Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Problems with rec kayaks

I know that it is an extremely ignorant and foolish thing to take rec kayaks on the ocean, but how much can they stand? Obviously not the ocean, but how about large lakes? Also, why are rec kayaks (besides their lack of bulkheads and perimeter lines) unsafe in such rough water? Is it their inability to be edged? Thank you!


  • Have you tried an on-water self-rescue?
    And have you tried loading the boat up at least half full of water to emulate the effect of waves dumping into that very large cockpit?

    The reality is that the hull design is not appropriate for big water - the barges are actually more unstable in waves than skinnier sea kayaks. But if you had ever tried an on-water self-rescue on a nice cool day in waves with a big cockpit/no bulkhead/no perimeter line rec boat... you wouldn't need to ask this question.
  • Bulkheads
    -- Last Updated: Feb-06-13 10:00 PM EST --

    There's really not much point in saying "besides bulkheads." If your kayak does not have bulkheads and you go over, your kayak will fill with water and even if you right it, it will be virtually impossible to bail out and get started again, assuming you can get back into it at all. This sort of kayak should only be used in calm water, preferably within swimming distance of shore. Large lakes can easily get too rough for an inexperienced rec kayaker.

    The exception is if your kayak carries two large inflatable flotation bags, which very few rec kayaks will be equipped with. You may (with practice) be able to right it and bail. But even then, a rec kayak really has no place in rough water. As mentioned above, the additional stability they offer on flat water actually works against you in high waves. The hull is more likely to be flipped over than a narrower sea kayak which, with a little practice, is much easier to keep upright.

  • Options
    Isn't a lack of bulkheads & perimeter...
    ...lines enough of a big flashing "NOT SEAWORTHY" sign already? =0

    As Celia said, take such a boat out in even moderate conditions (stay NEAR SHORE though), capsize it, and try to self-rescue.

    Ooh, it'll be a fun ol' time, I guar-an-tee it. =)
  • The problem isn't with the rec kayak
    And it's not a matter of how much a certain hull shape can "take".

    The key issue is how good are your paddling skills in the hull you're paddling in the wind and wave conditions you're in.

    No matter what kind of hull you are in, if you tip over and can't self-rescue, you are irrevocably in the drink. If the water is freezing cold and you are not properly dressed, you die. If you are too far from shore to swim to safety, you die.

    Canoes have much larger cockpits and hold much more water than rec kayaks. Yet there are canoeists who paddle whitewater rivers, on big lakes, and on the ocean.

    It's a matter of your paddling skill and preparation in the wind, wave, temperature and other climate conditions at hand and expected during your journey -- all guided by good judgment.

    Let's get more specific. Most canoeists, even ones with good paddling skills, cannot self-rescue in a solo canoe. Thus they are in the same figurative boat as most rec kayakers. If any of these boaters tip over, they are in the irrevocable drink.

    So here's what you do:

    -- Never go out in wind or wave conditions that are, or are expected to be, more than your skill level can handle.
    -- Never go further from shore than your ability to swim back. This distance will vary with your age, your physical condition, and the temperature.
    -- Always dress for water immersion.
    -- Carry a ditch kit with rescue and signalling devices.
    -- Paddle with someone else if possible.
    -- Wear a PFD.
    -- Have your hull equipped with safety gear such as lines.

    Most of all, use good judgment as to when, where and how far from shore to paddle.

    Of course, the problem is that one can't get good paddling judgment from a book, a video, a chat site or social media. Good paddling judgment only comes as the result of a cumulative series of bad paddling judgments, either personally experienced or directly observed.

    In the meantime, get whatever affordable hull pleases you, and use conservative common sense.
  • except canoes and rec kayaks
    are different beasts to empty of water. Rec kayaks typically have one bulkhead open, sometimes two. Even if you have a partner in an accompanying boat, your rec kayak if it has one bulkhead will fill with water at the unsealed end and point to the sky. Its very difficult to empty one of those hulls with water.. with two unsealed ends the boat will be level and perhaps underwater, but its still darn near impossible to empty of any water.

