Safety gear for support kayakers

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
This discussion was created from comments split from: SCAR Swim 2017.

Comments

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    These accounts are so helpful to me as a complete novice. I am very interested in the role the kayaker plays in all this. It is now much more apparent to me how the kayaker actually rounds out the team of the swimmer and the kayaker. I am also interested in learning about what kind of safety gear the kayaker should carry. There is plenty of info on safety gear for the kayaker, less so on safety gear for swimmer assist or rescue. Can anyone share some knowledge or links? (This is a great thread!)

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited May 16

    @curly Like everything else one has to practice.
    The kayak is the main safety gear.
    The kayaker has to know how to get a swimmer safe without tipping the canoe.
    Practice how to do that. And also how to do that with an unconscious swimmer!

    DanSimonelli

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    edited May 16

    Yes, what @Niek said.

    And, tie everything down!

    Life jacket on kayaker (even for experienced swimmer; I'm guilty of this), so that your floatation can buoy both you and swimmer in distress.

    Kayaker should also practice getting back onto kayak from water.

    Did I say tie everything down?! ;)

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    I have also been considering a kick board with a hole at the top (front) to tie a rope to. This could be used to float an unconscious swimmer. I think it would be easier getting a kick board under an unconscious swimmer than it would to get a life jacket on a swimmer. I sure agree with the PFD for the kayaker. And I also agree with the practice part. And the tie everything down part.

  • swimrn62swimrn62 NY, NYMember

    I pretty much disagree with the tie everything down approach. Ropes can be a serious hazard in a capsize, and a kayak with tethered soaked gear bags hanging from it can be hard to get turned upright. Unless you're in fast moving water, I think it's safer to hop back in the kayak and go fetch your gear. But if you must have a rope, make sure you have a quick, easy to find, release.

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COMember

    swimrn62 said: I pretty much disagree with the tie everything down approach.

    Rope management is important, and if done properly can still be safe. If you flip your kayak, you may not be able to recover items not tied down. They could sink to the bottom. Also, ropes keep you from dropping things in the water and losing them during the swim. Take a lesson from me: when your GPS, cell phone and camera are all sinking towards you after you've bailed, you don't want to be playing upside-down-underwater-catch-the-equipment.

    ssthomas
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    edited May 17

    Karl_Kingery said: Take a lesson from me: when your GPS, cell phone and camera are all sinking towards you after you've bailed, you don't want to be playing upside-down-underwater-catch-the-equipment.

    I actually thought of you on this, Karl. :-) I vote for tying down the important stuff and keeping things like cell phones in something waterproof and floatable... So, you don't have to be like Karl and use the . on your phone instead of the spacebar after your phone goes swimming in Flathead Lake. On the plus side, sending his phone swimming pushed Karl into this century by forcing him to upgrade his flip phone to a smart phone. So, maybe letting everything go flying is an ok idea, too.

    Karl_KingeryJustSwimSoloFlowSwimmersIronMike
  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member

    I love to capsize while paddling and make it a point to capsize every time I paddle. It leads to post swim "stories" and actually wakes me up during a long haul. I feel more vested in the swim when I've capsized.

    I tie everything down and rope management is an issue - very short ropes are best. Having capsized twice during channel crossings (once due to an alleged breaching whale at 2 am - right Barra?) I was thankful that I had everything tied down with the exception of a lone gatorade bottle. I will say that on one capsize at Anacapa my ropes were too long and I did become tangled in my own web. Without everything tied down, and in a wind blown ocean or swift tide, I'd have no chance of recovering everything I had on the kayak. Being mindful of not leaving litter behind, it was easier for me to reel everything in once back on the kayak rather than trying to shag all the gear and leaving my swimmer without a paddler.

    I have mixed emotions on the wearing of a PFD while paddling although it's good to have one along. I don't wear one. I'll probably take heat for this view but I'm better at serving my swimmer without being encumbered by the PFD. Getting back into the kayak after a capsize is much easier without being encumbered. This wouldn't apply to all paddlers - just how I do it.

    Karl_KingeryssthomasJSwimSpacemanspiffdavid_barra
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember
    edited May 17

    evmo said: This discussion was created from comments split from: SCAR Swim 2017.

    Yes, I'm sorry I wasn't thinking when my comment hijacked the thread. I should have made a separate thread on this topic. Hopefully this will be a good and useful topic for everybody. Again, my apologies for detracting from the SCAR topic which is amazing.

