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Re: Swimming skills
In Response To: Re: Swimming skills ()

: Tom

One should never abandon the PFD. In general, swimming is the absolute last resort, in fact, some are so dogmatic that they say never leave the kayak, and I tend to agree. The problem is that a swim may be forced upon the paddler in an unexpected situation. Swimming leads to a rapid loss of body heat, in cold water the swimmer loses heat so fast that they are unable to complete crossing a distance that they could easily do in warmer water. Obviously, in the tropics, swimming with mask and fins is a more reasonable solution than waiting a half mile offshore of land for rescue. In Lake Superior or the Pacific Coast, one is always advised to remain with the boat, even if damaged, it provides some way to remain buoyant and or get the torso out of the water. My comments about swimming are that one should be prepared for loss of the PFD and kayak, through whatever bizarre circumstance, or be able to take the opportunity to make it to shore in extreme conditions. One incident report on Blackstone Bay, from an old issue of Sea Kayaker, recounts how 2 kayakers were able to swim to shore after capsize and recover from hypothermia in Alaska. Without swimming skills this would have been fatal. They lacked self rescue skills, but it still brings home the point that one may have to swim, even on a day paddle, if only to recover a recently capsized kayak now being pushed away from you by the wind, although it is very difficult to chase a wind blown upside down kayak, at least a swimmer has a small chance to do so. If both parties capsize and one party is momentarily disabled, the other party should be able to grab them and swim them to the upturned kayaks to proceed with rescue, etc...ie., you can't anticipate everything that might happen, but you need to be able to propel yourself in water for all water sports, canoeing, kayaking, well, maybe not beach volleyball...

Good point. I tried to qualify the situation, but left out a few key facts.
: The marsh is very protected but has one place where the currents are
: strong only at high tide. He went last night at low tide and thankfully
: had no mishaps. The temperature at the Portland buoy was 61F. He is very
: comfortable in water and has been water skiing and canoeing. He can propel
: himself with the pfd on. He went with a kayaker with some skills such as
: reasonably good paddling form, and a conservative attitude, but without
: skills like a roll or self rescue. I don't think they discussed or
: practiced any type of assisted rescue. The more important issue is perhaps
: recognizing what could happen and to make a prioritized list of what
: skills are needed to get back to a safe condition.

: In reading the posts, I was unsure about one point. Is there ever a time that
: one should abandon their pfd and swim?