Gear Check! Are you really ready to paddle?

By Mike Shillinger, TVCC Safety Chair.


Yay! It’s springtime!   Time to break out all the paddling gear you’re thrown in the garage since last October.  Are you ready?  Have you checked all your stuff?  Helmet – PFD – Paddle?  (The Obvious..)


But what out your PIN Kit?  The last time you remember touching it was in August on the River…Do yourself a favor…and your buddie as well.  Take 10 minutes to break out the set of Biners, Webbing and your Throw Rope and check them for serviceability.  Biners tend to get sticky and gunked-up, especially when they’ve been in a damp environment (like the bottom of your boat!!).  Check them for burrs or cuts as these can damage webbing or rope.  Check the riveted pins for cleanliness.  Regardless of the type if biner you have, the rivets are made of steel.  If the steel has been sitting in water or a damp place, then those pins can rust, and develop a weak spot… and fail just when you need it most.  If the pins are rusty, destroy the biner and get a new one.  There’s no way for us mortals to know how good or bad the biner is…so it’s not worth the risk.




Lubricate the biner with a graphite based lubricant, like WD-40.  Spray the biner.  Work the spring gate and twist lock mechanism to get the lubricant down in the mechanism.  Then wipe off any excess lubricant.



That 1” Tubular Nylon Webbing takes a beating every year.  If there are friction burns, cuts, or fraying in the webbing material, go buy another set of webbing.  Your old stuff can make a very fashionable belt or dog leash, but it time to go spend five bucks and get some new stuff!


Undoubtedly, the most important tool you carry is our throw rope.  It’s time to take that rope out, throw it in the back yard, and CHECK the rope thoroughly for cuts, fraying or other debris that should not be attached to the rope.




Just 10 minutes of your time could mean the difference between being effective in an emergency or just being another ineffective schmuck on the river.  Which would your paddle buddy want you to be?