A surfski safety device of last resort

8 months 3 days ago - 8 months 3 days ago #35460 by SurfskiEstonia
I have been thinking a lot about a situation, where I may not be able to remount my surfski due to an on-water injury. Having read many horrifying accounts on how otherwise experienced paddlers were unable to remount and spent hours in the water with various outcomes, I have been dreaming of a last resort device to enable paddlers (including myself) to stabilise their skis and make remounting possible, even if without the further possibility of active paddling.

My logic here is, that it's better to sit in a flooded bucket than to be submerged in the water. I posted my initial idea here, but it got no response:  www.surfski.info/forum/1-general/19269-p...nt-backup.html#32642  

I'd like to come back to this question and ask for Your opinions:
can this be done?
what would be a more effective solution?
if this is doable and reasonable, should paddlers communicate the need for such a safety device to manufacturers?

My initial thought was that there should be a retractable pole fixed f.e. behind the bucket, on which the paddler could fix a floatation bag.


I then thought that this could be made only if manufacturers were really pressed hard to make this, as it will probably make the construction more complicated and add to cost and weight. 

So now I was thinking that maybe that retractable pole could be done in an easier way, if there were 2 rigid hoops behind the bucket and a pole was attached to the rear portion of the ski. The paddler who understands that he won't be able to remount without extra stability, removes the pole and fixes it via the hoops to the ski. He then blows up and attaches the floatation bag. Gets in the ski and can at least win time via not being in the water.


There could also be a solution without the pole, where one would put the paddle in the hoops, but that is probably much less efficient.

Please tell me what You think about it. If You think it's stupid, I'd really like to hear why. The only disadvantage that I see at the moment is the strength of the boat. It would probably need some reinforcement to take that load on.

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus
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8 months 3 days ago - 8 months 3 days ago #35465 by waverider
In rough weather there would be potentially a lot of strain on those fixing points. Not sure the skin of a ski is strong enough to withstand the leverage. In the pursuit of lightweight skis few would be willing to incorporate all this beefing up and adding poles.

If you had a ski with side handles you could lash the paddle to them and add your floating bag over the blade if you like.
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8 months 3 days ago #35467 by Henning DK
You have made it simpler, but still, I think adding complexity to your surfski also adds more potential points of failure.
If you're injured, so you cannot reenter the boat, would you then be able to use this solution at all? - I assume it might be cold and windy, you could easily drop the pole or the flotation bag is blown away, and can you hold on to your boat and paddle also? With bad luck, you might even damage the boat in the process.
And is it worth it? - I would be in a wetsuit and being in the water or sitting in a flooded boat being splashed over in the wind doesn't make much of a difference. Except that when in the boat, you would be able to use your mobile phone or other communications that work badly in the water, and be more visible.
My opinion is, that when you are far off shore, it would improve your chances more to dress for the water (I use a 5 mm good quality wetsuit in the winter, and gloves and boots etc.), and choose a more stable boat. This will provide more safety in general, not just in case of injury, and it cannot really make things worse.
BTW: If you need to bring a pole, why not make it an extra paddle, just in case?
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8 months 2 days ago - 8 months 2 days ago #35471 by SurfskiEstonia
Thanks, guys! Appreciate your comments!!

First of all, I'd like to clarify what kind of injury situations I have in mind. Sometimes in the heat of the moment an unexpected wave can throw one off balance and an emergency brace is engaged. In those situation - especially in a violent save, where the boat is at a critical angle, there is a lot of strain on the shoulder and the wrist. These two are in my opinion the biggest injury suspects while paddling. I know I won't be able to remount my unstable boat in waves with an injured wrist or shoulder. For this kind of situation, I think some boat stabilisation device is necessary, which will make the boat stable enough to be able to climb on without the coordination abilities of a trained body.

A fellow paddler from the US, with whom I discussed this idea, also suggested the same thing as You, Henning - to take a more stable boat. But to be realistic, I won't voluntarily take a more stable boat in average conditions. And I am not talking about extreme weather here, just an unfortunate accident on an average day. So I personally feel a big need for this grand insurance, that in the case of a really bad situation I won't be forced to simply hope that help will come on time.