    Having had to fish people out of capsized rec kayaks twice in calm water nevertheless, it's not an experience I want to engage in again.
  • Options
    Cleopatra's Needle effect
    -- Last Updated: Feb-07-13 12:51 AM EST --

    Rec boats go up-an-over every wave, not slicing
    thru much of anything, while broaching, pearling,
    and all to often capsizing due to the large big flat hull bottoms.
    It can be physically exhausting controlling the boat.

    The big flat hull gets all the force/energy of the wave.
    A less wide, slightly elliptical hull, acts more
    like a weeble toy - wobbling a lot ,but not going over.

    There is a condition where sooo much water fills
    the rec boat it becomes essentially like buoy in the water


    Water weighs 8 lbs a gallon, lifting anything out of the
    water becomes extremely strenuous and needs careful thought.

    Float Bags help this issue tremendously,
    by keeping the water out to begin with, via pure displacement

    Canoeists will do a move called Capistran Flip
    basically turning the whole canoe upside down, first,
    letting the water fall out and then flip it mid-air.
    Takes a bit of practice and is usually done with 2 people.

  • guess I don't fully agree witt...
    -- Last Updated: Feb-07-13 1:55 AM EST --

    I guess I don't fully agree that it isn't a boat problem, but a skill problem. Rec boats are meant for flat, protected water, and whether skilled or not, if they flip away from shore, they are near impossible to get the paddler back in and boat dry. Added skills just minimize the chance of the paddler getting in trouble (hopefully the skilled paddler knows what to avoid more than the unskilled).

    The way I see it, rec boat designers are trying to take the best of touring and SOT and bring them together. SOT are wide, stable, etc., but you sit on top so are exposed to the elements and generally always wet. Touring you sit inside, so are protected from the element, but in a narrow boat that many think are tippy.

    Rec boats are wide and stable, but you sit inside so get some protection from the elements. Unfortunately, the trade off is that should you find a way to flip the rec boat, it is nearly impossible to get back in while on the water. A wide boat should be less likely to flip, but it can happen. And using them in larger conditions (like waves) increases the chance of flipping.

    Actually, on that - a wide boat will want to sit flat on the water. When the water is flat, the wide boat feels very stable (very high initial stability). But if the water becomes wavy, that wide boat tries to stay parallel to the surface, but these waves make more vertical surfaces. So the wide boat gets vertical. Narrow boats, like touring kayaks, don't have that super high initial stability, so are better able to let waves roll under them without the boat getting vertical.

    On deck lines and all, truthfully that isn't a rec specific thing. I still remember touring kayaks that didn't have deck lines (though it seems that most now come standard).

  • Not sure there's any real disagreement
    If a rec kayak paddler has insufficient skills to stay upright in wind-wave-current-rapids condition X, and if that rec kayak paddler has no roll or any other ability to self-rescue, he's not going to be better off in condition X if he's in a touring kayak or a whitewater kayak. He's in the drink regardless of hull because condition X is beyond his skill and self-rescue ability.

    I'm assuming a solo paddler, alone, for the sake of argument.

    It doesn't matter that a canoe can be shaken out by him easier than a rec kayak because, by my assumption, he's not able to get back in either one of them even if he can empty it. (I, for example, haven't been able to get back into my solo canoes for 20 years now.)

    So, therefore, this paddler should stay in calm, protected waters and fairly close to shore no matter whether he is in a canoe, rec kayak or touring kayak. He shouldn't think he can take bigger risks in a touring kayak -- which can "take" more than a rec kayak -- because, by assumption, he doesn't have the skill stay upright or self-rescue in any hull in condition X.

    Conversely, if the paddler increases his skill and develops a reliable self-rescue method in condition X, he can then confidently paddle in condition X. Now if he's in a touring (or whitewater) kayak with a Conan roll he can go into even worse conditions.

    In fact, if he becomes an advanced kayaker, he can probably customize a cockpit skirt and flotation for a rec kayak, and go paddle and roll in the almost the same conditions as in his touring kayak. It wouldn't be a preferred or efficient hull for those conditions, but he could be safe and confident. By that time, if he's taken by the sport, he's already out of a rec kayak and into something sportier.

    Some people encourage newbies to start directly with touring kayaks, proper instruction, etc., and I don't have a problem with that viewpoint. However, I think starting in a rec kayak is just fine and makes a lot of sense for most newbies, as long as they realize that they should limit the conditions in which they paddle until their skills and equipment improve.

