Below is information that DNR has decided to use as the standard for boating safety:
“The operators of boat rental services shall offer abbreviated Department and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved operating and safety instruction specific to the type of watercraft being rented to the renter and all potential operators”
The specific information pertaining to canoes and kayaks can be found here: http://rentalboatsafety.com/canoe-kayak.php – the page that has the instructional videos and the test pertinent to canoe and kayak renters.
While there seems to be a conflict with the wording on the page “Approved abbreviated course for watercraft rental purposes” (rentalboatsafety.com) that references compliance with the Illinois Boating Safety Certificate requirements (checking this out shows that it pertains to motor boats only), this Admin Rule does include renters of canoes and kayaks, too.
The idea behind the legislation is to reduce canoe/kayak accidents involving rental operations where often the renter has no paddling experience at all. It is supposed to work as follows:
when a person calls up a canoe/kayak rental place to rent a boat – the livery or rental business needs to tell the potential renter to go to the website, watch the videos/take the test/print out the certificate and then bring that with him/her to rent the boat
same day walk-ups can be instructed on site by watching the videos or taking the test
Paddling safely, and staying within the bounds of Illinois water laws, can be a sticky proposition at best. Most people would think that in a state such as ours, one that has more flowing water than most, we should have plenty of paddling opportunities. Unfortunately for those who like to recreate, the large majority of the water in the land of Lincoln is privately owned.
By law, one would be trespassing should they try to paddle a “non navigable waterway” without written permission from every landowner along the reach that the person wished to paddle. Our waters are located largely in rural agricultural settings. Livestock fencing, culverts, and irrigation machinery are likely to be encountered. A stream paddled cleanly one day could have an electrified fence stretched across it legally the very next, and become a real hazard. These areas are almost all used for hunting, in a lot of cases paid hunting. This time of year is turkey season throughout the state. Most turkey hunters who have accidently shot someone, first saw a patch of blue or red briefly before they took the shot. These are the same colors as a wild turkey’s head. I, for one, wear a red lifejacket, and therefor don’t tempt fate. It’s a sad fact that simply being on some of our most well-known streams, the Mackinaw, Big Bureau Creek, etc., without written permission could lead to an arrest, or even worse, an unwanted accident. Bottom line, be responsible and get permission before paddling through private land.
We have a number of “public” waterways and lakes that allow us the legal right to paddle. Comprising less than 10% of all of Illinois water, these “navigable” steams and lakes offer many opportunities for adventure and recreation, but also come with some caveats. Unfortunately, the land along most of these waters is still privately owned. We can enter to, and egress from, a public waterway if the land is publicly owned and meant for that purpose, or if the paddler has permission from the landowner to be there.
See the map here for a list of Illinois Navigable Waterways and you’ll most likely find a nice paddling destination close to home.
Remember, ALWAYS where your lifejacket CORRECTLY, and have a safe paddle!
Earlier this spring, three paddlers were out on the DesPlaines River around Lincolnshire. Water Levels were high but not anywhere near flood. Water Temps were still cold, and Air Temps were cool–high of the day in the 50’s.
Not a day anyone would want to take a swim.
But it can happen at any time.
Paddler 1 was navigating through a strainer. Paddler 2 followed a bit too closely and got swept sideways to the strainer. Even a moderate current flipped his canoe within seconds ,sweeping him under the strainer.
Paddler 2 pushed his boat out of the way and climbed aggressively to get on top of the strainer.
Paddlers 1 and 3 tried to reach to paddler 2 with a long branch to pull him to shore. That didn’t work.(and would have required paddler 2 to get back into the cold water) Paddler 2 did not want to get back into the cold water if he could avoid it so the throw bag option was out as well.
So instead, some rope was attached to the bow of a canoe. The canoe was floated over to paddler 2. He got into the boat and was pulled back to shore. All three paddlers got warmed up and paddled the rest of the way without incident.
No One panicked. All three paddlers had training, including rescue practice to fall back on. If this happened, would you be ready to help your paddling buddies? Please consider taking appropriate paddling and rescue training to the type of paddling and paddling venues you enjoy!
Celebrate the Little Calumet River with recreation and environment activities and learn about the history and ecology of the Little Cal!
Clean up tools, breakfast snacks and lunch will be provided.