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    What are your thoughts on inflatable PFDs for paddlers? I use a waist belt one when I SUP, and I'm more likely to convince my paddler (spouse) to wear that while sitting in a kayak all afternoon during training swims than I am to get him to wear a bulkier vest. (I'm talking daytime inland lake training swims, not ocean or during a race). I really like mine for SUP because it stays out of the way and when I dump it, I can get back on my board w/out the PFD getting in the way. (Also, because I am vain, I will admit to the tan line factor)

    I'm also (because I'm f'ing paranoid) considering getting a portable marine radio for my kayaker. The lakes I train in have great cell phone coverage, but I know that might not always be the case for a race. Is that super overkill? My dad is a engineer with a boat and it's possible some of his belt/suspenders/backup belt/backup suspenders attitude has worn off on me.

    bluemermaid9
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    @MoCo Inflatable PFD That's ok.
    The idea is that if needed you'll have a personal safety vest. Like the life guards have here in the Netherlands.

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    No need to have it as an rigid life jacket.

    bluemermaid9

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    Mine looks like an ever-so-cool fanny pack. It requires one more step than those in that if you yank the cord to inflate, you then need to put the pfd on (it's tethered to the waist belt, though, so it can't float away).

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    We bring a whistle or air horn, because sometimes you need to get the attention of inattentive boaters.

    As far as capacity to tow an unconscious swimmer, I'd use a rescue tube.

    https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/sporti-40-inch-guard-rescue-tube-8150026/?color=212

    Putting a PFD on an unconscious person could be very difficult. Rescue tubes are buoyant enough to carry two people, the ends can be buckled together and they have a tow strap.

    When Pete paddles as a safety monitor during a mass participation event, he brings a rescue can, mainly because we have one. The victim needs to be conscious in order to hang onto it, although an in-water rescuer can use it to float a victim while swimming.

    https://www.swimoutlet.com/lifeguard-rescue-cans-c9888/

    Solo

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • bluemermaid9bluemermaid9 Boca Raton, FL, United StatesMember

    @MoCo : I'm an advocate of kayakers wearing safety vests and carrying a marine radio (like your dad, I'm an engineer (ha!), but don't wear suspenders). As a sailor, I've seen accidents happen in the blink of an eye. There's no chance of going overboard and putting on your safety vest afterward. A cousin of mine went overboard and drowned. He wasn't wearing a safety vest. You can see why I'm an advocate for safety. I don't consider a marine radio overkill at all. I own one to give to my crew. I want to make my crew feel safer in the water by having a means to communicate with the race organizers in case of emergency. I want to feel safer, too. The radio is also useful in being able to listen to weather advisories. I want to give myself and my crew every fighting chance in case of an emergency.

    IronMike
  • swimrn62swimrn62 NY, NYMember

    @KNicholas : totally agree about capsize practice. A rare perfect marriage of safety and fun!!

    @bluemermaid9 : totally agree about marine radios, they're invaluable as long as the race director makes use of them and the safety crew is in line of site.

    bluemermaid9
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    KNicholas said:

    I tie everything down and rope management is an issue - very short ropes are best. Having capsized twice during channel crossings (once due to an alleged breaching whale at 2 am - right Barra?)

    I have mixed emotions on the wearing of a PFD while paddling although it's good to have one along. I don't wear one. I'll probably take heat for this view but I'm better at serving my swimmer without being encumbered by the PFD. Getting back into the kayak after a capsize is much easier without being encumbered. This wouldn't apply to all paddlers - just how I do it.

    At the time, a whale seemed like the likely cause, but due to recent events, I now suspect it was a Russian submarine.

    Personally, I prefer the no vest approach if I am on a sit-on-top, but vested and skirted in a closed cockpit kayak...... but remember, this is a swimmer as escort kayaker perspective. For events, I think it is necessary to standardize conduct and attire and equipment as much as possible for the entire field. That would mean erring on the side of PFDs for all and no loose gear.

    For each swim event, it is necessary to define the primary role of a kayaker.... guide, feeder, coach, lifeguard, observer etc and develop protocol that makes sense for that role adding additional responsibilities as possible and necessary.

    evmogregocKNicholas

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    Inflatable PFDs are not good for paddling. they are designed to float the person wearing it when activated and don't allow the freedom of movement necessary to paddle efficiently.

    Get a kayak specific PFD. That means a high waist for closed boats, or sit on tops with seat-backs.

    evmoSolo

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

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