    In other words, I don't like to dissuade newbies from rec kayaks. Just get a boat and start paddling. If you don't take to the sport, you won't have spent a lot of money. If you get addicted, you'll get a touring kayak or 12.

    And, of course, if you want the ultimate in paddling elegance and sophistication, you will become a kneeling canoeist. My one day a month as a kayaker is now expired.
  • Rec kayaks are as safe as the user ....
    makes them!

    Jack L
  • Thank you
    I had realized that the absence of bulkheads would mean that the kayak would fill up with water when it is flipped, and that I should not try anything above my skill level.

    I have a Perception Sport Conduit 13 (Dagger Catalyst 13), and it has bulkheads and a smaller cockpit than most rec kayaks, though larger than touring.

    I have only paddled calm lakes with it, but after reading many articles here and watching multiple Youtube videos, I had thought that, with a buddy of course, and not feeling overconfident because of my new knowledge and lack of experience, I would be able to brach out into rather larger waves (NOT the ocean)after practicing self-rescues and braces in calm water.

    I know the Conduit is more "reccy," but with the proper precautions, are 1-2 foot waves (max) plausible?
  • Options
    Those things are really only for swimming areas.
  • Options
    Paddler not the boat
    -- Last Updated: Feb-07-13 8:07 AM EST --

    I was on vacation in FL a year ago and my brother and I rented these rec boats and did some mangrove paddling and ventured out into the Tampa Bay where it was rocking and rolling. No skirts. We have good skills and played around a while and headed back. When we were back we were putting them up on their sides sculling with the water just under the coaming lip. Lots of fun and we were showing some renters that you can do a lot once you know how to paddle but never forgetting the shortcomings of the craft. The problem with rec boats is that most of the time the paddlers know nothing.

  • The basics
    -- Last Updated: Feb-07-13 10:56 AM EST --

    First, do you or the potential buddy know how to do rescues or braces properly? If neither of you does, even finding out how much won't work is a good way to get hurt. Hauling this boat up and over to empty out the water in an on-water assisted rescue is a very good way to hurt the rescuer's shoulder or have a bungie snap and the boat slides back into the swimmer's head. Braces done wrong are not nice to joints either.

    If you want to find out how this stuff should work, find some pool sessions if you can near you. Then figure out what can transfer.

    As below, people have added perimeter lines to a boat like this. Your choice there - whether to work up this boat or get some seat time and figure out if you want to look around for another.

    As to the wave thing - people focus too much on height by itself. If you are caught in a sudden weather change on open water one foot may be more than you can handle and you capsize, on a calmer day with less wind long three foot rollers in an ocean bay could be no problem at all.

    The biggest factor in avoiding capsize is the paddler. If you think that 1 to 2 foot waves are big, you are more likely to stiffen up which of itself can take a boat over. I know a guy who finally managed to capsize his Pungo, all by himself on a calm day, just two weeks after we paddled with him and I told him he was going to capsize himself because he was so stiff. I still don't think he understands what I meant unfortunately.

    That said, a boat's hull is designed for a given purpose, and boats like the Conduit are NOT designed for dimensional water. This is something with which the maker agrees - from Perception's site: "A great boat for touring lazy rivers or doing some exploration on smaller lakes."

    Note that in both of the above-mentioned cases, the shore is not going to be too far away for a decent swimmer to reach.

    I get the sense that you got a boat which has capabilities less than your goals. Go get some basic skills, then consider moving up thru used boats.

    And you seem to be looking for a hard and fast answers here - not likely to happen. My husband and I spent a few summers taking Swifties out into the middle of a small bay at dusk to look at things like an eagle's nest - that trip was absolutely dumb but we got away with it. However, we were never dumb enough to try crossing a channel to go a half mile out to a different island, other renters from this set of cabins did try and capsized. A few years ago a young man on his honeymoon in Bar Harbor went out in a Swiftie, and very likely never got more than a football field away from shore. They found his body a couple of days later.

