Rescues and letting go of the boat

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TheEcho
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Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by TheEcho » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:04 pm

I don't know if anyone saw the RNLI programme on the telly last night. A sea kayaker had got separated from his companions and capsized in huge waves. The conditions were nasty and he was unable to get back in unassisted. The boat was spotted first, having drifted a long way down the coast but still in deep water, and the man was extremely fortunate that some time later his bobbing head was spotted from shore in a huge search, barely alive due to hypothermia.

It got me thinking, if I was ever in this horrible position, would I be better off attaching myself to the boat with my towline while I still had dexterity in my hands, or would that cause more problems than it solved?

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Owen » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:12 pm

Yes, keeping hold of the biggest floating thing you have is always going to be your best bet. If you need to tie yourself to it then do it.

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TechnoEngineer
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by TechnoEngineer » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:24 pm

If you get separated from the kayak, one idea is to hold the paddle vertically to increase your visibility. Obviously, don't let go of the paddle when bailing ;)

Bright/reflective stickers or tape on the paddle is worth doing.
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Jim
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Jim » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:50 pm

Some solo kayakers leash themself to the boat for exaclty this reason.

If not tying yourself to the boat means dying through not being found in time (hypothermia or drowning), the small risk of strangling yourself with a leash has got to be worth taking hasn't it?

sleepyfolk
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by sleepyfolk » Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:19 pm

Wonder if he's bought a PLB now?!

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T4Mac
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by T4Mac » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:41 pm

I always tether myself to the kayak when paddling solo which is most of the time (not during launch or landing unless it's flat calm).

I had 4 tethers (rods, paddle and me) on my fishing kayak and never had an issue when self rescuing over six years. I ensure my knife is accessible and capable of cutting whatever your tether is made from before having to do it for real.

I would count myself very unlucky to be trapped by a tether and consider the risk of loosing my sea kayak without one much more likely.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by seawolf856 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:30 am

When I was a novice sea kayaker I always used a paddle leash because I thought that if I capsized I would always keep hold of the paddle and would therefore always stay in touch with my boat until I could re-enter. In those early days it was not uncommon for "more experienced" kayakers to question me about the paddle leash to the point of almost ridicule. As my paddling skills improved and I learned to roll and rescue proficiently, I did on occasion find the paddle leash sometimes got under the boat and caused a bit of inconvenience. Eventually after more debates and further derision, I decided to join the leash free majority - BIG MISTAKE! Soon after during one particularly breezy rescue practice session,I did a wet exit, came up right alongside the boat, reached to grab it, missed by a fraction of an inch and a millisecond later the wind had blown the boat out of reach. It might as well have been a mile away because I was never going to be able to swim as fast as the wind was taking my boat. Luckily I was with two friends who had to paddle VERY hard to catch the boat and complete the rescue. Needless to say I now use a paddle leash in all conditions and when asked sneeringly why, I simply reply "experience old boy"

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by adventureagent » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:49 am

You're so lucky to get kayak coverage of any kind. I seldom see any kayak stuff on the screen. We don't have telly here, so maybe that's why :)
I love reading this stuff, because of that. Years ago, when everything was paper, I could only get accident reviews from The American White Water Association.
Another thank you to the party(s) who started this site.
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Allan Olesen » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:38 am

seawolf856 wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:30 am
reached to grab it,
There is your mistake.

You should not let go of your boat while underwater.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Jonathan. » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:15 pm

Didn't know about the RNLI broadcast but I'll watch it now - many thanks for the tip.

For anyone else who wants to see it the link is -

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b092phgn
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Jim
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Jim » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:16 pm

seawolf856 wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:30 am
When I was a novice sea kayaker I always used a paddle leash because I thought that if I capsized I would always keep hold of the paddle and would therefore always stay in touch with my boat until I could re-enter. In those early days it was not uncommon for "more experienced" kayakers to question me about the paddle leash to the point of almost ridicule. As my paddling skills improved and I learned to roll and rescue proficiently, I did on occasion find the paddle leash sometimes got under the boat and caused a bit of inconvenience. Eventually after more debates and further derision, I decided to join the leash free majority - BIG MISTAKE! Soon after during one particularly breezy rescue practice session,I did a wet exit, came up right alongside the boat, reached to grab it, missed by a fraction of an inch and a millisecond later the wind had blown the boat out of reach. It might as well have been a mile away because I was never going to be able to swim as fast as the wind was taking my boat. Luckily I was with two friends who had to paddle VERY hard to catch the boat and complete the rescue. Needless to say I now use a paddle leash in all conditions and when asked sneeringly why, I simply reply "experience old boy"
I always use a short wrist leash on my paddle at sea, I have never let go but I have had it blown out of one hand a couple of times which leads to an interesting few seconds trying to wave it back towards that hand wth the other! Obviously in conditions that can do that extracting and joining a split paddle would be quite a challenge!

Experience indeed!

