Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The worst thing you can have on your kayak

What is the worst thing you can have on your kayak?  Stay tuned.

On Sunday we had a bounce in St. Philips, catching some surf rides.  Some of the waves were substantial, approaching 2 meters.

There was a capsize, downwind, right in front of me.  Brian was down wind of the swimmer.  Both of us made for Shane.  Grabbing on to the bow of a kayak in those conditions can be hit or miss.  Miss and be prepared to roll.

I made my way carefully so as not to drift past the overturned boat.  In fact, I deliberately aimed to two feet up from the bow, even running over it if possible.  It worked perfectly and I soon had the bow in hand as Brian arrived to assist.  I turned the kayak right side up to haul it on deck to dump the water out.  That's when I discovered there were no deck lines.  I managed to grab the straps over the front hatch to pull the boat over my deck and dumped the water out.

Next thing I look up and one of the larger waves descended on us.  With nothing to hold on to, the wave flipped the drained kayak, slipped out of my grasp and I drifted away downwind.

To make a long story short from then on, Shane did a paddle float rescue and Brian held on during the pumping.

So, the worst thing you can have on your kayak is, no deck lines.

Firstly because it makes it very difficult to do an assisted rescue especially in gnarly conditions.

Secondly, there's not much for a swimmer to grab onto after wet exiting.  In wind the kayak will bow away faster than anyone can swim after it.  Alone that becomes a big issue.  A twosome means there's a decision: go for the swimmer or the kayak?  That has to be evaluated based on circumstances at the time.  A panicked swimmer means things can go very wrong, very quick.

I don't know why any kayak manufacturer would not add deck lines.  If they don't, then it would be wise to do it yourself.

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