Rescue Practice

On October 9 we had perfect weather for our kayaking club (BASK) rescue practice. My dry suit had just come back from Kokatat after having the neck gasket replaced. So I was looking forward to putting it to the test.

After signing in and having a brief orientation, we broke up into pods, with some of the newer members seeking basic instruction and some of the more experienced members looking for peer practice. Above is a photo of the group of paddlers watching a demonstration of how to get into a boat using a “heel hook” technique, followed by some photos of paddlers doing T-rescues.

Of course, to practice getting back into the boat you have to get wet. So over we go, upside down and reaching for the release loop on the cockpit cover. I discovered that my dry suit wasn’t keeping me dry. I could feel cold water inside my suit, pooling around my right elbow. Not a happy feeling since my suit just came back from the factory. In the future I think I’ll pay the additional fee for pressure testing. In any event, I was wearing a thick layer of expedition weight polypropylene for insulation, and this kept me comfortable despite the water.

The T-rescue with the heel hook went well. I added a twist, since I’m usually anxious to get back in the boat once I’m in the water. During this exercise I decided to pull my camera out to take a few photo from the swimmer’s perspective. Following the T-rescue, I tried a paddle float self-rescue, a technique where you put a float on one end of the paddle and use the paddle and float as an outrigger to get back in the boat. Easier said than done, but with practice it works. Finally I attempted a cowboy scramble, where you climb up on the back deck and work your way into the cockpit. With some coaching I made this work; the first time I’ve been able to get back in the boat with the scramble.

At the end of the day when I took off my dry suit I found about a cup of water in each of the socks. Not so dry, but happy to report that the insulation I wore was sufficient to keep me comfortable despite the water in the suit. Now I need to determine if I can fix the leak or if I need to send it back to Kokatat.

Author: treve

When I'm not creating architectural photos for clients (see my primary website at, I like to travel, hike, kayak and enjoy other artistic and cultural pursuits. I'm also concerned about environmental and social issues and issues of faith.

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