Happy Spring!

Happy Spring! Warm water and longer days are around the corner. Like many of you, I am ready for the paddling season. There are some great trips listed on the CPA calendar for this year, and some of the trips are filling up fast, so check it out. Also, remember that trips will be added as the season goes on, so check it frequently. This time of year some of us need to add or replace gear, so remember to check out on our website the list of vendors that support CPA by offering discounts to our members.

April opportunities are light, as expected, since the water is still cold. April trips include the first KIPP paddle of the year, Patuxent River cleanup, and a Potomac River paddle to Riley’s Lock at the end of the month. May is when the trips really get going with the piracies and many other day trips. There are also a few camping trips, including a practice camper in late May.

Recently CPA conducted the annual SK 101. It was my first time attending; I thought the instructors and presenters did a fabulous job of conveying the message to an engaged and enthusiastic class. A huge tip of the paddle to Paul Casto, Brian Blankenship, Greg and Jenny Welker, Paula Hubbard, Suzanne Farace, Sue Stevens, and Rick Leader for a job well done. Don Goff from the Coast Guard Auxiliary also give a presentation, and Marla Aron sold t-shirts at the break.

One of the topics touched on was when to replace PFDs. I realized that I put on my PFD so robotically that I can’t think of the last time I even looked at it with this concern in mind. That mention led me to examine my 10-year-old PFD; I noticed it was in good shape except for being faded and salty from the bay. For paddle sports, I know that a type III Coast Guard vest, which has a minimum of 15 pounds of flotation, is required. Several years ago, I purchased a hi-float PFD for canoeing, which has 29 pounds of flotation. Since I know the PFD doesn’t weigh 29 pounds, this question piqued my curiosity, so I did some research. All USCG approved vests or other safety items are tested in a lab to determine how much buoyant material is needed to add 15 pounds of buoyancy. To calculate how much buoyant material is needed or how many pounds of buoyancy is in a PFD, they test by submerging the vest in a tub of water and catching and weighing the water that is displaced. They then weigh the vest and subtract the weight of the vest from the weight of the displaced water. If it’s a positive number, the item will float. A typical person has about 8 pounds of flotation naturally in their body, but this amount is not necessarily enough to keep their head out of the water. It was then determined that an additional 15 pounds of flotation is adequate to keep a person afloat.

Over the past several years I have taught canoe safety to various groups, and I always challenge them to try putting their PFD on while they are in the water, an impossible task for most people. If they succeed, then congratulations, but they just wasted a lot of energy they could have used getting back in the boat and/or rescuing their pad-dling partner.

During the past few months, the CPA officers and steering committee have been working on the new website and meet-up site to make it more user friendly. I hope by now everyone has signed up for the meet-up site and checked out the calendar link on our website. Having a new website and implementing the meet-up has been a work in progress, so future changes are expected. Another topic for the leadership has been our support for the designation of Mallow’s Bay Sanctuary; if you haven’t sent a letter of support to your state representa-tives and governor, now is the time. There will be some opposition from the commercial fishing industry. A vote is coming up soon, so if you feel strongly about this issue, it is time to act.
~ Bill Smith

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