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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I'm a fairly new kayaker. Basically I have two questions:

I'm kind of freaked out about the possibility of not being able to get my sprayskirt off after flipping. Today I flipped and it came off without me having to even tug the grab loop, which was great. But i'm scared one day I'll pull the loop and it will come off in my hand and the skirt will just be stuck on. Does that ever happen?

Also, I was thinking of just trying to stick to Class II rivers. Do most people not flip on Class II? I'm wondering if I just stick to Class II if I could pretty much expect never to flip, except for unusual circumstances.
 

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Yes

This actually happened to me my first year kayaking (the handle came off, but the skirt stayed on). I clawed my way out, but it was a scary situation. Inspect your gear - skirt included - before each trip to be sure everything looks good and it should not be a problem. If it has UV damage and and/or micro holes around the handle it is time to get a new one.

You should make getting a solid role a priority even if you stick to class II. And yes you should get to a point where you wont have to role in class II unless it is intentional.

Good luck.
 

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I don't mean this to be rude at all because I know and can understand what its like to be freaked out in a kayak, but it sounds like you might want to consider if this sport is for you..........honestly.
Do I think you will get over your fear and move up yes..........I did, in fact I'm still getting comfortable in Class 3 water. But I face my fears, accept them, plan for them and do my best to not let them cripple me.
If you don't think you can get past this, then its ok to bail on the sport. People will understand.
Scotty V.
 

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My fear is that the webbing of the skirt pull will tuck under the cockpit rim and I'll not be able to find it. I boat mostly V,V+ so your fear is not unfounded or shared by newbies only. I taped some support to my grab handle so it is easy to find. It is always where I know it will be and I can count on it, like a fighter pilots ejection handle.

Listen to what Thochard said. Inspect your equipment so you learn to trust it, not unlike a climber with their ropes. It sounds like you fear being entrapped, like claustrophobia. You may be able to habituate yourself to this feeling. If you cannot get over this feeling, maybe try an open boat.
 

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Why not just sew a second cord onto the end of your skirt? Only do it to the part that wraps around below the cockpit rim in order to maintain the dryness of the inside of your boat. I feel like that might allay some psychic distress.
 

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Skirt practice

Hi,

I'm a fairly new kayaker. Basically I have two questions:

I'm kind of freaked out about the possibility of not being able to get my sprayskirt off after flipping. Today I flipped and it came off without me having to even tug the grab loop, which was great. But i'm scared one day I'll pull the loop and it will come off in my hand and the skirt will just be stuck on. Does that ever happen?

Also, I was thinking of just trying to stick to Class II rivers. Do most people not flip on Class II? I'm wondering if I just stick to Class II if I could pretty much expect never to flip, except for unusual circumstances.
One thing I have worked on while sitting upright in my boat is grabbing the skirt itself w/o the handle and I tried to find a place it would come off easier. I have a Rocker and I can easily pull off the skirt on the side of the cockpit rim. I have an old Ego and the front comes off easier at about 11:00 o'clock or 1:00 o'clock. If you do 20 flips in flatwater and practice pulling off your skirt w/o the handle this will definitely diminish your anxiety level. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the tips! I also remembered last night that there's some adjustable strap across the spray skirt that I have no idea what it's for but I can pull on it on either side and it lifts the rim of the sprayskirt away from the coaming enough for me to get my hands under it. So I basically have three grab loop options .. plus the fact that I didn't even have to use the grab loop in either of my wet exits so far. So I'm feeling better. I just wonder why they don't put an extra grab loop on them in general.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I don't mean this to be rude at all because I know and can understand what its like to be freaked out in a kayak, but it sounds like you might want to consider if this sport is for you..........honestly.
Do I think you will get over your fear and move up yes..........I did, in fact I'm still getting comfortable in Class 3 water. But I face my fears, accept them, plan for them and do my best to not let them cripple me.
If you don't think you can get past this, then its ok to bail on the sport. People will understand.
Scotty V.
I think I'll be ok, especially since I wasn't scared at all when I actually flipped in a rapid and exited. What freaked me out was when I had to exit after I messed up a practice t-rescue. By then I was gasping for air. T-rescues feel very awkward and unnatural to me.

And then I went home and looked up a bunch of accident stories online. So I basically feel like the kind of accidents I'm worried about are unlikely to happen, but are more likely to happen if I flip, so I'd rather just lessen my chances of flipping.
 

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Practice wet exits

Try pulling on your spray skirt at the cockpit rim next to your hip (either side) this is the weakest point of the system. Mine pops off fairly easily and now that I've practiced doing it I'm confident that if I need to get out and can't find the loop, I can just peel the skirt off next to my hip to get out.
Practice at the Anglers put in or the river left eddy below Maryland Chute. Then go practice your rolls surfing in Maryland Chute. If you need to wet exit that is the great place to do it. I've only wet exited about a dozen times there.
 

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Virginia Paddler,
I think your going to be just fine. The guys that worry me on the river are the ones that don't have a healthy fear of what they are doing.
Sounds like to me, you are in the same frame of mind I find myself in and that is a little fear makes your practice safety that much more, which is something that is important to me as a lieutenant in the fire service.
Practice practice practic......."Luck favors the prepared"!
See ya on the river,
Scotty V.
 

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If you need to get out of your boat, that little piece of neoprene isn't going to slow you down whether you release it or not.

That 'panicky' feeling is a normal response to a believed 'threat'. The more you become familiar with the environment, and the more you build skills to counteract the threat, the sooner that panic will dissipate and go away. It is so much easier to just roll up than to swim and chase all your sh*t down. So when the 'boater' half inside becomes stronger than the emotional half inside (51%:49%), you will just roll up no worries.
 

