Hello some advice please.

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Bbdave
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Hello some advice please.

Post by Bbdave »

Hi I have joined the forum to ask a few questions, I have recently returned to open canoe paddling after a 7 year break but I've always had a yearning to paddle a sea kayak I live a 10 min. Walk from the Exe estuary so would love to explore the coast.
I have contacted a local club who have told me to pop along to there weekly pool session. My problem is I am a big heavy chap and I'm not even sure I could get in or worse out of a kayak I am 6'3" and 350lb (which is less than it was). I am terrified of embarrassing myself but I am determined that this year I can get kayaking and get some exploring done.
Are there any boats that would take me or am I going to make a fool of myself turning up on Friday evening?.

Dave

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Jim
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Jim »

You won't fit all sea kayaks, but i'm pretty sure you will fit some - the issue is whether or not the club has anything suitable at their pool sessions or not.

This thread might give you some ideas:
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... 4&t=105427

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Ceegee
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Ceegee »

No offence Dave, but at 6'3" and 25 stone

"Your BMI is 44.0. A BMI over 35 means you are very obese. You are also more likely to be storing fat around your waist which significantly increases... etc.etc."

Kayaking IMO is not a very safe sport under the circumstances, as your ability to rescue/be rescued or deal with any incident will be very limited.

I had an incident a few years back where a very large gentlemen fell out of dingy in harbour, was nearly drowned by his ill-fitting PFD and it took three of us (bystanders) nearly 10 minutes to haul him onto an adjacent floating dock. He suffered traumatically during the exercise.

A lifestyle change leading gently into (SOT) kayaking might be the appropriate path.


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Bbdave
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Bbdave »

Ceegee wrote:No offence Dave, but at 6'3" and 25 stone

"Your BMI is 44.0. A BMI over 35 means you are very obese. You are also more likely to be storing fat around your waist which significantly increases... etc.etc."

Kayaking IMO is not a very safe sport under the circumstances, as your ability to rescue/be rescued or deal with any incident will be very limited.

I had an incident a few years back where a very large gentlemen fell out of dingy in harbour, was nearly drowned by his ill-fitting PFD and it took three of us (bystanders) nearly 10 minutes to haul him onto an adjacent floating dock. He suffered traumatically during the exercise.

A lifestyle change leading gently into (SOT) kayaking might be the appropriate path.

I know all this and this is part of the lifestyle change I was planning ,but I would argue the point the ability to self rescue is surely down to strength and fitness rather than BMI?.

Dave

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Irish Sea »

...And technique, flexibility, balance, the ability to keep your center of gravity low, the ability to quickly slip back into the cockpit etc.
While for assisted rescues it really comes down for the rescuer to physicially be able to stabilize your boat.
With my ~75kg I don't think I would be able to do that with you unless your reentry technique was very good.

Cheers,

Bjorn

Kirsten
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Kirsten »

Hi Dave

In pool session usually river kayaks are used as they are shorter so more space for all in the pool.

Even in poolsession, so shallow and calm water, coaches need a good technique and their full body weight to turn boats upright again, when the paddler in it is quite heavy. When you are very big, you even can't help them with ducking in to lower the point of gravity. But the capsize exersice is need to get the confidence when upsidedown and also to exersice wet access. You have to be able to get out of the kayak without assistance, this is essential.

Ceegee made another good point: the PFD (personal floating device). An essential piece of equipment. Not in the pool, but as soon you are on "real" water.

To be on the water is great fun and the most kayakers I know a a very open and friendly bunch of people, not caring about your look and weight. Lots of us are far away from athlets, wetsuits and drysuits are not hiding much when you reached a specific size.

Sit-on-top kayaks would be the best to start with. Still you have to exercise how to get on the kayak again, but this should still be easier then IN to a kayak, as no need to sort the legs.
For SOT you need no spraydeck as soon you are out, for the start in the pool it is fine without.

The best way is to ask someone from the club what boats are available in the pool. Tell them about your size, they will it see in the pool anyway.

