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  Any elderly kayakers with limitations?
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-15-11 8:49 PM (EST)
   Category: unassigned 

What happens to older kayakers when they lose safety skills, especially self-rescue? What adaptations have you made to things like loss of joint function? Have you changed where you paddle, with whom, etc.? Given up sea kayaking? Interested specifically in ***SAFETY*** considerations, not comfort.

Elderly means 65+ and/or have lost critical functions. I know there are plenty of active people in their 70s and 80s. Would like to hear from those who are experiencing critical limitations that have made you rethink how you paddle for reasons of safety.

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Messages in this Topic


  Not there yet
  Posted by: old_user on Aug-15-11 9:09 PM (EST)
but hopefully will be. Switch to Greenland paddle - easier on joints. No going out in shoulder season or when there is a chance of increasing wind and waves activity. No going out without full dry suit, unless it's tropical temps in both water and air. Mostly paddling where you could swim to shore. Carrying PLB perhaps.

And, as the final option - trading your kayak for a square stern canoe with small outboard motor as the main mode of propulsion and oars for occasional workout. At certain age the most safe workout is light exercising in gym - with boat being merely means of spending time on water, not an exercise tool.
  The only critical function loss has
  Posted by: ezwater on Aug-15-11 9:20 PM (EST)
nothing to do with paddling! Mainly, I sink "out of shape" faster at my age (68). So if I'm not sufficiently in shape when a trip opportunity comes, I pass it up. I don't tolerate cold as well, so the longer and more difficult winter trips are "out." Any new (to me) runs are prescouted very carefully for possible difficulties.

Even when I am in shape, I'm careful not to overdo my efforts on the river to avoid unnecessary injury.
  Predictable stuff
  Posted by: Dr_Disco on Aug-15-11 9:56 PM (EST)
I am 71 and still active in paddling and teaching. But I have backed off harder WW paddling because my reflexes and strength have diminished. Other things don't seem safety related but are aging related -- increased soreness at the end of a paddle, less stamina, decreased circulation in one leg leading to it going to sleep, all of which I have found fixes for. One of the smartest thing I did was switch to a wing paddle. It is easier on my joints than the GPs I have. Ibuprofen and vitamin C are your friends.
  A great question!
  Posted by: Angell on Aug-16-11 1:48 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-16-11 1:53 AM EST --

I'm 63 and have been noticing creeping limitations.

I think one of the things we older folks have to be aware of is the lack of understanding of our aging limitations on the part of younger paddlers. Last Fall, I posted an account of a bad whitewater swim I had. I have been active in water all my life, but this - among other things - was a wake-up call.

I described in that post how the cold water immediately sapped my strength, making it difficult for me to pull myself to safety after swimming 150 yards. During that time, I bounced over rocks, etc., and wound up with a significant shoulder injury - one that continues to cause pain and for which surgery is expected, based on MRI results.

The trainers in our group are younger people (most whitewater people are) who do not understand that aging involves a daily diminution of performance ability. I have had to put my foot down when they say I'm now ready for such-and-such river, or that I should be handling Class 4 by next year.

Because I was not completely aware of my diminishing capabilities (who really can be?), I suffered an injury that has curtailed much of my paddling activities over the past year.

And, though I soloed a plane in my youth, also a helicopter, after only several hours of training, I have yet to get a predictable roll in a kayak. My efforts likely contributed to my shoulder injuries.

This year, I have been munching-out on the pain-killers every time I paddle. How do they affect performance?

One member in our community, Jack L, sometimes takes some ribbing here because he has no interest in rolling. Actually, I would suggest he is looking out for himself in the best possible way - a way that does not result in his being shut out of paddling for exceeding his limitations.

I think it is important for those of us who are aging to be aware of our increasing limitations - and to not allow younger paddlers to encourage us toward exceeding our possible limitations.

Just because I was able to handle increasing whitewater challenges, and getting gung-ho about my increasing abilities, did not mean I was able to easily take a bad swim - which, by the way, was in rapids that were significantly below what I had been handling all summer.

I think this is a really good question because there is a need for more understanding in this area. The paddler demographic is skewed toward the older population - except for whitewater - and there is a need for more discussion on this topic.

It is not easy on the ego, to face diminishing abilities, but if we learn to take care of ourselves, accounting for growing limitations, I believe we can all paddle to the end.

There are worse ways to go than with a paddle in one's hands.

By the way, I am seriously considering buying one of those electric trolling motors for kayaks - not for whitewater, of course, but for my fishing SOT. That way, if I hit a wall with my shoulder situation, or encounter a need to return to the put-in more quickly than I can paddle (approaching storm, etc.), I have the motor.

  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-16-11 8:02 AM (EST)
Angell, thanks especially for your comments on rolling. Whenever I bring this up I hear, "I've taught 80-year-old ladies to roll! Anybody can roll! Age has nothing to do with it!" My instinct based on past experience is that it only takes one second to cause a shoulder injury that can be permanent, and that rolling has a high potential for causing such an injury in an older person when the joints are already compromised.

Being rescued requires essentially the same joint flexibility and strength as self-rescue. So if self-rescue, being rescued, and rolling aren't possible, that indicates a radical safety change for an older person.
  Depends on the approach
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-16-11 8:22 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-17-11 10:36 AM EST --

It is less difficult to damage anything learning the usual layback roll with a GP. There just isn't any time that weight is being used, even if the roll is executed badly, similar to what happens at moments with a big arse Euro blade and an approach that comes closer to elements of the C-to-C.

But I suppose unless you have tried it, it's not easy to see.

  Let people decide that for themselves
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-16-11 4:22 PM (EST)
Inevitably there must come a time when a person decides, "I just no longer have whatever it takes to roll a kayak." Strength, coordination, balance, technique, whatever. Or "I have limitations or injuries that make rolling unwise."

It's important to respect an older individual's decision that rolling or reentry is impossible or unwise, and not pressure a person to try some other way of doing it. It may be terribly difficult for YOU to damage anything, but let people make that judgment call for themselves.

My question is about how people adapt once they know they've passed that point.

Read Angell's post again and see if it makes sense to you. It makes total sense to me---especially "not allow younger paddlers to encourage us toward exceeding our possible limitations." When you can no longer walk, sit, get up out of a chair, lie down, or raise your hand without pain, things change. I believe that kayaking can continue in those conditions, but in a different way.

  My concern with your post...
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-17-11 9:45 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 3:50 PM EST --

Your post pre-judges the likelihood of someone being able to learn a roll with a GP based on their age and condition. I would not have responded if it appeared that you had tried it yourself and found that your personal health etc made it not possible, or if it appeared that you were personally familiar with how a GP roll works compared to the traditional one taught with a Euro.

