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Any elderly kayakers with limitations?

What happens to older kayakers when they lose safety skills, especially self-rescue? What adaptations have you made to things like loss of joint function? Have you changed where you paddle, with whom, etc.? Given up sea kayaking? Interested specifically in ***SAFETY*** considerations, not comfort.

Elderly means 65+ and/or have lost critical functions. I know there are plenty of active people in their 70s and 80s. Would like to hear from those who are experiencing critical limitations that have made you rethink how you paddle for reasons of safety.


  • Options
    Not there yet
    but hopefully will be. Switch to Greenland paddle - easier on joints. No going out in shoulder season or when there is a chance of increasing wind and waves activity. No going out without full dry suit, unless it's tropical temps in both water and air. Mostly paddling where you could swim to shore. Carrying PLB perhaps.

    And, as the final option - trading your kayak for a square stern canoe with small outboard motor as the main mode of propulsion and oars for occasional workout. At certain age the most safe workout is light exercising in gym - with boat being merely means of spending time on water, not an exercise tool.
  • The only critical function loss has
    nothing to do with paddling! Mainly, I sink "out of shape" faster at my age (68). So if I'm not sufficiently in shape when a trip opportunity comes, I pass it up. I don't tolerate cold as well, so the longer and more difficult winter trips are "out." Any new (to me) runs are prescouted very carefully for possible difficulties.

    Even when I am in shape, I'm careful not to overdo my efforts on the river to avoid unnecessary injury.
  • Predictable stuff
    I am 71 and still active in paddling and teaching. But I have backed off harder WW paddling because my reflexes and strength have diminished. Other things don't seem safety related but are aging related -- increased soreness at the end of a paddle, less stamina, decreased circulation in one leg leading to it going to sleep, all of which I have found fixes for. One of the smartest thing I did was switch to a wing paddle. It is easier on my joints than the GPs I have. Ibuprofen and vitamin C are your friends.
  • A great question!
    -- Last Updated: Aug-16-11 1:53 AM EST --

    I'm 63 and have been noticing creeping limitations.

    I think one of the things we older folks have to be aware of is the lack of understanding of our aging limitations on the part of younger paddlers. Last Fall, I posted an account of a bad whitewater swim I had. I have been active in water all my life, but this - among other things - was a wake-up call.

    I described in that post how the cold water immediately sapped my strength, making it difficult for me to pull myself to safety after swimming 150 yards. During that time, I bounced over rocks, etc., and wound up with a significant shoulder injury - one that continues to cause pain and for which surgery is expected, based on MRI results.

    The trainers in our group are younger people (most whitewater people are) who do not understand that aging involves a daily diminution of performance ability. I have had to put my foot down when they say I'm now ready for such-and-such river, or that I should be handling Class 4 by next year.

    Because I was not completely aware of my diminishing capabilities (who really can be?), I suffered an injury that has curtailed much of my paddling activities over the past year.

    And, though I soloed a plane in my youth, also a helicopter, after only several hours of training, I have yet to get a predictable roll in a kayak. My efforts likely contributed to my shoulder injuries.

    This year, I have been munching-out on the pain-killers every time I paddle. How do they affect performance?

    One member in our community, Jack L, sometimes takes some ribbing here because he has no interest in rolling. Actually, I would suggest he is looking out for himself in the best possible way - a way that does not result in his being shut out of paddling for exceeding his limitations.

    I think it is important for those of us who are aging to be aware of our increasing limitations - and to not allow younger paddlers to encourage us toward exceeding our possible limitations.

    Just because I was able to handle increasing whitewater challenges, and getting gung-ho about my increasing abilities, did not mean I was able to easily take a bad swim - which, by the way, was in rapids that were significantly below what I had been handling all summer.

    I think this is a really good question because there is a need for more understanding in this area. The paddler demographic is skewed toward the older population - except for whitewater - and there is a need for more discussion on this topic.

    It is not easy on the ego, to face diminishing abilities, but if we learn to take care of ourselves, accounting for growing limitations, I believe we can all paddle to the end.

    There are worse ways to go than with a paddle in one's hands.

    By the way, I am seriously considering buying one of those electric trolling motors for kayaks - not for whitewater, of course, but for my fishing SOT. That way, if I hit a wall with my shoulder situation, or encounter a need to return to the put-in more quickly than I can paddle (approaching storm, etc.), I have the motor.

