Safety Gear Review

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NorthSIKer
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Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:34 pm

I am currently thinking through my safety gear setup for the kayak (do so every once in a while).

A couple of specific questions for the brains trust please:

1. What are current thoughts on tethering to the kayak? I haven't been doing this - i hate the thought of another line to manage and get caught up. All my other gear is tethered (including my paddle) and whilst I haven't been over outside of the inshore breaking waves zone (or in practice) I figured I would hang onto my paddle without issue at the very least. Why I am reconsidering is that I figure if I do go over it is likely it is going to be pretty nasty conditions and who knows how it works out in those circumstances in not dropping the paddle or grabbing the cockpit / deck line in time. Once that happens self-rescue is out of the picture. Also, my new Palm PFD has the good tow point on the back which would be reasonably manageable to attach a tether to the boat.
2. Currently I carry a PLB and an inshore flare (the close in smoky one i believe - I should know :o ). Idea being the PLB gets the search pretty close and then confirm to the aircraft at the last minute with the flare. Now I must say I have never been keen on the idea of actually using a flare in close quarters. I imagine if the real life situation where to happen I would be bobbing about in a rough sea either hanging on to an upturned damaged kayak or by myself. I like the idea of the electronic flares. The laser one (particularly the green) seem the best in theory but I am worried about the ability to target it to the search craft in the aforementioned conditions. I understand the green lights up cloud, fog, saltspray really well as well (although to a more limited degree in the day). The led type ones seem better in one respect that you start up and it throws light everywhere. But range is much lower (though the PLB should get the aircraft reasonably close) and I assume it is useless in the daytime. I do have the luxury up here that the water is not too cold so floating about til night would likely not be the end (but no fun at the same time).
3. What are current recommendations on hand held radios? Yes I should have had one years ago, don't admonish me, just focus on moving on and I am getting one now :lol: . I was looking at the Uniden mhs126 - I do like the idea of a AA battery cradle for longer trips. Ideally I don't want to have it in a bag (enough crap on the PFD as is) so good waterproofing is important.

Also, in anticipation to some responses I am aware there are particular regulations to what is carried in what waters etc. I want to keep that aspect aside for the moment - i am just focusing on what will work best to give the best result in an actual event (recognising that the regulations don't always provide the most practical options for sea kayakers).

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Simonl » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:51 pm

Hi there,

chances are, if you come out of your kayak it's going to be in breaking waves, so either close to shore or close to rocks etc. With 2 years experience in sea kayaking, I wouldn't consider myself highly experienced but one thing I have done plenty of is come out of my kayak in rough conditions. I have never come out and not been able to grab onto a deck line. There have been some occasions that if I had have come out, I wouldn't want to be attached to it, rather have the freedom of swimming away without the hassle of having to disconnect or cutting free.

The other thing to consider is if your kayak catches another wave and your tether line just happens to wrap around your neck or body, maybe unlikely and perhaps overthinking things but I guess you need to think of some of the unintended consequences and decide if you have reduced the overall risk. Some people will not even tether their paddle to the deck for the same reason but I personally think that tethering yourself to the boat is more dangerous.

If you are considering paddling alone in open waters then I assume you have the skills/experience to back yourself. I assume you can self rescue AND do a roll? If so then unlikely to become separated from your boat. A very smart and experienced kayaker once told me that if you can't rescue yourself under the conditions, then you shouldn't be out there in the first place. If you are highly skilled and you find yourself in open water without your kayak, then I think it's EPIRB time.

Join a club and/or paddle with another person in the open water. Find a safe surf beach and expose yourself to these conditions in a safe environment to see how thing pan out when you do come out in big waves. I have never capsized and come out of my kayak automatically. It has always been a conscious effort to remove myself from the cockpit, usually just in time to get cleaned up by the next wave but I have always been able to hang onto the kayak.

Just some thoughts from a novice....

Cheers,

Simon

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Camanche73 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:12 pm

I agree with Simon, going for a swim is part of paddling.
Different equipment for different circumstances. If you are paddling solo outside of a distance you can swim to shore with your PFD, then you don't want to loose your boat.
If you are close to shore, minimalist approach works.
Flares... Hmm, pyrotechnic flares are single use. You get one shot. I think electronic flares are much better. Choppers are likely to find you with thermal first anyway.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:02 pm

Thanks for the responses.

Simonl - you are right that the rougher stuff is generally inshore (other than with confused waters off islands or wind against tide). We don't generally have too crazy conditions up here - sustained winds greater than 20kts are fairly rare. But we have many kilometres of relatively shallow water (3-5m) where the wind swell really stands up. It is short period stuff (3-6sec) and not that big (rarely much more than a metre) but can be tough to paddle in. I find the bigger 'pillowy' stuff further offshore more impressive, but easier to paddle.

