Bought Needed Accessories

-- Last Updated: Apr-02-13 10:44 AM EST --

Picked up a pair of the Werner Skagit for myself and the girlfriend along with some PFD's from our local shop. I think we will be happy with these paddles as our first ones. We will be hitting a local beach for our first few times to pick up basic skills staying within swimming distance to the shore.

Other than a bilge pump and a Pelican box what else should I be looking for when we go out for our first trip? Maybe something I've not been told or thought of yet?

We have two new Perception Expression 14.5's.

Safety stuff
like a whistle attached ta yer brandy-new lifevests.


simple items
Until you figure out what you like to do I would not get much IMO. Whistles, paddle leashes, possibly a sponge for each boat for keeping sand, mud and water in the cockpit under control. Some short painter ropes can be handy to have tired onto the boat for towing or self rescues.

What’s a pelican box?

some more stuff
Most single touring-style kayaks require some learning and kit to do self-rescues on. The basic tool that most start with is a paddle float and a way to drain the boat (usually a bilge pump). You can try to learn this on your own by watching youtube videos (search on “paddle float rescue”), but classes could speed up the process.

You may want some sort of thermal protection, being in Michigan which I assume has some pretty chilly water right now. Wet suit (3 mm farmer john/jane style is most common) and paddle jacket is the low cost way in to allow you a bit of safety should you take a dump in cold water (and be useful to allow you to practice rescues more comfortably).

other items
Consider what water temp you’re paddling in. Depending on where you are this time of year the water can be shockingly cold. Dress for the water temp and plan to get wet.

Paddle float for a self rescue.

Spray skirts.

Resist the temptation to attach leashes, or lines to the boat or various pieces of equipment. They cause more trouble than they are worth. Just learn to never let go of your equipment.

COLD right now
Are you waiting till it warms up? Right now water temp of Lake Michigan is around 34F even if going in a small lake it would be COLD.If so a wetsuit is bare minimum.

Like others have said a paddle float could help but if you dont know how to use it it wont help much. Get a sponge for sure, no fun sitting in water that pump wont get out. Gloves of some sort could help from getting blisters.

Waiting On The Weather!

– Last Updated: Apr-02-13 12:58 PM EST –

We are absolutly going to wait until the weather warms up before getting in. Currently the water temp in Lake Erie is around 35 degrees. Granted even though the temps will go up the water take MUCH longer to come around.

I've been reading and watching recovery videos for a while now, thats why I'm focused on equipment questions. I'll look into a paddle float as it seems to have come up several times on its usefulness. Most of our trips will be together but I know I'll want to go out for an hour or two for a workout.

As far as the bilge and sponge go, are they interchangeable or does one work much better than the other? Granted these are relatively cheap all this stuff does add up.

magooch - "What's a pelican box?"
Just an air tight box for stuffs.

Thanks for the replies everyone! I cannot say how excited we both are to go out.

pump vs sponge

– Last Updated: Apr-02-13 1:27 PM EST –

The pump is the primary hull clearing tool -- the sponge comes in to clean out the last amount that is not deep enough for the pump nozzle. Honestly, I have not carried a sponge in 8 years. We took in several gallons last Saturday running some short river drops in our low gunwale canoe and I was able to purge the 4" of water around my feet in the bow using my bilge pump in about a minute flat. Would have taken forever with a sponge. Plus a good pump is terrific for water cannon fights :-)

I would second the suggestion for a spray skirt. Helps delay hull swamping in a capsize or lean over, is a real boon in chilly water and even useful in warm weather -- paddle drip onto your lap and thighs can get really annoying and there is no way to avoid it. Also protects against sunburn when you are wearing short shorts.

Don't get a paddle leash. I don't know anybody who uses one and have been told they are more dangerous than useful -- makes sense. In open water I always carry a spare paddle on the deck.

A low profile deck bag is useful though some people don't like them because they can interfere with self rescue. If you can stash your water, dry box and snacks under the deck it's a better option.

paddle foat is a no-brainer
You can make one with styrofoam and duct tape if you can’t spring for one - but even then they’re pretty cheap.

Get some sunscreen and a hat.

