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Kayak Rescue Kit

By Jon 'Spike' Green

You don't have to carry much gear to get each other out of trouble on the water but it is important to think carefully about what you take (and of course know how to use it). Here are some of my personal guidelines for what rescue kit you should take when you paddle white water.

Tip 1 - What Kit?

Kayak Rescue Kit

You don't need much kit . Which is a good thing as we don't have much space!

Tip 2 - Throwbag

Kayak Rescue Kit

There's so much to consider when choosing a bag, these are my thought. For what they are worth.

  • The rope. 8mm is hard to hold when the going gets tough, so I would advise 10mm. Most rope has a breaking strain of about a ton (metric), which is reduced when wet and knotted. This is fine except perhaps when trying to extricate boats from pins. So I would suggest looking for a .Spectre. bag or the new Palm. The only downside to 10 mm rope is that the bag will be heavier to throw, but the way I see it is that if you are too weedy to throw 10m of 10mm, then you’ll be too weedy to hold a swimmer on 8mm rope. So get out, get strong and practice!

  • Ease of packing - It strikes me that most throwbags are designed by people in offices! They appear to not realise that when we use them, it's cold, wet, we.re stood up to our waist in water and/or brambles and it’s going dark and we.ve still got 2k to go to get out of the gorge. Choose a bag with a wide, stiff, long neck that is easy to pack - like a Green Slime, HF or the NEW Palm bag.??

  • The length . I'm forever trying to persuade people to choose a longer rope length. 15m bags are obviously (?) smaller and lighter and therefore easier (supposedly) to throw (is the usual argument). But 15m does not give you much scope for anything but the shortest of throws. I prefer 25m of rope. Let us imagine that we are faced with a 10m throw. With a 15m bag you could perhaps afford to take out 1 or 2 meters of rope. So what you'll throw is 13m of rope plus the bag. Now with a 25m bag, and the same scenario, what you’ll do is remove about 12m of rope, leaving 13m of rope plus the bag. Virtually the same size and weight you’ll have to throw as with a 15m bag. So to me the argument that 15m bags are lighter and easier to throw is irrelevant.?There are several advantages of a 25m bag. One is that you are left with spare rope which can be used to pay out rope (to dissipate force, or to make it easier to move about). Another is that during more complex rescues you are less likely to have to join 2 ropes together and therefore have to mess about passing knots.

Tip 3 - Karabiners

Kayak Rescue Kit

People carry a whole range of krabs on the river. Small snap gates, bloody stupid pear shaped snaps (aka .river. krabs), complex twist lock krabs (that only the owner has had the 2 week training course to learn to open).??Leave these behind!

Kayak Rescue Kit

To me the bottom line is that when the proverbial hits the fan we need a krab that can do every job. So why don.t we all carry the one krab type that can do everything? . a HMS (pear-shape) screwgate krab. Then when the fan is splattering we will have the kit that will help us save our mate!??The only downside with the screwgate is that occasionally you will have to spray it with WD40 (other products are available). I carry 3, which seems to be enough.

Tip 4 - Chest Harness

Kayak Rescue Kit

If you are buying a new buoyancy aid with a rescue harness there are a couple of issues that you might want to consider

  • Is the attachment point high up on the back of the buoyancy aid? ?This is a good thing! A high attachment point will help to keep your body on the surface in the current.??

  • How far can the attachment point move around the b/a? You should look for the buoyancy aid to have sewn vertical straps that will prevent the attachment point from moving to the left or right. The reflective vertical straps will prevent the attachment point from ending up under your armpit!

Kayak Rescue Kit

  • If the release buckle for the chest harness is mounted off to one side don.t buy your b/a too big. If you normally are an S/M size, buying a L/XL(for whatever reason?) will mean that the release buckle could end up hidden under your armpit, making it difficult to find and release under realistic load.

Tip 5 - Slings

Kayak Rescue Kit

If you only want to carry one sling then make it a long one! A climbers 16ft (aka 240cm) sling of 8-12mm width is excellent. You can (if you want), cut out the sewn section to make the sling even more flexible. I also carry an 8ft (120cm) sewn sling as well. Out of habit really. Palm equipment have produced an unsewn river tape with a small loop in one end for an HMS carabiner, I find these incredibly useful for many different jobs on the river as well as acting as a 5 meter throw line when rolled up.

Tip 6 - Knife

Kayak Rescue Kit

Just make sure it is stainless, small and able to be opened with one hand. If you carry a throwbag or sling you “must” carry a knife!

Tip 7 - A Plug!

Kayak Rescue Kit

In conclusion, don.t carry a lot and only carry gear that is capable of doing everything that it is asked to do. Of course you really should go on a BCU White Water Safety and Rescue course to learn how to use this kit! Did I mention that we run them here at Plas y Brenin?


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