The OP was asking about peoples' personal experience, to my read of the post.

But as far as I can tell you haven't tried this. So I disagree with advising others that they shouldn't due to age etc.

I can agree with the part of your post where you say that older paddlers should be cognizant of their limitations and not allow themselves to be pushed into things that may be a problem for them. There are increasingly days where I observe rather than take one more shot at a standing wave or a ferry across current because some body part has taken all it will without risking injury, for example. I play violin, so my bar for may-hurt-myself is higher than many. But there are assumptions imbedded in the details following that just are not always so.

Interestingly, I know enough about glawson, a poster below, to guess that her experience might make a liar of me here. But there may be other things that were in play there too - and knowing her background, would figure it was experience-based advice. I know that she has spent more time working on her greenland skills than all but a few paddlers I have met.

  second that
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Aug-17-11 3:55 PM (EST)
I got the same impression.
  That wasn't my point
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-17-11 9:58 PM (EST)
"Your post pre-judges the likelihood of someone being able to learn a roll with a GP based on their age and condition."

--Not at all. I'm saying that individuals are aware of their physical status and able to make decisions about what they can or should do. People know when their physical limitations make any activity unwise. No one should have to defend their decision to not do something.

"So I disagree with advising others that they shouldn't due to age etc."

--I don't think you will find that advice anywhere in what I posted. I'm not giving anyone advice at all. My only request is to respect what people decide for themselves, as my title says.

  Is this based on your own experience?...
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-18-11 3:40 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 3:54 AM EST --

From your post -
"rolling has a high potential for causing such an injury in an older person when the joints are already compromised."

Is this something that you found to be true for yourself in the process of trying to learn a roll yourself, w/ both GP and Euro? Or is it an assumption based on what you think must be the case?

If it was the first, sorry. If it was the latter, that was my point.

I am not saying that everyone can and needs to run out out to get a roll - most in our local evening paddle group never will, and most don't paddle in situations where it would be crucial. I am also not saying that someone who knows they have an overuse problem in their upper body should take it up, at least while the area is still hot. But I have encountered too many people even in their 50's, relatively healthy, who make no effort to learn to roll because they are under the mistaken impression that it requires strenuous effort and youth. That's not so either, and even trying to learn to roll leaves a few improved skills behind.

  "Relatively healthy"
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-18-11 8:23 AM (EST)
My original post is about long-time paddlers who are not relatively healthy now and who arrive at a point late in life where they have LOST former skills. It is about CHANGE in our lives---changes in our health, abilities, and therefore our paddling habits.

  OK - a problem of specificity
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-18-11 8:56 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 9:59 AM EST --

I will just assume that this is a problem of online dialogue tending to be more vague than the way I approach limitations.

Between seven (oops - six, sorry) abdominal operations plus a well-broken wrist with pins and fixator, combined with a high level of physical demands in my choice of activities, I am used to losing capacity in a certain area at least for a time. I have been advised by a raft of doctors over the years about all the things that were no longer going to be part of my life after these procedures. The doctors were smart, talented folks all tops in their field between here and NYC. I have tended to be damned lucky at falling into good doctors.

But thus far they have been wrong, because they operated on assumptions rather than personal experience. The only doc who had it right about my riding (hunter/jumper) after the illeostomy was a doctor who did eventing herself, for example. She knew the strength for riding was distributed through the body, the others didn't.

Rolling a kayak has traditionally produced the same reaction for ostomites, forever a no-no because of impact in the core aera, but I now see doctors who have kayaked themselves and understand that it is not necessarily a big strength move that'll stress things unduly.

These doctors are intelligent guys, whose business is the human body. But I found that it still takes one who has tried what I am doing to make a good judgement.

  It still doesn't relate
  Posted by: abc on Aug-18-11 9:50 AM (EST)
"rolling has a high potential for causing such an injury in an older person when the joints are already compromised."

That statement is so untrue...for AMY age!

It does look like it's coming from someone who had not learn how to roll, PROPERLY!

There will come to a point, for ANY individual, that they can't paddle any more, period. A lot of older folks find getting in and out of the kayak being the hardest due to lost flexibility. For me, I'm pretty sure my day of giving up paddling will come when I can't get the boat on and off the roof of my car!

Will rolling go before paddling? Maybe, maybe not.

If your point is to illustrate how some aspect of paddling will become more difficult due to diminishing joint mobility, you've picked a bad example. Probably due to your misunderstanding of what's involved with rolling.
  one doesn't know what one doesn't know
  Posted by: abc on Aug-17-11 3:59 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-17-11 4:49 PM EST --

"Let people decide that for themselves"

People don't always have the knowledge to decide for themselves! Especially novices. They need help.

Yes, as we get older, we need to be mindful of our increased limitations. But I think it's more important to learn to do things the right way so I don't put undue stress on my joints. And rolling is one such example.

I learned to roll C2C back in my 30's. I can still do it but I do get tired after several rolls. And I start to wonder what's going to be like when I'm 10 years older, or 20 years older. Fortunately for me, I ran into others who taught me how to do a screw roll. It's so effortless compare to a C2C and it works a lot better for paddler with less than perfect flexibility. Now I can see much more likely I'll be rolling into my 80's!!!

I've been told by many that I'm "probably ready" for class IV. But I'm not. Not mentally. I wanted to be 100% on class III before stepping it up. That's the concession I made for being older AND WISER.

I know you didn't ask for it. But one best way to deal with limitation is to learn to paddle efficiently. Be that rolling efficiently or rescue efficiently, you need to learn it from those who know. Then you'll be surprised at how much limitation you can paddle with and still stay very safe.

  Only in my 50s BUT.
  Posted by: old_user on Aug-16-11 1:54 AM (EST)
I paddle with people that I had to learn and re learn alternate rescues. The scoop rescue and the stirrup rescue are great problem solvers. For me, I do a re entry roll.
If you are going with others and most especially if you are the go to person a good rescue for everyone can be critical. That said good judgment will keep you out of trouble in the first place.
  Posted by: clydehedlund on Aug-16-11 3:33 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-16-11 3:34 AM EST --

With bum back, arthritis, jumper knee, loss of muscle, and lousy balance, I went back to more stable, shorter and lighter surfskis. The same for OC-1's: shorter and lighter. I now wear a pfd too, and spend more time brushing up on my technique based on the latest info I can find. Yes, I had to re-learn how to paddle using longer, lighter and narrower canoe paddles, but shorter and wider kayak wing paddles. Use paddles with more flex in the shaft too.

