In doing a wet exit...

When exiting a kayak after tipping over, is it best to pull the spray skirt off or to just slide out of the skirt, leaving it on the kayak?

At a pool session several years ago a woman asked me if she could try rolling my Nordkapp. I said yes, but that I had just bought a spray skirt that was extremely tight. She practiced releasing it a couple of times and said she was OK. I noted that her waist was significantly smaller than mine and suggested that she could slide out the tube if she couldn’t get the skirt off the coaming.

She pushed out into the pool and went over. After a couple of failed roll attempts the paddle floated to the surface and the boat started bouncing and wiggling, but there was no sign of the woman. I jumped in and layed across the hull, she grabbed my hands and I pulled back and she rolled up.

She said that when she tried to slide out of the tube the vacuum pulled the tube tight to her body and water could not flow in to replace the volume of her body. The harder she pulled, the greater the vacuum. I think if she had worked her fingers in between her waist and the tube letting in a little water, she could have worked her way out of the boat in four or five minutes. How long can you hold your breath?

Pool session issue
I’ve had a skirt tighten up to the point that it took a noticeably bigger effort to pull off the coaming in a pool session. It appears that the diff in temp between the water and the air in the very humid environment creates a problem. Now I regularly do an eyeball check to see if the skirt top is bulging up or sucking in noticeably. When I see either happening I lift the edge a smidge to let the air equalize. (Full neo skirts of course.)

I’ve never had the same problem outside, hence my thought about it being partly due to the pool environment. Or maybe I am moving around in a way that mitigates the issue on a real paddle.

Removing skirt
If you ever have problems removing the skirt because you accidentally have the loop under the skirt, grab the skirt on the side of your body right where the tunnel meets the flat area and pull there. It will pop right off. Give it a try next time you are in the kayak. I always have a drilled golf ball tied on the loop of all my skirts. It makes it impossible to put under the skirt with out noticing it and is a good grab handle with mitts on.

Who’s this one for?

– Last Updated: Apr-01-08 10:33 AM EST –

Should it have been on the outside level? Great advice, but I am not seeing the relationship to the above 2 posts unless it relates to my statement further up to cultivate the habit of going for the loop. Granted I didn't mention this alternative, but it seems that the OP is still at the stage of needing to acquire foundation habits.

I find the grab the deck bit isn't a great solution in some boats for me, like my boat with an extra small cockpit, because there just isn't much in the way of deck to grab up. For that boat I would go under the coaming and lift an edge, since the coaming is high enough to allow me to get away with it.

Class or Instruction DVD
Sounds like either one of these would be a good investment. It’s much easier when you can see it.


Great idea on the golf ball

I am going for a couple golf balls and the drill tonight.

Be careful
I suggest that you don’t use a skirt at all until you can answer that question yourself.

Even if you understand intellectually what you should do, all bets are off the first time you are upside down underwater. Make sure you practice a wet exit in a controlled situation with a spotter until you are comfortable with the idea.

or plastic tubing
Though my ww skirts have rubber/plastic stiffening on the grab loop, most my touring skirts did not come so equiped. I’ve used plastic tubing around the grab loop to create an obvious and firm grab handle.