This year we will begin at Kickapoo Woods in Riverdale. Advanced paddlers and those with their own boats are asked to bring them. Those needing a loaner boat and inexperienced paddlers are also invited to attend. There is no charge for this event, but all participants must register in advance, indicating whether or not you are bringing their own boat during registration.
River Clean Up. 9:00am – 12:30pm. Two teams–one launching upstream, another downstream–for on-water clean up. Return to launch ramp in time for lunch.
I know that the Illinois Paddling Council counts among its membership many paddlers, who, like me as a rower, have several decades of experience plying the Chicago area waterways, particularly the River, under their belts. We know the stark difference between then and now; between the long, slow, steady growth of human-powered and other traffic, and the explosion of all varieties of traffic which has occurred in the last decade. While on the one hand we are heartened to observe the tremendous growth in human-powered craft usage, on the other hand we, and other types of users, are gravely concerned about the safety implications inherent in waterways crowded by a rich diversity of vessels and users operating at widely divergent levels of operational knowledge, skill, and safety practices.
Increasing concerns over safety risks on Chicago area waterways led to a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) being conducted by the Coast Guard on March 27-28, 2012. The purpose of the PAWSA was to identify major safety hazards, estimate risk levels, evaluate potential mitigation measures, and set the stage for implementation of selected measures to further reduce risks in the Port of Chicago. PAWSA participants included representatives from marine stakeholder organizations and government agencies at the federal, state and local levels, including law enforcement.
By conclusion of the PAWSA process, it was clear to the participants that a new harbor safety committee structure was needed that would effectively bring together the diverse variety of Chicago waterway users who have mutual interests in the use of navigable waterways, with the agencies which oversee the waterways. The challenge in drafting a charter for this new harbor safety committee was building a structure that at every level ensured the appropriate marine interests would be represented and the appropriate expertise applied to solve problems and educate the public.
(Remember that last sentence as you read on, for the application, as appropriate to the issue at hand, of all of the relevant marine interests and their expertise to solve problems and educate the public is at the very heart of the CHSC. If your voice, expressing its concerns and knowledge are not in the CHSC room, then you, and the marine community collectively, may just as well hand it over to other interests or unenlightened third parties to make decisions about our waterways’ usage).
The Chicago Harbor Safety Committee (CHSC) was formed on July 15, 2013. The CHSC Charter, which required approval of the Coast Guard, was the result of a year-long effort to devise a harbor safety committee for Chicago which suited the nature of this marine community and its waterway challenges. The approved charter emerged from historical elements in the Chicago marine community (its less formal predecessor harbor safety committee, the 12-year old Port Development and Safety Council), best practices gleaned from other harbor safety committees around the country, and many rounds of input from marine stakeholder and government agency representatives.
Despite the heavy workload to get the new organization up and running, the CHSC did not hesitate to take immediate action to improve the traffic safety on the Chicago River. Faced with a rapid increase in the number of “close calls” between commercial and industrial vessels (tour boats and barges) and rental boats (kayaks and electric boats) during the 2013 boating season, the CHSC sprang into action less than a month after its inaugural meeting on July 15th, and proposed a traffic and hazard warning signage plan which received Coast Guard approval. The signage that you now see posted along the Chicago River alerting to hazards, directional instructions, and no wake zones was the result of this collaboration between the CHSC, the City, and the Coast Guard.
Other accomplishments of the CHSC since its formation in 2013 include successful collaboration with the City on Chicago Riverwalk project construction activity; dissemination of numerous safety relevant alerts, documents, and publications; coordination and collaboration on filming and special events projects on the River and Lake; operational modification of the Centennial Fountain; development and presentation of a Chicago waterway-specific safety education presentation; and perhaps most importantly, CHSC’s very detailed and recently released Safety Recommendations and Guide to Rules and Regulations. New projects now underway include development of a web portal for user-relevant safety training and certification.
For more information about the CHSC and how to join as an individual member or marine stakeholder organization member, please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pardon our mess while we complete work on our website, www.chicagoharborsafety.com. A couple of weeks from now, that will be the place to go for everything CHSC and Chicago area waterways related.
So read the ad on the front page of a big box home improvement store’s flyer included in Sunday’s paper. I wonder if the sales clerks at this store will tell their customers that they should also purchase a life jacket (I hope the store carries that). This may be one of the reasons we likely will read again about people getting in trouble on swollen rivers or on Lake Michigan – the “stable, high performance multichannel hull” leading buyers into a false sense of security.
