Paddler made it fortunately

This should be a great training video for all those inexperienced with coastal paddling and even those who are. A brace would probably have been futile as it probably would have sidesurfed all the way to the rocks. Just turning into the wave and punching through is the obvious hindsight corrective move.

Convinced me to stick with a poly yak where rock gardening might be a concern.

@spiritboat said:
Convinced me to stick with a poly yak where rock gardening might be a concern.

no expert here but that would have been my move! I doubt good kevlar boat would have done that.

Let me start off by saying it’s easy to talk about/write things after the fact. But I’ve certainly done things in my kayaks countless times, and then, for whatever reason, I’ll make an unlikely error. So this could certainly have happened to me.

So I’m just imagining it were me, and typing what I see that I might work on for myself. Just for discussion’s sake, so feel free to 2nd guess my thoughts. I’m approaching this as though I’m not busting on anyone except myself here.

Keep my hands on the paddle next time. At 2:34, the right hand leaves the paddle, swinging out towards the wave, just before the wave hits. So really, this was it. It was pretty much all over here. I’ll write this off as panic.

A wave that size, and not wanting to get pushed into the rocks, I probably would have tried to plant my paddle over the peak of the wave as the wave hit me to prevent myself from getting pushed too far by the wave. If the pressure is too much, that automatically turns into a high brace as my blade pulls away anyway, which is a good thing. I don’t know that it would have made a difference here, but it is something that I’ve used fairly regularly. In this video, the paddle position and kayak position was great as the wave hit and the stern was pushed behind. The right blade was forward into the wave, and the kayak was leaning towards the wave. All that was missing is a paddler with his right hand on the paddle. I imagine that if the paddle had stayed in the right hand, it would not have been in such a good position. So there’s one to think about. The paddler should have kept himself with the paddle - not brought the paddle back with his arm.

The wave caught the stern more than the bow, and spun the kayak into a backsurf position. This position would have been fine if it could have felt less disorienting. The disorienting is simply a matter of experience. I spun back out in my Bahiya the weekend before last on a wave that was probably very similar - just without rocks to be pushed into. I planted my paddle as I explained above to hold position, the wave pushed my stern behind me and started me back surfing momentarily. I planted a forward stroke, and the wave passed under me. It felt great, like everything worked out just like I had hoped. But things don’t always spin quite like I’m hoping. The force a wave exerts on my kayak vs. the force I’m able to offer in resistance often seems to make my results much more hopeful and intermittent than forced. But you still come to expect some variation of a result, albeit with a lot of latitude in several directions.

Since I’m pretending this is me, I won’t sugar-coat this, as I consider this a big risk factor. Kayak on paddler is a big source of kayak injuries. I read a lot about paddler on rocks, but kayak on paddler is probably the riskiest thing I see here. The kayak was treacherously mishandled, and needlessly so.
Don’t let go of the kayak unless necessary. If you’re in breaking waves, always, immediately, put yourself on the ocean side of your kayak. Always. Immediately. Quickly grab both sides from underneath of the middle of the kayak and duck underneath to the ocean side. The moment I have time, follow my deck lines to the end of the kayak - preferably the bow. But if the stern is facing out, that would be fine. Then immediately start swimming, with my kayak safely held by the end toggle, perpendicular into the waves, with my kayak trailing behind me. Things likely end differently for the kayak if this is instinctual behavior here. . If the next wave pulls the toggle from my hand, I did my best. The whole thing might feel traumatic in the moment, and this is where training really helps, but this is no time to get caught on the wrong side of a kayak.

My skills development in kayaking has always mostly been making errors, and then thinking to myself, “How could I have handled that better.” And then there’s the drive towards repetitive experience. Always that choice of "I don’t want to put myself in that situation again!, or “I think I can manage that situation just fine if I change a few things up.” This is just what I see that I feel driven to work on as a result.

I applaud this paddler for sharing this story. I think that’s great! Thank you for the learning experience!

Meh - He needs more surf zone practice.
A surprise hit and knock down is source of entire blogs and novels for seakayakers.
A surprise hit for surf kayaker is a bit of back surf. ( 30ft you say, oh my!)

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and instructions. In my own journey here I’ve come across some suggestions that are so insightful and valuable, I print them for later study. This is one of them. Your light continues to shine brightly.

@SeaDart said:
Meh - He needs more surf zone practice.

Agreed! But he also needs more practice beyond the break line, learning how to read the water itself…But maybe he was not paying attention so closely, caught up in the recreation-group good time. Not withstanding that a surprise broach can overtake anyone unexpectantly, I’d never take my “eye off the ball” so to speak, that close to shoreline. Being mindful to keep one’s bow pointed into oncoming waves then making course correction in the slack, goes a long way to not needing to brace, roll or um…be rescued.

I applaud his humility in sharing the video and learning from mistakes(Lord knows, I have :stuck_out_tongue: )

@Rookie said:
Thank you for your thoughtful comments and instructions. In my own journey here I’ve come across some suggestions that are so insightful and valuable, I print them for later study. This is one of them. Your light continues to shine brightly.

Thank you for the kind words. I mostly worry that I’ll come across as more of a bank of fog than bright light. I hope it proves helpful.

@CapeFear. Foggy? Never. I always learn from your posts as they’re very well thought out and written.

I will admit I’ve not been able to visualize swimming my kayak to shore while on my back, as Carl Minshall suggested, while staying on the lake side. But I usually think about such things at night and fall asleep before I find a solution.