  I'm 72.....
  Posted by: jen724 on Aug-16-11 6:44 AM (EST)
with spinal cancer (a nuisance), but actively paddle every week, mostly ocean, bay, and lakes. As a concession to safety I now paddle my SOTs more often than my SinKs, surf launch in milder conditions, and always wear my PFD and carry a VHF, which I confess I didn't always use to do.

A bigger problem for me is getting the boats on and off the van roof.

  I'm pushig 70
  Posted by: jmyers on Aug-16-11 8:26 AM (EST)
and have had both hips replaced. Looks like I'll soon be selling my excellent paddling, good-for-all-waters Caribou simply because I need something with a more generous cockpit and in the sub-40 pound range. The Epic 16 comes close but I don't like the rudder system. The Placid Boat Works Rapid Fire might be the ticket though I've never paddled it or any other solo canoe.
  build/have built?
  Posted by: angstrom on Aug-16-11 8:49 AM (EST)
A good composite shop should be able to modify the cockpit on a composite boat. Other lightweight options might be building a skin-on-frame or stich & glue with a custom cockpit.
  Don't know about NH, but in the SE,
  Posted by: ezwater on Aug-16-11 12:24 PM (EST)
it's not easy to find a "good composite shop." They mostly work on powerboats and Corvettes. I've laid up an entire kayak rim, but it's not easy. It's time consuming, detailed work.
  Modifying the 'Bou's cockpit
  Posted by: jmyers on Aug-16-11 12:54 PM (EST)
would change the character of the boat. The Caribou is an excellent sea boat and, with the exception of the Mariner Coaster, the best wind-wave surfer that I've ever paddled. The ocean cockpit with its well-fitted thigh braces helps a skilled paddler control the boat. And the boat weighs 50 pounds; I want some thing 40 pounds or less.Not a huge cockpit, just something where I can pull my knees up now and then.
  One suggestion
  Posted by: pikabike on Aug-16-11 2:47 PM (EST)
Might be good to plan on using a stirrup for re-entries. I know someone who did this for his not-old-but-pudgy wife.

As I get older, injuries are more likely and take longer to recover from. I have become more conservative about having lots of "margin" from both the physical/endurance and safety standpoints.

The good part is that judgment only gets better, and I know what works for my body better than I did when I was 25.

Warming up, which was always important for me, is even more important now. Also, cooldown.
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-16-11 4:29 PM (EST)
A stirrup reentry requires exactly the same joint flexibility as without a stirrup. It's easier to get up on the deck than to move from the paddle float into the cockpit. Your hip joints have to open wide enough to have one leg in the cockpit and the other over the paddle float. Arthritis causes joint swelling, bone spurs, and frozen joints that can severely reduce range of motion.
  Aging and doing anything
  Posted by: old_user on Aug-16-11 7:59 PM (EST)
Rotator cuff surgery on a blown shoulder is a minimum of 6 mos (to get back in your boat) to one year of strength and endurance (paddling effectively). It's a long time to pay for learning to roll, but I did. As we age, we take longer to heal for any injury. It makes sense to choose our risks carefully. But along with choosing risks carefully, it is critical to stretch, lift and do balance exercises on a regular basis--use it or loose it comes to mind. We are all different and make our choices accordingly--exercise, diet, lifestyle, etc--and it all makes a difference. The god of aging knows no favorites. Not for the feint of heart.
  Don't have to do that
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-18-11 2:15 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 3:09 PM EST --

Have you tried this sequence? Get one leg onto the PF with the other roughly parallel to it, stabilize torso over the deck, then move the outside hand onto the PF before spinning lower body roughly together towards the cockpit. I don't recall if I ever actually had one leg on the paddle shaft at the point the other was near the cockpit, at least that it worked. Very close in time sure, but the shift to the hand always comes first. You may need to squinch (OK, made it up but that's how it feels) your torso over the deck a little further before making this move, but that takes strain off the hand and shoulder which is good.

This timing is a lot more secure for me than trying to deal with legs at 45 plus degree angles. And that's not just an old age thing - there are days 10 years ago I couldn't have made that spread without pulling something.

Or, try the paddle float heel hook variation that was in Sea Kayaker magazine a few months ago. I found this to be surprisingly easy on all body parts, went much better than I expected the first time I tried. The shoulders and upper back were completely supported by the paddle and actually stopped it from squirreling around nicely.

  Age and reality
  Posted by: durangoski on Aug-16-11 8:50 PM (EST)
Mobility and flexibility added to a shorter range of motion creep up as we age. Internal problems can also appear as I found out today. I do agree I listen to what my body is telling me now, than when I was a lot younger. I carry sponsons in the kayak. They make getting in and out of the kayak easier than the paddle float and add beam so you won't go over again. I haven't really used them in a real situation, only practice. I watch the weather and the surface conditions more and just don't go if it doesn't look right. There is always tomorrow. Tom
  A lot of good points . . .
  Posted by: Angell on Aug-17-11 1:13 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-17-11 1:22 AM EST --

A few things I've done over the past nine months since the injury:

The shoulder injury added to existing comparatively minor back pains, to the extent that I didn't even try to paddle the touring boat this year - it's even more difficult to get in and out of the cockpit. The whitewater boat - easier to enter and exit was used minimally, and I have used the SOT fishing kayak just to paddle.

The SOT is easier to get in and out of. If the boat were capsized, it's much easier in self-rescue: you just climb back into the SOT.

Another thing I have been considering, respecting aging, is paddle design. When I began paddling whitewater last year, I had been paddling for years with touring paddles. By the time I was able to afford a whitewater paddle, I had done some river trips with a longer touring paddle. I allowed myself to get talked into a much shorter paddle than I think would have been ideal for me.

Beyond the fact of being used to touring paddles, these longer paddles have more moment per stroke, considering the paddle is sweeping farther out from the hull than a shorter paddle. Thus, less effort is needed per stroke - which puts less strain on an older person's frame. Granted, there are good reasons for shorter paddles in whitewater, but I found myself having to make more rapid corrections: strokes and braces, closer to the boat and requiring more effort than with my longer paddle.

This is to say, given that I will be able to return to whitewater after healing the shoulder, I may get a longer whitewater paddle.

To reinforce other's comments here, I do have a VHF marine radio for off-coast use and always carry a first aid kit. Having had a DVT after a stent placement, I carry a sealing "pillbox" (small waterproof tube with a gasket screw-on cap) on a chain with my car keys. It contains two nattokinase capsules (a natural clot-dissolving agent) and this stays with me when I'm paddling.

Finally, I decided that just attending classes of touring boat rescue techniques is not enough. As in the whitewater training, when I am better, my wife and I will get out in the water and practice rescue techniques with our touring boats until we have them down as good as possible.

