Cowboy self rescue

Just another . . .
arrow in your quiver (IMHO).

I can do the cowboy even with a
bulky PFD…harder in a drysuit though…easiest in hydroskins by far…but i agree, re-entry and roll is the easiest, and it’s surprising how little water will be in your kayak.

I use to agree with you. I have a solid roll and figured if I ever came out of my boat I would re-enter and roll. Then I practiced and compared. Cowboy scramble, for me, is more effective. Less tiring and less water in the boat. But to each their own and it’s good to have a plan B.

Cowboy should be low on list
I’ve paddled with very experienced kayakers over the years, some you know on this site. In all the time in big water I’ve never seen someone use the cowboy in conditions. Less water in the cockpit, not unless you are in flat conditions. Celia, the athletic novice you describe is the excpetion to the rule. I also was very good when I started coming from over 15 years as a professional modern dancer. Flexable, very good balance, very aware of where my body was in space regardless of angle. I can do a cowboy with my eyes closed. But it would not be my first option of out of my kayak in rough water. As most of you are aware, unless you practice in conditions, your pool flat water successes mean very little. For the best odds, you’d have to get your kayak facing into the waves for any chance of using a cowboy with consistant results. I’ve seen very talented kayakers ride cowboy with no paddle playing in 8 knot currents in Deception Pass, but not use one when entering other than as a circus trick.

agree in conditions, but…
if in generally rough conditions that may cause a flip and failed roll a re-enter and roll is best. But not all failures are like that. I’ve come out of my boat mostly in surf and rock gardens where you tend to get a big hit but you then soon get a lull and many seconds of not so rough water. In this case a quick flip of the boat and scramble in is quick and drier than re-enter and roll. For my paddling in generally mild So California I have NEVER flipped in open water, but many times in surf or rocks. So different situations call for different tools.

Cowboy self rescue
Guess it all depends on the conditions. Personally I have spent many hours working on the cowboy method. Back before I started rolling I used the cowboy method instead. I never had great success with it though. I would say I managed to get back in my boat a little less than half the times I attempted it. Keep in mind that I was attempting this on a nice flat lake with warm water, so I can imagine how hard it would be in moving water or swells with colder temps. Just my opinion, but I always think its best not to come out of the boat to begin with.

Still I disagree
"Unless you practice in conditions, your pool flat water successes mean very little." This is true for cowboy, rolling and re-entry and roll. Kayak positioning and timing is important for cowboy but the same is true for roll and re-entry and roll. If you fail a roll you are more likely to fail a re-entry and roll also. A partially inflated paddle float helps if re-entry and roll is not bombproof, but I find cowboy a lot easier without toying with the float. Cowboy is also a lot faster. I would consider re-entry and roll with paddlefloat if everything else fails.

Many find cowboy easier to learn compared to rolling, and cowboy is very useful in roll practice. Re-entry and roll uses the same movements as rolling, and that’s a reason to learn cowboy (or some other good method of self rescue). It’s good to know and practice two totally different methods in case you during your trip suffer an injury that prevents you from performing your favorite self rescue method. I occasionally suffer from a back pain that makes even roll practice in calm water impossible, but paddling is actually the best medicine for my back and cowboy is doable also when my back hurts.

Comparing roll, re-entry and roll and cowboy, I find re-entry and roll the most difficult of them all even in flat water.

Cowboy is not party trick nr. 1, rolling is.

What you are essentially saying is that those who do not (yet) have a bombproof roll should not head out to conditions where they might fall in and instead they should stay in the pool practicing their roll. That’s total nonsense to me. Cowboy is a good method in many situations although a bombproof roll is of course always nr. 1.

make up your mind

– Last Updated: Apr-27-12 8:09 PM EST –

First you said forget the technique. Now you're saying put it low on the list. Reality is that everyone's different and it's another tool in the quiver. One shouldn't rely or settle on any single technique.

Yes, along with a roll, reentry and roll, I practice the cowboy reentry in conditions. I can pull it off regularly. If nothing else it teaches you about the qualities of your boat.

hey, roller97214
Would this be Rollerbob?

"If you fail a roll you are more likely to fail a re-entry and roll also. "

I don’t know where you get that?!

Some people fail their roll because they were surprised. And then out of breath before they have time attempting another one. If their roll is even half way decent, a re-entry and roll could be easily done.

As for rolling in condition, I would say it’s one of the easiest recovery method in condition. Because waves can both hurt and HELP rolling. You just need to get lucky on your second or third try! (or if you practice enough, you learn how to time it to get the help too)

With cowboy or paddle float, rough water is ALWAYS a disadvantage! Rolling? Not so much.

