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Tubing safety a must this summer

As the sun begins to make more of an appearance, tubers will once again take advantage of the the Cowichan River.
Tuber party on Cowichan River without proper safety gear.

As the weather warms up and the sun begins to make more of an appearance, tubers will once again be taking advantage of the wonderful Lake Cowichan setting and the Cowichan River.

But exactly what is it that every river adventurer should know before heading on local waterways? Well, Ryan Maizis, from Orka Recreation and Kayaking Adventures, a new business in Lake Cowichan offering kayak and tube rentals, has some advice.

First of all, make sure you are prepared for the day. Maizis recommends using vinyl like the ones he has for rent in his shop because they do not heat up in the sun and will not cause tube rash which is common when using a traditional, black rubber inner tube.

He also recommends sun screen, a hat, shirt, sandals, towels, and food. As well, not wearing items or jewelry that dangle is a good idea as any item that does dangle from a persons body or over the side of the tube runs the risk of getting caught on branches or become otherwise entangled.

Wearing polyester is always better than wearing cotton. “Cotton holds five times the weight and if you get caught in a current it can make it hard to swim,” says Maizis. Polyester will help to keep you both dryer and warmer if you happen to end up in the water.

Maizis also recommends bringing water or some other liquid, preferably not alcohol, and something to put your empty containers in. During peak tubing times, Orka will have garbage cans set up along the river, each one will be set in an inner tube and anchored to rocks at the bottom.

It is also always a good idea to tube or kayak the river with at least one other person. “Never go alone,” says Maizis. “If you caught up and you’re by yourself you could run into issues.”

Maizis also recommends going no further than Little Beach because of the rapids between Little Beach and Skutz Falls. “There is a stronger current the closer you get to Skutz Falls,” he warns. “If you don’t understand the current and general safety you can get caught up easily in the undertow or on a branch, and you are risking getting into a situation.”

Orka encourages their customers to launch from Central Park, across from their shop on South Shore Road, which is located in the old Petro Can gas station. Maizis says that it is shallow enough there now that tubers can even stand in the water and get their bearings before heading down the river.

There is also the option to launch from around the trestle at Ohtaki Park, and Maizis says that Orka will be patrolling the section of water between the trestle and the car bridge on busy days during the summer to make sure that people are doing okay and that they are being respectful of private properties.

He says that trespassing has been an issue in past years, and he would really like to stress the need for respect along the river.

The Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society is making a brochure which emphasizes the same message, stating it’s ‘your holiday, our home.’

Orka does not at this time offer group tubing packages, but they are open to the idea and will see how the season progresses. They do offer both kayak and tube rentals, and life jackets are included.

For more information on the services they offer, call 250-932-2222, or go to their website