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Kayak Safety 

General Safety.

As with all recreational activities safety is paramount, so always use common sense as a guide.


Here are a few pointers:

Never exceed the weight capacity of your kayak, which includes your equipment and yourself. Weight capacities stated are for calm waters only.


Wear your life jacket (PFD). Wearing your lifejacket will help keep your head above water and add insulation to your body, keeping you warmer in cold water.


Tell someone your paddle plan, where you are going, and when you expect to return.


Paddling in the surf zone can be dangerous, remove all rods from their holders and store inside kayak if your hatch will allow, or strap to side of your kayak using paddle straps when launching and returning to the beach in surf, remove all hooks and lures.


Be aware of weather conditions and water temperature. Prepare for changes in weather and the possibility of a capsize. If paddling in cold water, a wet suit or dry suit can keep you warm and comfortable. In warm weather, a long sleeve shirt can provide sun protection.


Beware of off-shore winds that can make it difficult to return to shore.


When paddling in a new area, check with the coastguard regarding tides, shoreline conditions and weather patterns.


Be aware of other water users, they may not see you, wear bright colours, when choosing your kayak colour make it a bright one, be alert.

 

The picture shows some of the safety items I carry on my kayak, Scotty's Safety Emergency Kit which includes a floating rope, waterproof torch, signalling whistle and bailer/waterproof container and Scotty's First Aid Kit with everything from tweezers to smelling salts, antiseptic wipes to plasters, if like me you get the occasional hook stuck in your hand, the wipes and plasters could be extremely helpful.


The information provided is a free reference guide only. The author of this information, sponsors and the owners of the website that host this information are not liable for any problems or issues that arise from the use of this information. Users of this information hereby acknowledge that all use of this information is done by their own free will, at their own sole risk, understanding that injury or death could occur.

Self Rescue Technique

Having bought your kayak, wetsuit and PFD, you'll be keen to get out fishing, but there is one very important technique you need to practice before paddling out to sea, the Self Rescue.


Ideally on a warm day with a calm sea, or a sheltered bay. With another paddler on hand or a person on shore watching your progress, position your kayak so that you are just out of your depth and jump into the sea, cold isn't it!


Swim alongside your kayak and position yourself at the mid point of the cockpit, place both hands on the gunwale at shoulder width apart, bring the kayak close to your chest and allow your feet to float behind you. Pull your upper body across the gunwale and into the centre of the kayak kicking with your feet will help. Your belly button should be about centre of the cockpit. Roll over so that your bottom is in the seat, sit up and swing your legs back into the footwell.


Check your surroundings, if it's safe take a breather, if not paddle out of danger and take a rest.


Unlike a canoe your are less likely to roll in a Sit-On-Top Kayak, if this does occur you will need to flip the kayak up the right way. To do this position yourself in the middle of the kayak, reach over to the opposite side of the up turned kayak and grab the side, bring your knees up to your chest and press down on the nearside of the hull, lean backwards and the kayak will turn back over, you may get a bang on the legs but nothing to worry about. Time now to use the self rescue technique as described above.


If you do fall in remember to keep a tight grip on the paddle, this should be leashed to your kayak and is your safety line. The only time I would advise letting go of my paddle is in the surf zone (but only if this does not endanger any other water users), the force of the waves can cause the kayak to be catapulted back towards your head/face, best to swim in after it. Whilst on this point, never attempt to return to shore through surf if there is anyone in the water between you and the beach.

The information provided is a free reference guide only. The author of this information, sponsors and the owners of the website that host this information are not liable for any problems or issues that arise from the use of this information. Users of this information hereby acknowledge that all use of this information is done by their own free will, at their own sole risk, understanding that injury or death could occur.

A Lucky Escape

Last Sunday the 6 July, after rigging up my kayak with improvised anchor trolley with bits and bobs from B&Q (I do not have any chandler's nearby), make shift anchor from scrap metal pieces found in my garage, and a crate from B&Q, I was finally ready to go on my first kayak fishing trip.


The forecast was for a dry afternoon at Llangorse Lake with moderate winds.


It took me 1 hour 50 min. to get there from Kidderminster - a very pleasant journey.


I arrived at the lakes reception at 12.15 pm, paid £12.50 for launching and fishing and prepared the yak. At 1.30 pm the yak was ready to go in the water.


I started paddling across the wind and the rudder performed excellently. I kept a steady course with ease.

The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and I was paddling on a kayak at last.


In 20 minutes I reached the reeds at the Southwest end of the lake, and anchored in 6 feet of water.


My improvised anchor system was working well.

I began fishing for roach to use as bait. My very first cast produced an excellent size roach - just right for bait, at last my first fish caught from a kayak!


The roach went on the trebles of the pike float rig and a gentle lob chucked it 20 yards out. The waiting game began.


15 minutes later I noticed that the kayak had started to keel over to the left. When I opened the central hatch I realised that the hull was filling with water. I quickly reeled in and started to retrieve the anchor, managing to pull it back in the yak, not an easy task with the kayak becoming unstable.


I started to paddle as fast as I could towards the launch site which was on the other side of the lake. I thought I would reach it quickly with the wind behind me, but as I reached the middle of the lake the kayak suddenly tipped over, I was in the water.