I’ll try to explain
"I don’t know where you get that?!"

There are many reasons why a roll might fail and many of those reasons are still present on the second try or during re-entry and roll. The likelihood of failing a re-entry and roll increases due to those reasons. Also, rolling is easier without water in the kayak and with the spraydeck fastened but fiddling with the spraydeck while under water might prove difficult or impossible. If you truly have a bombproof roll you shouldn’t need re-entry unless you are injured or have broken equipment. You should be prepared for surprises.

I’m saying that due to the fact that re-entry and roll is closely related to rolling it requires roughly the same skills as rolling. If you fail a roll due to lack of skills then of course the risk of failing a re-entry and roll increases.

I’m not debating against rolling, I’m simply saying there are other alternatives that might become useful too. Rodeo is for many easier and faster to learn compared to a bombproof roll and it can many times get you out of trouble while you are still advancing in your rolling skills. Not having a bombproof roll is not a reason not to paddle in various conditions but the awareness of your limitations is keeping you out of the worst stuff.

“Because waves can both hurt and HELP rolling.”

The same applies for rodeo but you won’t get out of breath while getting in sync with the waves.

What method would you use if rolling in any form for any reason was not an alternative? I would forget about paddle float rescues and primarily go for rodeo while waiting for help to arrive.

false secutity

– Last Updated: Apr-28-12 11:07 AM EST –

"What method would you use if rolling in any form for any reason was not an alternative?"

Assistaed rescue every time!

If your buddy are not there after you tried and failed rolls and re-entry rolls multiple times, find a different paddling buddy.

Your whole arguement against re-entry roll is that it's likely to be useless for shaky rollers getting into situation over their head, ALONE! That's correct.

But I would strongly argue that's a false security to rely on cowboy rescue for those situations, period.

So, if someone's roll technique is still shaky, going out alone in questionable condition should be avoided instead of embraced by adding cowboy rescue (same for paddle-float rescue).

The only time one should go out alone is 1) close enough to shore 2) favorable condition so a paddle-float rescue can be used for "accidental" capsize 3) reliable roll free of major technical flaws.

Adding a cowboy rescue is always a good thing but I don't believe it changes the safety equation. It merely adds to the false sense of security.

False security
False security is believing you can go out in any conditions because you believe you have a bombproof roll. Relying on buddies to help you is also false security.

The ability to save yourself unassisted is always better than relying on the group to rescue you. There are many methods to unassisted recovery and the more you know about different methods and practice them the safer you are.

Rodeo is functional in many conditions but not in every condition and not for everybody. Period.

good point
The initial roll comes as a reaction to a surprise. Not so much the R&R.

security vs false security

– Last Updated: Apr-28-12 5:49 PM EST –

"False security is believing you can go out in any conditions because you believe you have a bombproof roll. "

A "bombproof roll" is bombproof. End of discussion!

And if it's bombproof even IN CONDITION. That's not false security.

Re-entry roll offers the chance to roll back up even after exiting. That's even stronger security.

"Relying on buddies to help you is also false security. "

If you can't rely on your buddy to come help you, you shouldn't be paddling with them in condition that can capsize you.

While adding cowboy rescue does extend the security zone slightly, your assumption of rolling not being reliable is totally wrong. Like too many sea kayakers, they don't trust their own (or other's) roll because they never pratice it in condition. Do it often enough, you understand how reliable a not-so-"bombproof" roll really is.

Going out alone in condition, with a shaky roll, but believing in cowboy as a more reliable back up, could proof to be deadly.

Believing is false security
I know many claim (and truly believe) they have a bombproof roll but in reality they should practice more.

I also know there are people who truly have a bombproof roll and I have not at any time assumed that a roll would be unreliable per definition. Your roll is unreliable if you fail to perform it and wet exit or drown.

I also happen to know that I do not have a bombproof roll and that’s why I practice, but I have never needed someone to rescue me or assist me when I have failed to roll - I have successfully used cowboy or some other method. But I have never actually needed anything more than a high brace unless I have been deliberately seeking for “trouble” knowing I might end up swimming.

Relying on the group as your main method of recovery is endangering the whole group and assuming that the group will always be able to help you is naive. Why put others at risk if you have the skills to deal with the situation unassisted?

I repeat: A successful roll is your best option and that’s what you should aim for. A roll can fail due to a number of reasons and if it fails there are many options left. Re-entry and roll is one, cowboy is one, cowgirl is one, ladder is one, paddlefloat rescue is one, and group rescue gives many options. Cowboy works best for me for a number of reasons and re-entry and roll attempts is a waste of time and energy in comparison but YMMV.

