Certified! That’s Right! I am certified for solo paddling! Hurray! My entire body aches. My core, my chest, my right arm, my left arm, my right leg, even my fingers on my right hand have the worst looking bruises ever! You’d think I’d gotten into an ugly brawl. And from the feel of it, I lost the brawl. The only part of me that doesn’t ache is my left leg! My left leg was untouched. Not a bruise, bump or even a tiny little ache. Bravo to you, Solo Paddle Float Rescue! You were the greatest challenge in my entire series of kayaking classes and I managed to tackle you three times in class, with the first time being the most hardest ever to do! You had me swearing and encouraging myself at the same time. Picture this, if you can:
Tip over and capsize. This is the second time already and the first capsize was not on purpose. Remember how to do the wet exit. No problem. Don’t lose my paddle. Done. Hang onto my kayak. Okay. Turn the kayak over. Done. Unclip the paddle float. Done. Without letting go of my kayak, slid the paddle float onto one end of the blades. Gotta remember to hook my elbow into the cockpit so the kayak doesn’t float away. Remember to clip the paddle float so it doesn’t slid off the blade. So far so good. Slide the other end of the paddle under the bungee cords behind the seat. Keep sliding the paddle through the lines until the other blade slides out to the other side of the kayak. Okay. All set. I have now created a 90 degree angle with the kayak and the paddle shaft. Face the stern. The paddle is in front of me. The kayak is to my right. With my right hand I grab the coaming furthest away from me. With my left hand grab the paddle shaft very close to the kayak. In position. All my weight should be on my left hand, the hand on the shaft. No weight should be on the right, the hand on the coaming, or I will tip over. Hmmm. Awkward. Now kick with my legs and pull myself onto the the kayak until I can swing my leg up and into the cockpit. Not working so well. Having some trouble kicking myself up. Kayak is tipping. Not so good now. Relax and go back into the water. Try again. Half way out, but still can’t swing the leg over. Getting tired now. Swearing up a storm. Mike suggests I hook my left leg over the paddle shaft to help get up. Still not good. Kayak is still tipping. Paddle is sliding back out from under the bungee cords. Swearing is getting louder. Mike suggests trying a different method. I am now facing the bow. Legs are floating in front. My left hand is on the coaming and my right is on the paddle shaft. Hook my right leg into the cockpit under the lip and try to pull myself in with the leg and reposition my arms so that I am on my belly and then shimmy into the cockpit. I couldn’t get passed the “pull myself in” part. More swearing. Slide back into the water. Shake my arms out. I am so tired. Mike suggests sliding the paddle under the perimeter lines as well as the bungee cords. F**K! I’m tired. But I can do this. Stay calm. Grab the coaming. Hand on the shaft. Kick up. All the weight has to be on the shaft. Pull and Kick! F’**K I’m tired. I can do this! One leg is over. Now I have to get the second leg in. Both legs in the cockpit. F**k I’m tired. Stay low. Shimmy back into the seat. Turn towards the float until you are right side in the seat. Hallelujah! I’m in the f**king seat. Seriously I am tired. Leave your paddle where it is. Grab the water pump and empty the cockpit of water. Geez that’s a lot of water. Replace the water pump once the water is gone or very close to gone. Re-adjust the foot peddles. Get my spray skirt on. Then very carefully get my paddle out from behind me. Remove the paddle float. Clip it to the front, not the back bungee cords and continue on with my journey, or in this case rest.
Did you picture that? Now try having to do that in four minutes or five. Mike said four. F**K! I am not getting certified tonight!
Now, before I could fully empty my kayak of water, Mike said to stop and rest, since we were all gonna do it again. Good Lord! I was tired. And we had to do it again. My arms felt like jello and it didn’t help that the water was much colder this time, than the previous times I capsized. But okay, time to do it again. Four minutes. F**K.
This time, I tip over on the other side. This time the kayak is on my left. This time, my paddle is slid under the perimeter lines as well as the bungee cords, right from the get-go. This time my feet are floating behind me as I kick my way up and onto the kayak. This time I am in the kayak so much faster and with so little effort, that I can’t really explain what happened. This time, I did not use brute force to try to drag myself out of the water. This “time” was still over four minutes, but the difference between the first and the second rescue was quite drastic. I would’ve cheered out loud, except I still had a lot of water to pump out of the cockpit and I was really tired and cold, and tired.
