Is a spray skirt safer?

How common are capsizes?

– Last Updated: Mar-12-07 4:34 PM EST –

I suppose you mean unintentional/non-practice capsizes.

So far, one.

Intentional, dozens - just yesterday.

Better/more relevant question might be: How traumatic/eventful are capsizes for someone?

This is where you'll see the dividing line between the two main types of paddlers. Those who try to avoid capsizes (and see capsizes more as accidents/incidents) and those who accept the inevitability, embrace the kayak's 360 capabilities, and work to maximize their options (and see capsizes as simply the other side of paddling).

The irony is the acceptance/360 skills types tend to be a lot better at avoiding capsize than the avoiders.

I currently straddle the fence. Have roll(s) on both sides, but stay upright when paddling (except for practice, cooling off, etc.)

Looksha Sport

– Last Updated: Mar-12-07 4:40 PM EST –

The Looksha Sport is a good boat.

It looks like the Looksha is 23 inches wide. This is on the wide side of the range of sea kayak widths. The Sport will require less attentiveness (generally) than a narrower boat.

Keep in mind that the sense of "tippiness" of a particular boat will vary between paddlers.

To quote Necky:
“The Looksha Sport falls solidly in the Kayak Touring range; well above a Rec Boat, but not a sea kayak.”

“many sea kayaks are very stable if you allow them to move with the water”

Hence, “dynamic”. (Though, I’d say “fairly” instead of “very”.)


That is Atlantic Kayak Tours (AKT)'s comment about the Looksha Sport. (I still agree with the statement and the statement doesn’t mean it’s a bad boat.)


– Last Updated: Mar-12-07 4:49 PM EST –

Clearly, we are talking about the rates of unintentional capsizes.

One would think that the rate of capsizes for intentional capsizes is close to 100%!!

No, my intentional capsize is very

Keep working on it!
Keep working on it!

Back on topic

– Last Updated: Mar-12-07 5:09 PM EST –

No skirt might be safer but it isn't (in my opinion) sea kayaking. Staying at home would be safer still.

It's possible that a rank beginner would be better off not using a skirt but not using a skirt will cap paddling skills. This means that, beyond the first few days, a skirt should "always" be used.

If someone prefers not using a skirt, then maybe a boat other than a sea kayak would be a better choice.

After a certain level of experience, always using a skirt will be safer (ie, result in fewer capsizes) because the response to events will be automatic and will not have to also depend on answering the question "am I wearing a skirt or not?".

Beyond the realm of rank beginners, I think the perceived risk of using a skirt is over exaggerated. In the real world, I don't think there really any problem. A skirt will also keep the boat from getting swamped by not-so-rare (if there is any possibility of boat traffic) waves.

"Our club in CT requires one and I still think it's a good practice." I think it's a great practice!

unintentional capsizes

– Last Updated: Mar-12-07 6:37 PM EST –

Well, I guess this may come down to how you define 'unintentional.'

I have a lot of capsizes from pushing my skills - linking strokes, braces, surfing 5ft breakers, etc... Also from trying things in unfamilair boats - balance bracing a planing hull boat while being used to sea kayaks and old school boats.

Some have said, if you're not capsizing, then you're not pushing yourself.

I remember Jed telling me when we were planning a weekend of training at the Woods Hole tidal races that; everyone will capsize, everyone will blow their roll at some point, and everyone will swim. This was not a slight on the participants, but rather the indication that he planned to push people to the edges of their skills.

I don't feel bad about capsizing in the rocks and ledges or three foot haystacks last year at the Downeast Symposium - I feel good that I rolled and recovered after capsizing.

Even Chris Duff has unplanned capsizes.