I managed to right the kayak but it was now impossible to get back onboard due to the amount of water inside the hull. My rods were in the water hanging from my make shift rod leashes. I pulled them out of the water and put them in the rod holders. Everything was secured to the kayak with leashes except for the anchor, which had fallen out during the capsize and was now anchored on the bottom of the lake, however hard I tried I was unable to pull it up, the yak remained anchored to the bottom in the middle of the lake.


My mobile was in my PFD front pocket but not in a waterproof bag, it was soaked and no longer working. My only means of raising the alarm was the whistle in the PFD, I started blowing; There was nobody around.

My paddle pants started filling up with water and felt as if they were pulling me down. Thankfully I had just bought a new PFD which was helping to keep me afloat, although I wouldn't risk letting go of the kayak. I am sure that If I had tried to swim to the shore I would have drowned.


I was in the water for almost an hour, the boats on the lake when I arrived had all disappeared. An old lady walking her dog appeared on the bank, but did not appear to hear my whistle. When I started waving at her she realised I am in trouble and went towards the parked cars at the south end car park. She must have raised the alarm because in 10 minutes all the hell broke loose. There was a helicopter hovering over my head, a rescue boat appeared, the fire brigade, the police and an ambulance with sirens were all arriving at the lake.


I was dragged into the rescue boat.


I had survived! Thank god!


I was shaking with hypothermia and it was three hours before I managed to recover enough to make the drive home. The kayak was dragged out of the lake half full of water. It took 20 minutes to drain the water from the drainage plug, another gallon came out from the open hatches.


My details were taken by the police and other emergency services for their reports, I was becoming increasingly embarrassed by the trouble I had caused.


With warm dry clothes and a few cups of tea inside me, I loaded the kayak on the car with the kind help of my rescuers. I was glad to leave the car park.


The kayak has been returned to the shop for a safety inspection, I hope to get it back soon as I'm determined to get back on the water and catch a Pike. But next time I'll have some flares and my mobile in a waterproof pouch.


With hindsight it would have been sensible to head for the nearest land to empty the kayak and see what was causing the leak before attempting the paddle to the slipway and staying close to shore on the paddle back.


Thank you to the AnglersAfloat forum member who agreed to us using his forum posting to warn others how easily things can go wrong.

 

 

The information provided is a free reference guide only. The author of this information, sponsors and the owners of the website that host this information are not liable for any problems or issues that arise from the use of this information. Users of this information hereby acknowledge that all use of this information is done by their own free will, at their own sole risk, understanding that injury or death could occur.

 

Should I swim for it?

I think you need to remember the debilitating effect of cold water. I know most SOT kayak anglers wear drysuits or wet suits but the cold will get to you.

What happens when you go in the water.


Without a dry suit (and proper insulation) then the initial problem is cold water shock. Your heart rate will go up to 180 to 200 beats per minute - possible chance of heart attack or stroke. Your breathing rate will go up to 60 breaths a minute, you will not be able to control your breathing and so there's a good chance you will take water into your lungs. Cold water shock takes about 3 minutes or so.


By the way, you can reduce cold shock symptoms by taking a cold bath or shower everyday - luvverly.

Swim failure will be the next problem. The blood vessels in your arms and legs will constrict to reduce heat loss in water. The effect is that you will not be able to co-ordinate your arms and legs - your body moves to an almost vertical position in the water and forward headway stops - but because you are moving your arms and legs you are loosing body heat at a much greater rate.


Chances of swimming 20m without a drysuit in April waters (about 8 to 10C) are virtually non existant. Swimming 200m is well....


In fact operating a flare, pressing buttons on a VHF becomes extemely difficult - that's if you don't drop it first.

Swimming in the sea in waves - even small ones - is considerbaly more difficult than swimming in a pool.

And we haven't even mentioned about swimming against a tide or wind and waves or rip tides.


There's a great but old video of Duncan Goodhew and Sharon Davies simming in a pool chilled to 10 degrees. After 10 minutes they have lost the ability to swim - and that's without waves or tides.


Hypothermia officially comes in when your body core temperature drops below 35C (normal is 37C).

Without a drysuit or wetsuit then in 10 C water it is estimated you have about 1 hour of consciousness after that another 2 and half hours if you can keep your airway clear of the water.


With a drysuit or wetsuit the biggest heat loss will be through your head - wear a hat, even a wet one helps significantly! Pull up the hood on your jacket. Makes you more visible (assuming it's bright yellow or similar) and helps keeps the heat in.


Very few people die from hypothermia - almost all drown when their head falls forward in their LJs. I won't talk about buoyancy aids.


The drysuit (with insulation) and wetsuit does increase your survival time but the effects of swim failure and hypothermia will take effect eventually.


By staying with the kayak you make a much larger target for Search and Rescue (SAR) to see.


Even if you can only get your body partially out of the water you will significantly increase your survival time.

And if wearing a buoyancy aid only then there's a much better chance of keeping your airway out of the water.

While it's tempting to self help by swimming for it - it has to be your very last option. Call for help using your VHF or flares or both.


Keith (RNLI)


The information provided is a free reference guide only. The author of this information, sponsors and the owners of the website that host this information are not liable for any problems or issues that arise from the use of this information. Users of this information hereby acknowledge that all use of this information is done by their own free will, at their own sole risk, understanding that injury or death could occur.

Kayak Fishing Safety Checklist

If you would like a copy of the AnglersAfloat Kayak Fishing Safety Checklist, click here.

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01/10/2014