint of McGraw Hill Education and has a list price of $18.00. The book is available at online retailers and the Sea Kayaker website.
Copyright © 2013 by Alan Sorum