How many times...........

-- Last Updated: Jul-25-05 11:54 AM EST --

will I need to be rescued?? I am really, really new to kayaking but now I am starting to get concerned when I read about self-rescuing, paddle floats and all the other equipment needed. First of all--why would you ever need to do a self-rescue---I thought you should never be kayaking alone in the first place! I know due to my size and shape that if I tipped out of my kayak in deep water, I could never get back in! Should I dump this whole idea about kayaking and try to find something different to do??? I have been kayaking several times and have never come near to tipping or falling out. I am a fair weather kayaker---would NEVER go in the ocean. Maybe I should rethink my purchase of a kayak and try knitting or something like that----oh wait--you can really get hurt with knitting needles, right!?!?!?!?

I feel every sport (not sure if knitting is a sport?) has it’s dangers. That said, kayaking should be relatively safe when approached from a safety minded standpoint. You didn’t describe why you don’t think you would be able to do a self rescue, but I can assure you that with proper instruction and some practice, you will be able to get back in your boat.

I guess you could always stay within 25 yards of shore and just swim the boat to the shore to empty/re-enter but why? Once you have self-rescue skills you open up a whole new world of paddling opportunities, not to mention you’ll become a better group paddler. Just because you go out with others doesn’t mean you are assured of being rescued by your paddling partners. If they don’t have the basic skills you are ALL at risk of a “fuster cluck”!

So my advice is put the knitting needles down…pick up your paddle and get involved with a local paddling group or better yet, take a basic class in your area…you’ll come away with confidence and probably meet some other paddlers in the area. Good luck!

My comments
You should paddle - absolutely. But you should do it as you would any other sports activity, incorporating time to learn basic safety skills.

I’m not a coach or an expert of any kind, but have some time on the water in various paddle, motor and sailing craft. Kayaking exposes you to some of those more generic risks that are associated with any time on the water, as well as some things that may be specific to kayaks for a particular paddler.

First, I am hoping that your lack of concern about being able to swim in case you flip over means that you are able to float and swim with some competence. If there is a very limited distance you can comfortably swim, a conservative view would be to say that is the furthest you should get from shore in any boat. If you can’t at least pull off a comfortable dog paddle with a PFD on, worry about swimming lessons before kayaking lessons.

Second, I am guessing from your post that you are a larger person? I am also guessing that you are thinking about a more recreational type of kayak, with a shorter and taller rear deck and little or no deck rigging. I can vouch from personal experience that it could be very difficult for a smaller person to assist you back into your boat alone unless you are able to help with a pretty good lift over your own back deck. If I am guessing the scenario correctly including that you haven’t worked on getting yourself over the back of a kayak, it could require either a guy or more than one woman who had some serious practice in assisted rescues to get you back in for an on-water rescue. Just being in a group of paddlers of indeterminate skill won’t assure this.

In sum, you really can’t evade at least trying to get a paddle float re-entry down.

As to the likelihood of tipping over… some people have fantastic balance and will go for years and never go over in a real life capsize. Some others will be in the water before they are 5 feet from shore. But ultimately if you do enough on the water, long enough, you will find yourself swimming. So if you kayak you need to incorporate some time to learn how to handle that situation. Personally I think it’s a lot more fun than knitting.

Thanks for the encouragement! I can swim–so that is not a problem. My husband and I are picking up our kayaks this Friday–rec kayaks. We are planning on dumping ourselves out (at first in shallow water) and learning how to get back in. I don’t think he will have any problem being of normal weight and very strong. However, I as a 47yr old, chubby woman—well…that will take a bit more work. I am excited about getting our first kayaks and I know we will have a lot of fun!

Thanks again.

I’d suggest a beginner class…
My husband and I are beginner kayakers as well - we haven’t purchased kayaks yet, but after our 1st outing with a guide we knew we needed to learn to do rescues.

If you fall out of a kayak, it’s best to know how to get back in - you never know what you may encounter out there, so I find it best to be prepared.

We took a 6 hour class this weekend that taught us the basics about choosing a boat, what safety supplies to have on hand, how to paddle correctly and most importantly, how to get back in the boat if you tip over. I was very worried about my ability to get back in the boat since I don’t have a lot of upper body strength. I was surprised at how easy it was – if you know the right technique! I now have the confidence to go out and paddle without worrying what to do if myself or my husband tips over. I also gained a lot of knowledge on improving my paddling stroke (I couldn’t make the boat go straight to save my life!) and made some good kayaking contacts.

