The Lake Country Sail and Paddle Club are opening early for the 2020 season for those who are looking for an eco-friendly activity that can also help them feel calm.
Site coordinator Pippa Dean-Veerman said as things continue to be chaotic because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they encourage people to enjoy the calm outdoors.
She said paddling can be done alone or in a pair. It is a safe activity and can be meditative during this time.
“We’re caring for our souls. We’re going into the water and having respite from the craziness of our world. And some of us want the solitude, some of us want to have someone kayak with us. It depends on what you need at the time,” she said.
She said there are safety measures in place including providing disinfecting alcohol and paper towels so members can wipe down their equipment along with other things they’ve touched. As well hand sanitizer is provided and signage is displayed asking people to maintain physical distance when in the area.
Dean-Veerman said they are not yet limiting the number of people coming out to paddle.
“At this point in the year, we don’t really need to yet… but once we see more people coming than is safe, then we’ll set a policy to give people times to come and paddle,” she said.
Kevin Bowles, the commodore of the sail and paddle club, said some members have already started coming to the lakefront to paddle in the last few days. He and Dean-Veerman are reminding people to keep boat and water safety at the top of their minds when going out to the lake.
“I’d hate to think that someone, in their attempt to run away from the craziness of COVID-19, that they would put themselves at risk in the water,” Dean-Veerman said.
“Right now, the lake is not much above freezing, so it’s very cold. If you fall in, you’ve only got minutes before you can’t use your arms anymore. So if you’re out paddling, make sure you’re in shallow enough water that you can walk out of the lake quickly. Don’t go too far out,” Bowles said.
“If you fall – and even if someone sees you – they might not get to you in time to save you.”
Bowles added those going to paddle should wear a life jacket, carry a pump so they can get water out of their kayak and a safety kit that includes a whistle, flashlight and a heaving line.
He also asked that those going out to paddle to clean their boats thoroughly, especially if coming from out of the province, drain all the water and dry them to prevent invasive mussels from getting into the lake.