    The difference between the tragic accident and getting away with it on the water is how close you are to shore, the temperature of the water and the blink of an eye where something gets away from you. And a hell of a lot of luck - we have at least one moment where a simple change in the wind direction would have turned a messy but recoverable situation into a newspaper story. Anyone who paddles long enough has one of these, or more. So being able to recover from a problem is huge.

  • In defense of rec boats
    ...one of which I paddle happily in not always flat conditions, it's three things that make it unsuitable for big wave action:
    1) flotation, which CAN be cured with float bags front and back;
    2) wide shape makes them subject to much more force in wind and tide or opposing waves, so harder to handle, which you cannot cure;
    3) flat bottom makes them very unstable when hit from the sides by wave action, and that's the kicker that turns them over and turns "unsuitable" into "unsafe".

    I do not agree that you can't self-rescue. And I added perimeter lines to mine (not all can do that BTW) to help.

    Float bags front and back DO take care of the swamping issue if capsized, pretty much the same as for SOF kayakers, and remember that some of those are among our heartiest paddlers!

    But you cannot get away from the fact that the shape is subject to capsizing in wave action.

    Paddler skill is the big FIRST limiting factor people fun into, not the boat itself.
  • Your kayak is FINE
    -- Last Updated: Feb-07-13 9:38 AM EST --

    Your particular kayak is perfectly fine for taking out in the ocean. It is not as fast as longer sleeker kayaks, but it is more stable without being a barge. Has 2 bulkheads and a decently sized cockpit that allows easy re-entry while not being too big to be hard to protect well with a skirt. The lack of skeg might make you work harder in winds, but because of the short length of the kayak, unlike with longer kayaks, you will likely not run into too much problems trying to control where to go in strong winds. But, you have to try it in controlled conditions to make sure you can manage it.


    You can roll it, you can re-enter it, etc. like any other "real" (non-recreational) kayak.

    Does not have perimeter lines but has lots of points to hold on to. You can add a line between the rear carry handle and the rear bungies and similarly on the front. Or if you like install full perimeter lines - paddling stores sell the necessary hardware and it will cost you probably only $20 bucks or so.

    Shorter boats like this can be a lot of fun in shore break and short-period steep waves.

    I paddled for a couple of years a Perception Sonoma 13.5 and (other than the lack of a front bulkhead) I did not feel I was missing much compared to longer kayaks. I did add a line between the bow and the cockpit and I did not need that in the rear as the stern is so short and there are already bungies there for storage and can hold onto them if needed or the rear handle. I mostly paddled it in rough water but it goes without saying it was fine in the flat too. That was 22.5" wide so not as stable as yours and very fast for its length but otherwise probably a similar experience...

    So, if you can handle the conditions, this particular boat of yours will not be an issue for general use.

    Oh, and flat bottom and wide beam does not automatically equal unstable in waves. If the paddler skill is lacking, a wider boat will be much safer for them than a narrower one with a rounder bottom. Some of my white water kayaks (say Axiom 9.0 at 27.5" wide) are wider than the OP's boat and with just as flat bottom (the Axiom is as flat as they get, for surfing and planing). Yet I have not heard anyone say that they need a 19" white water boat for added stability in rough water - just the opposite. You will find that WW boats generally have a LOT more stability than most sea kayaks because they need that stability in rough conditions; they are very similar in stability to rec boats, in fact. The key is to let the boat move with the water and to not be afraid to capsize from time to time...

    All of the above - my opinion, so take it as that and it might or might not hold water for anyone else's situation :)

  • Bulkheads are a compartively recent
    addition to kayaking and even to sea kayaks. I think if you were to look back 20 odd years or so,you'd find examples of bulkhead-less, long and thin boats intended for the sea and touring use.
    When I first kayaked, ~40 years ago (with the Scouts) there weren't even float bags readily available. That didn't stop us from filling the front and back of our kayaks with polystyrene and/or plastic containers (properly secured of course).
  • Oh no,
    I was not thinking of long trips or kayak-over-kayak rescues. I would only go out for about an hour, and not more than (maximum) half a mile out. I had thought that I would be able to pump out my kayak before I got back in. I would be close enough to shore to retreat if the conditions suddenly change. I know it says that about calm lakes in the description, but I thought that it was a Dagger Catalyst under a different name, and a reviewer states that he weathered 20 foot waves (I know, probably not) in his.