It’s where you keep your pelican.
You mean you don’t use one?

I think you forgot one thing
Once you get out and find out first hand how much there is to learn (in a safe place, you are smart enough to know NOW is NOT the time)

Take a lesson. What you will learn so quickly is worth the dozens of hours that you would spend, perhaps not so comfortably, otherwise finding out on your own.

Lessons do lead to confidence but not over confidence. I would wager that most kayakers here from time to time, regardless of skill level, take lessons.

Flat water, rescues
You don’t think that Lake Michigan is flat water - right?

As to things to learn, with two of you it’d be worth it to find some late pool sessions and learn assisted rescues right up front. The paddle float thing works but takes more practice to be reliable than most people realize. But if you guys have tried assisted, you’ve also learned some things that make the paddle-float rescue a ton more reliable, and less tiring.

We are just a few minutes from Lake Erie. I grew up on the lakes so I am fimillar with the temp’s and roughness of the water. We will not be jumping right in to open water stuff. There are hundreds of canals and rivers in our area that will keep us busy increasing our skills.

Other than taking some classes, I’ve read just about as much as I think I can and watched enough videos on recoveries to make a documentary, thats why I’m asking more about the accessories right now.

I may look into picking up some skirts more early on, esp for my girlfriend as she is 100 lbs and gets chilled much easier than I do. It could help a good bit for her let alone myself. Even at 80 degrees inland the lake is generally 10 degrees cooler.

Thanks again all for the suggestions so far.

Getting there sometimes is half the fun -but without a decent boat transportation setup it won’t ever even come close.

You can always s get a couple of “temporary” hard foam boat support and strap systems to hold each of your boats, but they don’t last as long as other, more permanent solutions, take a bit more work to attach and detach when you take the boats out, and aren’t anywhere nearly a strong or sturdy as hardier roof rack systems. A caveat is that they may or may not be able to work side-by-side to simultaneously carry both boats on your vehicle. They ARE a lot less expensive, but I wouldn’t expect them to last the ten years we’ve had one of our conventional roof racks, and at least in our minds, don’t provide transportation security and confidence over the long haul…

But the best way to ‘tote your boat’ is probably a roof rack system designed to fit your vehicle(s). They’re not cheap, but are strong, sturdy, and will last if not a lifetime then at the very least as long as you have your boats. Major players Yakima, Thule, Malone, and several other suppliers supply a wide variety of products to fit almost all vehicles.

If your car already has a roof rack with crossbars, that’s a start, but it probably won’t be wide enough to carry both your boats both easily AND safely side-by-side. You’ll need to determine whether any of the roof rack suppliers have saddles -the actual parts of a roof rack system that snugly and safely hold the kayak -to fit the crossbars on your vehicle. If so -AND if you can fit them on side-by-side and carry both boats, you’re set.

Another possibly more attractive option for narrow-width crossbars is to use Js (“jays”) to carry the boats. A J looks just like its namesake: a J-shaped piece of metal bars or heavy-duty plastic that cradles the boat in a near-vertical position. Because the boats are vertically transported, they don’t take up as much side-to-side room on the roof. You attach the Js to the crossbars, strap the boats to the Js, and you’re good to go.

Or, you can possibly go with a stacker setup. A stacker is basically a tallish vertical support -a 2-3’ tall u-shaped support that attaches to the middle of the crossbar -one for each crossbar -to which you can strap 2 boats, on their sides, ‘back-to-back’, to the supports. The advantage over Js is that the profile of the 2 boats is even narrower. It’s a typical way WW kayaks are transported, but now, several flatwater paddlers have transported their boats in this fashion, and it appears to work fine if the boats are securely secured.

If it’s not Js or stackers, then you’ll need to get crossbars that will accommodate your boats side-by-side in their saddles/cradles. How to get them attached to your vehicle follows…

If your cars(s) have roof rails -the kind that already have rails that sort of look like tub handrails for the disabled attached vertically to the roof of your car, the major roof rack makers have devices to clamp their crossbars on your rails.

