Training and assessing: 2013 Cumberland Island

"Blind" rescuer being guided by "sighted"  victim"

“Blind” rescuer being guided by “sighted” victim”

Learning safety in Sea Kayaking comes in many forms: science (understanding the physics of weather, waves, tides and currents), reading material (trade magazines,  books on a wide variety of topics or specific in nature), word of mouth (social media, friends), formal training from qualified persons (first aid, CPR, kayaking courses and curriculum established by reputed and recognized agencies), and informal training (experiential, mentoring, friends sharing and showing). Because kayaking is an “inherently dangerous sport”, we can (and should) use all these different methods of utilizing key factors for increasing our chances of survival and enjoyment. As we all know from our formal and informal learning experiences, the key to the best learning is having FUN.

Here is a review of a recent trip to the Coast of Georgia (U.S.) and a message of how all of these components come together to form a rewarding learning experience. [Continued] [Photos]

Staying Afloat

Mishaps occur in seakayaking, but what you do and how well you are prepared can mean a difference between enjoying a brief time on the water or going home, continuing a journey in comfort or discomfort,  or worse: life and death.

Whether you lose you hatch cover on the way to the put in, forgot it or lost it on the water, these few simple and compact items should be carried with you at all times. Or if you developed a leak in your hull, and gorilla tape might not be the answer, again, you’ll be forced to try other things.  Consider these items part of your “A Kit”, an item you bring with everywhere.


Flotation bags, commonly used in whitewater craft or Skin-On-Frame kayaks, are used to occupy space that unwanted water would. If your kayak is taking on water and there isn’t time to do a proper repair, these will keep your boat buoyant.




Two of them nested side by side will displace most of the water. Their long tubes make it easy to inflate while afloat.






IMG_20131009_170732_795 (1)


Emergency hatch covers needn’t be complicated or costly. Try an inexpensive nylon spray skirt along with a piece of bungy cord with a slip knot. This one applies in less than a minute. It’s not ultra resilient, but quick and easy. It’s a bonus when any piece of equipment can do double duty.







All of these items will fit into…




…a nice little pouch the size of a litre bottle; nice and neat, and the contents are visible from the outside.


Simple! Easy! Fast!


Train for the worst; Hope for the best.

Video review: Sea Kayak Rescues

Review of video: Sea Kayak Rescues

Sea Kayak Rescues DVD

Speed and proficiency is the key to a good T-Rescue in kayaking. It’s best to get the casualty out of the water as quickly as possible to avoid more problems and dangers such as hypothermia, separation from boat and gear, and dangerous obstacles.

Clearly, objectives of this video were conceived before the video was made. As defined on their website, Shawna and Leon successfully made their goals: “ To create a visually exciting instructional film”, “To show current rescue techniques that work in a wide range of conditions that are actually shown in those conditions” and “To use current coaching methodology to set a new standard in instructional films”.

They nailed it spot on. They created a video that was exciting to watch, uses catchy music, placid and tension filled scenes as well as a flavor of their own delightful, yet professional personalities.

To me, the main key of this video is the demonstration of current techniques that are applicable in all settings, calm or vigorous water. Not too oddly, the procedure of T-rescue has taken a slightly new form in recent years and in my observation, there  has been a slow change of the kayak community in the Midwest  to come around to this way of thinking. All industries, kayaking included, need to have periodic standards updates (newer, better ways of doing the same old thing).  Through peer review and very much experience teaching, a few changes have been made to improve T-rescue practice, and Body Boat Blade International brings this out in their video.

When is the best time to view this video? All the time. Each time you see it, you’ll pick up another tip. As your skills improve in all aspects of kayaking, you’ll find yourself in different situations. This video will give you new insights on how to handle rescues in a variety of situations. As an instructor,  I also like to review this video prior to teaching a rescues class.

My suggestions:

  1. buy this video and watch it immediately
  2. take classes and training in rescues
  3. practice, practice, practice

My only regret is that the awesome slides Shawna and Leon use for their talk on this topic aren’t included. If you have the opportunity to see them deliver this topic, do anything you can to get there; even if it means stealing your grandmother’s mule.