When I first got my kayak i would practice things by waiting for big conditions (e.g. pre-cyclone) and paddling out of protected harbours for short bursts and then back in to recover. I practiced wet exits and cowboy reentries on those conditions too (After first on the river). The Mirage is stable like a barge and I can get back in but it takes a fair while to clear the water, position the boat right and get the opportunity to re-enter between those short period waves. I didn't have any problems (other than how long it took) but can recall the force some waves pulled on the kayak (especially if just holding on with one hand) and can imagine it possible to make a mistake and loose the grip. I figure if I find myself out of my boat unwillingly it is going to be pretty nasty conditions, given I have managed 9 years or so in all conditions up here without going over. Sort of don't really know how bad a situation would be because I haven't been there yet?

Skills are self-taught: reading you guys, watching videos and gradually working myself up into more and more difficult conditions over the years. I can't roll and would love to learn one day - unfortunately there is not a significant organised paddling community up here to learn from. I do paddle at time with other sea kayakers or kayak fisherman but mostly alone (otherwise the number of trips would be very limited). I quite often paddle reasonable ocean crossings (e.g. 20km-30km) out to islands for camping or on daytrips.

My thoughts have been similar to yours to date re: the tethering but I am increasingly thinking it may be worth having the option set up to clip into at least for if conditions start to get out of hand when I am out a long way by myself. PLB has always been the plan but it would be better to self rescue. The entanglement is an issue - i am thinking a relatively long tether stowed in a bag, broad ski rope (easier on hands and easier to manage), quick release to myself plus I always have the knife on the PFD. I'd be interested if there is anyone on here that has tethered and had to work with it in a real situation - problems/was it worth it?

Camanche73 have you got an electronic flare? Be interested to here from some kayakers that have played around with them.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Simonl » Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:12 am

Paddling 9 years and not gone over.... well you got way more runs on the board than me!

Perhaps give the tethered thing a go on a surf beach in more controlled conditions to see what happens with the tether in such circumstances. You may find it works really well or you may see some potential issues that you are not willing to accept. You may well even look at a compromise tether system where you only tether AFTER you capsize but have the tether quick release handy so it's there when you need it.

I never though of electronic flares, I will have to look into them. Do they satisfy the regulations? Reason I ask is I notice there are still lots and lots of outdated pyrotechnic flares still being handed in. Why would you bother with these when an electronic flare will last longer?

If you are paddling 30Km or so to kayak camp on islands (lucky bastard) then I would be getting an PLB ASAP. I know it's always better to be able to self rescue but history shows that circumstances arise that do not allow a self rescue, for one reason or another.

Cheers,

Simon

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Camanche73 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:21 am

I use electronic flares and they are a good piece of kit. They don't satisfy safety requirements as a replacement for normal flares yet. They are just like a waterproof laser pointer and a lot smaller than pyro flares.
Years ago I used to have a day/night flare. Basically one end was a night flare, the other was day flare. And it was half the size of a single conventional flare. Haven't seen them for a long time though.
I also never understood why boaters throw out old flares. You're better off keeping them just in case you need them. There's no danger from old flares, only an increased chance they won't fire.
PLBs combined with flares, PFDs and modern clothing, torches etc all help keep you alive until help arrives. And with modern flight systems, NVG, and thermal imagery, we are somewhat safer than we have ever been. Still no place for complacency however.
The greatest safety net I think is telling somebody where you are paddling and when you will be back.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:58 pm

Simonl wrote:Paddling 9 years and not gone over.... well you got way more runs on the board than me!


Other than in the 'surf' zone that is. I carry a bit of gear on deck (fishing rods etc) unless it is really rough so a mongrel to go in and deal with everything. Had plenty of hairy moments and paddles but working up to conditions over many years does amazing things for your balance and bracing.

Simonl wrote: Perhaps give the tethered thing a go on a surf beach in more controlled conditions to see what happens with the tether in such circumstances. You may find it works really well or you may see some potential issues that you are not willing to accept. You may well even look at a compromise tether system where you only tether AFTER you capsize but have the tether quick release handy so it's there when you need it.


That is a very good and almost obvious idea (but I didn't think of it!! :lol: ).

Simonl wrote:If you are paddling 30Km or so to kayak camp on islands (lucky bastard) then I would be getting an PLB ASAP. I know it's always better to be able to self rescue but history shows that circumstances arise that do not allow a self rescue, for one reason or another.


Yes I have always had a PLB in my PFD. I have also had the (dubious) distinction of having pulled one once and getting the chopper ride. Different situation (on a mountain) and to be honest with some additional gear we could have avoided the rescue (GPS to be able to navigate in a white-out). So my rethinking my safety set-up is focused on trying to avoid having to pull the PLB.