Rolling makes life easier but don’t be unprepared if rolling fails. Relying on rolling and the group as your only means of recovery is taking unnecessary risks.

Anyway, this thread was about Cowboy self rescue and I think it has been covered already…

believe in others vs believe in oneself
"Relying on the group as your main method of recovery is endangering the whole group and assuming that the group will always be able to help you is naive. Why put others at risk if you have the skills to deal with the situation unassisted?"

Why would others be at risk by rescueing you?

You made quite a few uninformed statement, and this is yet another.

You view of a “group” as some mottly crew of un-skilled and un-deciplined strangers who start and end together but paddle as individual is only one kind of “group paddling”! I wouldn’t bother with such a “group”. I would be just as safe as going out alone.

I have the good fortune, through careful cultivation, a group of paddling friends who have the skill to be mutual support of each other. With the support of the group, we challenge ourselves, as a group. (instead of taking chances with cowboy being a backup in rough conditions)

Yes, this thread is about cowboy rescue, where its appropriate. Those who has shaky rolls are naturally putting more emphsis on cowboy. That is fine. But there’s no need to justify it by implying rolling is inherently unreliable. It’s simply untrue.

others at risk rescuing…
Mostly in surf and rock areas it can be risky for others to assist until the victim has gotten clear of the danger by swimming with their boat or doing a self rescue. It’s exactly in those situations I often use a cowboy as there is often a singular event that flips me and sometimes because of the rocks or overly rough surf tumble I don’t roll up. Then there is often (not always) a lull where I quickly flip my boat and cowboy giving me a mostly empty boat. If too rough or too tired I do a re-enter and roll instead. I can cowboy in moderately rough conditions in 30 seconds and often can be paddling away even sooner to get clear of danger.

rock garden
thanks for offering up another example of why a failed roll isn’t an indication to a guarantee failure of a subsequent re-entry roll.

I do see you point of preferring a cowboy because it gives you a drier boat.

Some groups opt to rescue their comrade by towing the capsized paddler + boat out of danger first before rafting up…

Do I have to type everything out for you
"Why would others be at risk by rescueing you?"

Let’s assume all the members in your group are roughly at the same skill level. Let’s say your group heads out in conditions that turn out to be too rough for the group as a whole, or that there is a rapid and unexpected change in the weather during your trip. Every single member of the group might be working hard by the time you take a swim. Being forced to attempt group rescue in conditions you are not comfortable with is risky.

“You view of a “group” as some mottly crew of un-skilled and un-deciplined strangers who start and end together but paddle as individual”

Nope, not true, that is not my view of a group although I am aware that your definition of a “group” is a reality in some cases. I’m simply saying that people make mistakes alone and as a group, accidents happen and you should never be satisfied with substituting self-recovery skills with a group. If unassisted recovery is doable then it should have a priority over group rescue. Assisted recovery becomes first choice when the swimmer lacks confidence and the rest of the group is confident, i.e. when the group consists of individuals with significantly different skill levels, e.g. when the group has agreed to take a rookie with them and the rookie takes a swim.

You should never assume you are safe in all situations just because you paddle in a group. A skilled group adds safety but there are situations where a group can not help you, or it might take a while for help to arrive. Why not attempt unassisted recovery while waiting for help to arrive?

Live and learn, get out there and paddle in different conditions and work with your recovery skills every now and then. Rolling is not a necessity while advancing from “sunny swimming pool” towards open sea, but it sure helps. No individual or group is born as an expert. A group learns and advances over time but an individual who is “always” in need of group rescue is holding the group back and is eventually left on the shore.

"But there’s no need to justify it by implying rolling is inherently unreliable. It’s simply untrue. "

I’m not implying rolling is inherently unreliable. I’m saying that anyone who heads towards more challenging conditions benefits from knowing how to roll but he/she should also know some alternative unassisted recovery methods. Rolling is good but it should not be your only means of unassisted recovery. (The same is true for cowboy etc. but I assume it’s obvious without saying.)

Some are implying rodeo is inherently unreliable and not worth considering. Those implications are simply untrue.

Not knowing how to roll will limit where you can/should go, but not knowing cowboy (or a similar method) will limit you even further. Cowboy is a step towards more challenging conditions, in my opinion a significant step further than what the classic paddlefloat recovery allows. For some it is easier to learn cowboy properly when compared to rolling properly and it works as one backup method if/when a roll fails. Some adrenaline junkies aim for rougher and rougher conditions and at some point good rolling skills become mandatory, others prefer conditions somewhere in between where rolling skills are not necessary but where paddle float recovery is too fiddly and cumbersome. Solution? Cowboy!