Clear the aft deck of the kayak

Discussion in 'Paddling Safety' started by RoyN, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. RoyN

    RoyN Paddler

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    This weekend I went on a paddle with a few friends that required a portage at the end of the paddle. A friends cart frame was loo large to fit inside of the hatch of our kayaks. I decided to place the cart under the bungee's on the aft deck of my kayak. My initial thought was it would be out of the way and would not hinder my paddle stroke.

    Later in the day one of the other paddlers had a cramp hit and needed a tow. It was at this point I thought I had to reach behind me to get my tow belt and the tow line could possibly foul in the cart frame. Thankfully someone else was ablt to do the tow.

    Lesson learned from this are;

    The tow line needs to be worn, not stowed. Since I don't like to wear the tow belt in addition to the PFD, I purchased a rescue PFD that has a tow line as a part of the PFD. Yes - the tow line has the usual quick release tow belt.

    The other is the aft deck needs to be clear of anything the tow line might possibly catch on be it a cart frame or larger stuff sack or gear bag. I'm thinking the only thing you'll find on the aft deck of my kayak will be a paddle float and possibly my hoodie or small items like gloves, definitely not anything that's taller than the attachment point of the tow line to me.
     
  2. Alana

    Alana Wave Seeker

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    There shouldn't be anything on the back deck since it gets in the way of rescues (and yes towing!). Even the humble paddlefloat can make it difficult to do the cowboy rescue or an assisted rescue.

    I can't stand stuff on my decks, both front and back. The only thing I keep on my boat is my spare paddle and chart on the front deck (Pump is bungied under my deck, paddlefloat is inflatable and stored under deck, and buoyant heaving line is behind my seat since I have a towline around my waist).
     
  3. sushiy

    sushiy Paddler

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    hey, I did NOT NEED the tow...yet :wink: I OFFERED to be towed just because it will keep us going, and Chester needed to test his webbibg to use as short tow. We could have assinged you to check the weather report while I was getting towed, because you did not have to keep paddling hard.
    In the situation we would need a seriouse tow in challenging condition, I would have just cut your wheel off your back deck. Losing a cart is a tiny price to pay. In the calm condition like that time I was in the tow ( for 5 minutes?), if you had to tow, I would just cover it with float bag spread over it.
    And yes, I would definatly not use that type of cart for the trip like Cattle Pass trip. It is a hazard on the deck if we had to go through there in the condition i was in last year. One of other reasons, I did not want to loose the schedule definately.

    It was a great trip, Roy. We all learned a lot.
     
  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    :big_thumb
    +1
    I got rid of the water bottle by switching to a hydration pack on the PFD. That cleaned up the front deck, and I don't have to stop paddling when I want a hit of water.
    Foam paddle float stays home now, with the inflatable float fastened in the cockpit. I was surprised how quick it is to inflate a float- both sides take only 20 sec or so. That cleared up the back deck. Humping over a foam float when you are trying a re-entry is no fun.
    'Paddle britches' or similar gets the spare paddle forward.
    Boats should come 'out of the box' with lashing points under the front deck so you can put in some shock cord to get the pump, etc. up there, IMO. It's not a big deal to retrofit if you have epoxy handy, but that excludes a lot of paddlers.
     
  5. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

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    I don't go as far as saying that nothing should be on deck, but do agree you should be mindful with what is on deck.

    I do keep my spare paddle on the back deck, and sometimes the frame from my cart (won't fit inside a hatch on my Alchemy). But they are both flush with the deck, and I can (and have) cowboy scrambled right over them with no issues. Not sure if I have towed with the cart frame on deck, but the paddle definitely doesn't catch on my tow line when I tow. Have had swimmers on my back deck on the paddles, also no problem.

    Front deck I particularly want to keep it clear right up towards the cockpit, as it gets in the way of sweep strokes and such. Further forward there is more room for putting stuff if needed (though it is hard to reach it when you are in your boat, so not a lot can go there anyway).
     
  6. Roy222

    Roy222 Paddler

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    Stowing items in the cockpit (under the deck) could be very dangerous. You don't want to get snagged during a wet exit.

    Roy
     
  7. Jon Wescott

    Jon Wescott Paddler

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    I'm with Alana on this: I can't stand to have stuff on my deck and have been procrastinating getting my spare paddle off the stern and onto the bow. It's just "cleaner" should some sort of situation develops.
     
  8. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    I do. The only thing(s) that should be on the deck are things that:

    a) you might need immediately should a rescue situation arise (ie a spare paddle)
    b) you need to refer to constantly (ie navigation equipment such as chart case / compass etc.)

    You should not have to bring anything that will not fit in the hatches unless it qualifies as one of the above. Carts are available (or can be designed and made quite cheaply) that will fit in the hatches.

    Never - and I mean ever, without exception - should you carry anything on the rear deck. If you find yourself swimming, getting back in the boat is your number one priority. Your boat is better than any PFD, drysuit or survival suit. If you're in your boat, you're a lot safer than if you're not - I don't care what the conditions are. If there is anything on the back deck - even a spare paddle or helmet - it WILL get in the way of a scramble or self-rescue, guaranteed. Refer again to the above - if you need a spare paddle immediately, you'll be able to get it a lot faster from the foredeck than from the aft deck. And b) doesn't really apply to anything on the back deck as it's just not realistic.