And yes, the paddling up here is very good - many, many islands and reefs to explore and quite often reasonable conditions. Below is a video of an overnight trip to Orpheus / Fantome Island to give you an idea. Only about 20km / 3 hr to cross (depending on how many fish are hooked on the way ;) ) so gives lots of time in the afternoon to explore. Great conditions - afternoons got a bit breezy but this was only an issue in the final few kilometres of shallow water before home.


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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:00 pm

Camanche73 wrote:I use electronic flares and they are a good piece of kit. They don't satisfy safety requirements as a replacement for normal flares yet. They are just like a waterproof laser pointer and a lot smaller than pyro flares.
Years ago I used to have a day/night flare. Basically one end was a night flare, the other was day flare. And it was half the size of a single conventional flare. Haven't seen them for a long time though.
I also never understood why boaters throw out old flares. You're better off keeping them just in case you need them. There's no danger from old flares, only an increased chance they won't fire.
PLBs combined with flares, PFDs and modern clothing, torches etc all help keep you alive until help arrives. And with modern flight systems, NVG, and thermal imagery, we are somewhat safer than we have ever been. Still no place for complacency however.
The greatest safety net I think is telling somebody where you are paddling and when you will be back.


You have the Rescue Laser Flare Light Camanche73? They look great from nearly every perspective over a conventional flare.

Have you managed to play around with yours? My main worry would be being able to line up and sweep it properly over the target whilst bobbing around in a rough sea.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Camanche73 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:01 am

Unfortunate to haven't tried it in replicating conditions. May main concern with it is trying to signal ships whilst being in the water. Aircraft should be fine, but trying to project it on a flat plane may be tricky

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:32 pm

Camanche73 wrote:Unfortunate to haven't tried it in replicating conditions. May main concern with it is trying to signal ships whilst being in the water. Aircraft should be fine, but trying to project it on a flat plane may be tricky


Yeah, and my understanding is that they are tricky in close range (e.g. 100s of metres) as the laser fan is not so large so the aiming is critical. It seems from what I have read that the green works better in general in the day and at close range (though the green is heavier, much more expensive, battery life is a much lower and estimated lifespan of the hardware is much lower).

At this stage I am going to get a See Rescue Streamer (for creating a much easier target to find in the day) and quite possible the red laser to speed up a potential night time search. Both carried in the PFD along with the PLB on the basis a call for help is most likely if I have already been separated from the kayak.

I am still not sure on the tether, but will test it out as suggested in some rough water to inform. It would most likely be something I only clip into when things have greater potential to get dicey (e.g. paddling alone in 20kts +).

Also still seeking some opinions on a marine handheld VHS radio if anyone has.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Camanche73 » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:35 pm

So, I have made some enquiries in relation to the great land rescue laser I have. Have asked both water police and police prosecutors in Victoria who have both stated they are a prohibited item. Because they have a greater output than 1MW and are not a recognised piece of safety equipment, they are illegal to possess. Interesting that you can buy them at whitworths marine. Seems like a ridiculous law to me

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:05 pm

Camanche73 wrote:So, I have made some enquiries in relation to the great land rescue laser I have. Have asked both water police and police prosecutors in Victoria who have both stated they are a prohibited item. Because they have a greater output than 1MW and are not a recognised piece of safety equipment, they are illegal to possess. Interesting that you can buy them at whitworths marine. Seems like a ridiculous law to me


Interesting, I had been led to believe they had been cleared for Australia (can buy them several places through Aust. sites). Plus I read about them being tested by the NSW sea kayak club with a rescue helicopter. Possibly the people you spoke to weren't fully informed?

In any case, if they are safe for me and the rescuers (and they have been approved in many other comparable jurisdiction around the world, even if not in Australia) and if superior as a safety item i am happy to take my chances. If I do ever need to use one to save my life I am happy to deal with any consequences after that. Fine, court, death - i'll take the options in the order I wrote them.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Paddle Dog 52 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:18 pm

most important piece of safety equipment rest on top of your neck.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Wed Mar 01, 2017 6:49 pm

Paddle Dog 52 wrote:most important piece of safety equipment rest on top of your neck.


:) What if you only managed a very poor quality one of those?

I think you are stating the obvious. It doesn't diminish the need to have good backup options on the small chance things don't work out as planned.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby gonetroppo » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:16 pm

Have tried tethering and found the chance of entanglement too risky.
Having said that staying connected with the kayak is most important, there's a fine line there between climbing back in and being on your way, or calling in a rescue because the kayak has blown out of reach.

Learning to consistently roll is a top priority for me, and I always carry a PLB. On longer trips I'll add to my life jacket a smoke and light signal flare, a whistle and signal mirror, and a drinking bladder with some snacks. I figure this way I could survive at sea long enough to have a good chance of being rescued.