  • Options
    Only in my 50s BUT.
    I paddle with people that I had to learn and re learn alternate rescues. The scoop rescue and the stirrup rescue are great problem solvers. For me, I do a re entry roll.
    If you are going with others and most especially if you are the go to person a good rescue for everyone can be critical. That said good judgment will keep you out of trouble in the first place.
  • Downsize
    -- Last Updated: Aug-16-11 3:34 AM EST --

    With bum back, arthritis, jumper knee, loss of muscle, and lousy balance, I went back to more stable, shorter and lighter surfskis. The same for OC-1's: shorter and lighter. I now wear a pfd too, and spend more time brushing up on my technique based on the latest info I can find. Yes, I had to re-learn how to paddle using longer, lighter and narrower canoe paddles, but shorter and wider kayak wing paddles. Use paddles with more flex in the shaft too.

  • I'm 72.....
    with spinal cancer (a nuisance), but actively paddle every week, mostly ocean, bay, and lakes. As a concession to safety I now paddle my SOTs more often than my SinKs, surf launch in milder conditions, and always wear my PFD and carry a VHF, which I confess I didn't always use to do.

    A bigger problem for me is getting the boats on and off the van roof.

  • Rolling
    Angell, thanks especially for your comments on rolling. Whenever I bring this up I hear, "I've taught 80-year-old ladies to roll! Anybody can roll! Age has nothing to do with it!" My instinct based on past experience is that it only takes one second to cause a shoulder injury that can be permanent, and that rolling has a high potential for causing such an injury in an older person when the joints are already compromised.

    Being rescued requires essentially the same joint flexibility and strength as self-rescue. So if self-rescue, being rescued, and rolling aren't possible, that indicates a radical safety change for an older person.
  • Depends on the approach
    -- Last Updated: Aug-17-11 10:36 AM EST --

    It is less difficult to damage anything learning the usual layback roll with a GP. There just isn't any time that weight is being used, even if the roll is executed badly, similar to what happens at moments with a big arse Euro blade and an approach that comes closer to elements of the C-to-C.

    But I suppose unless you have tried it, it's not easy to see.

  • I'm pushig 70
    and have had both hips replaced. Looks like I'll soon be selling my excellent paddling, good-for-all-waters Caribou simply because I need something with a more generous cockpit and in the sub-40 pound range. The Epic 16 comes close but I don't like the rudder system. The Placid Boat Works Rapid Fire might be the ticket though I've never paddled it or any other solo canoe.
  • build/have built?
    A good composite shop should be able to modify the cockpit on a composite boat. Other lightweight options might be building a skin-on-frame or stich & glue with a custom cockpit.


  • Don't know about NH, but in the SE,
    it's not easy to find a "good composite shop." They mostly work on powerboats and Corvettes. I've laid up an entire kayak rim, but it's not easy. It's time consuming, detailed work.
  • Modifying the 'Bou's cockpit
    would change the character of the boat. The Caribou is an excellent sea boat and, with the exception of the Mariner Coaster, the best wind-wave surfer that I've ever paddled. The ocean cockpit with its well-fitted thigh braces helps a skilled paddler control the boat. And the boat weighs 50 pounds; I want some thing 40 pounds or less.Not a huge cockpit, just something where I can pull my knees up now and then.
  • One suggestion
    Might be good to plan on using a stirrup for re-entries. I know someone who did this for his not-old-but-pudgy wife.

    As I get older, injuries are more likely and take longer to recover from. I have become more conservative about having lots of "margin" from both the physical/endurance and safety standpoints.

    The good part is that judgment only gets better, and I know what works for my body better than I did when I was 25.

    Warming up, which was always important for me, is even more important now. Also, cooldown.
  • Let people decide that for themselves
    Inevitably there must come a time when a person decides, "I just no longer have whatever it takes to roll a kayak." Strength, coordination, balance, technique, whatever. Or "I have limitations or injuries that make rolling unwise."

    It's important to respect an older individual's decision that rolling or reentry is impossible or unwise, and not pressure a person to try some other way of doing it. It may be terribly difficult for YOU to damage anything, but let people make that judgment call for themselves.

    My question is about how people adapt once they know they've passed that point.

