The following is a reminder of a skill set for refreshing your memory…and is not intended to be instructional for beginners. As always: while learning new skills, seek instruction from a current certified instructor; and follow the instructions of your instructor. Also, (sorry to be a nag) always wear your PFD.
The basic foundation of safety for every kayaker is wet exits. It’s likely one of the first things you learn in a class and it’s something even the most experienced needs to be proficient at. Why? Exiting your boat is probably the last thing you may want to do while out paddling, but if you’re tipped over and don’t have a sound method to right yourself, the wet exit is the skill that defines your survival.
The single most important step occurs while putting your spray skirt on: ensure your grab loop is outside.
The wet exit process is usually needed when a capsize (intentional or accidental) occurs. Remain calm and things will have a better outcome.
Signal to those around you that you are “OK” by using your hands to pound on the bottom of your kayak. Be assertive in this action: make some noise. Three good whacks says ” I’MOKAY “
[I have stricken this part of the text. See important note from Scott below.]
A good way to stay oriented to your boat while upside down is to start by moving your hands to your hips and locate the coaming,
Then move move your hands forward along the coaming to locate loop.
With both hands, grab the loop, bend forward while pushing the grab loop (the spray skirt begins to release it’s grip of the coaming).
With both hands firmly holding the grab loop, and begin an arc towards your head.
Make a motion over one of your shoulders and the spray skirt should be nearly free of the coaming.
Move your hands back to your hips.
While pushing with hands (like removing a pair of pants) somersault forward to make the exit from the kayak.
While floating on your back, hold your upside down kayak with one foot while holding on to paddle.
Take a moment if you need to, then proceed to performing your self rescue or righting your kayak in anticipation of an assisted rescue.
This may sound like a lot of steps, but a little practice makes it second nature.
Be sure to have a spotter for the following activities:
These additional upside challenges will build other skills while also increasing your confidence and level of composure:
1)Using a stop watch, how long can you stay upside down before doing a wet exit or roll?
2)While upside down, wave at the camera or another upside down kayaker.
3) While upside down, look around and see if you can recognized whose boat is whose, or see if you understand why it’s on the other side from what you expected.
While upside down, tie or untie a short piece of line to your deck bungees.
While upside down,put you spare paddle together.