    The only thing you'll ever see on my foredeck is a spare paddle (which should be able to not only be retrieved quickly, but also re-stowed almost as quickly) and perhaps a chart case with compass, or very occasionally a small grease pencil (handy to write tide or forecast info directly onto the deck). You will never see anything on the aft deck while I'm on the water, unless it's me getting back in my boat (or perhaps another kayak surfing over top of me, right Scott?). :-o

    Helmets can be tricky. If you're on a trip with a loaded boat and small hatches, and your journey takes you into areas where a helmet might be a good idea, I'd strongly recommend either finding a way to stow the helmet in a hatch (mine does fit in the 10" Valley hatches, although it takes some manoeuvring), or wear it. A number of years ago I got into trouble when I wasn't able to perform a self-rescue because I had my helmet strapped to the rear deck. Removing the helmet from the deck while swimming in swells proved to be more difficult than you'd think, and after struggling for a few minutes I ended up being body-surfed into the rocks (the boat suffered the same result). I was lucky and was able to scramble up the rock before the next swell bashed me into it a second time. The boat suffered relatively minor damage as well. (Some might argue that, in those conditions, I should have been wearing the helmet anyway - but I wasn't doing anything close to the shoreline, and as long as I remained in the boat I was not in any danger. I capsized intentionally and missed a few rolls, resulting in the swim. I was not able to swim away from the shore faster than the swells pushed me towards it, so it was only a matter of time before I ended up on the rocks). After that incident, I changed my mind about stowing anything on the rear deck. Funny how you can get a helmet from the back deck while you're in the boat, but not when you're swimming alongside it!

    One other point - well-designed boats are built to be efficient both above and below the waterline. If you add things to the deck, you're messing with how the boat was designed to handle the effect of wind. Would you strap a pile of luggage under the hull? Of course not - it would affect your speed, handling, and add drag. Well, having bulky items on your deck affects the handling of the boat (in winds from the side or quarters etc.) just as much if there's any amount of wind.
     
  9. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

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    I'll have to re-state what I said - I can (and do) scrambles or other rescues just fine right over the spare paddle and cart frame on back deck. I agree that things can get in the way when on deck, but still won't make it a blanket statement that ANYTHING on deck WILL get in the way and should be verboten. If something has to be on the deck outside of your reasons, and has been proven not to get in the way of rescues, then I will put it on my deck. Outside of the cart frame, I have also had solar panels in dry bags on deck. And POV cameras.

    Turns out that on my Alchemy (the boat I paddle most), the spare paddle is a little too long to fit well up front (short boat, long paddle - paddle shaft sticks out in front of boat). It fits better on back deck. But if I do use it, and have to re-stow, I would put it under the bungies on my front deck until I am able to safely transfer it back. As you say, you need to not just access the spare, but be able to restow it.

    Even on the back deck, I am able to get at the spare quickly, as a video of playing (and getting lax) on a pour over a few weeks back showed:
    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWJYnZnGDBU[/youtube].

    And in a pool, I have been able pull a half of the spare paddle out off the back deck and roll up (haven't yet had to do this in real conditions).

    Guess I just don't like blanket statements that things must be done one way. Things are much more gray than black and white. What works for one may not work for another. I won't tell someone they have to put a spare paddle some place, but will strongly suggest that they think about where they do in regards to safety and use and maybe explain why I do it my way. But after that, it is their choice.
     
  10. RoyN

    RoyN Paddler

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    I now have a rescue PFD as my primary PFD. The tow rope attaches to a belt on the PFD so the attachment point is higher than using the waiste belt tow rope. This will allow a cart on the aft deck with less worry of the cart catching the tow rope.
     
  11. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Mark, that is an excellent post and provides a lot of food for thought. I will, however, disagree with the absolutism of the statement that nothing should ever be on your back deck, simply because once we start dealing in absolutes, we can back ourselves into a corner. For example, based on your post someone might be tempted to say "and that's why you must always wear a helmet when sea kayaking".

    I would prefer to say "if you put something on your deck, be aware that these are the challenges you might find if you capsize." They might reply, "yeah, but I'm touring in calm water with a few buddies to assist me, so the risk is manageable." Fair enough. Their choice. And 99.9% of the time they would be fine.

    Oops, just saw Peter-CKM's new post which pretty much says the same thing. :)

    Regards,
    Andrew
     
  12. MartinZ

    MartinZ Paddler

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    Darn! I just purchased one of those aft deck bags from Seal-line as I need to take more water which will displace some contents from the interior of the hull. Guess I'll play with it before the Big Trip in November and see how I like it from a risk management perspective...
     
  13. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Some very good discussions in this thread so far.

    I fall into the 'grey' area here. Not absolute on either extreme.

    There is a general principal I fully agree with - "do not CLUTTER your decks". This goes for both the bow and stern decks.

    However a few items on deck are pretty much inevitable, and I don't think cause too much worry. However the comments around over-loading are very warrented.