    Read Angell's post again and see if it makes sense to you. It makes total sense to me---especially "not allow younger paddlers to encourage us toward exceeding our possible limitations." When you can no longer walk, sit, get up out of a chair, lie down, or raise your hand without pain, things change. I believe that kayaking can continue in those conditions, but in a different way.

  • Stirrup
    A stirrup reentry requires exactly the same joint flexibility as without a stirrup. It's easier to get up on the deck than to move from the paddle float into the cockpit. Your hip joints have to open wide enough to have one leg in the cockpit and the other over the paddle float. Arthritis causes joint swelling, bone spurs, and frozen joints that can severely reduce range of motion.
  • Options
    Aging and doing anything
    Rotator cuff surgery on a blown shoulder is a minimum of 6 mos (to get back in your boat) to one year of strength and endurance (paddling effectively). It's a long time to pay for learning to roll, but I did. As we age, we take longer to heal for any injury. It makes sense to choose our risks carefully. But along with choosing risks carefully, it is critical to stretch, lift and do balance exercises on a regular basis--use it or loose it comes to mind. We are all different and make our choices accordingly--exercise, diet, lifestyle, etc--and it all makes a difference. The god of aging knows no favorites. Not for the feint of heart.
  • Age and reality
    Mobility and flexibility added to a shorter range of motion creep up as we age. Internal problems can also appear as I found out today. I do agree I listen to what my body is telling me now, than when I was a lot younger. I carry sponsons in the kayak. They make getting in and out of the kayak easier than the paddle float and add beam so you won't go over again. I haven't really used them in a real situation, only practice. I watch the weather and the surface conditions more and just don't go if it doesn't look right. There is always tomorrow. Tom
  • A lot of good points . . .
    -- Last Updated: Aug-17-11 1:22 AM EST --

    A few things I've done over the past nine months since the injury:

    The shoulder injury added to existing comparatively minor back pains, to the extent that I didn't even try to paddle the touring boat this year - it's even more difficult to get in and out of the cockpit. The whitewater boat - easier to enter and exit was used minimally, and I have used the SOT fishing kayak just to paddle.

    The SOT is easier to get in and out of. If the boat were capsized, it's much easier in self-rescue: you just climb back into the SOT.

    Another thing I have been considering, respecting aging, is paddle design. When I began paddling whitewater last year, I had been paddling for years with touring paddles. By the time I was able to afford a whitewater paddle, I had done some river trips with a longer touring paddle. I allowed myself to get talked into a much shorter paddle than I think would have been ideal for me.

    Beyond the fact of being used to touring paddles, these longer paddles have more moment per stroke, considering the paddle is sweeping farther out from the hull than a shorter paddle. Thus, less effort is needed per stroke - which puts less strain on an older person's frame. Granted, there are good reasons for shorter paddles in whitewater, but I found myself having to make more rapid corrections: strokes and braces, closer to the boat and requiring more effort than with my longer paddle.

    This is to say, given that I will be able to return to whitewater after healing the shoulder, I may get a longer whitewater paddle.

    To reinforce other's comments here, I do have a VHF marine radio for off-coast use and always carry a first aid kit. Having had a DVT after a stent placement, I carry a sealing "pillbox" (small waterproof tube with a gasket screw-on cap) on a chain with my car keys. It contains two nattokinase capsules (a natural clot-dissolving agent) and this stays with me when I'm paddling.

    Finally, I decided that just attending classes of touring boat rescue techniques is not enough. As in the whitewater training, when I am better, my wife and I will get out in the water and practice rescue techniques with our touring boats until we have them down as good as possible.

    I would not want to be in a predicament like the jet skiers I encountered a few weeks ago in the middle of a Kissimmee lake. I was with my brother in his powerboat and we were headed in to shore with a fast-approaching storm behind us. On the way, we encountered a couple of young Latino guys - one in the water beside a capsized jet ski, the other sitting on his jet ski beside him and both looking confused about what to do next, unable to respond to our questions.

    I thought it would be worth it to try a sort-of "reverse" T-rescue and had my brother throttle back and approach the jet ski amidships. I hung over the bow and grabbed the side of the craft. My first effort was to no avail: it seemed really swamped, but then it was easily righted on the second effort. To my surprise, the water drained out; he got on and started it. We continued on our way and I hope that kid learned whatever it was he needed to know to avoid getting himself into future trouble.

    As an earlier poster stated, one thing we older folks should have going for us is better judgment with increased wisdom.

