I have a Carolina 14.5 that I have been “shore-paddling” for two seasons now. As a beginner, I’d like to start doing some wet exits but need to know if I should change spray skirts.
I currently have a Seals Adventure Spray (arched deck suppot and elastic chest - no neoprene) and it seems to me that as I capsize my yak, water pressure would just collapse it and flood the cockpit. I know it will still flood in any case, once I unseal, but should I change it to prevent flooding when I am ready to learn rolls?
Thanks in advance
Less likely to collapse.
Experience is the Best Teacher, I Guess
I guess I can try the existing one before plopping down cash for a new one right now. Are the neoprene skirts sized by human girth as well as cockpit opening?
Go with neoprene. It’s worth it. There are ways to find neoprene skirts cheap. You don’t need anything special, just one that fits right… and yes, neoprene skirts come sized based on your girth and your cockpit size.
If you go to a skirt manufacturers website, you will find sizing charts for both you and your boat.
As for cheap skirts…
‘Immersion Research’ has a “Closeout” page.
‘Bomber Gear’ sells closeouts on Ebay under the seller name “pure-passion4ever”.
‘Sierra Trading Post’ has deals on skirts from time to time.
NRS also has some good deals from various makers.
That's what I found when I checked for "Carolina 14.5", but this boats has been thru a few versions so I might have slipped by one in another material.
First, if it is plastic you're more likely than not to have the skirt just slip off as you fall upside down out of the boat. Imploding won't be your issue. But a neo deck skirt will push off a plastic combing pretty easily too as long as it isn't one of those WW type skirts with a really thick, heavy rand.
The thing is, getting a neo deck skirt for that boat could be pretty expensive. Here's the part where my own experience is askew from the usual recommendations. If you can't find a great deal in the links above, you may want to look for something used and, if anything, on the looser side to start. There is a distinct possibility that upside down and sideways skills will eventually leave you wanting a different boat anyway, no reason to break the bank on a fancy one until you are sure of future directions.
I stayed with an oversized neo deck skirt from my Squall for a season or when I went to my fiberglass boat with a smaller cockpit. While it was hardly the driest and wouldn't be a plan for more aggressive work like surf, it was fine for most of the day to day paddling I was doing then. I had already found that upside down put me on the edge of panic, so used the kinda sloppy skirt for a while so I could paddle the new boat with its more holding rim without having that always on my mind. It worked out for me - by the second season I had enough seat and skills time in the glass boat to not be concerned about the tighter skirt.
Good Advice, All and…
I’ll probably end up trying a mixed bag or all of
them. Much appreciated and happy paddling this summer!