Guide Training – Night time Navigation weekend

Night Navigation Group PhotoWith relatively low water temperatures and comfortably warm air temperatures early spring in Nova Scotia brings us numerous banks of fog. This makes Dead Reckoning navigation an essential skill needed to safely kayak offshore. This last weekend the 2011 Guides in Training headed out to Hearn island for a night time navigation exercise. We were fortunate enough to have heavy fog and little to no moon light providing excellent conditions to practice dead reckoning. Ours Guides in Training split into groups of three and took turns leading the group to Hearn Island where we planned to camp for the evening. After an uneventful paddle out we setup our tents, made a fire and had dinner. Just as the sun was setting the first training scenario was set in motion. The guides in training received a phone call from a pair of lost paddlers, they were able to give their last known LAT/LON from their GPS before we lost contact. A course was plotted to their last known location and we all headed out onto the water.

Three hours later, having located the stray paddlers in our training scenario we finally made it back to the island, and started the fire back up. Guide in Training, Trish treated us to delicious campfire cherry pie as we recapped the evenings paddle around the warm fire. Tired from the long day/night on the water everyone quickly retired to their tents. The next morning we had yet another scenario waiting for them after breakfast. This time another paddler had capsized, lost their boat and managed to swim to shore. The Guides in training quickly plotted another course through the thick fog to the suspected victim’s location and we headed out. Upon arriving at the cove we found the simulated lost paddler, and their boat not too far off. Excited to find our lost paddler two of our paddlers performed simulated capsizes providing the Guides in Training with some additional rescue experience. Everyone safely back in their boat we headed back to the boathouse, tired but happy.

While these were all training exercises, getting lost in the heavy spring fog is a very real possibility. Always bring proper safety and navigation equipment when paddling offshore, including emergency shelter/food. Encase you do get lost make sure to have redundant communication methods, and always file a trip report with someone who will remain on land so that Search and Rescue personal have the information they need to find you, should you become lost.

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