If your car has a ‘track’ for the car’s own roof rack system -which you haven’t purchased with the car, the major rack companies also have ‘feet’ that will fit into the factory track, and provide a basis to attach the 'towers- -the hardware that hold the crossbars up off the roof.

If you have a bare, plain roof, then you’ll need to purchase feet that conform to your car’s roofline profile, to which to attach the towers, to which you attach the crossbars, to which you attach the stackers or saddles or Js.

There’s an ongoing debate here on P-Net on how to complete the system when transporting your boats using roof rack systems. Some folks say use for and aft tie-downs -lines that run from the bows and sterns of boats to fixed attaching points -bumpers, etc. -as a finishing touch, while others say the roof racks and straps are good enough. We usually use tie-downs, but sometimes skip them. Your call…

You could also consider a paddlecraft trailer. But I’m not all that familiar with them, it brings in a whole new an different set of parameters and considerations, and I’ll let it go.

The final piece in the puzzle is attaching a flag to the back of the boat to alert people that there’s this (usually longer than the back end of the car) extension at the back of your vehicle. We usually have one attached just in case. It also acts as an additional alert when the car is parked for other drivers and passers-by -and us! -to not hit the extension as we walk around the back of the car…

A good, durable, and sturdy kayak transport system will make it a LOT easier to get out to, and back from, wherever it is -across town, or across the country -you go to


-Frank in Miami

Have Trailer
Right now I think I am all set with transportation, at least locally. I already own a 7x14 enclosed trailer that the yaks fit in(tested this). This will allow for easy local transport. With my truck I only get about 9mpg with the trailer but there are almost endless places to drop in within 15 minutes of my house. When we start going farther out I will look at some pickup truck options. My brother has a setup that he used for his flat bottom boat that I think I’ll be able to use.

Skirts not optional or for later

– Last Updated: Apr-03-13 1:32 PM EST –

Skirts are NOT optional IMO. It is a matter of safety. If you do get caught in surprise conditions, a properly fitting skirt can limit how much water dumps into the cockpit, an especially large consideration in boats with longer cockpits. Water sloshing around in a kayak makes it much much more unstable, plenty to capsize most newbies.

That said, you should only have skirts that come off without much effort in a capsize - eg not stretchy ones like neoprene - unless and until you have practiced wet exits and releasing the skirt.

All of this is much easier in a heated pool than in spring water of course.

As to equipment, what you may not be understanding from some of the posts is that the equipment is only as good as your ability to use it - and getting wet is the only way to solve that. It is NOT as easy to execute many of these rescues as it looks, no matter how good your equipment, because success requires things like ability to balance over the top of your boat, or commit your weight to the other person's boat, that only time and practice can give you.

I can name people we have taken out to ponds who were able to scramble over the top of their boat and into the cockpit without a problem within half an hour of learning the paddle float rescue - often small light women like your wife. I can name others, of moderate fitness, who were still unable to get back into their boat unassisted after three or four sessions of trying. Out of strength, flexibility and balance, they only had two out of 3. The one they were lacking kept putting them back in the water.

Add a partner to stabilize their boat and it would not have been a fatal issue. So you guys have a solution while your unassisted rescues are coming up to snuff.

Dry bag of spare dry clothes for each
One nice spring windy day and being wet - it doesn’t take particularly cold water to get chilled.

A class will make a world of difference in your basic skills, safety and enjoyment of the sport.

100 lb girlfriend…

– Last Updated: Apr-03-13 1:47 PM EST –

Did said girlfriend sit in this boat before you guys each bought the same one, to assure that she has contact with the thigh braces?

I just looked at the cockpit dimensions and deck height, and unless she is carrying most of her weight around her middle, this is an absolutely huge cockpit on her.

My concern is that, as you guys start taking classes to learn skills, you will find that she is physically unable to do the same things as you because of the sheer size and fit of the boat. If it is bad enough it could put a heck of a crimp into your plans to paddle together.

I also need to revisit my earlier comment about skirts. I'd hold off until you confirmed that she has the reach to actually reach the grab loop to pull a skirt loose from the cockpit.

I know how long a 36" cockpit feels on me, and I may have a couple of inches on your girlfriend given her weight.