I would not want to be in a predicament like the jet skiers I encountered a few weeks ago in the middle of a Kissimmee lake. I was with my brother in his powerboat and we were headed in to shore with a fast-approaching storm behind us. On the way, we encountered a couple of young Latino guys - one in the water beside a capsized jet ski, the other sitting on his jet ski beside him and both looking confused about what to do next, unable to respond to our questions.

I thought it would be worth it to try a sort-of "reverse" T-rescue and had my brother throttle back and approach the jet ski amidships. I hung over the bow and grabbed the side of the craft. My first effort was to no avail: it seemed really swamped, but then it was easily righted on the second effort. To my surprise, the water drained out; he got on and started it. We continued on our way and I hope that kid learned whatever it was he needed to know to avoid getting himself into future trouble.

As an earlier poster stated, one thing we older folks should have going for us is better judgment with increased wisdom.

  The same
  Posted by: okayeh on Aug-17-11 1:49 AM (EST)
If I have a layoff from activity it's very hard to play catch up. I just try to keep moving so I can keep moving.
This the first year I've felt my age somewhat, 63, and it's hard to back off... But necessary, and necessary to keep moving.. The aches and pains and injuries that used to disappear after abit, don't go away anymore they just hang about waiting to be annoyed a little more before they crank up. The forty year old kiddies that want you to come along at their rate of travel... well... I hope judgement kicks in.
  2 answers
  Posted by: gingernc on Aug-17-11 8:09 AM (EST)
Waterbird, about 5 years ago SeaKayaker magazine ran an accident report about a 70-ish guy who died off the coast of Southern California. He'd been a club stalwart but had let a lot of things go -- needed a new wetsuit, a new VHF radio, and a roll if I remember right. Arrived late at a launch site (car trouble as he'd put off doing something it needed), missed his friends, went out anyway, capsized in high winds, couldn't execute a self-rescue with paddle float. And died. It was a very poignant story. (A lot of am-I-my-brother's-keeper sentiments among his friends, I think.) So that's one answer. The guy was losing his skills and his friends noticed but didn't exactly gang up on him and go with him to get him in a new wetsuit and to buy a new VHF radio. So one thing we should think about is how we as paddling friends might help out our older peers.

The other answer: a woman in my paddle club was no longer able to reenter her touring kayak even with a stirrup. She had a hip replacement. Eventually sold the tourer and bought a nice composite 14-foot SOT. I don't know whether she's happy with that boat or not. She's was learning to use it last summer. But changing your equipment -- as others here have already pointed out -- is one way to go.
G in NC (old but still doing an easy sweep roll!)
  Very good examples, thanks
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-17-11 10:08 PM (EST)
I think it's hard to come to the realization that although you can still paddle just fine, if you can't self-rescue and you paddle alone, something has to change.

Like the woman in your paddling club, I sense with all the sports I do---backpacking, kayaking, biking, hiking, etc.---that they need to be modified as I age. Shorter trips, easier trips, etc. And/or you develop new interests in other activities.

I really think this whole topic is about a psychological dimension of aging, as we move further and further away from our youthful abilities and slide toward the sunset . . . It's a process of acceptance and adjustment. A bit frightening, actually.
  I weighed in above but feel compelled
  Posted by: jackl on Aug-17-11 8:28 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-21-11 1:33 PM EST --

to post again.
Age is what you make of it !

If you are lucky enough to not get cancer, or any other illness that is out of your control, and you are eating properly, exercising daily, keeping your weight exactly as it should be, you should see no change at all in your paddling style and habits.
Throw in some good sex every other night, and you will still feel as if you're in your 40's
Oh, and a new knee helps a bit too !
jack L

  Every other night! Does Nanci know
  Posted by: string on Aug-17-11 9:50 AM (EST)
about this?
  Ah's settle fer some...
  Posted by: fatelmo on Aug-17-11 1:20 PM (EST)
mediocre sex at me age....

"Ah's still gots wat it takes..."

("But, nobody'll take wat ah' gots...")

  Anticipatory or actual?
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-17-11 10:45 AM (EST)
It can be hard to draw the line. We tend to pull out the lighter weight boats more often, including when going into conditions that strictly speaking supposed are imperfect for a lighter weight layup. But it is just SO much easier at the end of the paddle to be putting them back on top of the car. We limit back to back days of big paddles more than several years ago and allow for more easy days to recover than before. Etc.

Is this a direct accommodation to age or an early change to head off more serious changes? Hard to tell. But it's all in the name of getting older.
  and don't forget the best medicine!
  Posted by: gingernc on Aug-17-11 11:18 AM (EST)
A cold beer at the takeout (or at home, if you're driving). Hmmmmm, good.
G in NC
  Any elderly kayakers with limitations?
  Posted by: old_user on Aug-17-11 11:26 AM (EST)
The guy on the cover of my SUP book is 63 and in that photo is doing a 5 mile open water race. On a somewhat similar note to your question, I have a blog posting about 'adpative paddling' for disabled folks. there's good info in there on how to stay active despite phyical disabilities..
  Posted by: durangoski on Aug-17-11 4:32 PM (EST)
I haven't backed off in my paddling either and did my first open water race on Lake Michigan this year. I think I was the oldest competitor in the long race (22.5 miles). I want to paddle the entire NFCT and someday I still would like to paddle with JackL.
  I would be honored
  Posted by: jackl on Aug-17-11 7:03 PM (EST)
come on down to South Florida next March, and join "the bride" and I when we attempt to do the 300 mile Everglades challenge in our "BGD" tandem
Notice I said "attempt". we'll brag about it if we complete it in the time allotment.

Jack L
  Posted by: old_user on Aug-18-11 12:13 AM (EST)
I am 68 with a damaged heart. Once I'm in the kayak (Feathercraft Kahuna) I'm fine. My problem is going down to the ground to load up and carrying the boat to the car.The effort leaves me weak for a minute or two. My 35 pound boat has been sitting on my sofa with me afraid of the energy commitment to move it. And no friends around.
  How sad!
  Posted by: willowleaf on Aug-18-11 9:37 AM (EST)
My first kayak was a Kahuna and I truly feel for you, being thwarted in using that wonderful boat.

You say there is no one to help you with it. Are you in a remote area or do you have neighbors. Perhaps you are like me, proud of being self-sufficient and loath to ask for help with things you feel you ought to be able to handle alone. I have tended to be that way but am finding that one way to age gracefully is to be more open to letting others pitch in. Not only does it expand your own opportunities, but there is grace in allowing others to feel the pleasure of helping.

