self rescue problem

I have a question for those with more experience than I do.

Yesterday I took my daughter to Lake Patagonia to practice our water rescues. This coming weekend I am hoping to do some ocean paddling in San Diego and want to be prepared.

So, we ‘fell’ overboard and before we could climb into the SoTs, the wind blew them away.

She had managed to keep hold of her paddle and so the paddle leash, attached to the kayak, kept her boat nearby.

Mine, however, took off faster than I could swim so I had to chase it to the edge of the lake. (fortunatly, being a poor swimmer, I was wearing my PFD)

OK, thinking over this problem, and worrying about watching my kayak go to Hawaii without me… It occured to me that surfers leash their ankle to their surfboard.

Now I am not talking about white-water through rocks here, but in the ocean or a relativly calm lake.

Does anyone have any experience with this problem and how did you solve it?

on a similar situation, I noticed a guy clip his paddle leash to his PFD and tie his painters to the boat so they couldn’t easily be freed.

Both of those proceedures bothered me. Opinions?

always wear your PFD, even if you are a great swimmer. PERIOD.

SOT leashes and paddle leashes are a good idea but…one must realize the entanglement/ entrapment issues associated with ANY rope or leash on a vessel. maybe carry a sharp knife?

one lesson we always teach is don’t EVER let go of your boat or paddle, unless it is absolutly necessary.

maybe take a lesson??


A leash might not be a bad idea
Just keep in mind it’s there and make sure you have a quick release method where it attaches to you. You might look at a snap shackle for sailing. put a nice loop of line on the pull pin. It will release even under a heavy load.

Anything to grab?
Most SOTs don’t come with perimeter lines, and since there’s no cockpit coaming to grab, they can be hard to keep hold of when you capsize. If you have thigh straps (and you should) they make a good handle. Paddle leashes attached to the boat are a good idea IMHO (others will disagree), but I second the idea of carrying a knife in case of entanglement. It’s pretty easy to add strap eyes for a perimeter line if you don’t have one.

Most instructors and books recommend that, when swimming beside your boat and preparing to re-enter, you always stay on the DOWNWIND side of the boat, so any wind only blows the boat TOWARD you.

Keeping an attentive grip on the boat is important, and remember that a boat will get blown away much faster than a paddle, so always take the boat with you when retrieving a stray paddle.

Just Hang On To The Paddle!
I use a paddle leash, especially in surf.

I think they are basic safety equipment for any SOT. As you learned, an SOT can get way from you in high winds, surf, or whitewater, and the paddle leash is your best insurance.

I used to brag that I had never lost my paddle in a wipeout, until I did…

But a few real wipeouts and the death grip on the paddle becomes pretty instinctive…

I personally would avoid actually leashing myself to the boat. That could be a bad problem in surf or whitewater, but if you are on flatwater and wind is the main concern, maybe…

Some SOTer’s leash the kayak
to themselves particularly when going solo a far distance from shore in windy conditions.

As you discovered a SOT is very different than a SINK when you capsize and wet exit (you can usually count on the SINK getting some water in the cockpit which will help it stay near you - on the other hand an empty SOT can blow away).

As warned you need to be careful about entanglement/entrapment issues if you teather yourself to the boat, but you can do it.

Occasionally, I do it when paddling solo in windy conditions. I use a modified polypro (it floats) bowline about the same lenght as my ‘yak (in my case 16’). I attach it to the bow padeye with a marine grade brass swivel clip. I attach to me by making a large loop on the other end (eye splice, or bowline knot). I put the loop over my right shoulder and under my left arm (over my PFD) - the loop should be large enough so you can take it on and off easily. I deal with the “slack” extra line by “flaking it” and securing it with a light rubber band - this keeps the loose line from getting tangled with my feet, the foot braces, the paddle leash, etc. - but when you exit the boat the strain will snap the elastic and you’ll have the ‘yak on a 15’ tether. You need to test your “flaking” or coiling of the slack and rubber banding to make sure it comes free when you exit.

