Self-Rescue

Posted by Kurt Maurer on Jun 14, 2004

Alex posted a great note, which I have C&P'd into this'un to make sure everyone gets it, see below.

Here's a bit I feel needs to be added, pronto. I have been reading the book "Sea Kayaker's Deep Trouble", and highly, highly, highly recommend it for any open water paddler. Or heck, for ANY paddler for that matter. It's a GREAT read! Keeps me up too late at night. I got a used copy for something like $5 on Amazon.com...

Anyway, it is said in one of the many interesting side bars (paraphrased by me): any self-rescue technique practiced in a pool or other warm, calm water is essentially worthless in ocean conditions. And that anything you wish to bet your life on in real conditions had best be rehearsed in real conditions. Makes sense. I never thought for a moment that my John Wayne would actually serve in the sea... but I know it will serve famously on a mirror-surfaced bayou... and since that is where so much of my paddling takes place, it indeed is a worthwhile accessory to have gracing my little bag of tricks.

I shall get out in open water by and by, and when I do I will certaily PLAY in it and then report my findings back to you. But I will NOT go out on the ocean until I am perfectly confident that I have prepared myself for it to the best of my ability. Shoot, it's part of the FUN to me.

From what I know about boats, the whole idea of taking so dinky a craft as a miserably skinny kayak out into the open ocean is that THE PADDLER KNOWS HOW TO HANDLE HIS BOAT IN ORDER TO MAKE IT WORK! It's a cinch that any green newcomer would get hisself kilt in no time flat attempting such a stunt (never think of ol' Kurt as sexist; we all know women would never be so foolish), so the answers really ought to be more obvious than - alas - they evidently are...

But the core message would be to prepare yourself for the precise conditions in which you expect to paddle. Mac, for instance, sounds like he will be paddling waters very similar to those I dink around in. But there is one important difference, I think: the water temps. I am assuming his water would cool a six-pack nicely, whereas mine would offer a baby a fine bath. So hypothermia may be a life-or-death concern he faces, that I tend to omit even mentioning altogether when I speak out...

**********

[Tony]


: and getting back into his kayak(We call it a John Wayne in New Zealand) I had a go at it at the local pool the other night and it is amazing the little amount of water that is left in the cockpit, I still haven't perfected the getting into the cockpit yet but with a little practice I'm sure it will come.

"Still haven't got back into the cockpit yet" is why I don't think it is a viable method. Now think about doing it when it is blowing 30 knots which is why you fell out in the first place.

I suggest you try the "kick-slide-twist" method. Grasp the cockpit rim, one hand each side, kick as hard as possible so you are horizontal and with one move slide across the cockpit and twist so you are sitting in it. Your feet will still be in the water acting as stabilizers and you will be as low as you would be if sitting in the cockpit. You can now deploy a paddle float if you need it, pump the cockpit and think about getting your feet back in the cockpit when ready.

If you are going to try it, hopefully the winter water is warmer up north around Auckland (Tony) than it is down here - 10 degrees C I was told it was yesterday off Banks Peninsula (New Zealand).

alex

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