I personally paddle only in 15+C* water. But even such temperatures have proven to be deadly after a pro-longed stay in the water. And again, I can't possibly dress for an hour stay in 16*C water.. it will render effective paddling impossible:)

The idea of taking the second paddle instead of a simple pole is not bad at all, but as far as I've heard, losing or braking paddles in surfskiing is pretty rare. So I think most paddlers will be put off carrying a second paddle (with the added wind  resistance of the blades), so that maybe they will use it once in a couple of years.

The last paddle this season I took my floatation bag with me and tried to use it to remount. Having blown the flotation bag full of air, I tried to support my weight on it to help the remount. It was a disaster, made things much worse. I didn't try the sea kayaking method of attaching it to the paddle blade, because I knew I couldn't have taken the bag off of the blade after the remount (stability issues). So I have made up my mind (until someone has proposed something else that seems plausible) that this needs to be an additional support mechanism designed purely to make the boat stable.

Waverider, the point You made is the main issue stopping me from using composite 'super-glue' to fix hoops on my ski and try it out. I could even go as far as to remove a necessary area of coating off my boat, drill holes into the kevlar structure (my Nelo is a WWR construction) and then fix a plate with those loops to the ski and then re-coat the area.

When talking about the side handles, did You mean the handles needed to be as tall as to let the paddle blade pass through it? That could actually work pretty well, but are there such tall handles? And they must be manufacturer installed, right?

It seems to me this issue is similar to the introduction of car seat belts, where the government had to step in and make them compulsory. I think I will discuss this idea with a couple of local kayak makers and try to install some sort of a fixing solution to my boat and then share the result here. If You have any ideas or suggestions, please share them:))

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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8 months 2 days ago - 8 months 2 days ago #35472 by Henning DK
I gave it a second thought - inspired by seat belts and air bags ;-)

I think maybe you don't need a pole at all, and maybe you don't need to modify your surfski. Maybe all you need is some added stability, that could be supplied by two air bags, one at each side on the ski - like small pontoons. If two flotation bags (big size) were mounted on the ski when they were needed, by having them attached to a belt around the boat just behind the seat, they could provide enough stability for you to remount the ski - and you might still be able to paddle depending on your injury. Actually, if you have such a device with you, it could be used to help others in need, because it does not need any special fixtures on the boat.

Just in the middle of writing this, I searched for "kayak  pontoons", and it is already invented, of course.
Here is a video:


You cannot surf with these inflated pontoons on your boat, they would need to be air filled only when to be used.
Maybe a light weight version would be an option.

I attach some pictures for inspiration - including one where poles are used, if you like to have this to support during remount :-)

BR,
Henning
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8 months 2 days ago - 8 months 2 days ago #35473 by Henning DK
Here is a simple solution based on existing equipment.
The attached picture shows a soft kayak holder for having your boat on the car.

If you turn one of these upside down on the deck of the ski, put your paddle on top and ties it with a cord under the boat, you have your "pole" ready for adding a standard flotation bag (or two), to the paddle.

Maybe needs some experiments, but it's cheap and light weight ;-)

My main concern is that you would not be able to mount any of these solutions with an injured shoulder?
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8 months 2 days ago #35474 by Wombat661
This may be more practical. You can paddle with it on.

https://www.huki.com/index.php?page=Gull_Wing
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8 months 2 days ago #35479 by manta

Wombat661 wrote: This may be more practical. You can paddle with it on.

https://www.huki.com/index.php?page=Gull_Wing


That feels a bit like cheating. No learning curve to getting into an Elite ski just put the wings on the back and off you go. 
I wonder though if your body will actually learn to actually paddle correctly, almost like training wheels on a bike, although training wheels allow you to learn the pedalling behaviour they do nothing for your balance.

I can see the benefits in really rough seas but then just take a more stable boat.
Still, that is some out of the box thinking right there.

M
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8 months 2 days ago #35483 by mrcharly
Just before I got to Henning's post I was thinking of exactly the same thing. 

You just need a belt underneath, a bag either side. 

