Reflections from the Cockpit "Playing with Your Kayak"
August 2002

Summer is in full swing. The water is getting warmer in many areas. This is a great time to go out and get intimate with your kayak. Take it out for a play day. Don't go far from shore. Get some quiet water and start playing with your kayak as you played with an inflated inner tube when you were a kid. If you never have played with an inner tube just watch any group of kids at the beach. They try to climb on in every way shape or form. They try to stand on it, dive off of it and try to see how many they can get onto it.

Why on earth would anyone, especially an adult want to do this with a kayak? How about because it's fun? That reason doesn't grab you, huh? Well the truth of the matter it is a great way to learn all the basic movements necessary for most if not all recovery techniques.

Dress for immersion, put on your PFD and get to playing. Here is a partial list of games to play. After doing these make up your own. (If you play with more than one kayak you may want your helmet along)

Try some wet reentry's then get out again.
Get out of your kayak and into the water without capsizing
Climb on your kayak and all over it when it's upright & upside down
While sitting in the cockpit fill it with water and then try paddling it. (See how full you can get the cockpit)
Then try pumping all the water out (Gives you a good idea of worst case pumping)
You can even try standing up without assistance (be careful of falling on your kayak)
Try some scramble recoveries (Skill of the month August 2002)
Play with a friend and switch kayaks without capsizing
Try doing a three way switch or four or more
While playing do a lot of hand paddling.

I will guarantee your confidence will go up and recovery techniques will improve. You are practicing basic movements. You are getting very familiar with your kayak, it's balance points when full and empty and most of all how it feels. I recommend trying many of the skills with your eyes closed too (after you successfully performed them with eyes open)

The more my students play and do a lot of wet work with their kayaks the more relaxed they are in their kayaks which leads to less frequent capsizing. It also adds to more speedy recoveries.



Wayne Horodowich


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