    I just wondered how the hull would act, and if it would be very dangerous.
  • Also
    Sorry to not clarify this at the start, but I am knowledgable, though not experienced. I taught myself how to paddle forward (torso rotation, ideal feather angle, using foot braces), edge, and do sweep/draw strokes. There are no classes that I can take without a good deal of traveling. I have been reading and watching the videos for about a year now, and I thought that I would be able to pick up experience pretty quickly. I intend to go from low to moderate skill levels, so to speak.

    Thank you very much for all your help so far!
  • Sorry, but you are not capturing this
    -- Last Updated: Feb-07-13 5:40 PM EST --

    What the hull can handle is irrelevant if you can't handle the conditions or fix a problem. Working on a correct forward stroke is admirable. But it is not remotely related to doing an on-water recovery nor is it going to provide you comfort if the boat starts moving side to side more than you are used to. Those are other realms. It sounds like you have not been willing to actually try any of this out, instead you are "thinking that you could..." do a number of things.

    You might be able to pump it out on the water, though your arms may easily fall off before you have the thing emptied out. There are steps in an on-water recovery that can help dump water out of the cockpit without adding to exhaustion - in fact that is why assisted rescues involve boat over boat. That's how you get the water out, and it beats the heck out of pumping.

    Only you can answer the question of being able to swim that far back to land. Personally, I'd rather stay with the boat and be able to get back in for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that you are safer from power boaters sticking up in a boat than being a little head swimming out in the middle of a lake.

    I am sure that this boat in the right hands can manage some pretty severe conditions. But I would wager that anyone who took it into the extreme stuff you are talking about has a number of other skills that I am guessing you lack - like great comfort in waves, a solid brace and likely a roll, and time practicing a variety of self-rescue options so they know exactly what they can do when things get dicey. They are not depending on theoretical options, but ones that they have tested and know they can execute.

    That is really the crux of this. Rec boats or even transitional boats with big cockpits make recovery from a problem more challenging. In some situations the combination of the boat and the problem could make it impossibly exhausting, in other cases the situation could be more manageable. The tragedies related to people in rec boats are usually the result of the paddler not having a pragmatic understanding of those limitations, and given that rec boats appeal to beginners there is a lot of that to go around.

    It is entirely possible that things could go wrong and you'd manage a recovery OK. It is entirely possible that you would find you have unusually good balance and don't capsize when others would. It is equally possible that things could go wrong and you would find out your ideas were not going to work in the event of a real capsize.

    The problem is not what might work for someone else, but your own apparent reluctance to get wet to find out what works for you. If you have been working on the forward stroke, you've had plenty of opportunity to capsize this boat and do this.

  • Oh, yes,
    I really do realize that it will be much more difficult than what I assume it will be, and I, regardless of whether I try open water or not, will practice self-rescues on a quiet lake.

    I wanted to try this on the Finger Lakes, I thought that they would be small enough on a calm day to gain experience with the boat without putting myself in serious danger.

    I know that I am in NO WAY ready for the surf zone or the open ocean. Is this still sort of foolish?
  • Best to have someone with you.
    -- Last Updated: Feb-08-13 6:59 AM EST --

    If you have others with you it will reduce dangers significantly. My personal decision is that if I go out alone I stick in places where I can save myself - ie. very close to shore - how far depending on the temperature of the water and my honest assessment of how far I could safely swim to a calm shore. I think it is all about anticipating the things that can go wrong. The better you are at that the safer you will be. When you are new to a sport you are not going to be so good at anticipating the things that can go wrong and so you need to be more careful. There are very serious dangers involved.

  • Options
    Flooded Rec kayak rescue - brutal
    -- Last Updated: Feb-08-13 9:29 AM EST --

    I know a lot of good paddlers read this but have you ever tried to do a flooded rec kayak rescue.? It is virtually 1 notch over impossible - brutal. I've done plenty at symposiums and once that boat filis with water and you have a totally out-of-shape paddler trying to mount the boat, it can tip and re-fill with water etc. It weighs a ton to dump and has a high seat back stabbing the paddler in any attempt to get back in.

    I don't care what rating you are or how many stars you have it is super tough.