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Buy a skirt with an "implosion" band on it!! It's an extra support or pull cord if needed. It goes right across the top of your skirt across the cockpit. It is sewn on just like your pull cord. It also helps in big water I was told. I haven't gotten in huge water yet, so I wouldn't know right off hand. I own one though, and I believe it's from "IR". I purchased it from Golden River Sports in Golden, CO. Give them a call or go their website to inquire.

Cheers!

-Nick
 

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Buy a skirt with an "implosion" band on it!! It's an extra support or pull cord if needed. It goes right across the top of your skirt across the cockpit. It is sewn on just like your pull cord. It also helps in big water I was told. I haven't gotten in huge water yet, so I wouldn't know right off hand. I own one though, and I believe it's from "IR". I purchased it from Golden River Sports in Golden, CO. Give them a call or go their website to inquire.

Cheers!

-Nick

Check it out here!

Shockwave | Immersion Research 2009
 

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Lots of advice on overcoming the fear factor of being upside down in a kayak has been given.

Your fear of the grab loop coming off in your hand, is in my opinion, well founded.

I know of two instances where a grab loop off a well known skirt manufacturer came off. One instant was near fatal the other was not. Many currently manufactures have good grab loop designs, some do not - so check out your current grab loop and make your own decision as to how the design works for you.

Check out your spray skirt, if the grab loop material does not completely circle the rand part of the spray skirt - you have a potential problem. If the grab loop is just sewn to the neoprene material and not around the rand, you have a potential problem.

On every kayak I own, I place a second "popper strap" some where on the right side of the cockpit. I am right handed. Some Prijon kayaks used to have this popper concept as original equipment. I rarely see poppers anymore.

What I do is find a length of thin but strong nylon tape (similiar to standard hoopie but much thinner) to make my popper strap. If the proper thickness of tape is used, I have never had any leakage from the popper strap. I find some place inside the cockpit to attach one end. Either find a hole or make one in a spot that will not affect the structure of your kayak. I often find a tie in spot around the front of the seat support structure. Some times I find a OEM hole attachment point that works.

Tie one end of the popper strap inside the cockpit. lay the popper strap across the cockpit rim. Put on your spray skirt over the popper strap. adjust the length of the popper strap so it is clear of the rim of your spray skirt but not so far out on the side that it might catch on something. I sometimes tie a small over hand knot on the end of my popper straps to make it easier to grab - you make this decision based on your style of boating.

Then if your original equipment skirt strap fails, just slide your right hand (if left handed use the left side for your popper strap) down the cockpit rim and you have a second chance to pop off the skirt. I sometimes use my popper strap on a normal exit as it seems to work well on the super tight spray skirts.

Unless my OEM spray skirt grab loop has a length of plastic tubing sewn in to make the loop easier to find, I zip tie in one of the plastic golf wiffle balls to the OEM grab loop just to make the loop easier to find.

These tips work for me, but each person should make their own decision if it will work for your style of boating.

I started using popper straps many years ago when I could not find the OEM grab loop and almost had a disaster.

Use your imagination to come up with your design if you decide to use a popper strap.
 

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Just had an idea that would be easy to do.
Take 2 of those little hard plastic golf balls (with the holes in them) attach them together with some cordelette (maybe about 6 inches) and when putting your skirt on leave 1 ball inside the skirt and one on the outside. This could be used as back-up in case the grab loop fails. I am going out paddling today and will try it...hmmm not that I really feel like wet exiting. I'll post later tonight and let you know the prognosis.
 

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Pyranha boats used to come with a nylon strap that was riveted to the inside front of the cockpit. If you made sure to have it sticking out under the front of the skirt it served as a second way to release the skirt. Being attached to the boat instead of the skirt eliminated the skirt failure potential. I would think something like that would be fairly easy to rig as a backup. The important thing would be to have it securely attached to the boat.
 

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Well, I tried my golf ball inside the boat thingy. Don't waste your time. I was able to pull it right out with the skirt being still intact. I guess another form of back-up would be better. However in saying that, I took a closer look at my skirt and it looks next to impossible to break off the loop. Should I touch wood now?
 

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I believe the expression you're looking for was "knock on wood." or maybe you DID mean touch wood...we all have our superstitions! HA! I'm sorry, I sure I'm only amusing myself!
Thanks for the thread. It made me evaluate my grab loop and thankfully, it is perfect shape but I'll go touch wood for future's sake! hehehehehehe!!! : )
 

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"Also, I was thinking of just trying to stick to Class II rivers. Do most people not flip on Class II? I'm wondering if I just stick to Class II if I could pretty much expect never to flip, except for unusual circumstances."

Be wary of the "its just a class II river" mentality: I'd be willing to bet my boat that more people have died/had serious injury in non-mondo-uber-huckin-huge rapids than in The Shit. (numbers game I know) A Sieve or foot entrapment in a rain ditch will kill you just as dead as one in a VI+ rapid.

The only real advise I'd give you is to surround yourself with competent boaters and learn through activity; not looking at u-tube carnage all day.
 

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^i would have to agree with this totally. This applies to alot of sports.

But I just started boating... i've run upper C a million times, and i quickly got complacent. I've never flipped on the upper C except for my first time down it ever with a terrible friend / teacher.

But 3/4 through the season on my just under a "millionth" time doing down the C i was trying stupid things and flipped! I didnt panic, i just tried to roll. Missed the first attempt, then went back under, and BLAM! took a boulder to my head and shoulder! I was shocked, scared, and pulled! I didnt think there was any danger on running that class 2 like i've always had... But complacency kills, you learn that in the Marines quickly... and i realize how it applies to kayaking as well now! Be it class 2 or 5, take it seriously or it will take you.
 
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