P&H Custom Sea Kayaks Blog

Sea Kayaking Articles from P&H Staff, Team Paddlers, and Friends

Month: April 2017

Lifeboat Rescue

One of the worst things that can happen to a sea kayaker is the loss of his of her kayak at open sea. Mostly we paddle as a group, if paddling alone some of us are tethered to their kayak. But you never know, if that moment comes when due to circumstances you lose your craft. In our team we always carry a good quality PFD, good clothing (dry suit or wetsuit) and a means to call for help. I have always been a big fan of good quality VHF radios combined with the knowledge to make use of it in a good, responsible way. It has the benefit of two way communication, you can reach a large number of receivers, and if your message is received you get direct response. You know if and when help is coming. Make sure to load the batteries every single time you go out on a trip.
You should carry a minimum of items on your person. A VHF radio or a cell phone at least. A flare, maybe two if you got the place, the mandatory whistle, a knife, a PLB, a water reserve (camel back type). The more you carry, the more options you got when the need arises. Today we got lucky, we were able to train with the crew of the R6 ORKA lifeboat. Conditions were great, no wind, no waves, sunny but a water temperature around 11°C. Even in these conditions it was difficult to spot a single person in such a big body of water. Therefor it’s always better if you can stay near your kayak…. But in this case, the kayak was gone! A good VHF should float and should be waterproof by itself (not by carrying it in a waterproof bag). Most rescue services make use of a so called homing device, they can reach your location faster that way if you broadcast that is. If you got the chance to train together with rescue services, grab that chance with both hands! It’s always a good to learn and share experience. I want to thank the R6 ORKA Lifeboat crew for their contribution to this exercise!

 

Worst Case Scenario

One of our own team mates capsized, lost his kayak and got unconscious three kilometres offshore during our last trip. It’s probably one of the worst nightmares that can happen to us.  Luckily it’s just a training scenario, the “worst case scenario” in fact!  In our group we train these things on a regular base.  Not only because we paddle safer, but also to build up trust in each other, to learn from mistakes and to get better in what we do.  It’s also team building and thus great fun!  The week before we did practically the same scenario but in rougher conditions, it works also.  It’s important to state that this is in no way a training video, we just want to show what is possible and how we respond to such an incident as a team.  There is certainly no “one solution for every problem”, but this is a possible way to counter these events.  Always make sure to take care of the (unconscious) paddler first.  Retrieving his kayak comes later.  If the paddler is conscious and you’re sure that he is OK, you can go after the drifting kayak and bring it back to him.  Most important is to communicate with each other in a loud and clear way.  Work always as a team not as an individual, get everyone involved.  Make sure to take First Aid classes every now and then, make sure to know how to use your equipment (radio, cell phone, Personal Locater Beacon,….) and dress for immersion.  Always wear your PFD, no exceptions!

 

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