I had my right forearm in a cast after surgery for a broken wrist 3 years ago but was determined to kayak. I wrapped my boat (actually, it was the Kahuna) in an old quilt and dragged it up the steps of my sunken yard to the curb. While I was struggling to lift one end up, hoping to be able to slide it onto the roof, two of my neighbors, with whom I had exchanged no more than passing pleasantries during the 3 years of living here, came over to volunteer assistance and within seconds the car was on the roof. I later received the same help at the boat ramp when I was unloading and loading. When I got home, I swallowed my pride and knocked on the nearest of my neighbor helpers' door and asked for a hand again. Everyone who helped seemed delighted to do so and, in the case of the one neighbor, lead to an icebreaking conversation about my kayaks and kayaking and my taking him and his wife out on the river a few months later when my wrist healed. They later bought kayaks themselves, and though they have since moved to another part of town I see them on the rivers sometimes.

Part of being truly "independent" is having the grace and humility to ask others for help, as we would want them to do of us. Even if you don't have anyone handy, perhaps you could see if there is a "meetup" group for kayaking in your area and one or more people. perhaps even in the same predicament, with whom you could cooperate on getting the gear loaded.

Perhaps none of these options is practical, but I really hope you are able to find a way to get out on the water as readily and as often as possible.
  Posted by: abc on Aug-18-11 9:56 AM (EST)
Would having a kayak cart and using a trailer help? The loading and unloading effort should be considerably less with (low) wheels.
  Is cart plus Hullavator possible?
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-18-11 10:03 AM (EST)
Or something similar to the Hullavator... I know that's a big chunk of change. But it would solve the lifting issue if you could find your way to it.
  ask for help have tip money in pocket
  Posted by: WetSandyFeet on Aug-18-11 9:31 AM (EST)
Arthritis, very severe in my low back makes loading and unloading, difficult. My kayak is not light, but it is one which works for me.

I am glad to read that I'm not alone in having disabilities while still wishing to kayak. Most people look at me and they say "you do what" because I don't look or move like someone who would go paddle around the circumference of an inland Michigan or Ohio lake.

I'm staying out of rivers now, the Hocking River ate my confidence.

  Posted by: glennr on Aug-18-11 11:41 AM (EST)
Maybe because I'm from a canoeing background, only moving to kayaks lately, I don't really concern myself over rolling. Due to long term arthritis my flexibility, especially cervically isn't good enough to manage a roll. However in all the years I canoed I never rolled successfully once and managed to have a great and safe time for decades. If I can exit my yak, I'm not any worse off than I was in my open boat. In any case I'm not paddling in conditions or waters where I can't save myself by heading to shore in my PFD. Perhaps because I paddle for peace of mind and not thrills, my adventures have been without incident.
  rolling as a skill or a safety skill?
  Posted by: abc on Aug-18-11 2:14 PM (EST)
"I'm not paddling in conditions or waters where I can't save myself by heading to shore in my PFD. Perhaps because I paddle for peace of mind and not thrills, my adventures have been without incident."

That describes about 80% (or even 90%) of the folks who paddle. Their safety isn't based on rolling. All they have to do is watch out for weather and have partner that can facilitate assisted re-entry.

Rolling maybe a good skill to learn because it helps so much with balance, so you end up not capsizing to even need the roll!

But as a safe skill to rely on, you've got to be able to roll in waves and basically bombproof even in condition. A lot of the folks who "can roll" aren't rolling with that kind of reliability.

I always think of rolling a kayak a bit like yoga. Some people take it as a way of life. Others, just an exercise. Both swear by its benefits. Both are right.
  Horray, Halleluhia, Bless you !
  Posted by: jackl on Aug-18-11 3:07 PM (EST)
Man I couldn't agree with you more, but every time I say anything to that nature I get jumped on by the holy rollers as I am sure you will also

Jack L
  there's a middle ground (water) here
  Posted by: gingernc on Aug-19-11 11:24 AM (EST)
I, too, am a very cautious paddler. But I paddle in winter, alone, as a monitor for local eagle nests. (Nesting starts in Jan.) Rolling is very important to me as one possible self-rescue technique. It is definitely not a way of life or a fitness routine. It is a tool I keep in reserve, like my paddle float.

In winter I always wait for favorable weather before I go. I dress for immersion (often a drysuit). And I always go out with up to 3 ways in mind to save myself in event of a capsize: paddling as close to shore as I can, carrying a paddle float and a spare paddle, and knowing how to roll. No, I don't have a competent paddling partner available to go at the spur of the moment on a weekday -- it's just me and whatever experience, skill and judgment I can muster. So rolling is very important -- to me. But we're all different.
G in NC
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-18-11 4:06 PM (EST)
Your post makes total sense to me. My approach is the same as yours and it is working well. I've been on the water my whole life (canoe and kayak) and have never come close to an incident where I needed self-rescue or assisted rescue, due to good judgment and caution. There is just some disappointment at the march of time, which seems to speed up at a certain age. As a young person you set goals and hope to advance a bit each year. At a certain age you're happy to maintain your level. Then you're happy to be able to do the sport in any form.
  When I was young, I sometimes took
  Posted by: ezwater on Aug-18-11 11:36 AM (EST)
club veterans on easy whitewater runs that they no longer would have tried on regular trips. Once in the canoe or kayak, they were quite reliable, but some help with loading and unloading, and with an occasional portage, made a big difference for them.

I don't yet need help loading and unloading. In fact, one of my pet peeves is that when I go to "throw" my canoe up on my head, younger folks rush in to help, at the peril of my cervical spine! But I do appreciate younger folks keeping an eye on me when I am running unfamiliar class 3, and some help on difficult portages is welcomed.
  Posted by: DCM on Aug-18-11 2:39 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-18-11 2:41 PM EST --

..since when has 65 become elderly? If that's the case, then I'm approaching that age and thus should sell my sea kayak, my surf boat and my Pyranha Burn and restrict my paddling to anything that is flat and doesn't even involve the very thought of (gasp) ROLLING.

I started paddling in my fifties and was never what one would call an athletic lady, having suffered through required (yes, and "required" gym shows how old I am, too.) gym classes in high school and college. In order to have the strength and stamina to paddle effectively and safely, I've spent the past two years at the Y working with a trainer on cardio and with weights, along with spin class twice a week. Putting a label like elderly on anyone 65+ is unfair in this day and age. Any number of people approaching that number are still working, taking up sports they couldn't afford when they were younger because of work, finances or children, instead of sitting home expanding their waistlines and listening to their joints creak.

There are many ways of handling aching joints and limited flexibility while kayaking, as has been discussed. I'm hoping you've come away with a some new ideas and are consigning the label elderly to someone 90 years old.

