Kayaking Technique Forum

Find advice on all aspects of kayaking and using small boats on big water

Actual accidents

Calling all experienced paddlers:
How many times have you actually had to use your self rescue skills in a real accident? What were the conditions at the time? What worked?
I bought Extreme Sea Kayaking hoping to get some anecdotes and photos of kayakers in waves. I got more than I bargained for, because the Tsunami Rangers and their related tribes have gone to the real extreme of needing specialized boats for specialized conditions.
Maybe instructional manuals can't really describe the nuances of wave negotiation because it's such a complex dance of constant analysis and reaction. I know I paddle by the seat of my pants, to use the old aviator's phrase, interpreting the boat's movements and responding with body and paddle to maintain stability. I've never felt particularly close to capsizing, even in steep, close-set waves and a strong wind. I knew I had to be careful and fully aware of my surroundings. I just wasn't finding myself thrown onto desperate braces and such. I tried to watch 360 degrees and aim for the low shoulders of following seas.
Far from shore one may have to deal with continuous rough seas that will eventually wear down vigilance and stamina. I like open water, but enjoy exploring the shape of the shore, so I have been able to limit exposure in that way. Once in a while I bite off a bigger chunk, though, and expect I shall do so again.
One must consider a deepwater capsize to be inevitable and practice for it. But how often have you each actually been caught out? It seems like something to avoid, regardless of your confidence level. Accidents by definition do not adhere to routine.