University of Sea Kayaking's Capsize Recoveries Vol I &
Rescue Procedures Vol II
Reviewed by Shelley Johnson
The University of Sea Kayaking's new double video set: Capsize Recoveries and Rescue Procedures is a most impressive package of material, both in breadth and detail. Volume I covers safety gear and almost every imaginable capsize recovery technique; Volume 11 covers rescue scenarios from treating hypothermia to towing seasick paddlers.
The full set clocks in at four hours of viewing time which may
seem daunting, but with the helpful time codes and suggestions for viewing that
are included in the package, individual subjects can be accessed and reviewed
Wayne Horodowich and his staff cover their subjects thoroughly, modeling techniques and alternatives to those techniques and even playing out a variety of scenarios and challenging the viewer to decide what would be the most appropriate action in each case. Rather than dictate that a given capsize recovery method should be used in a particular set of circumstances, Horodowich suggests that several techniques be practiced and then their strengths and weaknesses considered for dealing with a particular problem in real life. He constantly stresses that you are trying to accomplish two things in a capsize recovery: getting the capsized paddler back into the boat, and removing water from the capsized boat. The order and style with which you do this is far more fluid than many sea kayak instructors would have you believe. The video rarely dictates a particular method but does discuss the pros and cons of each technique so viewers can decide which method they might use.
The videography is excellent with footage being shot both on open water and in the clear waters of a swimming pool. The pool shots provide some handy underwater and water level shots that demystify some techniques such as the reentry and roll, and Eskimo bow and paddle recoveries. And just so you won't think these are merely pool party tricks, Wayne and his staff also perform these techniques on open water that is often choppy or just beyond a surf line. If real conditions can be used to hammer a point home, the video doesn't hesitate to use them.
In one sequence in Volume 1, Wayne has discussed how to store safety gear so that it is secure but readily accessible. He reminds paddlers to take care when placing bilge pumps and paddle floats beneath the forward deck rigging since they may be washed away during a surf launch. He then launches his kayak, with safety gear neatly stowed beneath the deck rigging, into the surf and comes out the other side of the wave with nary a piece of gear left on deck. He then demonstrates once again how to best stow that gear so that this does not happen. It is this consistent approach to the material that is the strength of these videos: Tell the viewer the why and how, show them how, show them why it works in real conditions, and then reiterate the high points.
In Volume II, the section on signaling equipment will probably save most paddlers enough money to pay for the video. Without bias, day and night signals are demonstrated with the camera both alongside the paddler and on the shore a mile away. The resulting footage is quite an eye opener, and the summary of signaling equipment choice is the best I have ever seen or read. A large portion of Volume Il was shot as an informal discussion between Wayne and Rod Tucknott, fellow instructor and Wilderness EMT. It's like eavesdropping on two very knowledgeable people batting around the pros and cons of how to deal with certain emergency situations. The discussion is lively and interspersed with actual demonstrations of techniques. My favorite was the bouncing hypothermia sandwich - it offered some comic relief while still imparting the information needed. Admittedly, there were a few times that I felt like a point was belabored (e.g.the use of heat packs on severely hypothermic paddlers) but it is a minor complaint and given the particular subject matter, it is certainly understandable.
In fact, the only real complaint I have about the videos is with the narration. Wayne's voice is pleasant but not always well modulated and begins to drone after a long viewing. It is in obvious contrast to his discussions with Rod Tucknott which are natural and relaxed and never lapse into a monotone. But, the information being imparted and the superb videography more than make up for this minor flaw.
I would highly recommend this video set to everyone from novice paddlers to sea kayak instructors. There is a wealth of information and excellent video footage that is far superior and more detailed than anything else on the market. And don't miss the final footage between Wayne and Derek Hutchinson. It is absolutely hilarious and was a poignant reminder to me that we've all grown up in this sport together. With such excellent reference works as this USK Video Series, we will continue to grow and be better sea kayakers.
To order the videos ($39.95), contact University of Sea Kayaking (USK), POB 6708, Santa Barbara, CA 93160; (805) 696-6966 (voice and fax). Or videos are available at the web site, www. useakayak.org. Tape set is $39.95 + 2.95 shipping outside of California. Canadian shipping is $4.95.
Shelley Johnson is a sea kayak instructor and author of Guide to Sea Kayakingfor Women (1998), Guide to Sea Kayaking in Maine (2001), Sea Kayaker's Pocket Guide (2001), and The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook (2002).
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