When we started paddling back in the early 1970’s, there were few places one could purchase a canoe in the Chicago area. Once we did, we were provided with information on how to participate in the sport safely by joining a paddling club, which we did too. Club members freely shared their paddling knowledge and skill and educated us to make our canoe outings safer.
Where does the buyer of the $169.00 boat – after rebate – with free paddle – go to safely enjoy his or her purchase? Maybe on some river where skilled kayakers may have been seen playing at the bottom of a dam? Maybe somewhere on Lake Michigan when the weather was warm, but the water temperature in May or June is still cold enough to lead to hypothermia, in the event of the capsized paddler wearing jeans and a t-shirt with the PFD in the back of the boat? All of which we know have happened.
What is the answer? IPC is trying to develop a Safety Task Force to disseminate basic safety information to as many organizations, businesses selling canoes/kayaks/SUPs, and the press as possible, and also respond to reports of paddling-related incidents by submitting this information in letters to editors and other media.
We are looking for your ideas as well on how to provide basic safety information to the general public.
The dam simulator, which has been displayed during the past 15 years at numerous events, continues to draw much attention. We will never know whether it has saved a life, but we believe that the visualization of the recirculation in a hydraulic has educated many, many people to the dangers of dams.
I have often been asked “where did the dam simulator come from,” so here is a brief history.
Back in 2000 when I chaired Paddling in the Park, the two-day paddlesports festival in Palatine, we used to have a planning session in late winter which Susan Sherrod also attended. She suggested building a dam simulator like her club, the Canoe Cruisers Association, once had. Susan developed the engineering drawings and provided a cost estimate for the parts needed. CWA member Jim Cronin applied for a grant from the Baxter Foundation, and Joel Neuman built the dam.
The rest is history. We received many requests to have the simulator present at various events, including several years at the State Fair in Springfield where it was in then Lieutenant Governor Quinn’s tent. One year we were asked to bring it to St. Louis for the ACA Whitewater Competition at Six Flags, and it was such a success, that we left it there and had another built for the Chicago area again. We still have many requests for the dam simulator from event organizers.
The late Marge Cline took great footage of the dam simulator during Paddling in the Park. We felt that this would be a great teaching tool if there was a way to make a video. Tom Lindblade, a skilled videographer, was able to do just that, adding footage of actual dams, appropriate music, and great educational voice over. The video was subsequently licensed to ACA, given this organization’s greater capacity to promote it through their Safety, Education and Instruction Committee.
We actively promoted the video through email and other efforts, and received many comments, e.g.:
From the Association of State Dam Safety Officials: “Do you mind if we make copies as several ASDSO members are intensely interested in low head dam safety issues and I imagine that many states would be interested in using the DVD as part of their outreach activities”
From IDNR: “It is my firm belief that actions like your video will have far more impact on the safety of the users of our waterways than anything the legislature can mandate”
And many other requests, notably from the Vice President of the European Life Saving Association and faculty member of the Leeds Metropolitan University, who asked to contribute an article for his Handbook of Safety andLifesaving and for permission to use the video in his lectures at the university.
If you would like to own a copy of the DVD, please send a $10.00 check made out to:
Illinois Paddling Council, and mail to Sigrid Pilgrim, 2750 Bernard Place, Evanston, IL 60201
The Dam Simulator can not only demonstrate the reversal in the hydraulic, but also other aspects:
1) Modifying the hydraulic (1st photo): This takes some ‘engineering’ time by placing large boulders into the lip of the dam and smaller riff-raff, until the reversal action is broken up. Use one side of the dam with the modification – the other side without – and demonstrate the difference.
2) Foot entrapment (2nd photo): Standing up in moving water deeper than knee-high can cause foot entrapment: feet get caught between rocks and the current pushes the person’s face over and into the water.
3) Strainers (3rd photo): Little sticks at the outflow, by wedging them between rocks, and watch what happens when people and objects float into them.
A river in flood stage. Even a river with a wide flood plane can be dangerous when it is in flood stage. Fast current. Cool water in the spring. Branches that were well above the paddlers’ head at normal water levels now become flow-throughs.
Rivers such as the upper Des Plaines, with its many twists and bends and low branches, can be especially dangerous.