All in all, I’d say it was the best $85 I’ve spent in a long time. You can’t put a price on your safety.

Just my humble opinion…


after a while
if you paddle enough, you can go from a pudgy rec kayak to a sleek sea kayak, and have some fun doing it.

Well , not going to be popular
"Should I dump this whole idea about kayaking and try to find something different to do??? "

If you can’t do a self rescue I would say yes.

Solo paddling
Both Nate and Celia have given you good advice regarding the self/assisted rescue issue, so I’ll make a few comments on solo versus group paddling scenarios (well, okay, one little comment about group paddling and assisted rescues before I get into the joys of solo paddling)…

Do keep in mind that if something has caused you to capsize (usually rough water, sometimes combined with inexperience and/or mistakes), you’re not the only one who has to deal with the conditions that caused the capsize in the first place. An entire party may find themselves in need of either self or assisted rescue at the same time, so essentially, you’re still on your own. Even if others are there and available for an assisted rescue, the conditions may make such a rescue more difficult, so the resuers must be well practiced (and the one being rescued should know what to expect, and be able to assist - if at all possible - with one’s own assisted rescue). Again, you could find yourself left to your own devices; so always be prepared for this…even if you’re paddling with a group.

Now, on to the idea that one “should never” paddle alone. Nonsense! :slight_smile: Though I enjoy occasionally paddling with friends, most of my year 'round paddling is done solo; in ocean bays and along open ocean coastlines. The solitude, and particular type of intimacy with the elements that can only be experienced when paddling solo is something very meaningful to me, and I wouldn’t want to give it up. Also, on the practical side, there just aren’t any local paddlers willing and/or able to venture into the types of conditions that I really enjoy. So, if I were to only insist upon paddling when others could come along, I simply wouldn’t be able to paddle several times a week…and that would be entirely unacceptable to me! :slight_smile:

Solo and group paddling represent very different approaches to paddling in some respects. Good judgment and competent skills for the water/weather conditions are always necessary, whether paddling solo or with a group, but the lines can be drawn differently when paddling solo or with a group. When you’re paddling with a group, you’re not only responsible for yourself, but everyone is responsible for each other as well. With a group, your mind/attentions must always be tuned into the group dynamic, and each paddler should know something about each other’s capabilities and limitations (and the group should only enter into conditions that the weakest paddler should be able to handle).

Solo paddling certainly does put all responsibility for potential self rescue upon your own shoulders, and as always, good judgment should prevail, but it also offers an opportunity for greater introspective intimacy with the elements. When paddling with a group, the deeper levels of introspection and intimacy must be sacrificed for the good of the group. Group paddling can also be noisier (must communicate with each other), and take up more space on the water (and on land), so potential wildlife encounters can be fewer.

Extensive solo paddling on open waters certainly isn’t for everyone, but for those of us who have discovered something within ourselves that appreciates - and craves - the solitude and particular intimacy with the elements that solo paddling represents, there’s really nothing that can compare. Paddling with a group of friends (the smaller the group, the better…in my opinion) has its great joys as well, but it’s a very different type of experience; and one is certainly not always better than the other.


how can I learn a self rescue if I don’t kayak??

Soooo if I can’t
parallel park, I shouldn’t be driving?

the poetry of obsolescence

– Last Updated: Jul-25-05 2:19 PM EST –

Kayaking can be an adrenaline rush, high skills investment sport. However the prevalence of rec kayaks has been great for the sort of low key type of kayaking where you may find more enjoyment.

I think it depends on the type of person you are. I always used this type of questionnaire with people who were getting into kayaking at the shop.

Are you the type of person who has to have high performance gear for everything, whether it be: computers, mountain bikes, or hiking/camping gear? Are you the type of person who takes up running and a year later finds themselves doing marathons and triathalons?

Or are you more of the type of person who buys a computer, a bike, a pair of running shoes and doesn't have to have the high end gear, the best of the best, and who doesn't need to push the boundaries to feel happy.

