Posted by Laszlo on May 15, 2007

That's Sea Island Sport extra-kayakular activities. One of the main reasons I'm considering a sit-on-top is so that I can snorkel and swim off of it. At this last Okoumefest I had the chance to see if that's a viable option.

The kayak was a showroom prototype. The cockpit was 4 inches shorter than the curent production model. There was a seat and adjustable foot supports in the cockpit. No bungees, no perimeter lines and no thigh straps. Basically a bare boat, Lee G's slippery varnished log.

My equipment was me, clad in t-shirt, shorts and an inflatable PFD. No paddle floats or any other rescue aid.

The conditions were windy swimming pool with an occasional powerboat wake. The water was too deep for me to touch bottom when my head was out of the water.

I paddled over to one of the helpful CPA perimeter guards (they are our nannies at o-fest; they make sure that we don't stray from the safe spot and if we get into trouble they're the first ones there to help) and let him know what I was up to. He radioed in what was going to happen so that the sight of me thrashing in the water next to an empty kayak wouldn't cause any concern. Then he very kindly took my glasses and paddle, and stood by to help if necessary.

The first problem was getting out. I put my legs over the left side and leaned forward. The boat obligingly started to capsize and dumped me into the water. I started moving away so that it wouldn't hit me on the head as it flipped over, but it fooled me. As soon as it was relieved of my weight it righted itself and sat there pretty as you please. It seems that it's a very stable boat.

Now came the big test. I swam to the left side, grabbed the cockpit edges with both hands, starting kicking and pulled myself up onto the cockpit side. I had no problem with maintaining my grip, but I did have to kick a lot harder than I thought I would. That was because to keep the boat from flipping, I had to bring my legs to the surface of the water, which caused cavitation & splashing, making the thrust less effective. I also had to keep my head down low in the cockpit.

I was able to get myself onto the cockpit edge to the point where the boat & I were relatively stable. Then, staying as low as I could I started turning to my right while continuing to pull myself up. I ended up face down, my head on the seat and my legs sticking out over the front of the cockpit, but in the boat and stable.

After that it just a matter of rolling over and sliding my butt into the seat, all while keeping my weight as low as possible. Mission accomplished!

So it is possible to reboard a Sea Island Sport from deep water, even without bungees, perimeter lines, thigh straps, paddle floats, paddles, etc. In calm conditions, I managed it on my first ever try, though it did leave me panting. With the appropriate equipment it should be much easier. Seems like we have a swim boat here.



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