Thursday, May 12, 2016

Heel hook assisted rescue

We recently had a swimmer on one of our paddles when they capsized riding the surge over a rocky ledge.  The rescue went well but could have been performed more efficiently.  It highlighted the fact we've gotten complacent (read "slack") on our Wednesday evening practices.  In calm conditions we've just gone for an evening paddle.

Last week in response to the recent rescue we decided to pick one rescue to practice every Wednesday evening.  This week it as the heel hook assisted rescue.  A very good demonstration of it is provided by the well known Gordon Brown which can be seen here.

Practicing exposes shortcomings in either the rescue or rescuer/rescuee technique.  In the case of the heel hook assisted rescue we identified one issue.  In the video the rescuee is advised to grab their deck line or both their and the rescuer's deck line to level themselves back into the cockpit.

We found it took time to grab the rescuer's deck line because the rescuers kayak was usually tilted down toward us making it difficult to get a hold of.  If I have to use that rescue I'm inclined to just grab my deck line especially if time is an issue say around rocks.

Having completed our homework we ...

... decided to do some towing practice.

Cathy puts her contact tow line back which, as it turns out, was a dog leash.

Then some of us just goofed around a bit or did other rescues before ...

... heading own the shore for a short paddle.  It was low tide so we often paddled through the weeds.

In the west the sun began to set eventually ...

... emerging from the clouds before disappearing under the horizon reminding us to turn back and close out the evening.

It was a great feeling getting the purpose of Wednesday evening practices back on track.


  1. That's what I have noticed too, about grabbing decklines. Could try to wait with the tilting to the person has managed to grab the line, but it's not always easy.

    1. Glad to hear I'm not the only one to realize this. Next week I'm going to try something else.

      Tony :-)

  2. It's awesome Tony to look forward to rescue practice and so much more!!! Thanks for the pix and recap and for heading it off :)

    1. Its a communal effort! The same bunch of people show up on a regular basis an those are the people I have the most in common with and therefore want in the group I paddle with.

      Tony :-)