Re: Float bags and swampi

Posted by CLC on Jan 20, 2005

>>>>>1) What does CLC (or anyone else) have to say about the strength of the nylon hatch straps - have you ever heard of a hatch getting blown off by a wave and a boat swamping in such a manner?


I'm unaware of a scenario where a CLC- or Pygmy-style hatch was lost and the boat floaded as a result. I've carpeted the nation's highways with hatches that I forgot to secure, however.

Seriously, it's easy to imagine a sequence of events where it could happen. Any boat with hatches is at some risk of flooding through the hatches, regardless of the hold-down mechanism. Remember the old saw that goes "They put a hole in the boat to let the water drain out..."

There's a perfectly valid school of thought that eliminates deck hatches and bulkheads in favor of loading the boat through the cockpit. Air bags go in first; then drybags with gear, and finally the paddler and sprayskirt. This eliminates two out of three openings in the kayak's deck. If you stay upright and in the kayak, there might very well be less seepage over the course of a choppy day than with a hatched-and-bulkheaded boat. There are no hatches to leak or get lost. There has to be a discipline of keeping the airbags in place and inflated, as a flooded, bulkhead-less kayak cannot be self-rescued. There's a huge tradeoff in the accessibility of your gear.

>>>>>>>>>> 2) If there is the chance I might encounter rough seas, should I have float bags installed for that extra safety?


Definitely. It's impossible for a kayak---wood, fiberglass, plastic, or unobtainium---to protect the paddler from every eventuality.

You can do some things, though: make sure the hatches have a lanyard holding them to the boat so that they can't be lost; use airbags so that a kayak with a compromised hull (perhaps from a hit-and-run powerboat situation) will still float high enough in the water to give the paddler a fighting chance; never paddle alone; wear a PFD and appropriate clothing; and know your limitations as a paddler.

The overwhelming majority of disaster scenarios are going to be averted by the paddler's exercise of good judgement and common sense before pushing off from the shore. I wish we could build those things into the boats.

In Response to: Float bags and swamping by Rick on Jan 20, 2005


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