  • The same
    If I have a layoff from activity it's very hard to play catch up. I just try to keep moving so I can keep moving.
    This the first year I've felt my age somewhat, 63, and it's hard to back off... But necessary, and necessary to keep moving.. The aches and pains and injuries that used to disappear after abit, don't go away anymore they just hang about waiting to be annoyed a little more before they crank up. The forty year old kiddies that want you to come along at their rate of travel... well... I hope judgement kicks in.
  • 2 answers
    Waterbird, about 5 years ago SeaKayaker magazine ran an accident report about a 70-ish guy who died off the coast of Southern California. He'd been a club stalwart but had let a lot of things go -- needed a new wetsuit, a new VHF radio, and a roll if I remember right. Arrived late at a launch site (car trouble as he'd put off doing something it needed), missed his friends, went out anyway, capsized in high winds, couldn't execute a self-rescue with paddle float. And died. It was a very poignant story. (A lot of am-I-my-brother's-keeper sentiments among his friends, I think.) So that's one answer. The guy was losing his skills and his friends noticed but didn't exactly gang up on him and go with him to get him in a new wetsuit and to buy a new VHF radio. So one thing we should think about is how we as paddling friends might help out our older peers.

    The other answer: a woman in my paddle club was no longer able to reenter her touring kayak even with a stirrup. She had a hip replacement. Eventually sold the tourer and bought a nice composite 14-foot SOT. I don't know whether she's happy with that boat or not. She's was learning to use it last summer. But changing your equipment -- as others here have already pointed out -- is one way to go.
    G in NC (old but still doing an easy sweep roll!)
  • I weighed in above but feel compelled
    -- Last Updated: Aug-21-11 1:33 PM EST --

    to post again.
    Age is what you make of it !

    If you are lucky enough to not get cancer, or any other illness that is out of your control, and you are eating properly, exercising daily, keeping your weight exactly as it should be, you should see no change at all in your paddling style and habits.
    Throw in some good sex every other night, and you will still feel as if you're in your 40's
    Oh, and a new knee helps a bit too !
    jack L

  • My concern with your post...
    -- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 3:50 PM EST --

    Your post pre-judges the likelihood of someone being able to learn a roll with a GP based on their age and condition. I would not have responded if it appeared that you had tried it yourself and found that your personal health etc made it not possible, or if it appeared that you were personally familiar with how a GP roll works compared to the traditional one taught with a Euro.

    The OP was asking about peoples' personal experience, to my read of the post.

    But as far as I can tell you haven't tried this. So I disagree with advising others that they shouldn't due to age etc.

    I can agree with the part of your post where you say that older paddlers should be cognizant of their limitations and not allow themselves to be pushed into things that may be a problem for them. There are increasingly days where I observe rather than take one more shot at a standing wave or a ferry across current because some body part has taken all it will without risking injury, for example. I play violin, so my bar for may-hurt-myself is higher than many. But there are assumptions imbedded in the details following that just are not always so.

    Interestingly, I know enough about glawson, a poster below, to guess that her experience might make a liar of me here. But there may be other things that were in play there too - and knowing her background, would figure it was experience-based advice. I know that she has spent more time working on her greenland skills than all but a few paddlers I have met.

  • Every other night! Does Nanci know
    about this?
  • Anticipatory or actual?
    It can be hard to draw the line. We tend to pull out the lighter weight boats more often, including when going into conditions that strictly speaking supposed are imperfect for a lighter weight layup. But it is just SO much easier at the end of the paddle to be putting them back on top of the car. We limit back to back days of big paddles more than several years ago and allow for more easy days to recover than before. Etc.

    Is this a direct accommodation to age or an early change to head off more serious changes? Hard to tell. But it's all in the name of getting older.
  • and don't forget the best medicine!
    A cold beer at the takeout (or at home, if you're driving). Hmmmmm, good.
    G in NC
  • Options
    Any elderly kayakers with limitations?
    The guy on the cover of my SUP book is 63 and in that photo is doing a 5 mile open water race. On a somewhat similar note to your question, I have a blog posting about 'adpative paddling' for disabled folks. there's good info in there on how to stay active despite phyical disabilities..

  • Ah's settle fer some...
    mediocre sex at me age....

    "Ah's still gots wat it takes..."

    ("But, nobody'll take wat ah' gots...")