Yes, there is a risk to be embarrased, but you are doing something about. You have this weight for a while, right? So you know the reaction of the peoble, it should not surprise you. You lived with it for year, hadn't you? You know that you are on the heavy site and you are doing something to change it. So what?

@Bjoern: then you have to exercise rescues more. It is also the technique of the rescuer which decides whether a rescue is working or not. Not only is physically. Ok, I'm a little bit heavier then you and don't fancy to rescue a really heavy person, but I practise it as a beginner and my "victim" was about 20st, he was a beginner too and no practise like this before. The hardest part is to get the people ON the boat. Heel hook is probably no option for Dave as this would be really hard to balance for the rescue. But crawling over backdeck of his kayak to the deck of his rescuer, should be possible. If you are in a group, then raft up and a third person is assisting the rescuer. Kayaking is a teamsport, even when everyone is sitting in a single boat.

Haddock
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Haddock »

Hi Dave,

if you're ok getting out of a swimming pool without using the steps then you should be capable of remounting a Sit On Top. There are a fair few that can keep up with sea kayaks now and maybe some that could take someone your size.

Worth talking to the guys at AS Watersports as they will be best able to advise.

I paddle with Exeter CC and do the sea trips in a SOT or ski.

Cheers

Tim


Irish Sea
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Irish Sea »

@ Kirsten,
if the technique of the rescuee is good, weight is not really an issue. I'm talking about not so ideal scenarios. People who are not very practised, are cold, are lacking strength / flexibilty etc.

Here the main problem in my somewhat limited experience (I have maybe done something like a 50 rescues as a rescuer) in practice and "for real" is that some people struggle to get their body completely on the backdeck. Some end up hanging somewhere inbetween the boats which means all the weight is on one side and in that situation I do struggle with somebody who is 100kg plus, especially if he she doesn't have the strength/flexibilty to get all the way on the deck quickly.

Rafting up with a third boat is surely an option and does help a lot. It does take some time and coordination though as well as a third boat nearby. Not an ideal scenario in rougher and probably cold water imho.

Cheers,

Bjorn

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by nigelhatton »

Dave, consider a perception Acadia and don't be discouraged from starting sea kayaking. When I stopped competition powerlifting I weighed 295lbs, now I'm 215 lbs and partly due to kayaking in races and touring on the sea. Go have a chat with AS watersports, they will help. Go for it!

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Bazza S »

Hi Dave,
It's great that you want to have a go at sea kayaking and I really hope you do follow your hopes. Good for you!
Regarding being terrified of embarrassing yourself, well all I can say is I hope you can find a way of not letting it. I know that can be difficult. Ok so you're a big guy but that doesn't mean you can't go sea kayaking. I'm afraid I'm not in your area but if you send me a PM with your email address I'll get back to you.
Good luck, Barry

Irish Sea
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Irish Sea »

@ Dave, have a look at the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175. A very roomy boat with good carrying capacity but not too beamy. Worth a try I'd say. The Tarpon 160 also by WS would perhaps be a SOT alternative.

Cheers,

Bjorn

PSK
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by PSK »

You won't know unless you try Dave.
Get along to the pool sess and enjoy yourself - all you need is the ability to swim and the willingness to give it a go.

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Jim
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Jim »

I don't work in lbs.
2 years ago I had got up to 128kg and was still paddling the same boats I have always paddled although with a little more difficulty than usual. Over about 12 weeks I got down to 112kg to give myself a fighting chance running the Grand Canyon, since then I have been down to 103kg but recently have got back up to 108kg (I find it hard not to over-eat in the winter when I don't get enough exercise). My current target is 95kg which is about what I was in my avatar when that boat paddled well :) GP reckons I should be around 80kg, I don't think I have that much will power!

A lot will depend on how/where you carry the weight (all over or as a belly), assuming you have suitable strength for your weight, I reckon, from experience, that your biggest obstacle if you can find a boat you fit, will be body rotation for efficient paddling. It might be a good idea to look into some easy stretching exercises that will help with trunk rotation - but avoid anything that is going to bulk up abdominal muscles for now because that will just make the situation worse!

