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Thread: Don't lose the boat
WizardThursday, February 18, 2010, 10:32:00 AM
Category: Equipment  Keyword: safety harness tether
Sandy Bottom gave some really good info in another thread that got my head going, and I'm re-posting it here in a new thread to expand & add my own thinking FWIW.

Sandy Bottom wrote:

>...My SPOT is on the boat, rented PLB on me, VHF on me, cell easily accessible in waterproof case (bungie under front deck) that makes it usable, and I have a whistle on PFD.

>I have also done PFD float tests to verify that all that stuff I carry in my PFD and/or on me still has me floating :)  Worth doing.

>Dawn

I Add:

It's great to have the means to help yourself and/or get help on your body in case you get separated from your boat in an accident or bad conditions.  It makes the most sense for canoe & kayakers who are sitting in place most of the day (The added bulk & weight are more in the way on a sailboat where you move around & sit/stand/lie in different positions in the normal course of things).  But I do wonder where the point is when all that gear becomes a liability as far as reboarding your boat after a capsize.  Sure you can float, but can you (when exhausted, disoriented & with 20 lbs of water in your clothes) climb onto the deck of your rolling, swamped boat and get re-seated?

My solution has always been a harness and tether, worn whenever I'm farther from shore than I feel good swimming.  If you know you're attached to the boat and all of your emergency equipment & everything needed to save yourself, there's less need to carry as much of that safety gear on your person as possible, making it less cumbersome to do what needs doing in an emergency to get back in the boat and back under way.

This comes from a background in sailing more than kayaking.  I know there's a lot of culture in the kayaking world that says any ropes are going to get tangled around you in a capsize and "drag you down."  I'm not sure about that, I've done enough capsize & recovery drills in all different boats, with and without harness & tether, and never gotten tangled yet.  And it seems to me I'd rather be attached to my boat & all my means of self-rescue by however tangled-up a line around my knees than watch it drift away, leaving me to hope for rescue before I hypotherm.

So speaking mostly to the Class 4 & 5 sailors but also with a nod to Class 1-3, consider whether a tether makes sense for your situation, and how you'd rig it.  Type of harness (maybe even just an ankle strap like surfers use?), line length & stowage, attachment points, etc.

One important difference for most of us here from the usual big-boat life harness system is going to be tether length.  Big boats use a short line designed to limit the distance you can fall in a knockdown, and keep you above the rail if you go over the lifelines.  None of that applies to us since if you're out of the boat it's probable the boat is on its side or upside down.  A short tether will make it hard to right the boat at best, may hold you under water at worst.

My thinking is the tether needs to be long enough to lead out of the cockpit on one side, around under the boat and up the other side, and back into the cockpit with some left over for maneuvering.  That is, if the boat is turtled you want to be able to re-right it to whichever side is most favorable without worrying about the lead of your tether, or needing to un-clip in mid operation.

I had this happen once, far from shore, of a black night, and I can tell you it was weird, once I was back aboard & bailing with a bucket, to notice the tether line (still attached at both ends) disappearing over the side into the water.  It was just luck that the dock line I was using as a tether was long enough, I hadn't thought about it before, but always do now.

Everybody's system will be different.  Think about it, try it in tame conditions, p
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Comments:
Thread: Don't lose the boat
SandyBottomTether
Thursday, February 18, 2010, 11:27:00 AM
Category: General Comment  Keyword:

Great advice Wizard.  I actually also have a tether (used when really rough or off-shore) as a kayaker, very short line, and with an easy to use emergency release.  I use an older kayak tow belt that has the round ball you pull to release the buckle.  There are knots that easily release too.

I am also well practiced in rescue.  When I prepared for the 2006 UFC I found I could not get back into the Dreamcatcher after a dumping.  I needed a seakayak paddle (the cat pole works too) in order to use a paddle float, and even then, I ended up having to mount an adjustable stirrup round the cockpit that let me use my legs to help get me back in.  The Dreamcatcher, even with water, has such great floatation that it rides high and I didn't have the arm strength to pull myself up and in.  I also practiced to see how hard and long it would take to pump the water out.

Don't believe those Krugers don't flip, it took a manatee to get me over, but flip I did.  Luckily manatees sleep in the shallows so no problems with rescue, but I was still prepared.

Dawn

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KarankEquipment Keyword: safety harness tether
Thursday, February 18, 2010, 11:57:00 AM
Category: General Comment  Keyword:

Great thread Wizard,

You have nailed the controlling questions.

I will have the spot attached to the boat and the epirb attached to the jacket on me.

I will be attached to the boat at all times unless I can walk around it.  The boat is more important to my survival than anything.  In warm water I would be a bit more cavalier knowing I could swim to shore assuming something did not run over or eat me.  I will also have a compass and strobe on the jacket…just in case.

 

My boat will hold a course without me.  My nightmare is watching the boat sail over the horizon.

Karank 

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KiwiBirdTethers
Thursday, February 18, 2010, 12:46:00 PM
Category: General Comment  Keyword:
Ever since Andrew McAuley I have paddled the EC (and solo offshore) with a tether. It's an old climbing tape, so a long continuous loop. One end is looped through my PFD shoulder strap, the other to a carabiner. When the weather's a bit dodgy, I can easily unclip the crab from my PFD to the boat. If anything untoward does happen, I reckon there's more chance of me being found if I'm still attached to the boat. Like Dawn, my SPOT's on my boat, and my EPIRB, VHS and laser light's in my PFD.     KB
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AlmTether
Thursday, February 18, 2010, 8:22:00 PM
Category: General Comment  Keyword:
When I read the subject my first thought was - lose the boat from ashore :-) ... Almost happened to me twice with kayak/BSD, wind from the shore and tide rising. Tethering PFD to the cockpit is a good idea too.

>But I do wonder where the point is when all that gear becomes a liability as far as reboarding your boat after a capsize.  Sure you can float, but can you (when exhausted, disoriented & with 20 lbs of water in your clothes) climb onto the deck of your rolling, swamped boat and get re-seated?

Wizard, there are (usually) very few items on the PFD of somebody in kayak or canoe with BSD rig. Basically, it's what Dawn says: PLB, VHF and may be gloves and tiny emergency/firstaid pouch in the pocket. Even the least "sporty" kayaking PFD has mere 3 pockets. Items like VHF and PLB are normally placed near or on the shoulder straps (because they don't work with antenna submerged), and don't interfere getting into the swamped boat. At 3-4 lbs total weight they don't affect the flotation either. PLB antenna is folded when not in use, and the end of the VHF antenna can be kept under webbing loop so it wouldn't protrude.

What can interfere is those buckles that some PFD employ in lieu of zippers. And, sometimes, - knife sheath if not placed and oriented properly.

Those mini-cruisers with water ballast is a different story, though.
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