Best rough water self rescue practice

Planning a trip to Northern Ca. and Or. in a month, and I have been attempting to teach my wife rough water rescues with little luck in central Kansas.

Today the wind was 30mph plus and the lake we were on has areas that cliffs border the lake, reflecting waves. Between the power wake board crazies, wind driven whitecaps, and reflected waves, a perfect confused/rough water training afternoon.

This morning my wife said it was going to be to crappy a day to go out, and it turned into a lot of fun.

OK, but can you both roll?

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Rescue practice
is all about attitude. You can have great fun in lousy conditions (up to the point where they exceed skills by too great a margin). This is how one learns to control the boat and to become safer on the water.

Most importantly, this type of practice starts the cycle of improvement. As skills improve, so do judgement, safety, attitude/confidence, willingness to try new things and get wet, which improves overall judgement.

I’ve equated this to concentric castle defenses where the outer level of defense (the moat) is your judgement. Anything that exceeds your judgement and puts you in danger means you have to rely on your inner defenses (skills such as experience, paddling stroke, braces) which equate to the outer walls of the castle.

Should those fail, you enter the last layer of defense, which is your inner castle defenses (kill zones, arrow slits, hastily assembled barracades) which consists of self-rescue abilities (rolls, and other re-entry techniques).

Should these fail, you are forced to rely upon whatever resourcefulness and gear you have that can keep you alive (immersion protection, floatation, signal devices, etc.) Finally, you are down to your assisted rescue where you aren’t able to remedy the situation on your own (damn Riders of Rohan, why’d you take so long to get here).

When paddling in a group, often the “assisted” rescue is jumped to quite early on, but when alone, one needs to have a bit more in the toolbox.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but it gets the point across that there is a learning cycle that we all must go through. Confidence in one’s safety increases enjoyment on the water, which increases one’s willingness to take chances, make mistakes (aka. learn), and build upon judgement, experience, and skills. What comes next is the willingness to adjust gear/skills to your own personal needs.


that’s the key
It can be a lot of fun.

though not bomb proof in both directions, my wife is still one direction only, oddly enough it is clock wise, our class started us counter clockwise and she switched.

It’s good to hear that some people have enough intelligence to actually prepare for a trip. If you can paddle confidently in the conditions you practiced in, you’re probably fine. If you go again in rough stuff, try turning your kayak 180 degrees and go back the way you came and then again. Turning extremely in rough conditions might be necessary in a real situation and it’s good practice.

Just don’t be afraid to cancel a day if the conditions get scary. Avoidance far outweighs skills. Have a nice trip.