16 - How to kayak - What to do after a capsize - wet exiting



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You missed your brace. You capsized and now you are the keel instead of the mast. Now what do you do?




If you don't know how to roll your kayak and you don't have gills, you have a fairly short period of time to get some air. Your kayak companions can come and assist you. But what if they don't get there in time? Knowing how to quickly and safely exit your kayak and practicing it under safe, controlled conditions will help you make a clean exit when difficult conditions.occur in a real capsize. Sit on top kayakers don't have this problem as they are not confined by a deck and a spray skirt, just a few straps. Besides, if they have managed to capsize their sit on top, they probably have bigger problems than falling off of it.

The wet exit is the process of getting out of a decked kayak when it goes over, and other recovery techniques are not possible. It is the last maneuver that you want to use because being in the water can be dangerous. Re-entering the kayak is more difficult than recovering while you are still in it.



Wet Exit Rollout



The best way to learn how to wet exit is on a warm, calm day in shallow water with an assistant standing on the bottom ready to help if needed. When you go over in your kayak, the first thing to remember is not to panic. There is plenty of time to perform a wet exit, which takes only a few seconds when done properly.

The first step in any capsize is to let your companions know you have gone over. You have a great signalling drum in a kayak full of air right at your fingertips. Place your paddle next to the hull of the kayak, keeping it between your arm and the kayak so it does not float away. Pound on your drum. Give it five or six good whacks. If they are truly your friends they should be coming over to assist you in a rescue. Turn your hands perpendicular to the hull center line and move your hands forward and aft in a slow waving motion. This will locate the assistance that hopefully has arrived. If no one has arrived and the air supply is getting short, it is now time to rescue yourself and proceed with the wet exit.

The first thing to do when wet exiting is to release the spray skirt. All spray skirts have pull tabs on the front of them just for this purpose. However, they do not do much good if they are caught underneath the spray skirt. So the first step in a good wet exit is when you put the spray skirt on. Make sure the pull tab at the front is outside the skirt and easily accessible.

The next step is to locate the spray skirt tab. This can be harder to do in the upside down murky kelp sea grass world you might find yourself in during a real capsize. However we all know where our hips are. Keeping your paddle caught under your arm, bring both hands down to the cockpit coaming (edge) next to your hips. Follow the coaming forward with your hand until you locate the pull tab. Tuck forward to release the tension on the front of the skirt and pull the tab to release the skirt. Continue to tuck and roll toward the front to release your legs from the kayaks hull. When your legs are half way out of the kayak you should be able to reach the surface for air. Keep your feet and legs in the cockpit so the kayak does not blow away from you and hold on to your paddle. You are going to need them both soon. (Paddle leashes will keep your paddle from separating from you, but do not use them in surf as they can bind you to the kayak like Captain Ahab on Moby Dick.) Now you should be comfortably floating on your back with your paddle in hand and your feet securely planted in your cockpit contemplating your next move. Perhaps you should get some new friends who can get there quicker to help you or perhaps you really should practice those braces some more and learn to roll your kayak.......

Wet Exit Video -Windows Media Player .... 6 MB

How to get back in your capsized kayak...............


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EVEN THE BEST BOATERS CAN FIND THEMSELVES IN SERIOUS TROUBLE ON THE MILDEST OF DAYS ON THE WATER. PARTICIPATION IN THIS SPORT IS A STRENUOUS ACTIVITY. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY SUCH ACTIVITY. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT EACH BOATER TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER OWN SAFETY, AND IS TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING THE DANGER LEVEL AND ACCEPTING THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS SPORT.


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