Falling out isn't always the problem, injury from say, a dodgy brace... or from handing hooks/knifes whilst fishing could make a 20km paddle home unachievable, hence why a PLB is so important, as is a trip note left with a responsible person, always a chance that PLB won't work when called upon!

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:08 pm

I'm currently on similar thinking to you gonetroppo.

gonetroppo wrote:Have tried tethering and found the chance of entanglement too risky.
Having said that staying connected with the kayak is most important, there's a fine line there between climbing back in and being on your way, or calling in a rescue because the kayak has blown out of reach.


That is basically where I am at too. Have thought tethering too risky but can see the value also as the kayak blowing away is a significant risk in a capsize (because it will likely be a windy situation). Hence keen to hear if anyone has managed tethers successfully.

gonetroppo wrote: Learning to consistently roll is a top priority for me, and I always carry a PLB. On longer trips I'll add to my life jacket a smoke and light signal flare, a whistle and signal mirror, and a drinking bladder with some snacks. I figure this way I could survive at sea long enough to have a good chance of being rescued.


I will lean to roll one day - not a lot of classes up here that I am aware of. Carry much the same in the PFD with the same thought that I can float around for quite a while (water is not cold). I believe it may be a North QLD thing, but I consider it a priority to have water in the PFD so don't become dehydrated if lost from the kayak!

gonetroppo wrote: Falling out isn't always the problem, injury from say, a dodgy brace... or from handing hooks/knifes whilst fishing could make a 20km paddle home unachievable, hence why a PLB is so important, as is a trip note left with a responsible person, always a chance that PLB won't work when called upon!

That's a good point and the injury thing is something I haven't given much thought to. In my mind, the most likely situation has always been being separated from the kayak in a rough sea but otherwise ok. The PLB certainly is central, so I think the focus going forward is to make sure I can be located quickly once the PLB is called and someone is in the area.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby gbc » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:25 pm

I'm pretty sure I have the exact model (Or extremely similar) uniden you put up. I've never used a bag, just carry it in my pfd. It is proper waterproof and good value. UHF radios and aerials can be quite long at 5w - they have design constraints that way unfortunately. Mine sits well and lasts a number of trips on a single charge. Either uniden or Icom would be my top shelf recommendation.
I have a see-blitz in my dive gear. Ive not bothered taking it kayaking because I never plan to be on the water at night. Perhaps if I was I'd take it - there's nothing better for being see during a night time SAR operation. For daytime, a bottle of sea marker dye is light and good for long term highlighting of yourself, along with an orange smoke flare for up close work. If you have a GPS enabled PLB they will basically fly straight up to you - they are that good.
I tether my paddle when fishing or if I think conditions might demand it - I cannot think of a situation where you are going to let go of the paddle unless you are dropping some waterfalls or are knocked out.
Good conversation.

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Paddle Dog 52 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:56 pm

NorthSIKer wrote:
Paddle Dog 52 wrote:most important piece of safety equipment rest on top of your neck.


:) What if you only managed a very poor quality one of those?

I think you are stating the obvious. It doesn't diminish the need to have good backup options on the small chance things don't work out as planned.



If the first piece I mentioned is working the rest falls into place. Yes think Murphy's law through life and you will make it a longer one usually. In winter I go with two VHF radios and a cell phone with two being on my PFD. I have had Standard Horizon 850 & 850 and 750 I think before them. Work good and float. If the first piece of equipment I mentioned is is bad you may end up in the news. Think of the North Face owner. My father use to say "Good care takes the head off of bad luck" Yes it's always good to keep thinking and planing.

Could always use a cow tail to clip on a boat after your in the water. I use a paddle leash at bare minimum I hope I can hold on to it. I also have deck line with two clips for short tows from bow to cockpit. If I do let paddle go hopefully it will slow kayak from blowing away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE0DsuPxSqY

https://www.amazon.com/SEE-RESCUE-STREA ... B00GY04SKI

not worth the money till you need it, then worth millions!

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby NorthSIKer » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:06 pm

Thanks Paddle Dog 52 - all good thoughts.

Yes - i am going to get one of those rescue streamers - i think that would be perfect in the day for visibility once SAR are close.

With the tether I am going to play with setting up my tow rope so it is ready and I can clip in if it gets scary (rather than in the hatch) and I feel the need. And test it in the water first. I am using a thick ski rope - which I prefer from a management and safety perspective (like climbing, you can't really manage less than 8mm rope).

I also tether my paddle - as much because I fish and take both hands off of it pretty regularly. I too hope that it may slow a blown kayak but don't want to depend on that little sea anchor!

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Re: Safety Gear Review

Postby Paddle Dog 52 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:37 am

I made lines out polypropylene that float. With SS carbiner I guess it won't float on that end. Guess I could put cork or some type of float on that end


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