Letter

Safe holiday tips | Letter

This past weekend, the islands had some of the largest tide changes and strongest currents of the year. Kayakers and small boaters should take caution.

Shorelines in the islands are often unaccommodating to boaters. Steep and rocky are more common than sandy and gentle. Tidal currents often get magnified at rocky points, where currents accelerate as they are forced over the shallows. Currents and winds also mix at points of land, sometimes creating unanticipated and threatening conditions for small craft.

It has been years since a kayaking tragedy in the islands (to my knowledge). The population of the islands has had a recent surge, which concerns me. As the memory of tragedy fades, paddlers can become complacent. Many days look as if we live in a big, gentle, saltwater pond. The water here is always cold and always moving — sometimes faster than any of us can paddle. How the currents are moving at one spot can be entirely different from how they are moving just a few yards away.

The islands can be enjoyed by all levels of recreational kayakers, paddle boarders, small boat sailors, etc, but it is important to understand the risks and how to reduce them. There are some areas where staying close to shore is a fine plan and somewhere it is not. Location, currents, weather, and ability are the main variables to take into consideration before going on the water. Have a safe holiday!

Jeff Zbornik

Eastsound