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Kirsten » Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:43 pm

I saw the rest of the program, at least the bit with the kayaker. He was wearing a waist towline, so I wondered why he didn't attached himself to the kayak, even if he lost the hold of the kayak, he would still be in the vicinity and the kayak is far easier to spot then the paddler. There was no sign of the paddle when the camera was showing the RIB which got the paddler out of the water. Also in high winds and waves, it is not an easy thing to wave with the paddle.

During wet sessions with rescues I had quite a struggle when rescuing boats where the paddler was using a paddle leash (paddle - boat). It always got in the way and/or made things complicated,

When I capsize and go for a wet exit, I have always a hand on the boat and the other on the paddle. Usually I tuck the paddle then under the armpit, I also not rolling forward out of the boat, but leave it on the side (never manage the roll out method).

Only when close to rocks I try to get rid of my boat and away from it, as it is OUCH enough without boat, to get between rock and boat / not seen what is coming is even more painful (experience from WW). Or during/after a messed up surf landing, I only make sure that I'm not between boat and beach.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Rae1 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:45 am

That show is a bit of a wake up for many people. The guy out of the kayak didnt have long to live when they found him.
The guy who was in the dinghy was even luckier. 30 metres from shore, yet he couldnt make it, and that showed how inadequate tie lines can be - it appeared he was wrapped up in his line so he could hardly move, though he didnt seem the best person in such a situation, it sounded like he just gave up the moment his boat capsized, and expected to die.

Mokayak
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Mokayak » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:33 pm

Do some safety courses, hold onto your boat , personally I wouldn't kayak alone ( been there done that now a little wiser ) I am glad he was rescued .

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by MikeB » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:34 pm

I have an acquaintance who freely admits to only being alive today thanks to the fact that the person he was paddling with had a knife, and the competence to deal with what I'm about to describe, in difficult conditions.

This individual had purchased every conceivable item of kayaking equipment, including a paddle leash, but not including any form of tuition or instruction. He then went out into challenging water where he promptly capsized and found himself upside down and trapped in the boat as the leash had wrapped itself around him! He was lucky in that the other chap cut the leash and was therefore able to free him. I gather that a "hand of God" rescue might have been tried first, and didn't work thanks to the paddle getting in the way, and the individual being saved had not assisted with this, as he'd no understanding of how to.

I've also been involved in a rescue where the paddle leash proved a considerable hindrance in rescuing the boat. It got cut.

But yes, attaching yourself to the boat after finding that you're unable to get back in the thing would be "a good idea", while noting the real risk of being tangled in the line. Having a knife or line cutter to hand would also be "a good idea".

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Fulmar » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:26 pm

I use a 2mtr line attached from the loop of the spraydeck to a deck cord using karabiners.For keeping in contact with my paddle when practising rescues I use a rucksack chest strap.One part of the plastic quick release strap attached to a deck cord and the other permanently to the paddle.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by PeterG » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:41 pm

We have bad experience of leashes as well. Simpler and effective when you come out of the boat is to leave one leg in. You now have one hand for the paddle, one to do something useful with, one leg holding the boat and the other for swimming. With practise it becomes automatic. This might be easier with an ocean cockpit -but then most things are.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Daker » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:16 pm

Kirsten wrote:
Sat Aug 26, 2017 11:43 pm

There was no sign of the paddle when the camera was showing the RIB which got the paddler out of the water.
Interestingly, the paddle was in the kayak as it was recovered from the water.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Kirsten » Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:10 pm

Fulmar wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:26 pm
I use a 2mtr line attached from the loop of the spraydeck to a deck cord using karabiners.
A line from the spraydeck to the boat? What you are doing in a case of wet exit? There are situations where you want to get away from the boat. Even without capsize, what about a rough landing, landing in surf or steep shingle beach? you want to get up and to the front of the boat as fast as possible and get the boat safe, then helping your peers. Where is the quick release?

When doing rolls, is the line not in the way? What about rescues, real one, not only exercise.

The equipment you are using and the way you use it during exercise should be the same as in live situations.

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Jim
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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Jim » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:48 pm

Kirsten wrote:
Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:10 pm
Fulmar wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:26 pm
I use a 2mtr line attached from the loop of the spraydeck to a deck cord using karabiners.
A line from the spraydeck to the boat? What you are doing in a case of wet exit? There are situations where you want to get away from the boat. Even without capsize, what about a rough landing, landing in surf or steep shingle beach? you want to get up and to the front of the boat as fast as possible and get the boat safe, then helping your peers. Where is the quick release?

When doing rolls, is the line not in the way? What about rescues, real one, not only exercise.

The equipment you are using and the way you use it during exercise should be the same as in live situations.
The idea is to remain attached to the boat if you have a wet exit.... 2m should be enough slack for anyone to get out.

The karabiners allow for unclipping prior to landing - not a guaranteed quick release (i.e. not possible to get a krab off if there is pressure on the line) but certainly suitable for planned unclipping. Helping peers when paddling alone?

