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Rescuing a Swamped Recreational Kayak

Hi. This is Mitch with Coastal Kayak in Fenwick Island, Delaware and today I’m going to demonstrate to you how you would get someone back into a recreational style kayak once they’ve capsized.

Now if you went online and did a search for "kayak rescues" you would find hundreds of videos, tips, and techniques on how to rescue somebody in a touring kayak, but you might not find anything about how to rescue someone in a recreational style kayak. And the fact is, in our area (the mid-Atlantic, and I’m guessing in other areas and other regions in the country), the vast majority of paddlers are in recreational style kayaks. And although it is a little more challenging than rescuing somebody in a touring kayak, if you know how to do it, it’s not that difficult.

Okay, so if you’ve got an upside-down recreational style kayak, it’s going to fill up with a lot of water. This particular kayak that we’re using is a Wilderness Systems Pungo and it’s probably the top-of-the-line recreational style kayak. One thing it has is a bulkhead behind the seat which is basically just a foam wall that creates an air-tight chamber in the back, or the stern, of the boat. That’s assuming, of course, that you’ve got the hatch cover closed and latched. In another video we’ll demonstrate what happens if that hatch cover is open and it floods with water as well.

So we’re going to get this flooded as much as we can. So there we go. That’s got a lot of water in it and it’s going to be extremely heavy. But I’m going to use technique versus strength to try to and get the water out of this boat. Of course, if there was someone in the water at this time, I’d have them come around and hang on to my boat, just so we don’t drift apart.

But the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to come up alongside of the boat, so that they’re parallel. I’m then going to turn this boat on its side, so that the cockpit combing is facing the side of my boat. Now because of this chamber of air in the back of this boat, you might notice that the stern is up in the air a little bit. And that’s going to make things a little bit easier. I’m going to grab the cockpit combing with my palms up, just like this, back towards the stern. And then I’m simply going to pull it up a little bit, a little gentle upward pressure, and I’m going to lean back against it, slowly, and that water’s going to start to drain. I’m not using a lot of strength here. And now, once it starts to drain, I’m going to start moving my hands up towards the bow, giving it time to let that water come out of there. And once my hands get up to the bow, most of that water is out of there, and I’m simply going to lift and push it away from me so it doesn’t scoop up water when I put it back in. So at this point I’ve got the boat about ninety-five percent empty and I can start to help get the person back in the boat.

Alright, once I’ve got the boat drained, the next thing I have to do is get her back in the boat. (demonstrates how to hold boat while paddler is entering from the water)

That’s how you rescue a recreational style kayak. Make sure that if it’s got a watertight compartment you make it watertight by closing and sealing the hatch. And we always recommend adding flotation to the front, or the bow, of the boat as it’s going to really limit how much water gets in there.

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