A few months ago I decided to get back into polo, a friend who had played in the past and I reckon is a similar size and build to me came along to the same intro session. I have paddled continually despite fluctuating weight, he hadn't really paddled much for a few years. I got straight into a polo kayak, it was kind of low in the water but I had no problem with the straight leg position and relative tight fit of the seat and footrest - my kayak playboats are tighter and require worse contortion of my legs to get in and out. My friend couldn't get into either of the types of polo kayak we have available and ended up borrowing a WW creeking kayak to paddle instead - I may be wrong but I don't think there is any more of him below the waist than there is of me, but through lack of practise he had lost the flexibility to get into smaller types of kayaks. I think it was partly about not being able to get his legs into a position where he felt stable, and partly because your legs are fairly straight, sitting upright in these kayaks can be tough on the hamstrings and abdominals, which won't have been helped by the weight he was carrying around his waist.

Fortunately sea kayaks are much more roomy, and some designs (look at Rockpool and Tiderace in particular) have a raised foredeck allowing a high knee position which is easy on the hamstrings and helps with getting the body upright.
To see what I mean, try sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front and sitting up straight, you will feel tension in your hamstrings and probably won't be able to get forward past perpendicular, now lift and spread your knees (let your heels drag toward you) and you will probably find that as you did it you naturally leant slightly forward AND the tension in your hamstrings went away. Mike Webb at Rockpool has trouble with his hamstrings which is why he started building kayaks with a high knee position, but it seems the Tiderace models with high foredeck have even more room for the taller paddler.

It won't be easy at first, but work on flexibility and I think you will find kayaking rewarding.

Bbdave
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Bbdave »

Jim wrote:
It won't be easy at first, but work on flexibility and I think you will find kayaking rewarding.

I have started some basic yoga to help flexibility and being back in an open boat helps that. I am making steady progress so I may wait till next winter before joining the pool sessions and I'll be in much better shape for them.

Dave

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MikeB
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by MikeB »

Irish Sea wrote:@ Kirsten,
if the technique of the rescuee is good, weight is not really an issue. I'm talking about not so ideal scenarios. People who are not very practised, are cold, are lacking strength / flexibilty etc.

Here the main problem in my somewhat limited experience (I have maybe done something like a 50 rescues as a rescuer) in practice and "for real" is that some people struggle to get their body completely on the backdeck. Some end up hanging somewhere inbetween the boats which means all the weight is on one side and in that situation I do struggle with somebody who is 100kg plus, especially if he she doesn't have the strength/flexibilty to get all the way on the deck quickly.
What type of rescue are you using?

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Jonathan. »

The Valley Aquila is bigger than most sea boats. I'm 6ft 2, weigh 194lbs, and have loads of room. It's classed as an expedition boat and is designed to carry food and so on for three or four weeks. When empty, it sits too high in the water for my liking.

Valley don't make the Aquila any more but you might find one secondhand. One of these days I shall sell mine.

If you're ever my way, your welcome to try it.

PM me if you want to take this further.

jamesatspeed
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by jamesatspeed »

Bbdave wrote:
Jim wrote:
It won't be easy at first, but work on flexibility and I think you will find kayaking rewarding.

I have started some basic yoga to help flexibility and being back in an open boat helps that. I am making steady progress so I may wait till next winter before joining the pool sessions and I'll be in much better shape for them.

Dave
Dave,

Don't be put off! I'm 5'10 and was 330lbs when I started with a Perception Triumph SOT - great boat and paddles properly ie not a toy.

I paddled myself down to 280lbs over 6 months as the bug really bit but with plenty of Christmas beers I'm back at 300......I get out on the river twice a week and round the North Wales coast whenever I can.

I've never had a problem with a heel hook rescue in a sea kayak and having swum various (if not all) bits of the Tryweren, Lune, Dee etc, and pretty much the length of Tees Barrage, I have not yet had a problem dragging my large posterior to dry land either.

Boats that work for me / my size are;

Perception Expression 15 - not a "full on" sea kayak but it does the job. A little extra beam gives you a decent bit of room in the cockpit and at £700.00 ish really good value for money - just take the daft seat back off it.