I think Greyak is correct in stating: "Better/more relevant question might be: How traumatic/eventful are capsizes for someone?"

different skirts
MY wife and I paddle the same kayak, I use a snapdragon neo skirt that fits very tight, with our kayak cockpit size you can only bring one knee and leg out at a time it is almost impossible to push with your feet and pop the skirt of, I have no problem reaching the strap and pulling forward to get the skirt off, my wifes arms are not long enough to pull forward far enough to get the skirt off, so we bought her a kokatat skirt with ajustable rubber aroung it and made it fit a little looser, she has no problem getting this skirt off during a wet exit, and yet it has never imploaded because of waves going over it. Using a different skirt for her made the difference from her being scared to becoming comfortable. We use a skirt all the time if for no other reason for carveing turns.


Based on the original post - - -
My thought would have been - - - Somebody forgot to pack the sprayskirt, but thought maybe it was calm enough without it - - - then thought better and went home. Makes for a bummer day.

Now from a newbies standpoint, I haven’t capsized the Sealion yet, but one of theses days this spring, I’m gonna have to try all this out myself. Now being that I have to do this solo, I’m gonna have to go easy and step by step through all this.

I have stayed in calm to 2 foot chop with no problems. Some slight edging etc. but the sealion seems pretty stable. For future roll attempts, I’m putting together a GP paddle as time permits, so we will see how this works for paddling first, and them for rolling.

I know what your gonna say - - and your correct. My work and weekend schedules make it pretty tough to meet up and paddle with anyone, and there are no kayakers in my neighborhood. I’m doing a lot of reading, and inter-library video loans.

skirts,skill levels and new paddlers
Maby, because most of the paddling done here in western new york is on relatively calm water (unless clarion comes to town and then 4’ waves are calm water…lol)and maby because there isn’t a requirement to, I don’t know many folks hereabouts with any type of roll and I know my brace is something I really need to work on this year.Because fof the torn tendons in the left shoulder swimming much more than 50 yards isn’t going to happen so I wear a 22lb floatation pfd.

I’m one of those ‘top heavy guys’ and last fall (still warm) I wound up edging a wee bit too far and went over.

Every person who’s pointed up the fact that: if you don’t familarize yourself repeatedly a wet exit is going to induce a certain point of panic is…correct. I’m extreemly thankfull I installed the bungicord paddle park because the grey owl would have been looong gone. Why? because UNLESS one practices skills one is not going to have them to rely on when the crap hits the fan…

My observation at least in my neck of the woods,is new paddlers seem to reach a below intermediate level and stop…They never go beyond being…new paddlers.

Far too often (save for the upper niagara and that has some nasty undercurrents )the waters arn’t the cleanest (tho that may not fly with the guy who paddles the hudson)and people are really reluctant to ‘test the waters’ doing wet exits and the like.

Reading everyones viewpoints has been eye opening.



– Last Updated: Mar-13-07 1:45 PM EST –

Clearly, we are not talking about pushing skills either.

When "pushing skills", capsizing is an expected outcome if not exactly the goal. If it is not expected, then there is no "pushing" going on!

Clearly, we are talking about unexpected, unintentional, accidental capsizes.

We are also not talking about Chris Duff or experienced kayakers.

After a certain degree of experience, a capsize should be a normal thing to deal with.

my vote
I’m with the person who suggested she just forgot her sprayskirt. No harm no foul. She used her own judgement and that’s what’s really important. In any case how can you fault anyone who is dressed for conditions (except the skirt). I think the skirt only policy is only suitable if the conditions/consequences require it. I guess it keeps the rec boats out. That being said I would encourage everyone to learn to paddle and wet exit with a skirt.

My first unintended wet exit was my first year kayaking when I was demoing boats in BC. I think that was my first salt water paddle but I had taken a brace and rescue class. New boat plus new skills and trying to see how it edged got me upside down fast. The skirt from my class had been so loose it pretty much fell off and I had to remember the push forward, pull off part for this one. Found out I’m pretty comfortable underwater, though. So there is a down side to learning with a really loose skirt.

I rented a Chatham a week ago and they gave me a skirt with a really tight rubber rand. I’m pretty sure I could have got it off but didn’t push myself.