  • second that
    I got the same impression.
  • one doesn't know what one doesn't know
    -- Last Updated: Aug-17-11 4:49 PM EST --

    "Let people decide that for themselves"

    People don't always have the knowledge to decide for themselves! Especially novices. They need help.

    Yes, as we get older, we need to be mindful of our increased limitations. But I think it's more important to learn to do things the right way so I don't put undue stress on my joints. And rolling is one such example.

    I learned to roll C2C back in my 30's. I can still do it but I do get tired after several rolls. And I start to wonder what's going to be like when I'm 10 years older, or 20 years older. Fortunately for me, I ran into others who taught me how to do a screw roll. It's so effortless compare to a C2C and it works a lot better for paddler with less than perfect flexibility. Now I can see much more likely I'll be rolling into my 80's!!!

    I've been told by many that I'm "probably ready" for class IV. But I'm not. Not mentally. I wanted to be 100% on class III before stepping it up. That's the concession I made for being older AND WISER.

    I know you didn't ask for it. But one best way to deal with limitation is to learn to paddle efficiently. Be that rolling efficiently or rescue efficiently, you need to learn it from those who know. Then you'll be surprised at how much limitation you can paddle with and still stay very safe.

  • Compelled...
    I haven't backed off in my paddling either and did my first open water race on Lake Michigan this year. I think I was the oldest competitor in the long race (22.5 miles). I want to paddle the entire NFCT and someday I still would like to paddle with JackL.
  • I would be honored
    come on down to South Florida next March, and join "the bride" and I when we attempt to do the 300 mile Everglades challenge in our "BGD" tandem
    Notice I said "attempt". we'll brag about it if we complete it in the time allotment.

    Jack L
  • That wasn't my point
    "Your post pre-judges the likelihood of someone being able to learn a roll with a GP based on their age and condition."

    --Not at all. I'm saying that individuals are aware of their physical status and able to make decisions about what they can or should do. People know when their physical limitations make any activity unwise. No one should have to defend their decision to not do something.

    "So I disagree with advising others that they shouldn't due to age etc."

    --I don't think you will find that advice anywhere in what I posted. I'm not giving anyone advice at all. My only request is to respect what people decide for themselves, as my title says.

  • Very good examples, thanks
    I think it's hard to come to the realization that although you can still paddle just fine, if you can't self-rescue and you paddle alone, something has to change.

    Like the woman in your paddling club, I sense with all the sports I do---backpacking, kayaking, biking, hiking, etc.---that they need to be modified as I age. Shorter trips, easier trips, etc. And/or you develop new interests in other activities.

    I really think this whole topic is about a psychological dimension of aging, as we move further and further away from our youthful abilities and slide toward the sunset . . . It's a process of acceptance and adjustment. A bit frightening, actually.
  • Options
    I am 68 with a damaged heart. Once I'm in the kayak (Feathercraft Kahuna) I'm fine. My problem is going down to the ground to load up and carrying the boat to the car.The effort leaves me weak for a minute or two. My 35 pound boat has been sitting on my sofa with me afraid of the energy commitment to move it. And no friends around.
  • Is this based on your own experience?...
    -- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 3:54 AM EST --

    From your post -
    "rolling has a high potential for causing such an injury in an older person when the joints are already compromised."

    Is this something that you found to be true for yourself in the process of trying to learn a roll yourself, w/ both GP and Euro? Or is it an assumption based on what you think must be the case?

    If it was the first, sorry. If it was the latter, that was my point.

    I am not saying that everyone can and needs to run out out to get a roll - most in our local evening paddle group never will, and most don't paddle in situations where it would be crucial. I am also not saying that someone who knows they have an overuse problem in their upper body should take it up, at least while the area is still hot. But I have encountered too many people even in their 50's, relatively healthy, who make no effort to learn to roll because they are under the mistaken impression that it requires strenuous effort and youth. That's not so either, and even trying to learn to roll leaves a few improved skills behind.

  • "Relatively healthy"
    My original post is about long-time paddlers who are not relatively healthy now and who arrive at a point late in life where they have LOST former skills. It is about CHANGE in our lives---changes in our health, abilities, and therefore our paddling habits.

  • OK - a problem of specificity
    -- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 9:59 AM EST --

    I will just assume that this is a problem of online dialogue tending to be more vague than the way I approach limitations.