    One time we had a large women capsize and the boat flooded. The paddlers (all trained and strong) trying to get her back in without flooding the boat and we gave up and rafted up and had her laying across our back decks. The third paddler towed us in. And on shore are vendors selling these things with no flotation and the nose of the boat is just visible above the surface.

  • Adding wind and waves to the equation
    You can find a place with strong on-shore waves and some wind and practice rescues there. Make sure there are no hazards. Adding some textured water to the self-rescue makes a lot of difference. I've practiced in such conditions (where I would acrually be likely to capsize in the first place) and I can tell you I ran into unplanned problems in the 15 minutes that I practiced, several of which each might have been the end of me had this happened off-shore in cold water. I'm not going to go in details here, but suffice it to say that I could not pop my skirt the normal way for whatever reason (the shape of the cockpit makes it difficult in some cases, so I had to pop it open in an alternative way, which is something you should practice for with a parner next to you anyway), the second was that my paddle float work was less than stellar (kept falling off the paddle due to a silly mistake on my part), and third - my pump frifted away in the strong wind and foamy waves and I lost it alltogether.

    I must emphasize that the specific boat I paddled was a BIG part of my problems. It was unstable and hard for me to roll at the time compared to other boats I owned. First of all, I would pretty much never have capsized in similar conditions in my more stable sea kayak. Second, had I capsized in my other sea kayak, I would have almost guaranteed rolled back-up uneventfully. Not with this particular boat - I would capsize and my roll was not bomb-proof in it. Then the boat was hard to re-enter, and once in, too much water inside despite dual bulkheads - makes the boat too heave and hard to handle in the chop while pumping. And, by the time I finish pumping all that water - I was exhausted or would capsize again because the boat was unstable...

    So, you have some plusses with your particular boat - it is stable: unlikely to capsize, easier to re-enter. It holds more water and in a self-rescue will take longer to empty (even if you manage to spill out most of the water before you reenter, which is what you should try anyway). I still think, your boat is safer than the fast sea kayak that I mentioned above gave me trouble... Focus on practice and reading and watching instructional videos if you can't get first-hand instruction. And bomb-proof your roll: it is a lot of fun to roll in a few different ways, not to mention it can be the dffference between just getting your head wet and getting in trouble if you can't roll up...
  • Options
    Not without compartments!
    If you take a rec boat out on open water it better have sealed compartments. I've had more than one experience recovering a flooded kayak without bulkheads or flotation. It's very difficult. With so much water it's very hard to T-rescue and empty. In a rescue situation I would likely take the victim back to shore and set the kayak adrift. Not something I want to deal with.
  • Thus the SOT
    They self-drain and are easy to climb back on. The downside is weight for the plastic ones. SOT's may have overtaken rec kayaks in the AmSouth, where the paddling is plentiful and no bloody two-foot snow storms are on the way.
  • Similar Experience
    One time was a young kid at a hot demo day in a big bargey rec-y yellow tub, who was trying to capsize. He succeeded when I was looking the other way.

    The kid was easy, he climbed up on my back deck so fast I didn't feel it. The boat was another matter - I tried three times but the only way that thing was going to empty was with a second or third paddler so we could have it upside down across two boats.

    The kid had a great time - he got a paddle in a boat, a ride on a boat (mine) and a swim all in less than a half hour. I had a much better time after someone else offered to tow the big yellow barge back to the launch.
  • Boat type, skill set and practice all ..
    -- Last Updated: Feb-08-13 3:10 PM EST --

    come into play.

    Several years ago Marshall of The River Connection conducted a kayak safety demonstration during the AMC Paddlefest at Plum Point on the Hudson River.
    For most folks it would have appeared to be just an ideal day. Temperatures were in the upper 70s and sunny. The water temperature was probably somewhere in the low 70s and winds were light. However, by the time of the safety demo the winds had picked-up. We were experiencing a consistent on-shore breeze of 20+ knots and waves up to 1 foot. Well that does not sound too challenging, right?

