How difficult is it to

roll a Pungo? I read somewhere that it’s next to impossible. Tell me it ain’t so!

It matters?
Why does it matter? Pungo’s don’t belong in places where rolling is highly likely anyway…

Anything CAN be rolled
I know I certainly couldn’t roll a Pungo, though I have one friend whom I a sure can :wink:

Why would you want to roll one? It strikes me that Pungos belong on ponds and like places wherein capsizing is improbable and near impossible…

After all isn’t the descriptive alliteration “Pungo Pond Paddler”?

See reply to Wisoj2 below.

You’re right, I won’t be
on the ocean, and I mostly enjoy shallow rivers, but my vacation cabin is on a lake. I’m assessing my options if I should happen to capsize in the lake.

Not many options with Pungo

– Last Updated: May-18-09 6:58 AM EST –

One option is too swim your boat back to shore. Other than that you may be screwed. Without full floatation you are going to have one hell of a time getting the water out of your boat without assistance. Once you take on water in a pungo re-entry or rolling is going to be extremely difficult.
Choose your weather wisely and you will probably never go upside down in a Pungo. Getting blown over by a gust of wind or maybe a high volume of motorboat traffic might cause you to capsize but I really doubt it. Know your limitations and you will be fine. What I mean by that is by knowing your capsize will be followed by a swim to shore you should paddle accordingly. Avoiding the crazy windy days. Avoid paddling on wicked cold water where a swim might cause you to experience cold shock. Know your pungo isn't really a good self rescue type of boat.

Self rescue options with a Pungo

– Last Updated: May-18-09 9:42 AM EST –

You are very limited there. Yes we know of people who have rolled a Pungo, but these are quite good rollers and even for them it takes a good day where they aren't very tired and fairly flat conditions. If you are thinking about using it to get out of a situation where you may already have gotten caught in unexpected difficult conditions, and may have been battling wind for a while already, you are probably being overly optimistic.

Even if you were to roll it up, you'd have a huge, unskirted cockpit full of water which would make the boat more unstable, take time to empty and very likely to cause a second capsize. Even with a boat as stable as the Pungo.

The usual answer for a self-rescue on a lake of limited size is a paddle-float self-rescue. But most people find they need a boat with somewhat low decks, deck rigging, flotation front and back and a cockpit with limited ability to end up full of sloshing water. [Later add - Except for some amount of deck rigging], the Pungo has all of these lacks or risks. You'd also have to be able to flip it upright again from swimming in the water - doable but not the easiest job with a big cockpit full of water.

A more transitional boat, like the Necky Manitou or the Dagger Blackwater, may need a float bag in some models but overall have much more in the way of desirable features for self-rescue.

I return to my original statement - that Pungo shouldn't be anywhere you can't swim to shore. If you want to get further out and risk weather that could cause a capsize, you should be looking for a different boat. Yes, capsizing a Pungo isn't easy, but I have seen someone capsize a Swifty in flat water just by turning their head to talk. The minute you assume you won't capsize, Murphy is waiting.

Hoo boy . . . I’m thinking I may have
ordered the wrong boat. I have a Tsunami 125, which I love, but due to a health problem that limits my lung capacity, I wanted a more stable boat. While I like the Tsunami, it’s just a little too tippy for me to feel safe in deep water. (I used to be an excellent swimmer, but the lung problem now limits me. I have the ability, but I’m out of breath with just a few strokes. Can still get myself in to shore, but with much resting between strokes.) I really want to be able to venture out where I’ve not been before (but nothing more difficult than Class I or II) without being afraid that I’m going to capsize and have to struggle to rescue myself. (I’m not brand new at kayaking, but still a novice; my self-rescue skills are in the beginner stage. I also have to paddle solo because II can’t find any other paddlers where I vacation–and kayak–in Northern Michigan. ) The Pungo I’ve ordered is the new 12’ Ultralite–40 lbs. Are you saying that even a paddle-float self-rescue would be difficult? I also have a stirrup. And I carry a big foam boogy-board, just in case. Wish my health didn’t limit me so, but I’m not going to let it stop me from doing the things I really enjoy doing, if I can help it. So…have I made a big mistake in thinking the Pungo is a better way to go? In the long run, I just want to be as safe as I can possibly be; which boat is likely to get me there? I’m thinking perhaps the Pungo would be more appropriate for some situations and the Tsunami for others.

