Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paddlers Etiquette

If you show up to a crowded surf break in California and act like a jerk, chances are it could end in some slashed tires, a broken board, or getting the snot kicked out of you. On a recent trip to some popular surf breaks in San Diego, I was sensitive to this issue and took time to inquire about beach etiquette. Rules are posted at each break and after chatting with a couple locals to get my bearings straight, I felt confident about what was acceptable behavior. Kayakers can learn a lot from surfers and establish a similar code of conduct to prevent paddling community drama off the river. As the sport grows, so do incidents of paddlers intentionally or unintentionally threatening river access and offending local communities.

I am lucky to live in one of the best whitewater towns in the country. A huge part of this is due to awesome boaters who conduct themselves professionally and represent the sport well in our community. Overall I'm proud to be a boater here, but sometimes I cringe to drive around with a kayak on my car after seeing some of the things boaters do. I am not perfect by any means and have done my fair share of dirtbagging, but I'd like to continue developing paddling etiquette for anyone who wants to visit popular paddling destinations. Most of this seems like common sense, but it's a good reminder for all of us. This is not a complete list of guidelines, so feel free to add on: 

For any paddlers coming the Hood River/White Salmon area to live, participate in events, or for any other reason, we welcome you. Please realize that this is a very special place to a lot of people and we appreciate your cooperation and respect.  I would like to live in a place where people are happy to see kayakers rolling into town, and it only takes a few people to ruin the experience for everyone else.

2011 Wind River Clean up