Now, the third time, Mike showed us an optional rescue which he called the scramble or the saddle rescue. This rescue does not involve setting up the paddle float, but involved scrambling up onto the stern and swinging your leg over so your sitting on the the kayak like you were riding a horse, one leg on either side. And then you slide your way up to the seat, staying low the entire time and then just sitting into your seat after scrambling up to the cockpit.
Okay, I’ll give it a try. Let’s just say, after a cursory attempt, I went back to the paddle float rescue. The kayak was on my right side again. And to my sheer delight, I was able to get into the kayak with about the same effort as my second rescue. I’m not gonna say it was easy. But it was definitely not as difficult this time around. Again, I would’ve cheered except I still had to pump water.
I’ve never been so happy to be able to do a solo rescue. It is nerve racking and I have to admit, that there was some initial panic, not that I was in any danger, but it was more about not getting certified. That feeling passed into resignation after my first effort and then changed to hope and elation after my third solo rescue. I can definitely say that I will not be going out solo paddling in the near future, or at least I won’t go very far. Right now, if I were to do any solo paddling it’s just so I can go out and stay near the bay just so I can get in some practice. I have a little outing planned with Tina and her sister and I’m hoping that Nicole will join me next week as well. And I think I’ll go out to “club night” two weeks from now, to get in some more practice. That means skipping spinning. But I’m okay with that.
I will make one more admission today, two admissions. I had a scary moment during the start of my second and third rescue. During my second solo rescue, when I first capsized, my tab on the spray skirt got stuck on the water pump so I had to struggle a little to yank it off the coaming. I will say that there definitely was a slightly panicked “Oh F**k” moment before the tab got untangled from the pump. Note to self, the next time I practice my solo rescues, make sure my water pump is out of the way. Once it was untangled, wet exit and solo rescue proceeded as discussed above. The scarier moment was during my third rescue. I guess because I had been in the water longer than the others, I was quite cold, despite the wet suit. And because I had such a difficult time with the rescue the first time, I was really tired. Really, really tired. So when I tipped over the third time, I kind of blanked on what to do for the wet exit. Or maybe it was just me being slower. But I was under the water a little longer than I liked. There was no real panic, but there was the thought in my head of, What am I supposed to do now? before my hand reached out to the coaming to bring it to the tab and then yanked, knees together and push out. And again, the rescue proceeded as mentioned above. Note to self, if I ever capsize and I am alone, get out of the water as quickly as possible. The water was cold this time compared to the previous weeks, and cold water saps your strength and the longer you are in it, the more tired you will be and it’s not just your body that will slow down, but your mind. I had a PFD on, so I would not drown, but I don’t need water to kill me, the cold would do that just as well, if not better, because I would be so tired, I wouldn’t even care.
Kayaking! I love it. I can’t wait to get out and do it again. I’m even thinking of signing up for a lesson on rolling. Strange, I seem to really like being under water. I certainly know how to capsize! Oh, if you are wondering what I meant earlier on about the first capsize not being on purpose, well, class started at 5pm rather than at 530pm, mainly because the sun was setting earlier now. So we got into the water with our kayaks but there was still one more participant, Jessica who had not arrived and that was because she did not know that class had been pushed up earlier, so we waited. But while we were waiting, Mike said we should practice our bracing. He said that any time we get into the water, we should always practice our bracing before going out and about. And that made sense. It’s just so the skill stays fresh, should you ever need it during that particular outing. Low Brace – not a problem. High Brace – dunks me in. I will need to practice my High Brace.
One final note, did you know that you need to use arm muscles to work a stapler? Never gave it much thought? Me neither until I tried to use my stapler at work the day after my final kayaking class. Let’s just say everything was paper-clipped today. Not clear on why I bring this up? Please refer to the first paragraph in this post. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me in kickboxing class tomorrow, but at least for today, my left leg is still good.
Thank you Mike from Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak. You were a great instructor. Maybe I’ll see you in future lessons or at club night. I am so addicted that I am willing to give up spinning class now.