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  Solo reentry balance question
  Posted by: WaterBird on Jul-07-13 12:07 PM (EST)
   Category: unassigned 

-- Last Updated: Jul-07-13 12:23 PM EST --

I was practicing solo reentry with a paddle float today. I noticed that the "tippiest" moment was when I was face down in the cockpit with both legs in the cockpit and about to turn over. I think the reason is that too much body weight is right in the center of the cockpit, with a high center of gravity.

Is it easier to keep your balance if you put in one leg, turn over, and insert the other leg last? I was thinking that that would allow me to keep my legs father apart for more balance. This wouldn't work with a smaller cockpit. Mine is 35" long.

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Messages in this Topic


  What I Did
  Posted by: Kudzu on Jul-07-13 1:15 PM (EST)
Before I learned to roll I did this pretty successfully:

Paddle and float secured behind cockpit.

Put your back against the paddle.

left hand on the far coaming.

right hand on the paddle shaft.

feet in the cockpit.

pull with the left hand and push up with the right and get the butt in the seat.

There's no turning around tippiness. I was warned that this put my shoulder at risk but I never had any problems.
  Two things
  Posted by: rjd9999 on Jul-07-13 1:35 PM (EST)
about stability.

1) As you point out, center of gravity may be too high. If so, leaning back over the rear deck, not forward, is what is usually recommended. It distributes the weight better and most of us can stay lower leaning back than leaning forward.

2) There will be moments of instability every time you lean (shift weight) away from the paddle float. Lean on the float a bit until you are sitting upright in the seat. That should reduce the amount of "tippiness" you feel. Once seated, you can continue button up the skirt, and lean on the float for support whenever you feel the need.

  Posted by: carldelo on Jul-07-13 3:28 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-07-13 11:01 PM EST --

Ditto, Kudzu, the face up paddle float rescue is more stable than the standard type with the roll over - as WB said, that's the most unstable part of it.

PS Celia called this a heel-hook rescue below, which may be a more common name for this rescue.

  It is less tippy.........
  Posted by: blackboat on Jul-07-13 1:36 PM (EST)
.......if you keep your gaze on the paddle float as you rotate to the butt in the seat position.
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Jul-07-13 2:05 PM (EST)
you can easily put both feet in before turning. But make sure the way you turn and do anything else is such that you never take your eyes off the paddle float for even a second. This ensures you are constantly putting a bit more weight on the float side.
  It's tippiest
  Posted by: LeeG on Jul-07-13 3:06 PM (EST)
If you lift your weight up off the back deck as opposed to pressing your weight into the deck/coaming while transferring your weight on the paddle shaft from one hand to another while rolling over.
  It is not tippy at all if you just keep.
  Posted by: JackL on Jul-07-13 3:18 PM (EST)
leaning on the paddle float side as you roll over.

Jack L
  Pretty much
  Posted by: LeeG on Jul-08-13 10:12 AM (EST)
And keep your weight pressed into the kayak. The problem is weight shifting around all over the place.
  I wonder if there are as many
  Posted by: ezwater on Jul-07-13 3:33 PM (EST)
successful paddle float re-entries, under battle conditions, not practicing, per year, as there are instances where a kayaker is struck by lightning?
  "battle conditions"
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Jul-07-13 3:43 PM (EST)
I personally don't think the paddle float re-entry is really a "battle condition" sort of rescue though I'm sure with enough practice it could be a tool (e.g. if you are injured). More commonly someone may have had an isolated boat wake or maybe did a poor job reaching for something and flipped in otherwise benign conditions. This is the sort of "battle" that is more likely for someone not well skilled at rolling, cowboy and re-entry and roll rescues. So it does have it's value for the right people in conditions suitable for those people.
  If you think you're likely to find
  Posted by: ezwater on Jul-07-13 3:54 PM (EST)
yourself out of your kayak, in spite of having to roll properly, AND if you think reboarding promptly is an issue, why not take a lesson from the Tsunami Rangers?

Paddle a SOT that's vetted for serious conditions. Not a kayak with a 35" cockpit that many people will not be able to reboard except when practicing.

Paddle float reboading is a solution to a problem that should be approached in entirely different ways.
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Jul-07-13 4:01 PM (EST)
as we are now talking more skilled kayakers, there are very many including the Rangers that take closed deck boats both short and long into extremely rough waters with 5+' rock pour overs, reflections etc. and manage self rescues. They do often have to swim a bit to get out of the extreme danger part but still execute the self rescues in very rough conditions.

But I don't think this thread is about such folks. It's clearly about newer paddlers that I would hope are in calm waters and just had an "oopsy".
  Not a beginner in calm water
  Posted by: WaterBird on Jul-07-13 6:38 PM (EST)
That's exactly why I posted this question, because I was thinking that if I'm tippy in calm water I will be in trouble in rough water. It sounds like the answer to my question is to keep some weight on the paddle float until I'm completely turned around in the seat. I realize now that I wasn't doing that, I was balancing in the center.

