Capsizing Issue and How to HandleThe capsizing is the fearest issue to kayaking beginners. Learn how to keep away from it and more importantly, how to handle it.
How to Kayak : How to Not Capsize your Kayak credits to Expertvillage
The High Brace
The high brace is the same motion as a draw that is employed while you are in the process of capsizing. As you are going over, extend your paddle out to place the face of the paddle flat on the water surface. Actually smacking the surface of the water will help arrest your capsize motion. Attempt to pull the blade down through the water. Keep your elbow bent at about 90 degrees. Do not reach out too far from the side of the kayak. Doing so will increase the risk of a shoulder separation, particularly in surf. Your arm and elbow should be in line with the paddle. As you pull down on the paddle, toss your head toward the paddle and rotate your hips to rotate the kayak hull back to its stable position. Use the rest of the paddle stroke to return your body to the center line of the kayak. Leaning your body back over the rear deck of the kayak will help this recovery.
A variation of the high brace is the sweeping high brace. A combination of a sweep and a high brace, the paddle skims along the surface of the water at the same time as it is pulled down to counteract the capsize. The blade is angled slightly upward so it will not dive down as you pull down on the paddle shaft. The sweeping high brace may be performed either as a forward sweep or a back sweep. These braces are most conveniently used when you are starting or finishing some other stroke and the need for a brace arises.
The Sculling High Brace
The sculling high brace is a combination of the sculling draw and a high brace. The motions are the same as the sculling draw, except with the paddle nearly parallel to the water surface. With a well developed sculling motion, you should be able to hang from this brace for a long time.
The Low Brace
The low brace uses the back side of the paddle pushed down into the water to prevent a capsize. Your forearm should remain in line with the paddle's resistance. Again, head motion and opposite rotation of the hips to return the kayak hull to a stable position aids in a successful brace. The sweeping low brace is a low brace starting from the stern or bow and moving toward the other end of the kayak. The stern sweeping low brace is the most natural and quickest to deploy when the paddle blade on the side toward which you are capsizing is behind you. When the blade is in front of you, most find that the quickest natural brace is the high brace. A stern sweeping brace can be transitioned to a sweeping high brace, and vice versa, if bracing is still required at the end of a sweeping brace.
You missed your brace. You capsized and now you are the keel instead of the mast. Now what do you do?
Capsizing and Wet Exiting
(The Capsizing and Wet Exit video credits to Paddle TV)
If you don't know how to roll your kayak and you don't have gills, you have a fairly short period of time to get some air. Your kayak companions can come and assist you. But what if they don't get there is time? Knowing how to quickly and safely exit your kayak and practicing it under safe, controlled conditions will help you make a clean exit when difficult conditions occur in a real capsize. Sit on top kayakers don't have this problem as they are not confined by a deck and a spray skirt, just a few straps. Besides, if they have managed to capsize their sit on top, they probably have bigger problems than falling off of it.
The wet exit is the process of getting out of a decked kayak when it goes over, and other recovery techniques are not possible. It is the last maneuver that you want to use because being in the water can be dangerous. Re-entering the kayak is more difficult than recovering while you are still in it.
The best way to learn how to wet exit is on a warm, calm day in shallow water with an assistant standing on the bottom ready to help if needed. When you go over in your kayak, the first thing to remember is not to panic. There is plenty of time to perform a wet exit, which takes only a few seconds when done properly.
The first step in any capsize is to let your companions know you have gone over. You have a great signalling drum in a kayak full of air right at your fingertips. Place your paddle next to the hull of the kayak, keeping it between your arm and the kayak so it does not float away. Pound on your drum. Give it five or six good whacks. If they are truly your friends they should be coming over to assist you in a rescue. Turn your hands perpendicular to the hull center line and move your hands forward and aft in a slow waving motion. This will locate the assistance that hopefully has arrived. If no one has arrived and the air supply is getting short, it is now time to rescue yourself and proceed with the wet exit.
The first thing to do when wet exiting is to release the spray skirt. All spray skirts have pull tabs of the front of them just for this purpose. However, they do not do much good if they are caught underneath the spray skirt. So the first step in a good wet exit is when you put the spray skirt on. Make sure the pull tab at the front is outside the skirt and easily accessible.
The next step is to locate the spray skirt tab. This can be harder to do in the upside down murky kelp sea grass world you might find yourself in a real capsize. However we all know where our hips are. Keeping your paddle caught under your arm, bring both hands down to the cockpit coaming next to your hips. Follow the coaming forward with your hand until you locate the pull tab. Tuck forward to release the tension on the front of the skirt and pull the tab to release the skirt. Continue to tuck and roll toward the front to release your legs from the kayaks hull. When your legs are half way out of the kayak you should be able to reach the surface for air. Keep your feet and legs in the cockpit so the kayak does not blow away from you and hold on to your paddle. You are going to need them both soon. (Paddle leashes will keep your paddle from separating from you) Now you should be comfortably floating on your back with your paddle in hand and your feet securely planted in your cockpit contemplating your next move. Perhaps you should get some new friends who can get there quicker to help you or perhaps you really should practice those braces some more and learn to roll your kayak...
Recommended & Reviewed by
Being a responsible eco tour operator is at the heart of what ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA is all about. From the start, we have been committed to offering low-impact tours that benefit traveler and host alike. We work with local communities, businesses and individuals to develop sustainable tourism opportunities that help local economies while minimizing negative environmental and cultural impacts.