Kayaking Technique Forum

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

: 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.
Good points!

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.

I was in Prince William Sound that day. Two "swimmers" made it to shore, but the other "swimmers" drowned! The shore was reasonably near, it wasn't so much a case of "good swimming skills" rather cold wet boaters thrashed enought to get to ground. Had the others stayed with and on their kayaks they may well be alive.

Like any issue, the extreme positions are right only in almost-never-to-happen situations. Of course, being able to swim helps in any water sport. And of course, just about any living person with a PFD would figure out how to pull themselves thru the water with their arms toward their objective, whether they were a "swimmer" or not.

Without the correct dress, the PFD helps locate the body. Without the PFD, you may get to be organically recycled and/or you may get to find out if there really is an after life. Maybe another thread could be "Could there be an after life without kayaking and water?" : )

Safe paddling to all, may you never have to swim, only if you choose to.