    Marshall carefully and effectively demonstrated several paddle-float reentries using his sea kayak. He did it in his usual professional and relaxed manner, with that rye sense of humor thrown in. Those watching from the beach really had very little
    clue to how easy he made it look, particularly with the wind, but they would learn in several minutes. Most participants used their own boats and equipment. As we organized them, before they gave it a try, Marshall suggested to me that we modify
    the drill to make it a bit easier for the group. The wind was blowing everything and everybody on to shore. We had half the participants paddle out into about 5' of water while the other half became sea anchors. Each non-paddler held the bow toggle of their partner's boat while the paddler wet-exited and attempted a paddle float re-entry. Most of the 'swimmers' found it very difficult to re-enter, even through their kayaks were being anchored and not blowing about. Others found it impossible. For some of it was lack of practice or balance; for others it was equipment; and for the remainder is was both. No one had what many would consider a 'rec' boat (e.g. 8-10' pungo). All the boats had at least two bulkheads, but many of the kayaks had largish cockpits and at least 24" beams. One or two of the people had a true sea kayak (e.g. ~ 22" beam; 3 bulkheads, lower volume cockpits).

    The type of kayak was only only one factor in the equation. One gentlemen I worked with had a 14' kayak with two bulkheads and a roughly 26" beam. It had a relatively large volume cockpit and limited deck rigging aft of the cockpit (e.g. no straps or lines to hold a rigged paddle-float. The guy was fairly athletic, but even with direct coaching and encouragement he could not successfully enter his boat. When full of water his kayak really wallowed in the wind and small waves. He later admitted that although he owned a paddle-float he had never trained with it. Many of the participants came to realize how challenging it would have been to try a similar self-rescue on open water without someone holding onto their kayak. What they did with that knowledge is unclear.

  • Options
    You almost wish SOTs could be a total replacement for your typical cheap & somewhat dangerous rec 'yak and put them on the road to extinction, but that wetter SOT ride + cold water = maybe not. =[

  • So true
    So true Tvcrider, I go kayaking with a couple of different groups and the one group I go with had a a quick rescue class before this event they had planned and I was quite shocked how very few could get back into the kayaks with a assisted rescue let alone a self rescue. Most were in decent sea kayaks too. I sat up on the back deck of my kayak for a better view as I watched this and couldn't believe how bad they all were. Didn't help that many were out of shape so no real strength to pull themselves up. Afterwards I mentioned keeping a strap along with there paddle float so they could use it as a step to help get them back up into kayak.

    As far as the OP I owned a Perception Conduit 13 for a day as I returned it as I thought it paddled like a barge. There are two others I know that have one now and its ok in small waves (1 footers) but if it flips and fills cockpit with water it stays afloat fine but is very unstable as the cockpit is rather large and holds a ton of water. Seemed like it took forever to pump out. But at least it wont sink.Not a great kayak but ok for what it was made for plus its cheap, Dicks sporting goods sells them for about $550.Its better than the rec kayaks with zero flotation as they just plain sink to just below the surface.
  • forward speed
    When it comes to evaluating your ability to travel through open water, against wind, waves, and currents, forward speed becomes an incredibly important part of that evaluation.
    So let's pretend for a moment that we're all going to stay in our kayak. We are three equally skilled folks, and we are going to travel against some current, through some surf, and against several miles of 20 knot wind and 4-5' short period waves along a coastline, and surf back into the destination. One takes a whitewater kayak, because they're stable and handle waves well. You take your Perception Sport Conduit 13 (13' x 26.5")). I'll take a Current Designs Nomad (18'10" x 21.25"), simply because over the years it has remained a favorite long sea kayak design of mine. Now, let's pretend, just for the sake of argument, that getting to the destination more quickly and with less overall effort is desirable.
    Herein lies the essence of a sea kayak in my opinion. If this piece of the performance equation isn't important to you in your kayaking, then you don't have to worry about it. There are plenty of paddling platforms to keep you upright in waves. It's whatever gets you on the water having fun. Staying upright and having the ability to perform rescues in rough water is an important aspect of sea kayak design, but it's not the primary design consideration, nor is it the primary difference between what's considered a rec boat and a sea kayak. For some paddlers, a full-on sea kayak doesn't represent an advantage for their paddling. For others, a sea kayak represents a tremendous advantage.
  • Options
    A few tricks I learned
    If you get the rec boat up on it's side a large portion of the water will drain out without the conventional lifting of a bulkhead kayak. Then grab the stern end and lift that which is lighter than the bow to drain that. Than as the water is rolling around, you try to quickly get it across your deck. You try to do it quickly so all the water doesn't roll to the stern end. And when you pick it up, you do it sideways so the only water that makes if to the stern can't be higher than the cockpit side opening.