I totally lost my reentry ability for several years due to hip arthritis. Somehow that improved and today I happily discovered that I am now able to do a paddle float reentry. But I've always thought that any conditions that threw me overboard would make reentry very difficult.
  if you can, find a group for practice
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Jul-07-13 7:00 PM (EST)
Whether beginner or expert, as you take a step up in conditions you really want a good group to play and practice with. And you don't want to take it up a notch until you can handle the rescues in calmer conditions quick and easy. Any time our group would happen to find weather that was enough to challenge us we would stay closer to some safety and have fun seeing all the rescues and such we can do in those conditions. With a good group even if no others are experts you can (hopefully) rely on a good assisted rescue if you fail your self rescue attempt. After a few such sessions that becomes the new normal for us. Compared to others we may know we're all beginners and we're all fairly skilled -- it's all relative.
  Posted by: LeeG on Jul-08-13 10:10 AM (EST)
The conditions that dump you will probably prevent a self rescue unless you drift to gentler conditions. I've done paddle float rescues in 4' waves, it actually works, I've also attempted pf rescue in 2' breaking waves and it's not possible. By the boats nature one is in control when in the kayak, so the goal should be staying in the kayak. Learn to roll, get better at bracing, etc.
Pf self rescue takes a huge amount of energy compared to rolling.

The time and effort it takes to get decent at pf self rescue in a range of conditions isn't much different than learning to roll.

Wrt your tippiness issue when turning over my experience teaching is that people would transfer their weight in extremes. First they put too much weight on the paddle shaft then they swing a lot of weight on the kayak then push-up vertically away from the kayak while turning over which is kind of like twirling a barbell.
What I tried to show was a little weight ALWAYS on the paddle with whatever body part making and transferring contact smoothly. Keep your gut pressed into the back deck so that when you turn over your ALWAYS pressing into the kayak.
In other words the balance of weight on paddle and kayak doesn't change as you turn over and slide into the kayak, your contact with the paddle changes. That's why I prefer learning the pf rescue without using the rigging. By holding the shaft at the coaming and pressing your body onto the shaft at the coaming you maintain weight where it's best supported on the kayak while keeping your weight tight and low.
Seems to me relying on rigging allows a big hinge to open up as opposed to putting your weight where it works. Also having the paddle free enables you to immediately swing it forward for active bracing as opposed to hinging away on the deck.

When I first learned a pf rescue I only practiced a few times and it's shortcomings weren't evident until I actually practiced in the conditions that would dump me, breaking waves. Thereafter I doubled up rolling practice and discovered I hadn't learned to brace well until I learned to roll.

$.02 paddle floats are a sales aid for selling kayaks. Instead of learning to roll, buy a paddle float. They have all kinds of utility for solo paddling and assisting injured paddlers but I'd look at them as a device motivating one to learn rolling.
  great last paragraph^
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jul-08-13 4:58 PM (EST)
  paddle float rescue
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jul-08-13 9:56 AM (EST)
Is another tool in the toolbox. What you describe is undue reliance on the rescue. If you open your mind a bit you'd see the move is useful on it's own, with variation,or in combination with other approaches.
  Stirrup question
  Posted by: WaterBird on Jul-07-13 6:41 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-07-13 8:55 PM EST --

I need to use a stirrup and have always slung it around the coaming. That doesn't work that great because it puts you too far forward. I saw a YouTube video that showed the stirrup hung from the paddle shaft on both sides of the kayak. I'm thinking that would get me farther back, onto the rear deck, and also make it easier to get an ankle over the paddle. Does that sound right?

  It should
  Posted by: rjd9999 on Jul-08-13 11:12 AM (EST)
work as you intend.

You could attach a stirrup to the paddle, as long as you can keep the paddle tethered/connected to the boat. The most reliable approach for something like this might well be hardware to attach the paddle to the boat, but I have done the following when diving off the kayak.

Attach a float on each end of the paddle
Strap the paddle to the paddle using tie-downs (run under the boat).
Attach stirrup to paddle

This works quite well (the stirrup is optional for those who don't need same) and is very stable. The outrigger system is easy to set up and implement, but there are some issues of which to be aware.

1) Be certain that the tie-down release is on top of the boat. It is not likely to work well if you have to reach over the side to release the strap.
2) If conditions are rough, it is annoying, at best, to have to release two paddle floats on opposite sides of the boat. Best to button up, lean to one side while holding the paddle (off hand lean with paddle held under armpit) and release the strap and remove the float.
3) Deflate and stow float under lines.
4) Remove and stow 2nd float.

It won't be quick and easy, but it works.

