Entanglement Hazard?

I have always thought it dangerous, or at least imprudent to tie yourself to a kayak, be it a SOT or SINK. The only exception might be for waveskis and other surfing kayaks, which might have an ankle leash with a quick disconnect. A guy on another site says he always ties himself to the bow of his kayak, a fishing SOT, with a 14 foot bungee cord. Am I wrong about this being an entanglement hazard?

On whether you are you or this other guy.

Seriously, I get the impression that folks who fish from kayaks regularly tie lines from the boat to things on the boat including themselves. It may be that they have found this to be a prudent precaution to hang onto their gear - not being a kayak fisherman I don’t know. But the line from the guy to his bow may be the least of what is going on with that boat. And in most cases kayak fishermen don’t think about taking a swim the way other kayakers might, whether or not you agree with that.

We saw a scull out on the river the other night with the Hudson at full flood stage and tree trunks going down the river. They were the only boat on the river - I suspect the other coaches were less of what I’d call a damned fool. But if he didn’t get the point from his peers’ behavior, nothing I could do would have changed any minds. I was just happy that they weren’t on the evening news.

I am me, not him :slight_smile:

– Last Updated: Apr-19-07 11:59 AM EST –

No worries, this is not one of those "I've got this 'friend'....." kind of questions. :).

Here is the thread in question, the guy's name is "Whitebear". I'm Reefmonkey on that site too.


Whitebear says:

"You are SO Right! A PFD should not be overlooked. You can't go wrong with a Type III for kayaking.

"But why not invest in a Type I also. Just as we carry a slicker for a rainy day I carry a commercial Type I in the hull "rated for carrying passengers for hire". It has reflector tape as well as whistle and strobe light.

"I carry a Type III strapped on top of the front hatch and have a 14 ft bungee cord attached to the bow and to me."

I thought it was amusing that he advocates carrying an extra Type I offshore PFD "in the hull" when he doesn't even wear his regular PFD, keeps it "trapped on top of the front hatch."

I have seriously considered doing it.
Of course I do a fair bit of open water crossings where a wet exit in wind and waves might rip the boat from me and leave me swimming miles from land and even more from help. If I was solo, I think I would. However, I’ve always had a bud with me on these trips and have chosen to forgo the tether idea. I also have pretty sound rolling abilities and haven’t come out of a boat in a real world situation in three years.


Rod and paddle leashes are faily common
for those who kayak fish just off the beach, what they call “beyond the breakers”. I tried them freshwater fishing and quickly found that they get tangled up in everthing. Aside from entangling one should the capsize, they are a hassle. My rods have their own little floaties.

Yeah, I don’t use paddle leashes

– Last Updated: Apr-19-07 9:35 PM EST –

I think they are safe for calm, sheltered conditions, but then there you don't need them. In rough conditions where they would be useful, they can be dangerous, with all the tackle onboard. I just keep a cheap telescoping canoe paddle I picked up at Academy on board on the off chance I lose my primary.

For fishing, I just put the paddle in the paddle holder, the rod in the rod holder. I carry cheap rods with me anyway.

Inuits sewed themselves into SOFs

And knew how to roll. Entanglement
makes little difference when hypothermia will kill quickly and little can be done to prevent it.

Paddle Leash, Not Body Leash

– Last Updated: Apr-19-07 12:56 PM EST –

I don't know any experienced ocean kayakers who use a body leash. Getting capsized in big surf coming in is a regular deal here. Part of the game. Even Waveskiiers use a paddle leash rather than a body leash.

I don't know any SINK kayakers who use them, but a paddle leash is considered required equipment for off shore and surfing SOTer, especially if they go alone. The paddle leash serves 3 purposes:

1. Secures the paddle. Even in calm conditions, its pretty easy to drop a paddle while reaching for a water bottle, etc. Being a couple miles out on the Pacific Ocean without a paddle is not a good thing. If you are with someone they can get it for you, but if you are alone this could be really bad.

2. Secures the boat. SOTs can drift away a lot faster than you can swim. At the Golden Gate the current can run to 6 knots. No one can swim that fast.

3. Protects others in the surf. If a SOT gets away from you in the surf it can become dangerous to others. You will get the stink eye from both board surfers and butt surfers if you don't have a paddle leash.

A lot of newbies misinterpret this as boardie versus butt surfer hostility until they get schooled by other butt surfers. Often they will come to other SOTers to complain about the boardies and end up getting schooled.

Didn’t mean that
I was just thinking that the whole kayak fishing thing can be a real different mind set and world (as your clip exemplifies) from what usually comes to mind with sea kayaking - as in touring and all of that. Whatever this site decides, I suspect it won’t play very far on a fishing site.

