Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Better Boat to Boat Rescue?

Thanks for the help!

A traditional bow rescue calls for the paddler who is upside down to have their hands out of the water on either side of the kayak while also rubbing back and forth along the boat. This rubbing is advised for two reasons: first, so the rescuer who is paddling aggressively toward them will be less likely to hit his/her hand and second, as a means to search for the bow of the rescuers kayak that might have come in behind or in front of their hand.

While professional kayak instructors have the experience to approach upside down kayakers slowly and the precision boat control to ensure that their bow makes contact with the kayak at the right angle, many kayakers who have taken it upon themselves to teach their friends and loved ones do not.


I have seen it many times. . . someone in the group is upside down on the lake, hands rubbing patiently on the kayak while an intrepid rescuer accelerates toward him only to create an inadvertently painful kayak hand sandwich or to have the bow of their kayak veer off in the wrong direction at the last second, leaving the kayaker to pull his skirt and swim.

The traditional bow rescue does have the advantage of keeping the rescuer at boats length from the upside down paddler but it comes with some risk of possible injury to the hand of the person you are trying to rescue. There is also a slightly lower success rate if the person grabs the bow incorectly as illustrated in the photograph bellow.


There is another way to execute a boat to boat rescue that is friendlier, reliable and more controlled. It consists of paddling up along side the upside down kayaker and physically guiding their hand to your boat. This results in a much more controlled rescue and has two big advantages. The physical contact with the person generally has a calming affect and also allows for excellent communication when the kayaker's head is resting on your kayak.

While this type of boat to boat rescue has a high success rate, it does have one draw back in that it puts the rescuer at risk of being capsized by the person pushing with their arms, hence lifting their head and not hip snapping. This can be mitigated by leaning slightly away from the side of the kayak that is being used to help the person rolling up.

The technique for this rescue works as follows:
  1. Paddle up along side of the kayaker.
  2. Grab the wrist of the their closest hand (this is important)
  3. Guide their hand to the side of your kayak.
  4. Have the kayaker proceed with placing the other hand on the boat laying their head on the boat than a hip snap as usual with a bow rescue.
Grabbing the wrist and not the hand allows you to take control of their hand as you guide it to your boat. It is important to be aware that you are exposing part of your body to someone who is upside down in the water. Generally paddlers who are calm enough underwater to be asking for a rescue are much less likely to be in a panic when they feel your hand. As a general rule though, if you are approaching an arm and hand that appears like some sort of possessed periscope, it is best to just let that hand reach for their grab loop.

So next time you are on the lake and one of your friends is upside down asking for a rescue, this is just one more option to choose from. Which one will depend on your commfort level, ability, situation and understainding of the limitations of each type of rescue.

Stay tuned for some tips on how to use this on the river.


1 comment:

corgimas said...

look up a paddle-put-across in long boating....
same thing as your new rescue...except you put your paddle across your deck and their hull and then grab their hand and put it on the shaft...the rescue-e then rolls up...the allows the rescue-e to have more space to roll up without nailing their head on the bottom of the rescue-r's boat....thansk goodness for helmets...

also the prefered long boating method for the bow
rescue-requesting person is to have their hands perpendicular to their hull while waving back and forth....that way there is less chance of a hand pin between two boats...also then their hand is in such a position where it is easier to grab on to the bow of a rescuer's boat....