SKUK Romany Excel - (what I would buy if I had the 2 grand plus). I find the knee bumps allow a much wider positioning of my knees and with this better stability and contact with the boat.

Dagger Mamba 8.6 - not a sea kayak before anyone says it but its a common WW boat and so maybe more likely to be available within clubs / pool sessions. Its a big old barge by any standards.

I do have to say that I'm not a fan of the pool either; before kayaking I hadn't been in a swimming pool for about 30 years, but it does give you the chance to pick up skills in a safe environment. Very social too!

James

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Irish Sea »

MikeB wrote:
Irish Sea wrote:@ Kirsten,
if the technique of the rescuee is good, weight is not really an issue. I'm talking about not so ideal scenarios. People who are not very practised, are cold, are lacking strength / flexibilty etc.

Here the main problem in my somewhat limited experience (I have maybe done something like a 50 rescues as a rescuer) in practice and "for real" is that some people struggle to get their body completely on the backdeck. Some end up hanging somewhere inbetween the boats which means all the weight is on one side and in that situation I do struggle with somebody who is 100kg plus, especially if he she doesn't have the strength/flexibilty to get all the way on the deck quickly.
What type of rescue are you using?
@ Mike: Mostly this one: (copied the description from paddling.net as I couldn't describe it any better myself)

...you hang between the two kayaks, one arm over your rescuer's boat, other over yours behind your cockpit facing the rescuer. In this position, you can lie on your back, tuck your knees to your chest and put both feet right into your cockpit. You can use your arms to lift your torso as your rescuer pulls the two boats together under you. This is a very fast rescue that gets you into an upright and seated position right away. The downside is that is doesn't work very well for real large people and it requires a fair bit of strength from the rescuer. ...

It's what most coaches I know are teaching as the standard (T-)rescue....

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Greetings and welcome to the forum Dave.

It's good to hear that you are interested in sea kayaking. I know someone who was in a similar situation to you 4 years ago. At that time he was 25 stone but was keen to become more active and get kayaking again. He started by swimming (at the same pool and gym I go to) but was unable to find any sea kayak he could fit in. So he bought a large fishing sit on top (Prowler?) which he paddled in sheltered waters for three years. A combination of swimming, cross trainer in the gym, walking and paddling helped get his weight down to 18 stone and he bought a S/H ~Valley Argonaut composite boat last year. He can't roll it but can do T rescues both as rescuee (heel hook) and rescuer. He can also re-enter with a paddle float.

Douglas

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MikeB
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by MikeB »

MikeB wrote:
What type of rescue are you using?
@ Mike: Mostly this one: (copied the description from paddling.net as I couldn't describe it any better myself)

...you hang between the two kayaks - - It's what most coaches I know are teaching as the standard (T-)rescue....
Well - - the "heel hook" seems to be the rescue of choice in my neck of the woods these days - - worth a look-see, not just for the "larger paddler" either. That said, few - if any - folk have the strength to keep the boats together when this particular "larger paddler" tries that "up between the boats" rescue you've outlined, and I don't like it! But with a "heel hook" almost anyone can stabilise the boat and I can be in and ready to go in less than a minute.

There's another minor detail, which is the not inconsiderable risk when being between two boats bouncing around in the lumpy stuff. Actually, I'm surprised the Heel hook isn't being taught wherever you are.

I'll also echo what Douglas said - certainly I'd expect you'd be fine in the X versions of the bigger T/race boats, although perhaps the Xplore would be the better option than the Xcape. Mike

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by maryinoxford »

Haddock wrote:if you're ok getting out of a swimming pool without using the steps then you should be capable of remounting a Sit On Top.
As an aside, how easy that is depends on the water level in the pool, relative to the edge. Speaking as someone who is overweight (not obese) but not with great upper body strength, I'd be struggling with much more than about 6 inches "freeboard." I'm not paddling anything at the moment, but if I thought I might get into a situation needing deep-water re-entry, even of a SOT, I'd be looking to rig some kind of stirrup.

Mary
Not in Oxford any more...