If you keep the Pungo
You will need full flotation in the bow (I assume you have the bulkhead behind the seat for the rear hatch). I don’t know what kind of lines are on the rear deck but make sure they are real lines and not bungy cords. From the picture it looks to me like you also need to move the lines so they are higher up on the sides. That will enable you to use the lines to stabilize your paddle for a paddle float reentry using your stirrup. You will also need a pump. Understand though that pumping water out of a large cockpit is going to take both strength and stamina. You might try it with your Tsunami to be sure you are up to it. Or install an electric pump. Myself I would just keep the Tsunami and send the Pungo back. You will get used to the tippiness and self rescue is easier.

Lots of considerations here

– Last Updated: May-18-09 11:34 AM EST –

I appreciate your desire to keep doing things - were I in your shoes I could be writing the same kind of thing with some switches in boat or environment.

I got your mail that this is about short trips in relatively isolated areas where you vacation, not a multi-day thing. Also that your concern is that walking out could be a problem with a bum knee, and there ain't going to be cell phone coverage. So I can see that a PLB could be of use at the point that you are sitting by the side of the creek needing extraction. You are not off base there.

Thing is, you have to make it to the side of the creek for this to work. And I still see some issues there.

To start, class II is no place for anyone to be in any boat who is not able to be a strong swimmer. People persistently underrate the risks in class II. It's also not a place for a boat with a huge cockpit like the Pungo. If that sucker goes over, it'll be filled with so much water you may not be able to lift it out by yourself, and the boat itself could be a hazard for you.

My earlier version of this post recommended what the WW folks call a "creeker", something with enough volume that it tends to bounce you thru the occasional hole that you didn't avoid, or a hybrid like the Dagger Approach or Zydeco. But someone below suggested a SOT - I like that better. If you can figure out how to drive it to the launch area, you can use a cart for car to the water.

Things like paddle float rescues and messing around with stirrups are not a go in moving water. At best it is ineffective, at worst it constitutes a huge risk to the paddle of getting tangled up in things. You get your boat and you to shore, often requires some help which is why moving water especially tends to be done in groups.

As to the details - I was originally mistaken about the deck rigging on a Pungo, it has a little. I corrected that. But like the Tsunami 125 it is a boat with relatively high decks. The problem for women on paddle float self-rescues is that our arms and shoulders are relatively weak, and we have our weight concentrated in what we are trying to get over the deck. For guys, with weight higher up, much of their weight is already in a good position even before they start trying to get their posterior back into the boat. And trying to do a paddle float rescue over a big deck is truly tiring - there's only so much of a window that you even have a chance in before you get too tired for it to be doable.

The best correction for women is a boat with a quite low deck. But if you are concerned about stability in a Tsunami 125, that's not going to be a happy place for you right now.

I also suggest that, as frustrating as it may be, you remove class II stretches of water from your list of paddling venues. Now, you may find that by mid or late summer sections that were class II in the spring are quite tame unless there has been a recent storm. So with a little research, this may not rule out as many miles as you think.

BTW, I just looked up for outfitters or clubs up that way and am finding darned little. And I updated my response after the info from your email and accidentally deleted the part asking where you were.

You may want to consider a Sit on Top kayak.

You make a lot of
good points, Celia–some of which I’ve responded to in an e-mail I sent you. So I won’t repeat here. As to the area of Michigan–my “home port” is Black Lake. The two closest towns (and they are both very small) are Cheboygan–about 30 min. SE of the Mackinac Bridge, and Onaway–near the intersection of M68 and M33, 20 mi. east of I75. The main sources of sporting equipment and water stuff are Wal Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods–not the kind of places where I can get in-depth advice or good specialty equipment. There is a very small specialty shop in another town, where I have bought a few Seattle Sports accessories, but they don’t have much. It’s more geared to fishing and hunting than boating. The three closest cities of much size are all over 200 miles away. It’s really pretty frustrating–which is why I’m trying to do all my preparation here (Columbus, OH) before I go. Once I get there, there ain’t much available.

Don’t know where the
messsage that asked where I am in MI went, but I know I saw it. Didn’t mean to hog space with the answer I gave.

For now, I have only Class I rivers (no Class II or even I/II) on my list. Thanks for the warning about underestimating Class II’s. I will stick to Class I only.

All the recommendations of which kind of kayak might be best are great–thanks to all. Wish I’d have gotten on here and done a little more questioning BEFORE I ordered the Pungo. The dealer himself had to order it from WW; I had to pre-pay, and I don’t think he has room for extra kayaks in his showroom, so I doubt I can back out. So I will go with what I’ve got and do some experimenting and practice with both the Pungo and Tsunami (in the lake, close to shore). I intend to do a lot of work on self-rescue skills. Who knows? With more practice, perhaps I’ll end up feeling most comfortable with the Tsunami–which I really do like. It just seems like it doesn’t take a lot to tip it–like turning too far to grab something behind me. I’d been having second thoughts about getting rid of the Tsunami anyway. Time will tell.