  That's OK, I can handle it if you can't.
  Posted by: ezwater on Aug-18-11 6:16 PM (EST)
  Maybe it's my advancing age...
  Posted by: DCM on Aug-18-11 7:34 PM (EST)
...but I'm a bit confused by your reply.
  Posted by: Bubba707 on Aug-18-11 7:15 PM (EST)
WOA! Back up that truck! Elderly just means older, not decrepit. Heck, my GGGrandfather was elderly, age 81, when he remarried and homesteaded in South Dakota.
  this forum just got more depressing
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Aug-18-11 5:17 PM (EST)
...but I'm glad to see all those folks out there who are still in the game even though others think they shouldn't be.
  Wat happens ta old canooists...
  Posted by: FatElmo on Aug-18-11 5:38 PM (EST)
dat kin not canoo anymore? Dems take up 'yakin'...

Wat happens ta old 'yakers dat kin not 'yak anymore?

Dems take up golf...

  Posted by: DCM on Aug-18-11 5:45 PM (EST)
As always, FE, you bring a smile to my face.
  Posted by: ScupperFrank on Aug-20-11 9:48 AM (EST)
I started out in a canoe -it was something like my 3rd or 4th merit badge -spent my early teens in a tin tank running all over the non-Park Everglades and upstate on the moss-draped oak-shadowed rivers & streams....

...Years later, we found out about kayaks in the Keys -those sawed-off skinnier-than-thou topless but decked canoes were a LOT of fun! They were a LOT faster for the same amount of input effort. And they didn't get blown about in the wind like regular canoes. We stull have 6 of them...

And somewhere along the way, I found, and then took up, and... ENJOY! -golf. 'Cept in my case ya gotta spell it backwards to appropriately describe my game. And fun? Well, for me, it's just like Roy's quote in Tin Cup, know what I mean...?

So I seem to have more or less followed that progression of yours, FE, and I could NOT disagree more, as I always ask a canoor ta come along 'n bring the cooler with the beer, I'm still a swinger -but only on the course, of course! -and I still enjoy it when I


-Frank in Miami
  WHAT? OLD??? 65 IS THE NEW 50!
  Posted by: ScupperFrank on Aug-18-11 6:05 PM (EST)
Sixty-five ain't old. It better NOT be -I'm a year and a half away from it!...!

Gotta go with Jack and the others on this one -age is what you make of it -yeah, sure, we're all slowing down -but that doesn't make life impossible in the least! Do what you can to stay in shape, eat well -and not too much of even the good stuff -and exercise regularly as well as you can, and THINK young! I really think the latter's one of the best things we all can do as we age -understand the process, but don't roll over an die and give up the fun stuff.

Get out there and do things!

You won't run 1 10-0 100, or a 4-minute mile, or circumnav the world, maybe, but you can get out there and have fun as you


-Frank in Miami
  How about 85?
  Posted by: Waterbird on Aug-18-11 8:55 PM (EST)
How about if I change the definition to: "Elderly means 85+ and/or have lost critical functions"?

The actual age doesn't matter. What I'm asking about is what people do when they find they have lost critical skills that impact their safety and that cannot be retrieved.

That could happen at any age. Many people have joint stiffness by age 70. But premature arthritis can occur much younger than that, like in your forties. That ages a person!

Sometimes this has nothing at all to do with attitude. Some people do the right things their whole lives---eat right, exercise, stay active. They plan to be among the exuberant 80-year-old skiers on the slopes. I know a guy exactly like that. He was hit by multiple sclerosis in his 40s and became old before his time. He's still doing everything right, but his MS isn't going away.

Usually that degree of disability doesn't happen until late in life. But not always. So there's no way of defining "elderly" or "old" or "older" that would satisfy everyone and describe each person's case. Don't get hung up on the number. Call it 85 or 95 or whatever.

There are many older people in the U.S. who have inadequate health care. That too ages a person. They don't have the solutions available to them like joint replacements.

I sense from the replies that this is an emotional topic People don't like the idea of getting old and don't want to be called old before their time. That's understandable. That's why I raised the question---to give people who are already there a chance to talk about what it feels like when your body can no longer keep up with your love of something. I think there is something to be learned from people who are dealing with declining capacities. If you're a hundred and ten and you're not there yet, well, roll on!

  what do you think happens?
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Aug-19-11 11:53 AM (EST)
People find a way to keep doing the things they love, even if it means compromise. And IMO people in these straits generally don't sweat the details and just grab for what they can get out of life and activities. Some of these folks may not even consider their condition and more limited ability a problem because they've learned to cope. Certainly not only loss of flexibility but also strength can play factors.
One can learn a lot about this topic by watching and listening to paddlers with restricted mobility.
  getting old
  Posted by: jmyers on Aug-18-11 9:19 PM (EST)
Old happens. It's not so much a mattere of years, that's just part of it. Genetics, maintaining an intelligent level of fitness, diet, prescribed meds and personal attitude are even more important in defining "old". A friend,of mine, a 65 year old avid kayaker living in Sarasota, FL, has noticed that, in the two kayaking groups to which he belongs, there are plenty of active paddlers up to about age 75 and then a precipitous decline; not many 76 or older paddlers to be found.
My own personal fitness history has not been overly intelligent. Once a compulsive runner who trained 40 to 60 miles each week, I have now, in my 70th year, had both hips replaced. No more running but still manage to bicycle [rather slowly] 4300 miles in the average year. The guys I paddle with consider anything less than 20 miles a light day. All told, probably not too intelligent. I'm starting to feel old and what I need is a lighter, more efficient kayak. My faithfil Caribou will soon appear in the Pnet classifieds.
  Not old, just experienced
  Posted by: Bubba707 on Aug-19-11 8:59 AM (EST)
Well, I'm 61 now and just looking to start kayaking. I expect to have my first kayak by next summer, I'm doing some research first. I'll grant that I'm not even close to the shape I was in at 20 but I'm not dead yet and I want to do something more physically active. Since I live close to 2 decent lakes this appeals to me. Unfortunately my wife said the largest body of water she wants to deal with is the bathtub but I'm undeterred.
  Old is...
  Posted by: jen724 on Aug-19-11 7:47 AM (EST)
...when you have to get up more than 2 times at night to go to the bathroom.
  Replies culled so far
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-19-11 12:40 PM (EST)
Here are the replies so far that address the question, "What changes have you made to adapt to losing safety skills?" Assuming significant loss of physical function beyond what could be remedied by modifiying technique, here are some adaptations that older people use:

1. Avoid cold-weather/cold-water paddling

2. Paddle close to shore, withing swimming distance.

3. Exchange kayak for more stable type of boat.

4. Choose easier conditions.

5. Be aware of your abilities and limitations and don't allow others to push you into situations you're not comfortable with.

6. Paddle with others who can rescue you. (Note that assisted rescue also requires certain physical abilities, which may be similar to self-rescue.)