I believe there was a discription (much better than mine) of this method on the Sit-On-Top Kayak web sight - it might still be there.

That would put you beam-on to any chop and trying to enter from the down-wave side, which is about the toughest way to do it.

I use a paddle leash when
I paddle an SOT, but I take the leash off when landing and launching through surf.

You can lose a sink in wind really fast

– Last Updated: Jun-29-04 12:47 AM EST –

any decent teacher teaches that a wet exit without control over your boat and paddle is no wet exit; it is a panicked evacuation and an invitation to real trouble.

I imagine a SOT is even worse because of the usual lack of perimeter lines and because you could be out of the boat before you know it, even without surf. Never gotten capsized in one. I've only paddled really low performance models. My fault soon to be remedied I hope.

Publicly understating the danger of a sink blowing away is no service. A 15 mph wind is plenty to move the boat faster than most folks can swim. The boat should be doing about 3 knots once it gets up to speed.

Another reason for thigh straps
"…you could be out of the boat before you know it…"

With thigh straps, you will find yourself hanging under the boat after capsize, just as with a SINK, so that you have time for an orderly exit, rather than just falling off into the water “before you know it”.

I apologize for mis stating the
possibility of a SINK blowing away - chalk it up to my minimal experience with SINKs - based on my experience and observation I (incorrectly???) assumed SINK drivers were more connected to their boats and leash considerations were not much of a factor.

SOTs, on the other hand, especially those with shallow cockpits and no decklines are IMO good canidates for a leash.

The only thing that should be
connected to you is a PFD, ALWAYS. The you connect to your paddle with your hands. A paddle leash then connects the paddle to the boat. Even if you mess up and let go of the paddle the paddle stays connected to the boat and at least acts as a sea anchor and slows the drift. With thigh straps attached and worn (another must) I can never imagine finding yourself separated from your boat without you allowing it. I have a T-140 and am working on rolling it. I have spent a lot of time hanging upside down under my boat trying to perfect this technique; I am certain I will apend much more before it is done. With thigh straps in a SOT a paddler has just as much control contact as if in a SINK. The only real difference between the two is the tan line.

Big overgeneralization
There are boats, places, and conditions where a boat-body leash is an appropriate choice. It’s all about assessing risk. A boat-body leash may be a good choice a mile offshore, but generally a bad choice in the surf (a lot of folks would say always a bad choice in the surf). I agree that a paddle leash is often a better bet in a SOT, but it’s not an always/never type of proposition.

BTW, one easy way to lose contact with a SOT is by re-capsizing partway through a re-entry and hitting the water on your back away from the boat. A paddle leash solves the problem if you’re holding the paddle, but if you put it in the water while attempting the re-entry, you’d better make a quick grab for the boat.

We are in agreement
sot’s are harder to hold onto.

Just keeping is straight for the newbies who might like a steep but non-lethal learning curve.

Body/Boat Leash
I agree that in some circumstances such as big open water crossings when paddling alone, a boat leash is an appropriate piece of equipment. Of course a knife would also be required in case of entanglement. If you paddle alone alot, you look at things a little differently. I don’t like paddle leashes. I do carry a spare paddle on deck. The one thing I can’t afford to lose 5 miles from land is my boat. Therefore I like the security of a boat leash. I use a bungie cord, which is easy to cut, and also more forgiving if you do get tangled. My 2 cents!

Not quite
"With thigh straps in a SOT a paddler has just as much control contact as if in a SINK."

With properly fitted straps, foot braces and back band, you can get a LOT of control over a SOT, but it still won’t compare to the hand-in-glove fit that can be achieved in a personally outfitted SINK.

Some solo expedidtion kayakers
with 100 times more on water experience than I have would disagree with you. Chris Duff for one.

What an extreme kayaker needs when he or she will likely die if they become seperated fron their boat, is different from what I need this week.