Yes, I think it would help. I believe that the first people to paddle across the atlantic used something similar when they slept. 
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8 months 2 days ago - 8 months 2 days ago #35485 by Fath2o
How about we think a little bit outside the box here? What if we used ballast instead of flotation to increase stability. If our skis had water tight bulkheads fore and aft ( which would be a good idea any way), the hull of the ski could be flooded by pulling a rubber bung/plug. The weight should lower the water line dramatically and increase stability for a easy remount. To empty the water just simply start paddling and allow the water to drain out your venturis/bailer. Replace bung when water has drained.
If it worked, it would be a hell of a lot simpler than flotation bags and poles. I can't even fathom performing such an operation in rough conditions with finger numbing cold water to boot.
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8 months 1 day ago #35497 by SurfskiEstonia
Guys, thank You for all the responses!

Fath2o solution is very elegant, but requires 100% manufacturer based R&D, which seems unlikely atm.

That HUKI wing is a great idea on the behalf of the manufacturer, but I think most people would feel a little uneasy paddling something that looks like this on daily basis.

My understanding is this solution needs to be almost unnoticeable, light and be used purely in case all other hope is gone and the paddler has that final chance at salvation via making a stable raft out of his surfski.

From the discussion above the best idea would seem to attach two inflatable bags on both sides of the ski. Somehow it seems that the belt would need some fixing point not to slip and capsize the boat. So that is one possibility to have one fixing point that ensures the belt position in relation to the ski. The other solution would be to have two hoops/fixing points on both sides of the ski to fix inflatable bag directly without a belt. This could be the easiest solution if the ski has manufacturer installed handles. But to attach fixing point/points aftermarket seems easier for the belt.

One issue that seems the most weird in this situation, is that I see this problem as something super important and it seems most paddlers don't really take it very seriously. Just to make it double clear, I am not just talking about unstable boats in extreme conditions. Even mild conditions with a stable boat can cause serious problems if there is an injury.  Am I over-reacting? I think that the same way as we are wearing PFDs and have flares and VHF/phones on our persons, we could permanently have some black-day equipment on our skis to give us a chance in case everything else fails:|

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8 months 1 day ago #35502 by TomVW
I might be a little late to the party, but standard parts already exist to fix the paddle shaft to the rear deck and are commonly used on seakayaks for the "paddle float re-entry" solo self rescue.

Nothing stops you to use this paddle-float setup not only as a re-entry tool but also to stabilize your ski while sitting in it. You could even use 2 paddle floats (one on each side) for a more symmetric lay-out with shorter leverage on both sides and, hence lower loads on the clamps..
The loads on such a clamp (cf. Kayaksport clamp below) would be mostly normal to the skin of the deck. Depending on how far to the side you put your paddle float and how far apart you mount the 2 clamps, I don't think such loads would be high enough to tear a hole in the rear deck. Especially since this "last resort" solution won't be used every week...
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8 months 1 day ago #35503 by robin.mousley

One issue that seems the most weird in this situation, is that I see this problem as something super important and it seems most paddlers
don't really take it very seriously.

I'm not sure I understand what the problem is.  To me a surfski is a high performance piece of equipment - even the beginner and intermediate boats, and I want it to be as light and as fast as possible so that I can get out there and surf my brains out in extreme conditions. 
The absolute last thing I want is for a heavy piece of gear that I'll never use but that will take the edge off my performance.
Which isn't to say that I don't take safety seriously.  I'm fit, I practise remounts, I use leashes, PFD, carry flares, phone/SafeTrx and a VHF radio. 

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
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8 months 1 day ago #35504 by tve
Rob, I'm with you, but I believe the question is still an interesting one to ponder: you're in the middle of a miller's run when it's cracking and you dislocate your shoulder. Now what? And more specifically, is there some equipment/device you wish you had that might allow you to slowly get to shore on your own without requiring a rescue?

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8 months 1 day ago #35506 by SpaceSputnik

tve wrote: Rob, I'm with you, but I believe the question is still an interesting one to ponder: you're in the middle of a miller's run when it's cracking and you dislocate your shoulder. Now what? And more specifically, is there some equipment/device you wish you had that might allow you to slowly get to shore on your own without requiring a rescue?


Can one paddle with an injury like that? I imagine bracing on one side is also gone.

Current: Epic 18x Sport, Stellar SES 1g.
Past: Think Evo II, Epic V7

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8 months 1 day ago - 8 months 1 day ago #35507 by Fath2o
With a dislocated shoulder or some such injury a functional communication device and/or a small pair (or even just one) swim fins would be nice.