7. Always wear your pfd.

8. Paddle an SOT instead of a SINK.

9. Carry a radio.

10. Get a larger cockpit.

11. Carry sponsons.

12. Watch the weather and surface conditions carefully.

13. Paddle "for peace of mind, not thrills."

I offer these additional ideas for discussion:

15. Weigh risks and benefits and make a decision. After a certain age, having lived out 95% of my expectable life, I would rather kayak with risk than not kayak at all. Drowning probably isn't pleasant, but it beats certain gruesome illnesses of old age.

16. Carry an additional flotation device that will keep at least part of you out of the water (assuming the water is colder than the air) and possibly facilitate mobility.

17. Carry flippers to enhance your swimming.

18. Check your swimming ability. Whatever prevents you from reentering your kayak may also impact your swimming.

19. Graduate from ocean to lake to pond as necessary. There is some beautiful pond paddling to be had.

21. Always carry an emergency kit with food, clothing, and shelter in case you wash up somwhere after capsizing and night falls. Include flares and a horn.

22. When you truly can't paddle safely anymore, transition to another interest and keep your good memories of kayaking and canoeing.

  Have you tried it?
  Posted by: abc on Aug-19-11 2:10 PM (EST)
"17. Carry flippers to enhance your swimming. "

You've tried successfully putting the flipper on while treading water?
  Some of the above...
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-19-11 6:03 PM (EST)
to me are always prudent no matter who you are, like carry a radio or similar device to call for help, bring change of clothing, spare food and something like a tarp or bivy for if caught out in bad weather.

I appreciate that these things were added by folks to handle stuff as they grow older, but hope that newer paddlers don't think this stuff is only for those of creaking joints.

Re the SOT - easier to manage in/out of on the water, but are they heavier to get there?
  Definitely . . .
  Posted by: Angell on Aug-20-11 12:41 AM (EST)
heavier to get there. We use kayak carts when it's any distance . . . or take turns carrying one SOT at a time (one in front, one in back); carrying each kayak 50 - 100 feet before going back the carry the other one for awhile. That way, we keep both boats in sight until we get them to the put-in.

On the roof of the wagon, we have the Thule glider model roof rack for the heavier boat, then secure the second lighter boat vertically using the horizontal boat as a vertical "stacker." Use a third strap on the vertical boat for redundancy, plus bow tie-down ropes. Went to Florida and back twice with no problems, other than checking/retightening straps.

It takes a little more time, but at least we do not overstrain ourselves.
  Re: older paddlers
  Posted by: emmagene on Aug-19-11 4:41 PM (EST)
You said "older kayakers" but I noticed some canoers replied so I will too. I am a 72 year old female, paddling mostly solo canoe for over 50 years. My reflexes are not as fast and I am not as strong, especially in my right wrist. I no longer paddle Class III white water by myself. I have an inflatable canoe (a Grabner) that will go anywhere and I paddle it tandem with anybody who will go with me. I wear a wrist support on my right wrist. I carry the inflatable in the back of truck and I have a trailer for the canoes if I am by myself.I mostly paddle with younger people who help me but I try to be as independent as possible. Those are the accomodations I have made and so far they work.
  How about elderly drivers ??
  Posted by: jackl on Aug-20-11 9:57 AM (EST)
I have reached the age, while driving where I can no longer take a peek at some hot looking chick strolling along the sidewalk or I'll end up hitting her !!!

Jack L
  Get a canoe
  Posted by: kayamedic on Aug-20-11 10:00 AM (EST)
has not been mentioned. Pack canoe in particular.

Those sub 30 lb boats are fast, are paddled with a double blade, allow more movement of the body so you don't get stiff and are easier to enter/exit than an SINK.

Some designs are good on big lakes. Probably most kayakers are not on oceans. But I just took RapidFire on Lake Superior and Muscongus Bay is on its trip list for next week.

Pack canoes are a far cry from your stereotypical clunker canoe.
  Posted by: waterbird on Aug-20-11 2:40 PM (EST)
Got a link to a pack canoe that you recommend?

  Here are a few
  Posted by: kayamedic on Aug-20-11 2:48 PM (EST)
I keep forgetting a couple

Nessmuk and Nessmuk XL
  Canoe and Kayak Magazine
  Posted by: bhmacin on Aug-21-11 3:56 PM (EST)
Check current issue for pack canoe reviews.
  Lovely - where in Muscongous?
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-22-11 8:28 PM (EST)
With a pack canoe you might even have an easy time getting up the side of Little Marsh to that 20 sq ft campsite at the top... but the lilac bush site on Black is cushy.
  I forgot to say, my memory is shot.
  Posted by: ezwater on Aug-23-11 11:13 PM (EST)
  70 + brigade
  Posted by: PaulNollen on Jun-20-14 10:29 AM (EST)
Hi all, my English needs some improvements but I hope it is readable. I would be happy if someone could ameliorate (and comment of course)the text.

KAYAK for seniors (70 + Brigade)


When I my renewed my acquaintance with kayaking,after more than 50 years of absence caused by excessive pollution of the river Schelde (I am living in Antwerp, near that river), I found myself in a whole new world.
I always liked to bike and swim and I enjoyed recreational badminton for many years but a knee injury, and some surgery, made an end to the badminton activity. This, and an advertisement of a local kayak club, brought kayaking back in sight.
But not only the boats and the technical side of the kayaking had evolved, and fortunately also the water quality, I also wasn't young anymore (born in 1943), with all the physical consequences.

- A first problem that did occur was change clothes at departure and arrival of a kayak trip. Everybody solved that problem according to their own discretion but, although I was accustomed to showering and to (un)dress in group with the badminton activity, there was something wrong for me.
Not only it was sometimes (too) cold or (too) much wind, but there was also a lack of privacy eg to outsiders or the other gender.
The solution was, after some searching on the Internet, the kayak fleece poncho . Two fleece blankets sewn to each other, with openings for arms and head, quickly brought a solution.
It is without any doubt important to get dry and warm after a kayak trip. Leaving wet underwear on for whatever reason is a bad idea in our climate conditions, except maybe high summer.

- The transport of the kayak by car introduced me to another problem. Most kayak carriers asked too much effort (and back strain) to put the kayak on the holders, especially when sailing solo .
A solution sometimes used is to purchase a very light kayak but for starting back with the kayak activity I had chosen an "all round" PE kayak of 23 kg ( Dagger Charleston )
a search on the internet presented several solutions:
a very simple backward or lateral support.
I choose to mount a ladder support and a ladder on the rack of my car and it is no problem to load and unload the kayak on my own.
Because it is a “long load” I have to use a front and tail rope to the car in order to stabilize the kayak as recommended by the car manufacturer.