In and around Columbus

– Last Updated: May-18-09 11:33 AM EST –

Agree you re up to your elbows in Dick's out there, but I also found some decent reviews of a little shop in Columbus called Clintonville Outfitters. From their site - "Free Classes every Tuesday at 7:30pm. Kayak Demos (weather permitting) every Wednesday at 6:00pm." You may want to walk in and talk to them.

Amazing that you
found that. I’ve lived here most of my life and never heard of it till someone mentioned it to me last week. Hadn’t gotten a chance to check it out yet, but with the info you just gave me, I will try to do so before I leave town. Thanks!

Rolling a Pungo
You can roll ANY boat! It’s all about technique and hip/thigh/knee contact with the boat.

Don’t get discouraged.
You’ll be just fine paddling a pungo if you take precautions. Make sure you are paddling with someone that can help in the event of a swim, stay in conditions you can handle. Your original kayak would be fine too. My advice would be to take it to a shallow lake where you can practice tipping over and getting back in and see how much you can handle with your lung capacity. I would consider getting a sit on top kayak, it would be much safer for your situation. Also go to and look for the forum for paddling with disabilities. There are groups here in San Diego that I participate with that help paraplegics learn to surf kayak and returned vets with massive injuries get out on the water, so I’m pretty confident you can safely paddle if you get some training and know your limitations.

why not sell the Pungo
while it is still mint. Popular boat for newbies, right time of year, right part of Michigan.

Work on your self rescues w. the Tsunami. Change out the high seatback so it stays out of your way when you’re climbing back in. If your rescues still aren’t as solid as you want, check out the Eddyline boats

at the Outfitter in Harbor Springs near Petoskey - light and easy to carry/transport, well made, most have dual bulkheads, and some of the transitional models have a lower rear deck friendlier to self rescue.

An Eddyline will cost more, but if it matches well w. your abilities and eases your mind re self supported safety isn’t it worth it?

Good luck!

Club - West Michigan
check out I live on the east side of state but their members go clear across to Lake Huron.

Great club. Going to their 3 day seakayaker’s symposium this weekend.

Has a strong seakayak flavor but plenty of members do rivers and the shorter boats as well. They welcome paddlers of all levels who share a love of the water w. skill development and safety awareness. The club is over 20 years old and has a perfect record in getting everyone home safely. They paddle Lake Michigan and many inland lakes.

Every July they do a “Kayak for Light” event for blind paddlers. So there is much understanding for people w. disabilities.

If you join you will get emails about club events in the two months you are up at Black Lake. Maybe you can

find paddling partners more easily for the duration of your vacation.

From what you have said it sounds like a party of 3

would be a good minimum.

That way if you capsize, one person can take care of you, the other your boat (Pungo or Tsunami). If the boat cannot be raised due to its weight or position, then the two paddlers still in their boats are in a better position to get you to shore. One person can stay w. you while the other goes for help.

Pls. do be candid about your physical issues before setting up a paddle w. someone. I’m not at all saying you wouldn’t be, just that it is important to be so. People need to know that they will likely be taking the lead in rescues. It may mean they carry some extra safety gear or a ditch kit. It is an important part of group dynamics that makes a trip more realistic, enjoyable and safer.

I admire your spirit and wish you the best.

Self rescue in a Pungo is easy
Treat it like a canoe! In fact is is easier than that.

In the front I used a 5 gallon bucket with a gamma seal lid instead of a float bag. I shoved it up under the front deck where it fit in front of the foot pegs and then tied a line across tha foot pegs to hold it in place.

In the back I just tied in a huge canoe float bag, but I think a really big kayak float bag or a huge dry bag with towels would work too.

Keep in mind that you want to fill the spaces and you want the flotation to stay in place.

Then you can use a baler bucket or install an electric pump.

And finally I recommend a very large paddle float to help you get in the boat.

If you don’t get this gear and learn to use it then your Pungo is no safer than an open canoe that is not outfitted for rough water and you should only use it for shore sneeking in warm water.

Be sure and practice with all this stuff every month, the Pungo is so stable and good in a light chop that you’ll rarely need to self rescue on a lake. BUT when you do need the rescue, YOU DO need to have the procedure fresh in your mind.