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8 months 23 hours ago #35509 by tve
Kirk, now that's a thought: fins. Certainly increases the swimmable distance dramatically. Together with swim goggles could be quite interesting as long as the water is not very cold. The only fins I know are heavy rubber, but I suspect there are lightweight ones available too...

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8 months 15 hours ago #35513 by robin.mousley

tve wrote: Rob, I'm with you, but I believe the question is still an interesting one to ponder: you're in the middle of a miller's run when it's cracking and you dislocate your shoulder. Now what? And more specifically, is there some equipment/device you wish you had that might allow you to slowly get to shore on your own without requiring a rescue?


I know that it can happen - off the top of my head I know of at least three dislocated shoulders:

- At the start of the Mauritius Ocean Classic - the race director leapt in and helped the paddler.
- During Knysna to Sedgefield race many years ago.  Can't remember the details, but the paddler was picked up.
- Killian Marzin's self rescue last year when he was on a solo training paddle in France

So now it happens to me on a Miller's run.  We've got at least 20kt and breaking waves.  Even if I remounted, there's no way I could stay on it without bracing and I can't brace.  So forget even trying.  Waste of time.  It would be stupid not to call for help at this point because the likelihood of being able to self-rescue would be pretty remote.

So the first thing I do is get my radio out of my pocket, which I should be able to do, even with only one arm.  I call Cape Town Radio and declare a Mayday situation.  They can see where I am (with any luck) because I'm using SafeTrx.  If SafeTrx is not working, I can still tell them roughly where I am.

Depending where I am in the run, I'm up to 2km from shore.  So I start swimming towards shore, while holding onto the ski.  Whether this really is practical or not depends on the level of pain I'm in, and the state of the sea - and which arm is dislocated. 

When the NSRI get close, I should be able to talk to them using the VHF.  With one arm I'm unlikely to be able to operate my pencil flares, but I would try.

But in essence, that's my plan.  Call for help immediately and attempt to swim towards shore. 

Fins?  Floats?  I'm already loaded down with safety gear.  I'm not going to compromise the efficiency of the ski with yet more equipment that I'm highly unlikely ever to use.  But that's me.  There's an entire spectrum of paddlers from the cowboys who paddle with speedo and nothing else through to sea kayakers who carry spare paddles and goodness what else. 

As long as you've thought through what you're personally going to do in an emergency situation and you've got the fundamental basics (PFD, leash and some form of communcation device), you should be ok in most circumstances.

In any case, no matter what you carry, you cannot cover every single eventuality.  And if you overload your craft with safety gear, it'll start to become the problem, not the solution.  What you carry depends on your experience, ability and the conditions that you paddle in. 

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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8 months 10 hours ago #35514 by manta
In January this year I had a semi dislocation of my right shoulder while on a Miller's run (freak accident). I did not fall out of the boat so did not need to remount but the conditions were festive and staying in was a challenge. I was unable to use my right arm except to hold the paddle to stabilise the paddle. I was unable to get to my phone to trigger the SafeTrx app for help. I would have fallen out of the boat and would not have been able to remount. I had no choice at this point but to self rescue.

Two things helped me. 
1) I practice the Oscar drill of paddling on one side of the ski almost every time I go out and do it in all conditions. I was used to doing the drill and knew I would be able to paddle on only my "good side"
2) I did not panic. To reach shore I had to go perpendicular to the wind and waves so waves were breaking over me and it was scary. I did not think I would make it but took it slow and steady.

It took me about 10 full minutes once I reached the shore to operate my phone with only one hand. If I was not able to self rescue it would have been tickets. 

Having all the equipment is great but in my situation I was not able to operate it. Practice worst case scenarios and at least be aware that you may have to rescue yourself for whatever reason. If you cannot rescue yourself and you will not be able to get rescuers to you, should you be out there? Food for thought.

M

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8 months 8 hours ago #35516 by robin.mousley

In January this year I had a semi dislocation of my right shoulder while on a Miller's run (freak accident). I did not fall out of the boat so
did not need to remount but the conditions were festive and staying in
was a challenge. I was unable to use my right arm except to hold the
paddle to stabilise the paddle. I was unable to get to my phone to
trigger the SafeTrx app for help. I would have fallen out of the boat
and would not have been able to remount. I had no choice at this point
but to self rescue.

As I've said before - full respect to you on this one.

Did you ever get the XT S?

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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