Connecticut Sea Kayakers Association, Inc. (ConnYak) has been monitoring responses of governmental and other responsible authorities during the current COVID-19 Pandemic. The club has decided to re-open its Bulletin Board for posting "pick-up" paddles to facilitate outdoor recreation.
Pick-up paddles are on-water activities organized by individuals independently of ConnYak, which has neither reviewed nor approved them. Please remember that participating in any paddlesport activities presents a risk of serious injury or death, including exposure to infectious disease such as COVID-19. ConnYak cannot guarantee and is not responsible for your personal safety. As a participant, you assume all risks associated with the activity.
ConnYak will consider resuming club-sponsored paddles and events, including social and instructional activities, when conditions permit.
Guidance: Using the Bulletin Board to Post "Pick-Up" Paddles During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The ConnYak Bulletin Board has traditionally been used by the club's members and friends to share their paddling plans and invite others to join them on a "show and go" basis. A typical post includes a brief description of the paddle plan, including details such as date, time, launch point, intended route and other considerations including anticipated conditions, possible stops and debriefing.
Some may wish to resume this practice with the re-opening of the Bulletin Board. However, COVID-19 makes it important to consider how to manage the size and composition of the group in a way that addresses the "Paddling in the Time of COVID-19" guidance detailed below.
An alternative to an open post would be an announcement of a general intent to paddle on an approximate date and time, in a given area, with an invitation to RSVP to the person posting using the Bulletin Board's messaging function (that is, using the [Send E-Mail] link next to the poster's name) if one is interested in joining. For instance, one might post:
Planning to paddle in Stonington/Mystic area on Saturday morning, June xx. Trip length approximately 10 miles. Bring lunch. Group size limited - attendance by accepted RSVP only.
If interested, contact me at "Send email" link above for details.
The poster can then sort through respondents and share details of the launch location, time and route with a limited number, advising others that regrettably the paddle is full.
In the interest of community safety, we share the following guidelines for anyone who plans and/or participates in pick-up paddles. Remain aware of and follow state and federal regulations and guidance (see below)
Plan the paddle with COVID-19 risks and safety in mind
- Limit the number of persons on the paddle. Although current CT guidelines for outdoor activities limit group size to 25 (the maximum in RI is 15), the nature of sea kayaking suggests smaller groups are safer. While not a hard and fast rule, consider 6-10 paddlers as the maximum to avoid burdening launch sites and to make it easier to maintain physical distancing while launching, paddling and landing.
- Select launch sites, dates and times to avoid crowds. There is little space at the ramp to maintain distance while staging, loading and launching your kayak. If on arrival the parking lot is crowded, even if the area is officially open, there are already too many people there. Find another location or go home.
- Know your limitations (skills and abilities) and assess overall safety of the group prior to launching. Plan a paddle that is within the group's ability to minimize the chances of requiring outside assistance or rescues.
- Landings. Choose landing places where the group can maintain physical distancing and will be less likely to encounter other people.
- Avoid car shuttles. Plan the paddle so that you launch, paddle and return to the launch.
Reduce risk's that may spread infection to others
- Self-isolate. Remind participants that, if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are displaying symptoms or have been exposed to someone who is sick, they should stay (or go) home.
- Be self-sufficient. Be able to handle your own kayak and gear at the launch site.
- Maintain physical distancing. Keep apart 6 feet minimum at all times.
- Wear a mask or neck gaiter at any time on land or water where it is not possible to keep 6 feet apart, e.g. during rescues. Neck gaiters, while typically less effective, are more practical on water.
- Do not share anything with other paddlers. Bring and eat your own snacks.
- Disinfect your hands often - especially before launching and landing, and anytime you come in contact with another person. Avoid touching your face.
- Stay local. Although travel restrictions have been relaxed, avoid longer trips that necessitate stops for gas, snacks, restroom breaks, etc., none of which allow for physical distancing.
- Do not carpool with friends or family who are not members of your immediate household.
Some Links to State, Federal and Paddling Association Guidelines