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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

MikeB>
Well - - the "heel hook" seems to be the rescue of choice in my neck of the woods these days
I concur...

Image
Note that I am actually grabbing the rescuer's kayak (blue) decklines. They just stretched a bit under my weight. This keeps the kayaks together and makes everything nice and stable.

Douglas

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GrahamC
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by GrahamC »

And once you get the hang of the heel hook with a partner, it is relatively easy to add a paddlefloat for heel hook self rescue.
___________

Irish Sea
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Irish Sea »

Thanks guys for the advice re the heel hook. I'll play with that some more. We tried it before a couple of times, worked fine but we always found it slower then the "inbetween the boats" method. I guess it just needs a little more practise to speed things up.

Cheers,

Bjorn

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John K
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by John K »

There's an excellent heel hook rescue video here:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zpJQeiaNc

It's very clear and highlights the minor points that make the difference between getting away with it and doing it well.

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Although it is called a heel hook, it is actually more of a thigh hook. As you bend your hip and knee to put your foot into the cockpit, you get the inside of your flexed thigh onto the cockpit rim. You then straighten your thigh (by using the extensor muscles in your bum, the largest and strongest in the body) and this lifts you out of the water. You really don't need to use your lower leg muscles much at all. I know this as I suffered from dislocating knees for many years. Any strain on my lower leg meant a painful dislocation. Despite this, my knee never dislocated during at least a hundred "heel hook" re-entries.

Once you have practised it, it is far quicker and easier than the coming up between the two kayaks method, which was also the first assisted re-entry method I used. It also requires little weight and strength from the rescuer. My seven stone nephew can rescue my 14-15 stone bulk using this method.

Douglas

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by GrahamC »

I have never been taught the "between the boats" method so have always used the heel (or thigh) hook, which seems very natural. I can see that between the boats could be useful with a casualty or an inexperienced person, but I think it is the last place I would want to be in rough water. I am only not tall and only weigh 65kg (before Christmas statistic) but I have never failed to rescue someone who can do the heel hook properly (with heavy people, I like them to hold both deck lines if they can).
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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Bbdave »

Tonight I plucked up the courage and went to the local leisure centre I got as far as the reception and that's where my self confidence kicked in or rather lack thereof and I left after a minute or two, oh well maybe next time small steps and all that.

Dave

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by Bazza S »

Bbdave wrote:Tonight I plucked up the courage and went to the local leisure centre I got as far as the reception and that's where my self confidence kicked in or rather lack thereof and I left after a minute or two, oh well maybe next time small steps and all that.
Good lad Dave, you've made a good start by getting there. I hope you have another go next week. Good work!
Barry

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Re: Hello some advice please.

Post by adventureagent »

Emil Maschek was an imigrant to Canada. He was an extraordinary, award-winning paddler and kayak / canoe designer and builder. He built hand layup boats: twelve footers, the first woman's kayak for his daughter to compete in wildwater, open canoes of forty-five pounds, and elite paddlers downriver boats. One of his boats held a record for many, many years. His touring kayaks were 14 feet and weighed 38 pounds, (that was his heavy, touring design) and I could even carry a cooler inside it into the wilderness. He knew paddlesport.

I related to him a problem one big paddler was having: he would go down an absolutely smooth, slick, blackwater tongue, and without fancy strokes, would capsize; time and again. Emils advice was high centre of gravity - paddle a wider boat, being a C1 (one person canoe) with a double blade.

Removing a seat could also have a very big difference in stability.

As well, I met couple in Orillia who each could roll their boat. I had never seen such big paddlers at the time.

2 boats together for stability in rough water has to be experienced before you believe it, but it's a big difference,.

Obviously people are wanting you to succeed.

Because of my own childhood, I volunteered to instruct in the "crippled children centre" here many years ago. Through their attitude to have fun, even though they had some factors that weren't listed in the books in the stores, and videos, the kids taught me a lot. They voted the club to be the "Can Do" club. Hip, hip !

You're already expressing a positive attitude. The rest is partly the right gear. Carry on !
CELEBRATE LIFE: PADDLE by ALL MEANS !

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