    Even with all that it's still real tough.
  • What I have learned.
    1. Even though my boat is stable and has two bulkheads and I will be using a spray skirt, it can easily fill with water in a wet exit and it may not be possible to pump it out.
    Solution: Stay close enough to shore to return in event of this.

    2. Practice very, very much, and even so do not push my limited abilities.
    Solution: Stay close to shore and take a buddy, maybe in a rowboat.

    3. Actual skills, especially in wave action, will be much harder to accomplish than I think.
    Solution: Stay close to shore and practice very much with a buddy on calm water.

    4. My kayak is not perfect, but will work if I take the proper precautions.
    Solution: Do not encounter conditions above my skill level in any boat, especially this one.

    I apologize for my initial ignorance, and for the fact that I am perhaps not taking the dangers seriously enough. I believe that I am, though, and thank you all so very much for your help. I WILL be very careful.
  • Just one fix
    -- Last Updated: Feb-10-13 11:09 AM EST --

    FWIW, it is usually easiest to empty out and stabilize a kayak for re-entry by someone in another kayak. You can mix boat types and still have it work, but it takes more practice to get that down than working from two kayaks with dual bulkheads (or equivalent effect with bow and stern bags in terms of water displacement).

    I would suggest that you keep an eye out for a buddy who also has a kayak with decent flotation at each end, then mess with assisted rescues on a nice hot day after watching videos.

    To get a sense of how easy this can be if everyone is properly equipped, boats and skills, the typical assessment standard is to hit 2 minutes or less from capsize to the paddler back in an emptied kayak and with skirt on. Having one higher sided boat can complicate things in unexpected ways. They are perfectly solvable - but typically take more practice to get down.

  • spray skirt
    -- Last Updated: Feb-11-13 5:14 PM EST --

    If you haven't already done so, practice a few wet exits before leaving shore with a spray skirt. While usually it is hard to keep a skirt on a rec. kayak from popping off when upside down, you don't want to be the exception.


  • Ok, thank you!
  • Just a quick thought on paddling buddy
    AD, yes, it's usually safer to paddle with a buddy -- or two. But it's worth remembering: you're only safer with a buddy if that person is competent. Not expert but just competent.
    Also, here's a quickie rescue that can be done when it looks too hard to get someone back in their recboat -- or when they don't have the upper-body strength to get back in even when a partner has emptied their boat. You can have a swimmer wrap his/her arms and legs around your bow and you can paddle the person to shore. In some cases this will be quicker and less exhausting than the alternatives. And just about anyone can do it -- as the swimmer or the rescuer -- I think. Not a panacea. But an option. Good to have more than one!
  • I find it hard to believe in self-rescue
    of any of my canoes or kayaks out on a lake or the ocean. I put my trust in cumulative experience and judgement regarding wind and weather conditions. When in doubt, don't go far out.

    The cockpit of my Necky touring kayak is kinda small, but I'm not. Entering that cockpit while stepping off from shore is already an exercise in leg threading, so the idea of re-entering in a paddle float rescue does not inspire trust or a sense of purpose. I've rolled kayaks, and I will learn to roll that one, or get by on judgement.

    As for canoes, my observations in Quetico and Killarney suggest that your basic unwashed tandem canoeists are not turning turtle very often at all. I guess they're getting by on judgement, too, because I've been out on those lakes in whitecaps, and at the time, it wasn't skill. So let's dismiss the notion that most tandem paddlers know how to self-rescue, much less that they do it.

    Wanna see me roll my c-1?
  • Options
    definitely about practice
    Every day I paddle I roll a few times and about every three or four days on the water I do a few cowboy and re-enter and rolls at the end of the paddle. On our few rough water days we always spend time in the water doing rescues for fun and practice. You can't just do a couple of club practice sessions a season and think you have it.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Message Boards Close

Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!