Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

Achievement Unlocked!

Achievement Unlocked: Oops, I'm wet!

I took a kayaking class yesterday at Shanks Mare Outfitters. I figured since I’ve been paddling for 11 months, it was probably about time that I got some actual instruction to possibly get rid of some bad habits and get some practice doing 2-person rescues for capsized paddlers.

Kayak T RescueEveryone in the class did a wet exit (flipping over and getting out of your kayak) and then we practiced a few of the basic strokes. After that, we learned how to do 2-person and 3-person rescues to help someone who’d capsized and done a wet exit. I’ve never gotten a chance to practice that (only a self-rescue), so it was a great experience.

We all practiced self-rescues after that using a paddle float (an inflatable bag that goes on the end of your paddle so you can use it like a pontoon to help stabilize the boat while you get back in). I’d done that before so it was fairly easy, though I’d never done it in deep water. As one of the students also noted, a key factor in doing a self-rescue is wearing a properly-adjusted PFD. If the PFD floats up around your head when you go in the water, it’s not going to be particularly helpful.

After everyone had done all the rescues, we all went for a relaxed paddle down the shore of the river. As we turned to go under a bridge and up a small creek,we encountered two kids who had dropped a super ball into the water. The instructor picked it up and tossedOops it back up to them, but they fumbled the catch and it went back in the water in front of my boat. I grabbed it and tossed it up, but they missed it again. As I was drifting under the bridge, I had one quick chance to toss it back up to them, so I grabbed it, leaned back a little (because I was just starting to go under the bridge) and tossed it sidearm like I was doing a hook shot… which turned out to be really stupid because the momentum of my arm and the way I had to lean tossed me right over into the water. I would have done a brace to keep me upright, but since I’d just tossed the ball, I only had one hand on the paddle.

So we got to practice a 2-person rescue one more time. The weather was nice and the location of the capsize was not treacherous in the least, so it was a casual rescue… a perfect (and amusing) example at the end of the class showing how capsizes can happen unexpectedly and for the simplest of reasons (ie… it doesn’t have to be giant waves and hurricane-level winds that knock you over!).

Knowing what to do when you capsize (or when someone in your group capsizes), and doing it a few times to get the hang of it, removes any feelings of panic and keeps you that much safer when the inevitable capsize actually happens. Taking a class is the best way to do that, since you have a controlled situation with a qualified instructor.

Of course, successfully demonstrating how the rescues work in an actual, accidental capsize situation is a good reinforcement for the class, too. That’s really the reason I capsized under the bridge. I was just helping out the class.

Yeah. Yeah, that’s it!

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