I assume the line will normally be stowed under the deck elastic so as not to get in the way - attached to the spray deck loop and tucked under the elastics will minimise chance of entanglement when paddling or rolling. Seems like a reasonable solution to me.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by scottdog007 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:23 pm

Not long ago in some largest seas 2 guys paddling in front of me and next to each other, a wave hit one of them he shot sideways straight over the other guy and knocked him out of his boat. It happened so quickly. And wave took them a massive distant apart. Both experienced paddlers.

The guy that fell out didn't have time to react or attach himself to his boat, in a second he was a good 10 feet away from his boat. Luckily another wave hit side ways and his boat came back close to him and he grabbed the lines.

If it had gone bad I'm sure the team would have sorted it anyway, though we were near big waves bashing on rocks.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by kayakbiker » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:21 am

On the few occasions I've been out kayaking solo I've also used the spray deck to attach myself to my kayak. I have previously tested the setup at a nearby lake using a dive mask and rolling and wet exiting.The dive mask just helped me to see what was going on with the tether.
The only time I had an issue was it was a bit of a faff re-entry in my boat but was still ok. I was of course using a relatively short tether but it was a stretchy type.
As advised by many I would always disconnect if entering surf prior to landing and I would definetly make sure it was attached in a manner that did not compromise my ability to wet exit safely.

I have also used a tether directly attached to myself onto a quick release belt. This has worked ok and It is reassuring to know that I can disconnect quickly. However as the tether attaches to me it's more prone for the tether to be wallowing in front of me when upside down. I do think there's more chance of it causing an issue if having to go from one side to another if setting up for a role especially if it's too long.
The only thing I think I can do to improve the spray deck method is to replace the carabina with a small qr connector.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Irish Sea » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:52 am

I have used my regular waist mounted towline (with quick release buckle) to tether myself to the boat when soloing in dodgy conditions. Carabiner clipped to decklines in front of cockpit and also to eyelet/fairlead on backdeck. Carabiner is in easy reach from cockpit so that for (surf-) landings and similar I can untether myself. Alternatively I can of course also drop the whole towline setup with the quick release buckle.

Did quite a bit of rolling and reentry practice with both setups and it was never an issue. I'd rather run the small risk of entanglement than lose my boat in wavy/windy conditions.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by seawolf856 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:31 pm

Irish Sea wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:52 am
I'd rather run the small risk of entanglement than lose my boat in wavy/windy conditions.
Well, judging by the number of posts coming in on this subject, it looks like I'm not the only one who favours the use of some form of tether to mitigate the dire consequences of losing contact with your boat. I use a paddle leash and sometimes in very dodgey conditions I use my waist mounted towline just like Irish Sea. It is really interesting to read about the different methods and very reassuring that so many fellow paddlers would rather overcome the minor difficulties of a tether than risk letting go of the boat.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Allan Olesen » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:15 pm

seawolf856 wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:31 pm
and very reassuring that so many fellow paddlers would rather overcome the minor difficulties of a tether than risk letting go of the boat.
The discussion clearly shows that both sides are concerned about risk, not about difficulty.

So the choice is between a risk and a risk, not between a difficulty and a risk.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by seawolf856 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:52 pm

Agreed Mr Olesen, my choice of words is incorrect. It is indeed a risk vs a risk.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Phizz4 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:59 pm

I would imagine that it would be possible to connect the tether from the boat to either a belt or the spray deck with an Italian hitch tied into a large karabiner. The hitch can be locked off with a half hitch so it would be easily released if necessary.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Owen » Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:30 pm

That's one situation I wouldn't want to be p*****g around with Italian hitches and lock off's.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by spawneydave » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:22 pm

This incident has more questions than answers, there were actually 3 in the group to start with so he wasn't alone to start with and it seems they got split up when they all got into trouble, weather was not that bad although Flamborough head has a tide race and some nasty reef breaks and there was some northerly swell, but all the talk of tethering to the boat etc is missing the point a bit, I am on the side of not liking paddle leashes because of the risk of entanglement but my PFD contains a DSC vhf, a personal epirb, mobile phone in an aquapac, flares are in my day hatch, I practice self rescue a lot. I paddle alone a lot, I believe it makes me very focused on safety and am sure that I would be able to summon help with the options I have, often people in a group leave responsibility for their safety with the group leader. I would recommend everyone who paddles on the sea even if always in big groups imagines their selves in the position this guy found his self and thinks about what they carry for emergency.

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Re: Rescues and letting go of the boat

Post by Ken_T » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:21 pm

Hi,
When solo I use a river waist tow as a boat leash. I also have a paddle leash that I use in very windy conditions. Both are disconnected for launching or landing as well as rock hopping etc. In very windy conditions I will attach the leashes when paddling in a group. If I got separated from the group I would connect my boat leash. I carry PLB, DSC/VHF, waterproof mobile & an ODEO flare.
Ken

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