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4 Lessons From a Safety Kayaker

#Antarctica2020 is the official campaign focused on significantly raising awareness around climate change and protecting the seas surrounding Antarctica over the course of the next three years.

This initiative is led by ice-water swimmer Lewis Pugh. Late last year, when Lewis needed a safety kayaker paddling next to him while he swam in some of Antartica’s most inhospitable, sub-zero seas, Dawid Mocke, four-time World Surfski Champ, was the man for the job!

During the expedition, Dawid learned a lot about his craft, its speed and maneuverability. Looking back, Dawid recalls many life lessons which came from this expedition:

1. Look at maps and dream – they’re idea factories

Dawid says, “I can spend hours looking at all the different bays, islands, bits of coastline, towns and cities; and wonder what it must be like there, when would be the best time to go; and, what it’s like paddling there.” Even though Dawid has spent the better part of 14 years as a professional paddler, one of the things he loves most about paddling is ‘adventure’, and maps are ‘adventure incubators’. He describes every spot as an “opportunity for an adventure”.

2. Know your equipment and systems well

Dawid developed the A-B-C technique when hitting the water: Awareness, Balance and Control. In a nutshell, this means you need to be Aware of your craft, the conditions, and the companions in the water with you. Never sacrifice stability for speed – you need to be able to Balance in the water. Lastly, you need to be in Control and tick all your safety boxes. Dawid also recommends you have a strong leash, a tracking device (like Spot), and a well-fitted personal floating device (PFD) before hitting the water.

3. Communicate the ultimate objective clearly ahead of time

Dawid explains: “There is so much preparation that needs to happen for one of these swims, from permissions, route selections, safety boats, timing and planning, videography, photography, contingency plans, among many other requirements. So, a word of advice – when you are about to send someone overboard into 0⁰C water, in a speedo, for 20 minutes, you’d better have your plans streamlined, says Dawid.

4. Be adaptable

“Don’t allow ‘fear of man’ to stop you from changing your decision – keep the ultimate objective in mind always”, he concludes.

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