Re: criss cross bungies

Posted by Stephen P on Jul 27, 2006

Timely post, I actually had to use my paddle float self rescue last weekend. Not exactly a life threatening situation but potentially embarassing and a long swim, not to mention the jellies. Here's what happened...

Paddling alone as usual, warm air and water temps. Windy on the Chesapeake Bay with a 15 to 20 mph wind blowing along the shore, with a very slight on shore component. I had been sticking within two hundred feet of the shore due to the conditions, the wind driven one to two foot chop was running along the shore line and there were some wake waves in the two to three foot range coming on shore, a few white capping. Water isn't too deep in this section and I thought I'd be able to stand if I flipped. I was wearing a good pfd.

After an exhilerating down wind leg surfing the chop, I made the u-turn back to my put in. Keeping closer to the shore than usual I muscled my way back into the wind. Normally stability going into chop is better but with the confused conflicting waves I was having to pay extra attention to staying upright.

The stripper I'm paddling this year is tippy (18" beam round bottom) and a moment of inattention and I'm rolling over. I can roll but I don't use a spray skirt once the weather gets warm where I paddle. (Five years paddling and I've never accidently flipped. I practice rolling before the jellies come in for the season and when eventually a roll fails I practive a float reentry.) So now I'm in the water with the jelly fish. I tried to see if I could just climb back in, not happening. Time to paddle float self rescue...

All my boats have the hour glass deck rigging behind the cockpit, wide enough to get the paddle blade through. I use a paddle float made from two sections cut from a "fun noodle" pool float that doubles as a back rest. It is wedged in pretty tight and on a long tether, no inflation necessary and plenty of floatation.

I was glad to have the bouancy of my pfd since I was surprised to be in deeper water than I thought, I could not stand up. I slid the wing paddle under the rear bungies and put the paddle float on the blade on the other end. Climbed back in no problem, I am a skinny guy with adequate upper body strength (apparently not all paddlers can do this, make sure you can). The out rigger paddle float enabled me to pump out the cockpit with the pump I always carry. I removed the paddle and paddled to the shore to get everything stowed again.

What worked... I didn't loose contact with the kayak or paddle. I got back in the kayak and was able to get to safe ground, low volume cockpit pumped out in less than a minute, I had everything with me I needed and some stuff I didn't (pockets of pfd stuffed with flares, strobe and really loud whistle and id). I didn't loose or break any gear.

What didn't... I could not get the paddle float/ back rest back in place which compromised my position in the kayak after reentry making a return to shore necessary. I am not immune to jelly fish stings. I should have pulled the rudder out of the water so that the kayak weathercocked up wind, I had to do another u-turn to go back up wind after the boat leecocked.

Interestingly, I looked at the track on the GPS when I got home and as best I as I can tell I was blown in excess of 500' along the shore line as I got back in and pumped out. Current may have played a small part in this drift.

I hope this gives some additional value to the previous posts. The original post showed responsibility and realism. This is the first time in many years of paddling that I actually flipped and needed this skill for real. Despite often thinking about the what ifs of plan A and plan B (flares etc) failing, this drove home the need for a plan C. I ordered a VHF radio yesterday to add to the stuff I carry just in case, the Bay is six to ten miles wide at this point. I have potentially put myself in situations that a failed self rescue or seperation from boat and paddle would have had bad consequences. (I do dress for the lower water temp in the spring and fall.)


In Response to: criss cross bungies by LeeG on Jul 27, 2006


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