Spray Skirt and Float Questions - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-22-2015   #1
Grand County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 28
Spray Skirt and Float Questions

So I have this (new to me) Diesel 60, which I took on her maiden voyage today on the lower Eagle for a rather short trip from Wolcott (below Trestle Rapid) to the end of Interstate Rapid. That was a variation of my original float plan.

Unfortunately, I spent as much of my trip 'in' the water as I did 'on' the water. I hit Interstate Rapid and a big ole wave slapped me in the chest and popped off my skirt. My nose started diving/sinking and my first thought was to bail because I figured the longer I stayed in, the more water would go in the boat, causing it to sink, and there goes my (new to me) boat. Plus it didn't look like staying in the boat had any advantage to getting through the rest of the rapid. This captain did not have plans to sink with her boat.

I have one of those nylon skirts that fits kind of saggy in the middle and at every good size wave you have to shed the water. My mistake was that either the skirt wasn't on tight enough (it has an adjustable bungi chord), or I didn't have the skirt on well enough. Either way, that was my mistake and I'll not make it again.

I didn't purchase a tight fitting neoprene skirt for my (new to me) kayak because I figured that if I had to bail (and I am not experienced at rolls in moving water yet), that the loose fitting nylon skirt would be better for an exit. When I've taken lessons in the past, they've always given me those flimsy skirts and I figured that was because it was easier to get out of them. Questions #1 - Is my thinking flawed? What is the safest for a class 2 level kayaker practicing toward level 3?

Also, my kayak came with (2) inflatable floats in the rear. I don't know yet if there are any in the front. Questions #2 - Do people put floats in the front? Are there better floats than the inflatables - foam? My boat was so full of water that it took two of us to roll it over and how it didn't sink, I don't know.

Thank you.

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Old 07-22-2015   #2
Caleb125's Avatar
Edwards, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 264
Yes, you want a tight fitting skirt. If it is tight, when you pull it off it will actually spring off. And most class two is relatively safe, that's why it is class two! And yes some people put float bags in the bow but most just put them in the stern and most people just use the standard float bags.
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Old 07-22-2015   #3
bystander's Avatar
Sacramento, California
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 312
I didn't know they made those kind of spray skirts. I've never seen them on whitewater. Looking at the description of that style of spray skirt, they appear more designed for lake and sea kayaking. I'd stick to a good neoprene spray skirt that is the proper size for your kayak.

When you want to wet escape, you'll have no problems getting out. It's rather surprising just how easy it is to escape when motivated.
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Old 07-23-2015   #4
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 609
I think a lot of places you take lessons use the nylon skirts. It makes sense for people that have never had a wet exit before and it makes sense to have kids use them for a while, but once you're really going through rapids and big wave trains it makes a lot more sense to have a neoprene skirt. Go for a bungee, they're easier to put on (I made the semi-mistake of buying a super rugged rubber randed [say that ten times fast] skirt, and though I love it now and it stays incredibly dry, I realistically could have gotten away with a bungee rand pretty happily.

When you flip, and you miss your roll, natural instinct takes over and you pull the cord and swim out, because, naturally, you don't want to be in that boat anymore. If it really freaks you out, put the skirt on and practice pulling the cord when you're out of the water. Then practice a wet exit a couple times with your skirt on. It's really not a big deal.

If you have a minute and you feel up to it, check out this rant on women's specific spray skirts:
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Old 07-23-2015   #5
Grand County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 28
Before my next class III attempt, I'll purchase a neoprene spray skirt.

Thank you for all the good info.
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