As far as attaching the kayak to the
body, this guy is the only one I’ve ever seen on that website who suggests doing that. Rod leashes and paddle leashes are common. You are right, its a different mindset. Until a serious incident happens, things won’t change.

I know
Chris Duff tethered himself to the stern of his boat when he circumnavigated Ireland, presumably using a quick release belt around his waist.

I’d have to agree that you would have to weigh all the possible variables. On a solo expedition of that magnitude, I’d have to say I’d take the risk and do it, considering the kayak is my life. I would worry more about a bad situation sweeping my empty kayak out to sea than the risk of an entanglement.

It depends
You’re weighing risk of entanglement against risk of losing the boat. Which way that balance tips depends on what you’re doing and where. I do tend to think that people build up entanglement as a bigger bugaboo than it really is. You don’t want to have a big rat’s nest of lines running all over your boat, but with some thought and attention to leash setups they’re not going to come crawling up around your neck unless you really work at it.

I see
and you’re totally right about the mindset. The PFD issue alone - this guy straps his PFD to his yak instead of wearing it. On this site anyone who admitted to doing that would be admonished in no uncertain terms. On the fishing site, if you gently suggest that a PFD should be worn at all times, you’re the one who is going to be piled on. On that site they post reports of accidents and near-misses, most of which are due to not reading the conditions, not being dressed for immersion, and no self-rescue skills, and most of the posters talk about the situations as unforeseeable acts of God, to which we could all be suceptible and can do nothing to prevent if our number is up. Fortunately I have seen some progress being made. A primitive awareness of safety is taking shape - people are beginning to read these incident reports and at least ask “was he wearing a PFD?” And there are finally some interest in taking basic safety and technique classes. But still most of the people on that site are definitely fishermen first, paddlers a distant, distant second.

Situation is probably key
I found this in the KayakWiki on kayakforum.com:

“Wrist and kayak leashes are probably not as useful as some think. They provide a safe connection under benign conditions (when they are not required) and represent a risk under difficult conditions”

Since the discussion on the other board was the saltwater fishing section, and the guy in question lives in Aransas Pass, Tx on the coast, I am going to assume he does one or both of two kinds of saltwater SOT kayak fishing done here. Back bay fishing - shallow, protected bays; and the surf-side fishing they all grandiosely call “Beyond The Breakers” or “offshore” fishing - paddling a few hundred yards to a couple of miles off the beach.

Since this guy told me he keeps his type III PFD strapped to his yak most of the time and only puts it on when he crosses water he can’t stand in, I am going to assume he mostly does the back bay fishing, which qualifies as “benign conditions (where they are not required)”. Hmm, if it’s true the shallow protected back bays are where he does most of his fishing, that makes his pride in carrying an extra type I offshore PFD all the more amusing.

If he is are doing the “offshore” type of fishing, he is going in and out of the breakers and into choppy (for a kayak) water, those would qualify as “difficult conditions” (for guys like him), where being tethered to the boat and surrounded by fishing poles and other tackle would “present a risk”. Hopefully if he is doing this kind of fishing, he has the good sense to keep himself untethered until he gets through the breakers going out, and untether himself before going back through the breakers coming back in.

A kayak fishermans’ opinion
I will rig my boat on shore, this includes setting up the fish finder, rod holders, paddle leash, etc. The PFD goes on before the boat goes in the water, and doesn’t come off until the boat is out of the water. It is the rule that is followed whether fishing or not, for me and my family. The kids complain when they see other kids not wearing a PFD, but they still have to wear theirs, don’t like, stay home.

Not wearing a PFD in or on a kayak is just stupid. Bad things happen suddenly, wearing your PFD is an easy way to be prepared for the unexpected. If is uncomftable or get in the way of casting or paddling or other fishing movements, get one that works, there are lots of designs out there, even some made just for fishing. I don’t care what others think, I want to die from old age, not being stupid.

Like I said on TKF, the guy’s an ex
short board surfer. That’s why he wears the leash.

Seriously, or are you kidding?
I looked up his picture on the website for the lodge he works for, and he doesn’t look like he ever had the physique for surfing :slight_smile:

For surf conditions in SOT
A paddle leash is much safer than no leash, swimming in big surf is NO FUN, if you can keep in contact with your paddle and boat you can quickly remount and get out of trouble. I think most of the people who post about the dangers of leashes in surf have no experience with either.

I was trying to be diplomatic
but I think that second sentence pretty much gets it right.