    Between seven (oops - six, sorry) abdominal operations plus a well-broken wrist with pins and fixator, combined with a high level of physical demands in my choice of activities, I am used to losing capacity in a certain area at least for a time. I have been advised by a raft of doctors over the years about all the things that were no longer going to be part of my life after these procedures. The doctors were smart, talented folks all tops in their field between here and NYC. I have tended to be damned lucky at falling into good doctors.

    But thus far they have been wrong, because they operated on assumptions rather than personal experience. The only doc who had it right about my riding (hunter/jumper) after the illeostomy was a doctor who did eventing herself, for example. She knew the strength for riding was distributed through the body, the others didn't.

    Rolling a kayak has traditionally produced the same reaction for ostomites, forever a no-no because of impact in the core aera, but I now see doctors who have kayaked themselves and understand that it is not necessarily a big strength move that'll stress things unduly.

    These doctors are intelligent guys, whose business is the human body. But I found that it still takes one who has tried what I am doing to make a good judgement.

  • ask for help have tip money in pocket
    Arthritis, very severe in my low back makes loading and unloading, difficult. My kayak is not light, but it is one which works for me.

    I am glad to read that I'm not alone in having disabilities while still wishing to kayak. Most people look at me and they say "you do what" because I don't look or move like someone who would go paddle around the circumference of an inland Michigan or Ohio lake.

    I'm staying out of rivers now, the Hocking River ate my confidence.

  • How sad!
    My first kayak was a Kahuna and I truly feel for you, being thwarted in using that wonderful boat.

    You say there is no one to help you with it. Are you in a remote area or do you have neighbors. Perhaps you are like me, proud of being self-sufficient and loath to ask for help with things you feel you ought to be able to handle alone. I have tended to be that way but am finding that one way to age gracefully is to be more open to letting others pitch in. Not only does it expand your own opportunities, but there is grace in allowing others to feel the pleasure of helping.

    I had my right forearm in a cast after surgery for a broken wrist 3 years ago but was determined to kayak. I wrapped my boat (actually, it was the Kahuna) in an old quilt and dragged it up the steps of my sunken yard to the curb. While I was struggling to lift one end up, hoping to be able to slide it onto the roof, two of my neighbors, with whom I had exchanged no more than passing pleasantries during the 3 years of living here, came over to volunteer assistance and within seconds the car was on the roof. I later received the same help at the boat ramp when I was unloading and loading. When I got home, I swallowed my pride and knocked on the nearest of my neighbor helpers' door and asked for a hand again. Everyone who helped seemed delighted to do so and, in the case of the one neighbor, lead to an icebreaking conversation about my kayaks and kayaking and my taking him and his wife out on the river a few months later when my wrist healed. They later bought kayaks themselves, and though they have since moved to another part of town I see them on the rivers sometimes.

    Part of being truly "independent" is having the grace and humility to ask others for help, as we would want them to do of us. Even if you don't have anyone handy, perhaps you could see if there is a "meetup" group for kayaking in your area and one or more people. perhaps even in the same predicament, with whom you could cooperate on getting the gear loaded.

    Perhaps none of these options is practical, but I really hope you are able to find a way to get out on the water as readily and as often as possible.
  • It still doesn't relate
    "rolling has a high potential for causing such an injury in an older person when the joints are already compromised."

    That statement is so untrue...for AMY age!

    It does look like it's coming from someone who had not learn how to roll, PROPERLY!

    There will come to a point, for ANY individual, that they can't paddle any more, period. A lot of older folks find getting in and out of the kayak being the hardest due to lost flexibility. For me, I'm pretty sure my day of giving up paddling will come when I can't get the boat on and off the roof of my car!

    Will rolling go before paddling? Maybe, maybe not.

    If your point is to illustrate how some aspect of paddling will become more difficult due to diminishing joint mobility, you've picked a bad example. Probably due to your misunderstanding of what's involved with rolling.
  • Trailer?
    Would having a kayak cart and using a trailer help? The loading and unloading effort should be considerably less with (low) wheels.
  • Is cart plus Hullavator possible?
    Or something similar to the Hullavator... I know that's a big chunk of change. But it would solve the lifting issue if you could find your way to it.
  • When I was young, I sometimes took
    club veterans on easy whitewater runs that they no longer would have tried on regular trips. Once in the canoe or kayak, they were quite reliable, but some help with loading and unloading, and with an occasional portage, made a big difference for them.