  What they said and...
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-07-13 9:22 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-07-13 10:12 PM EST --

about keeping weight on the paddle with the float thru the entire re-entry, including the first plop into the cockpit.

But it might be worth trying the version where you use the paddle with the float on the end to support a heel-hook re-entry. Less time lost humping yourself over the back of he boat and in general a faster entry into the cockpit if you do it right.

But to the larger question, I have heard two problems from people who have tried a paddle float re-entry in waves. One was balance because the boat kept rocking. The paddle float can help with that to a degree.... albeit a limited one.

The other was that the cockpit kept refilling with water, challenging stability. The only solution for the latter is likely getting it done faster, and if a roll or a cowboy is out of the question you may want to try the paddle float heel-hook alternative. I've practiced both of these in calm water and would say that the heel-hook one is a bit faster.

I can't comment from experience on the advantages of either version of these in waves - in those cases I've either managed to roll or it has been an assisted rescue.

  Given that it takes great accuracy
  Posted by: ezwater on Jul-07-13 11:09 PM (EST)
and sinuosity to get my big feet and huge frame into a typical 35" cockpit, I think my odds of doing so out on a wavy ocean, using a paddle float, are just about zilch.

If failing to roll and being able to reboard, solo, is so critically important, then I'd have to go the Tsunami Ranger route. But I still say this paddle float reboarding stuff just isn't being used in the real world. Not solo. It seems to be a primitive rite of passage for sea kayakers.

The alternatives are, don't paddle in conditions where you can't stay upright, and don't flip unless you have a bulletproof roll. Which, at times, I have possessed.
  rough conditions vs a rough moment
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Jul-07-13 11:45 PM (EST)
For me in rough conditions I go with either a cowboy (takes lots of practice but doable in wind waves up to a few feet or more) or a re-enter and roll (doable most anytime I could roll otherwise). I've used both in surf zone and rock gardening. Cowboy leaves you drier but re-enter and roll takes less energy and is more reliable (assuming a good roll). Even if you first failed a roll the re-enter and roll is good as the roll may have failed due to a moment of mental overload from a big wave and you can re-orient the boat prior to re-enter and roll to favor success.

But lacking those skills a paddler should stay is safer waters. But even in safer waters there can be rather rare moments where the paddler finds themselves in the water. A rude power boat may fly past with a wake bigger than the lesser skilled paddler can handle or the paddler may have just been goofing around and maybe missed a brace. In those moments you are not in 'conditions'. Typically an assisted rescue is still the best bet but if all went in or you happen to be solo then a paddle float rescue can suffice in the calm aftermath of the moment.
  well said
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jul-08-13 9:58 AM (EST)
In short, not everyone gets dumped by tsunami ranger conditions. Not even everyone with giant feet.
  one vote for the cowboy reentry
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jul-08-13 9:59 AM (EST)
...if it works for you. If you can mount your deck from the water, the rest is relatively easy.
  re-enter roll with float
  Posted by: dc9mm on Jul-08-13 11:38 AM (EST)
Under waves up to 2 foot or so cowboy scramble is fine but if its really wavy 4 footer I found paddle float attached to my greenland paddle then re-enter and roll. You CANT miss a roll with a big paddle float attached. If you cant do it that way you shouldn't be out there in those conditions EVER. The tricky part is holding onto paddle with float attached and re-entering. With a greenland paddle I find it easy, not sure I could do that with a regular paddle.

A regular paddle float rescue should be almost automatic under calm conditions if you will have any hope to do it under rough conditions. Sounds like your just getting it under ideal calm conditions. Get it down pat before trying it under rough water.
  of course the R&R is better
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Jul-08-13 4:57 PM (EST)
Once you learn that you likely never go back to the cowboy reentry. But between cowboy and paddle float reentry I'll take the former any day.
  Heel Hook variation
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-08-13 1:51 PM (EST)
The link below will take you to a video of a heel hook variation on the paddle float reentry. It requires significantly less strength and balance than a normal, rear deck paddle float reentry, and you get your bottom back in the seat very quickly.

For those who question the paddle float's utility and practicality in rough water, it is certainly dubious for conditions in which you haven't practiced. However, with practice, I find that the heel hook variation is quite reliable across a wide range of conditions. It's not my primary rescue and I have other options that are faster and easier, including rolls, reenter and rolls, and scramble/cowboy reentries. But if I'm unable to perform any of those due to injury, illness, or exhaustion, the paddle float offers viable alternatives in all but the worst conditions.
  Excellent video, thanks!
  Posted by: WaterBird on Jul-08-13 6:10 PM (EST)
I will definitely try this.
  Nice video
  Posted by: dc9mm on Jul-08-13 11:49 PM (EST)
Thats one of the better videos out there. Thats exactly how I do mine. Thanks for the link.


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