Last night I had to practice the skills I hope not to have to use on the trip around Ireland. Since I bought the boat people especially those who do a little bit of kayaking keep asking, “is it easy to roll?” my answer up until yesterday was I don’t know. I have spent years perfecting the art of staying upright so I tend not to capsize all that often but last night I had to do it on purpose, not once but a number of times to practice the variety of self rescue techniques which I may need in an emergency.
The most obvious self rescue technique is the Eskimo roll, boat turns over, you flick your hips and pull on the paddle and hey presto up you come! A skill which I have master over a number of years and even with my new wing shaped paddles I managed with relative ease, thankfully. To be honest I was nervous before I capsized something which has not happened in over a decade, but it was just like riding a bike.
The second rescue which I completed was to simulate loosing my paddles and getting turned over. In this case I have to twist around in the boat grab one half of my spare paddle off the back of the boat and use that to roll up. I
t was a little disorientating at first but once I located the paddles I came up with no major problem.
The final 2 rescues are for re-entering the boat in the event of swimming out of the boat. The first technique which I practiced is called a ‘re-enter and roll’ and is self explanatory, you reenter the upturned kayak and roll back up. This is a tricky maneuver as the boat is very unstable when full of water, my handy electric pump quickly kicks into action and pumps most of the water out in seconds. With this rescue mastered it was out with the paddle float for the final rescue and only one which I had never attempted before. The paddle float is a small air bag which attaches to one end of the paddle and you use this as a support to help with balance as you climb out of the water onto and then into the upright kayak. This is a very tricky skill but with a little practice I think I have it nailed, although I hope never to have to use it!
With that session complete my training is done, no more training sessions before I finally hit the water of Cork Harbour next Monday morning. The next few days will be hectic as I finish up work, prepare for my little brothers wedding and of course pack and prepare for the lap around Ireland.