Today, April 19th 2018, we have exactly one month to go before we leave the protected waters around Salt Spring Island and head north – how exciting and nerve-racking is that? The closer we get to our launch date the more we realize that this is really going to happen – we will soon be kayaking 1200 nautical miles from Salt Spring Island to Glacier Bay, Alaska!
While we are in the last stages of preparing our dehydrated meals and looking into the details of our route, we thought it would be interesting to write about some of the gear and systems we have decided to bring on the expedition – items that will come in very handy and could potentially save our lives.
Are you wondering what our kayak training and preparation looks like? We’ll briefly touch on that as well.
Four Important Dry Bag Kits
- Repair Kit
Our repair kit includes everything we need to fix: from a hole in our boat, to a small tear in our rain jacket. Because we are on the water for several months, there will be a considerable of wear and tear on our equipment, which needs to be attended to regularly.
Zip ties, Gorilla tape, adhesive, epoxy putty sticks, fast hardener, epoxy and spreader, mini microfibre towel, bungee (6 feet,) heavy-duty garbage bags, screwdriver, multi tool, locknuts & bolts, crimps, cable (20 feet), Aqua Seal, needle and durable thread, spare wrist and neck gaskets, fiberglass cloth, spare keel strip, sandpaper, waterproof dry bag or container.
- First Aid Kit
After taking a Wilderness First Aid course, we became familiar not only with how to deal with an injury on the water, but the essential equipment we need to carry.
Our first aid kit includes:
Gloves, scissors, tweezers, hand-sanitizer, first aid manual, rolled gauze, gauze pads, adhesive bandages, med. tape, non-stick sterile pads, butterfly bandages, triangular bandages, SAM splint, cold and hot packs, heat-reflective blanket, thermometer, Benzoate Chloride Wipes/tincture of Benzoate, antibacterial ointment, Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, Gravol, ginger, antihistamine, Imodium.
- Lap Bag
We keep a 20L dry bag in the cockpit, which contains all the items we need throughout the day. The purpose of this bag is to save us from digging through hatches in search of a snack, sunscreen or a warm layer.
Our essential Lap Bag list:
Sun Protection: sunglasses and case, sunhat, sunscreen, SPF chapstick
Toilet kit: toilet paper, bag for used toilet paper, small trowel, hand sanitizer, GoGirl
Electronics: cell phone, battery bank, camera and accessories
Miscellaneous: toothbrush and toothpaste, ginger chews, lighter, mini first aid kit, knife, headlamp, money/ID, waterproof logbook and pencil, warm hat and extra base layer, snacks, hand held compass, bear spray and bear bangers, air horn, flare kit
- Bail Out Kit
This one is also known as a survival kit and is intended to sustain us for a couple nights in the event we were stranded and separated from our boats. Fingers crossed we will never need to open this bag, but if we do, our lives will depend on it.
- Mini first aid kit
- Fire starting kit (waterproof matches, lighter, tinder, firesteel)
- Space blanket
- Water purifying tablets
- Power bars
- Warm layers
- 30’ cord
- Signal flares: large handheld, aerial, gun, and/or smoke flare
- Signal mirror
- Small LED headlamp, extra batteries
- Spare battery for VHF Marine Radio
- Small waterproof notepad and pencil
What we will wear day after day on the wet west coast
For wet days and rough seas we will be wearing our fully submersible dry suits (check out our Instagram-video here) with latex neck and wrist gaskets, together with neoprene booties. We will also bring dry pants and dry tops for days that are less wet. The advantage of these two pieces is that they are also great windbreakers. Kayaking days without dry pants have become a rarity for us.
Instead of gloves we prefer using pogies – neoprene glove-like hand protections that keep your hands nice and toasty without clinging to your hands and causing extra tension. We never go kayaking without our toques, head bands and sunnies!
First Aid Course
We took part in a 20 hour Wilderness First Aid course with Ridge Wilderness Adventures, which taught us the basics of how to deal with wounds, splints & fractures, spinal injuries and hypothermia. The course was held outside which gave us first-hand and authentic ideas of what situations could look like while out in remote areas.
Maritime Radio Course
Pleasure boaters don’t have to use VHF marine radios, but if they do, it is required to carry a certificate for correct usage. Learning all about the procedures and distress communication prepares us for the situations we don’t want to find ourselves in, but also gives us confidence in the event of needing to reach out to other vessels, e.g. ferries, when undertaking big crossings.
Getting out on the lake and practicing our rescues has been important to us. Understanding how to perform a proper self- and partner rescue has contributed to our confidence in big swell and choppy water. We will know what to do if one of us capsizes, hits her head and becomes unconscious. A common injury for kayakers is a shoulder dislocation, which is a scenario we have also played out.
The lake has also been helpful in refining our paddling strokes. Watching each other’s bodies and receiving feedback from our friend, who is a kayak teacher, has been really useful. The goal is to be optimally efficient with our strokes to maintain our level of energy and to not become completely exhausted.
As the countdown continues, we are feeling more prepared and eager to get on the water. If you are on Salt Spring Island May 19th, stay tuned for our launch time off Southey Point! We love to say goodbye to everyone before our journey North.