It sounds like you are more about number 2 than number one. That's ok. But there are a number of nuts around, you may even know a few who are definitely number one, obsessive compulsive types.

I like kayaking because it is so skill specific. It is beautifully and needlessly complicated and obsolete. There is no good reason to kayak, there is no good reason to have to know 20 different types of eskimo roll. There is no dignified answer to why I have spent as much time and money on this hobby, except that the skills and the experience give me something back, something intangible, but very important. There is a strange sense of satisfaction in being skilled in something so useless. I liken this to the phenomenon of mechanical watches, why have something so complicated, so needful, and so obsolete, when you can buy a digital watch that does everything the mechanical watch does? Because the mechanical watch is so useless, its obsolesence becomes a thing of unmatched beauty.

The experiences I've had on the water thus far, and the chance to use these skills is definitely a reward.

I can truthfully say I've had to use almost everything in my bag of tricks while on the water at one point or another. But this doesn't mean this is what it means to you.

I Guess There Is A Lot
of talk about rescues, self rescues, and other basic paddle techniques. However, as various sports go, I dont feel kayaking is as dangerous as many. Have to admit that Ive not tried knitting.

One of the best things you could do is to take a basic kayak course and see for yourself if yakin is for you. Most folks can manage to get back in their boat following a capsize in one manner or the other. It takes more practice and maybe varied technigues for some of us.

If you ever plan to paddle further from shore than you are comfortable swiming, (and towing your capsized boat), you will want to be able to get back in your boat. If you paddle with a partner you will want to be able to assist that person in their assisted recovery.

I enjoy paddles with my partner, with groups, and by myself. I have never heard that one should not paddle by themselves. And if I did hear that I think that would be one of the things that I ignored.

I am in my mid fifties and in far from perfect shape, and I enjoy paddling a great deal.


Yes–a #2 person!!
Thanks—definately I am the second person you described. I want a kayak to go out a during the year on vacations with my family and friends—will never do WW or in rough seas. I want my own since renting every time you go on vacation is too expensive for the three of us. I figure if I would rent 3 kayaks 2-3 times per year at $150 a shot, that could have paid for them in two years. And now I will have them to use whenever we want—not just on vacation.

I can picture keeping the kayak I am picking up on Friday for the rest of my life. Don’t think I will ever need an upgrade on it. However, my computer is a different thing…

It’s a different question

– Last Updated: Jul-25-05 2:55 PM EST –

If you take a class, and afterword and can not get your self back in the kayak, then I would do something else until you lose weight. Go to the gym work on strength training etc.

This was based on the comment...

"I know due to my size and shape that if I tipped out of my kayak in deep water, I could never get back in!"

If you tip over in deep water with a group, someone may be able to do a hand of god rescue or scoop rescue, but most likely it is going to be you who has to get you back in the boat safely. Many people who are very overweight have had serious consequences from tipping over in fairly mild conditions. Can you do a basic fitness test? Jump into water over your head in the temperature you plan on paddling in, swim 100 yards, then tread water for 5 minutes. This is a test used by the Boy Scouts to see who is safe in small boats on calm waters. If you can't pass it then you need to work on fitness before you get in a kayak.

If you’re going to be driving places where there’s a high probability of having to parallel park, you should probably learn how, or choose a different place to drive.

If you only paddle in places & conditions where coming out of your boat does not put you or anyone else at risk, you probably don’t need rescue skills.

A few years ago I was at a demo day when I noticed a couple of boats acting odd farther up the lake. I paddled out to find a woman in the water hanging on to her kayak, while her hisband paddled in circles around her. They had just bought brand-new composite sea kayaks and nice paddles, but didn’t have a clue about how to get her back in her boat. I did a basic T-rescue and had her back in her boat in a couple of minutes.

It’s good to know.

is a basic T rescue?

Look over at the side of the page
There is a tab with a yellowbox and blue check mark that says Guidelines. I believe it has an explanation of T-rescue. It has lots of useful infomation about getting started and kinds of rescues. Also get a basic book on kayaking skills and read before you take your class.

Maybe OK in Montana
Not very many other places though. You have to parralel park to pass a drivers test in CA. I know I had to watch my son do it.

Basic T Rescue
From My favorite instructional we site


I check out the site—lots of info!