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Topic: Welcome!, Safety is #1, #2 and #3...< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
amhirsc0 Offline
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Posted: Mar. 09 2007,15:05

It seems to me that the incident illustrates some vexing issues, namely that for many the thought that kayaking can be potentially dangerous, particularly on sunny days when no storm is in sight, is "laughable" or a chicken-little approach to having fun.

Thus, we get newbie recreational kayakers going out not wearing a PFD, have no experience in navigating any boat when current,  seas, or boat-wakes are present, and have no idea how to get back in kayak if it happens to capsize.  And worse, they do not even recognize that swimming in an active channel where large slow-to-stop vessels are present, is not recommended and can be dangerous.

Yes, the probability that something bad is going to happen when recreating on water is very low, but it is not zero.  And no one seems  to understand,  that a kayak is basically metastable when upright and is very stable when upside down with the kayaker in it.

If you go over, you either are in an SIK wearing a skirt, stay in the kayak, and use a recovery technique to get back upright, or you plop in the water and need to get back in.  If in an SIK this can be particularly challenging, particularly in confused seas of a tidal navigation channel when the first thing you should do is get the water out of the SIK cockpit.  That takes some practice.

So my question is why in the warm waters of Florida, would a rental fleet for inexperienced kayakers include SIKs, even if they are the relatively wide beam and have good primary stability. We need to get the message out of how difficult it is to get back into the kayak if it goes over.  

Finally, very few understand that the wide-beam kayak, with great primary stability is more likely to capsize in a steep wave than a narrow, low primary stability kayak, provided the kayaker is experienced and alert and keeps the kayak upright, which can not be done in a wide-beam boat.  So, a rental fleet consists of wide beam kayaks with great primary stability.

(Capn's Log: nice post, thanks for taking the time.  Thoughtful and true)


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Mar. 12 2007,17:14

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randrums Offline
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Posted: Mar. 24 2007,03:38

I used to work for an outfitter who had 70 yaks; almost all were Perception SIK rec barges. I totally disagreed with their boat choices, but was a guide on hundreds of trips using these boats. Our saving grace was that we paddled waters with lots of protection from the wind. Any water with potential for wind driven or boat generated waves is no place for a SIK kayak with a newbie paddler. When I was a newbie, I got a SOT (ScupperPro) SPECIFICALLY for ease of re-entry and learned to re-enter it the first day I went out. To do anything else seemed foolish. I never took it into conditions where I thought I would have trouble re-entering the boat, until I had practiced it in those conditions. And yet, rental outfitters will hand a newbie a paddle and a life jacket, a bad hand drawn map, sit them in a low freeboard SIK barge with no extra flotation, send them out in 20kt winds and tell them to come back by dark. Ridiculous really. Newbies like the spacious cockpit openings, dry ride, and the SIKs have nice low seating, which stabilizes the boat, especially for the (numerous) chubby folks who show up to rent yaks. Still, it's our job as experienced yakkers to educate these people and keep them safe. For most newbies, they just don't understand the physics and realities of kayaking. An easy to mount SOT can save a lot of trouble for everyone. And a wet butt isn't the end of the world, especially in south Florida waters. I mean, this is a WATERsport, right? ???
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