Saturday, 30 October 2010

Drowning in Ignorance

I am fully in favour of lone paddling, and like to paddle by myself sometimes. At other times, it is relatively easy to become sufficiently separate from fellow paddlers either by design or accident to be effectively paddling alone.

In these circumstances, we probably owe a responsibility to ourselves and our loved ones (and sometimes our fellow paddlers) to be able to recover from a capsize. Of course you may be someone who is so expert at re-entry and roll that you can easily enter your cockpit and attach your spraydeck underwater, and roll up, but ....

can you do it in the sort of conditions that would cause you to capsize, and if you did not get all the water out of your boat before you rolled up, how likely are you to capsize again?

A friend who has a very reliable roll, and has practised re-entry and roll extensively, capsized in the sea early this year and found the shock of the cold water sufficient to ensure that his brain could only tell him one thing - 'get out of the kayak'. Luckily, he was not paddling alone.

Probably, the only real alternative is assistance from a paddle float (if you can do a ladder rescue reliably in rough conditions, I take my hat off to you), but we all know the problems - slow to deploy (especially if you have to inflate the float) - does not offer much support if you just stuff the paddle under the deck elastics - uses the one piece of equipment that you would like to have to hand once you are back in the cockpit - still the spraydeck and pumping to do, don't forget.

My personal solution:

Modified old paddle and foam paddle float 'parked' ready for action

Just about allows access to rear hatch (note control line leading forward)

Simple technology - just bits of rope - but a strong and flexible joint

The float deployed.

Standard re-entry via rear deck - feet on the float - roll over as you slide into the cockpit. Pump out, spraydeck on, release the line, and get paddling (the float just settles back beside the hull for now)

Known disadvantages:

Only deploys on one side of the kayak
Some limitation on what else can be carried on the rear deck
Has to be fitted to the kayak - even if only in a low tech way
Small amount of extra windage

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tired? not these boys

Horrible weather, but nice people last Friday at the Indefatigable. Conditions not too encouraging in terms of trying out a completely different sort of paddle, but there were a few brave souls:

note the ubiquitous John Willacy representing Rockpool

Catherine had organised Anglesey Stick polo shirts

which were a good combination with shorts - more or less what everyone else was wearing, as you can see from the first picture.

In the relative warm and dry, sharing an equipment store with Surflines there were lots of volunteers for the wobblers.

One or two tried more than just sitting on the thing, but little did they know what standard would be set the next day in Dolgellau