    I don't yet need help loading and unloading. In fact, one of my pet peeves is that when I go to "throw" my canoe up on my head, younger folks rush in to help, at the peril of my cervical spine! But I do appreciate younger folks keeping an eye on me when I am running unfamiliar class 3, and some help on difficult portages is welcomed.
  • Perhaps...
    Maybe because I'm from a canoeing background, only moving to kayaks lately, I don't really concern myself over rolling. Due to long term arthritis my flexibility, especially cervically isn't good enough to manage a roll. However in all the years I canoed I never rolled successfully once and managed to have a great and safe time for decades. If I can exit my yak, I'm not any worse off than I was in my open boat. In any case I'm not paddling in conditions or waters where I can't save myself by heading to shore in my PFD. Perhaps because I paddle for peace of mind and not thrills, my adventures have been without incident.
  • rolling as a skill or a safety skill?
    "I'm not paddling in conditions or waters where I can't save myself by heading to shore in my PFD. Perhaps because I paddle for peace of mind and not thrills, my adventures have been without incident."

    That describes about 80% (or even 90%) of the folks who paddle. Their safety isn't based on rolling. All they have to do is watch out for weather and have partner that can facilitate assisted re-entry.

    Rolling maybe a good skill to learn because it helps so much with balance, so you end up not capsizing to even need the roll!

    But as a safe skill to rely on, you've got to be able to roll in waves and basically bombproof even in condition. A lot of the folks who "can roll" aren't rolling with that kind of reliability.

    I always think of rolling a kayak a bit like yoga. Some people take it as a way of life. Others, just an exercise. Both swear by its benefits. Both are right.
  • Don't have to do that
    -- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 3:09 PM EST --

    Have you tried this sequence? Get one leg onto the PF with the other roughly parallel to it, stabilize torso over the deck, then move the outside hand onto the PF before spinning lower body roughly together towards the cockpit. I don't recall if I ever actually had one leg on the paddle shaft at the point the other was near the cockpit, at least that it worked. Very close in time sure, but the shift to the hand always comes first. You may need to squinch (OK, made it up but that's how it feels) your torso over the deck a little further before making this move, but that takes strain off the hand and shoulder which is good.

    This timing is a lot more secure for me than trying to deal with legs at 45 plus degree angles. And that's not just an old age thing - there are days 10 years ago I couldn't have made that spread without pulling something.

    Or, try the paddle float heel hook variation that was in Sea Kayaker magazine a few months ago. I found this to be surprisingly easy on all body parts, went much better than I expected the first time I tried. The shoulders and upper back were completely supported by the paddle and actually stopped it from squirreling around nicely.

  • Errr..
    -- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 2:41 PM EST --

    ..since when has 65 become elderly? If that's the case, then I'm approaching that age and thus should sell my sea kayak, my surf boat and my Pyranha Burn and restrict my paddling to anything that is flat and doesn't even involve the very thought of (gasp) ROLLING.

    I started paddling in my fifties and was never what one would call an athletic lady, having suffered through required (yes, and "required" gym shows how old I am, too.) gym classes in high school and college. In order to have the strength and stamina to paddle effectively and safely, I've spent the past two years at the Y working with a trainer on cardio and with weights, along with spin class twice a week. Putting a label like elderly on anyone 65+ is unfair in this day and age. Any number of people approaching that number are still working, taking up sports they couldn't afford when they were younger because of work, finances or children, instead of sitting home expanding their waistlines and listening to their joints creak.

    There are many ways of handling aching joints and limited flexibility while kayaking, as has been discussed. I'm hoping you've come away with a some new ideas and are consigning the label elderly to someone 90 years old.

  • Horray, Halleluhia, Bless you !
    Man I couldn't agree with you more, but every time I say anything to that nature I get jumped on by the holy rollers as I am sure you will also

    Jack L
  • Glenn,
    Your post makes total sense to me. My approach is the same as yours and it is working well. I've been on the water my whole life (canoe and kayak) and have never come close to an incident where I needed self-rescue or assisted rescue, due to good judgment and caution. There is just some disappointment at the march of time, which seems to speed up at a certain age. As a young person you set goals and hope to advance a bit each year. At a certain age you're happy to maintain your level. Then you're happy to be able to do the sport in any form.
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