We want to get out and paddle – but we want you around for the next newsletter. Please use caution.
It was an early spring day – sun shining, water up a little.
Time to get the rust off, get out on the river. In this case, it was the lower DesPlaines.
We launched at our favorite spot in Lemont and headed upstream. Peanut Butter Andersen in the stern.
When we paddled together, we took turns paddling bow or stern. That way we were more aware of what the other paddler has to do. And the stern paddler doesn’t have to be reminded to call the “hut” because next time he will be in the bow.
About twenty minutes into the trip, we decided to go up Hennebry Creek. A narrow creek that winds from the RR tracks to the river – actually – in the right conditions, we might paddle into the Waterfall Glenn Forest Preserve (never have found the right conditions though).
Saw some beaver signs, birds, and a deer. Great to be out!
Time to head back home.
As we approached the river, we swung under a branch. Fortunately, we were not going very fast.
I felt it – like a sting on the ear. “Dave, I think I know what a fish feels like when he is caught. I think I have a fishhook in my ear.”
Who knows how long that line and hook were dangling from the branch. I guess I was lucky it had been a long time. The line broke without tearing my ear and without pulling me into the water.
Now, we picked up racing speed – to the truck and to the doctor’s office.
“Nurse,” the doctor whispered, “get the pliers out of the janitor’s closet.”
A couple stitches, a tetanus shot. I was free to go.
I was lucky. It could have been an eye. Beware, especially in the spring. Fishermen don’t really want to snag trees and catch paddlers – but it can happen.
The Hollows Conservation Area 3804 US Highway 14 in Cary, IL
McHenry County Conservation District will be hosting its 8th annual Paddle in the Park. Please help spread the word, or volunteer to help us with the event.
Test the waters, dip a paddle in the crystal clear waters of Lake Atwood, and discover the joy of canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding at Paddle in the Park:Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at TheHollows Conservation Area, 3804 US Highway 14 in Cary.
Hosted by McHenry County Conservation District, this event is a great opportunity for beginners to get introduced to the sport, or for experienced paddlers to pick up information on local outings and outfitters. “McHenry County residents have access to many nearby waterways, and our hope is that we can get individuals and families to take their next outdoor adventure on the water,” said Communications Manager Wendy Kummerer.
Entry to the event is free, and for a onetime workshop fee of $5, visitors can test-paddle a variety of water vessels and participate in a beginning canoe paddling clinic offered at 10:30 a.m. and Noon, beginning kayak paddling clinics at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., solo canoe paddling clinic at 1:00 p.m.; stand up paddle board clinics will be ongoing throughout the day at the L.L. Bean booth. A demonstration of canoe rescue techniques will be offered at 2:30 p.m. Visitors will also discover the importance of the canoe in early American settlement, exploration, and the fur trade industry. The Southwest Brigade, historical interpreters, will demonstrate a voyageur canoe. Representatives from the American Canoe Association will be present to teach solo canoeing, canoes rescue techniques, and workshops: “How to Be a Well-Dressed Paddler” and/or “Assessing Risk: Live to Paddle Another Day.”
“Not only is canoeing or kayaking fun, but a great opportunity to get closer to nature,” said Event Coordinator Andy Tally. “In a canoe or kayak, you have access to more intimate waters. That can bring you closer to wildlife than any other form of transportation.”
Local vendors will be on hand to discuss the different types of watercrafts available and which type might best suit you or your family’s needs. A number of canoeing resources will be available, such as information on where to paddle, where to get lessons, clubs to join, local outfitters and rentals, and details on local river trips and Midwest excursions. We will also feature music by award-winning singer/songwriter/canoe enthusiast, Jerry Vandiver. Jerry has song credits on over 15 million records and two of his titles are hanging in the Country Music Hall of Fame. There will also be food for sale by MJ’s Coffee Bar.
Participants this year will include the American Canoe Association, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary; local canoe and kayak clubs such as Prairie State Canoeists, Illinois Paddling Council, and Southwest Brigade; plus retailers, including L.L. Bean and Erehwon Mountain Outfitters.
Registration is not required. For more information, call Prairieview Education Center, (815) 479-5779 or visit www.MCCDistrict.org.
We are also seeking volunteers to assist as safety paddlers, or to assist with instructional clinics. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Andy Talley at (815) 479-5779 ext 14.