- Training to reenter the kayak was done ​​with (cleaned) club boats in the local swimming pool with a water temperature around 28 degrees. We trained mostly the “cowboy reenter”.
However, a live test in the fall with my own kayak, a Dagger Charleston, gave unexpected problems. The water was a lot colder (15 ° C) than in the pool and cold shock gave rise to hyperventilation. It proved to be totally impossible to climb on to the kayak and swimming to the shore, with support on the kayak, was the only remaining option.
After some research, I decided to repeat the experiment, but now with a neoprene 3mm Long John with additional 3mm neoprene vest. The theory is that, once wet, the water between the neoprene suit and the body is not refreshed with cold water and thus the heat loss is restricted.
Although I had no problem while training to repeatedly climb on to the kayak, in cold water it is quite different. After two failed attempts, I was exhausted and I had to swim to the shore.
The causes are: rapid exhaustion by cold water, unstable kayak through water in the kayak.
For those who can't train in a swimming pool with the kayak a good indication of your possibility to use a “cowboy reenter” is that you can get out of the swimming pool without using the steps or ladder, just by pulling you up on the side. In swimming pool conditions (water around 28°C) you must be able to do this several times in a row. In colder water it will be (a lot) less, even with a dry or wet suit.

While I like kayaking solo, also on some bigger water, I can't always rely on help from other kayakers.
To solve this problem I found a solution developed by solo kayakers , on expeditions and so on, and that was the use of floats or kayak outriggers (sponsons). I opted for retractable fixed floats.
Normally folded at the stern, they are easy to unfold and they lock automatically

After my experiences in cold water (
  continuing story
  Posted by: PaulNollen on Jun-21-14 6:23 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jun-21-14 6:25 AM EST --

After my experiences in cold water (below 21°C) I no longer believe in manual inflatable equipment .
Also my paddle float is a fixed model
With the sponsons deployed I found it very easy to get back on the kayak and I even can use the kayak
as a sit on top.
It is recommended to try the rescue techniques with your own boat loaded for a trip and in
similar circumstances.
The next step was the purchase of a drysuit. Decisive here was going through reading about
"hypothermia", and even more important, "cold shock" (Cold shock can occur from 21°C when not
The main rule is: use the clothes recommended for the water temperature and, if older or not
trained, don't make concessions on this.
This means for me that I nearly always have to wear a dry suit when kayaking. I have to look for
cloudy weather in summertime to plan a trip. Air temperature is seldom a problem but continuous
sunshine is.
If one have to deal with someone in cardiac arrest, eg by cold shock, the decision whether or not to
resuscitate has to been taken taken. Not allowing resuscitation currently belongs to the patients' rights
here in Belgium and I am wearing a registered “dog tag” that mentions that I don't want to be
resuscitated or intubated. The reason for this decision is that only 15% of the people who had
resuscitation from cardiac arrest survive and 10% has permanent brain (neurological) damage and / or
long rehabilitation.
Safety equipment and safety devices: especially for the solo paddler it is important not to loose the
That is why I attach myself with a “quick release belt” and a safety rope to the bow of the kayak
The rope is long enough to perform a “cowboy reenter”.
However, securing the kayak to the kayaker remains a subject of (worldwide) discussion. Some kayak
clubs on the Coast (Australia) do require a safety line between the kayak and kayaker , they also are
mentioned in some safety instructions of the U.S. Coast Guard (Kayak Safety Line: Leashing Yourself
to a Kayak ). Anyway, it is something that you have to decide for yourself.
The PFD that I purchased has a "tail" between the legs to the front . I experienced that a PFD
easily got to high without that tail.
Recently I purchased an automatic life jacket (special for kayak, it is a short version) that also can be
worn above the PFD without being in the way for a reenter. I use this combination when kayaking solo
on big water.
To solve the problem of lack of pockets I wear a kayak chap (similar of a bike or horsemen chap)
with thigh pockets.
That way I can carry with me a couple of handflares, a foldable grappling hook (legal obligation
on Belgian sea ), and some first aid tape, even when I become a swimmer.
- I quickly realized that another problem needed a solution. My reasons for not participating in a “city
trip” with the kayaks (Ghent, a city with a lot of small open chanels) was mostly based on the fact that
it was hard to get out the channels if I had to pee, and then, once disembarked I would be still between
the houses in the middle of a city. And, being somewhat older, when I have to go I have to go, there is
no time to waist.
Another interesting fact is that in Holland (a neighbored country of mine that I often visit to kayak) one
third of the drown men are found with their relief zipper open. An (urgent) pee can be very dangerous.
A very bad solution I saw to often is not to drink when embarking on, or during, a kayak trip. This can
lead to fast exhaustion or other discomfort. Eating and drinking while performing a physical exercise
has to be taken care of with some knowledge of the subject and can't be neglected without punishment.
Google gave no practical solutions, also in other languages, because one has to know the right
But then I found the glider pilots in Germany. They use a solution both for man and woman and their
position in a glider, and the pee problems, are resemblant to the kayak. and
However, I only can discuss the solution for men. For the women it is waiting for an "entrepreneurial"
To test, I bought a set of "self-adhesive external catheters" with urine bag 500ml .
For use in a wet suit I don't us a bag, only a valve. It also works fine but I have to stabilize with a
peddlefloat when I have a leg “outside”.
For the moment I use this system now for about a year and I am very pleased with it. It is a great
comfort that I don't have to pay attention to this problem anymore.
Because I have a Peak UK dry suit with an inside leg zipper from ankle to ankle it is no problem to get
to the valve of the urine bag. But other manufacturers with another system to enter the dry suit can
deliver a custom ankle zipper on request (for example : Kokatat at 51 $ for a 20 cm ankle zipper, price
I do understand that not only the technical solution is important but perhaps even more
important is the psychological and social acceptance.
The German glider pilots have already succeeded but this is clearly also a task for monitors,
supervisors and sport organizations, in particular the senior sports guides.
- Another problem is the potential overloading of the wrist joint and the muscles of the forearm. One
can try to place the peddle blades parallel instead of under an angle. If the wind is not excessive
(above 6 Bf), this can be a good solution.
One also can try right to keep the wrist joints more straight by stretching the fingers of the upper “push
hand”. Also the lower wrist joint (pivot point) can be more straight by only holding the peddle between
thumb and index finger.
Anyway, using alternating techniques is certainly a plus for fingers, wrist joints and forearm muscles.
Also, the application to the paddle of a “grip” or “taping” as is used for the badminton and tennis racket
has a very good effect on reducing the strength needed to hold the peddle.
I myself have chosen a "Prestige Pro" HEAD taping that I knew from playing badminton.
Paul Nollen



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