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Tundrasails Kayak Sail Systems

Paddlers Tales and Tips

Remember there is no such beast as to much throw bag practice. When you need this skill your friends will be depending on you to have it and some grab your bag and he out to practice

Home Improvement

I like to consider my Kayak as my home afloat and like your own home it a has a few needs that will keep her running smooth and happy. There is a lot to know about kayaking and all that goes with it and here we will attempt to remind ourselves and those new to the sport what those things are. We would like to hear your stories and spread them around and if you have a useful tip that we could use, let me know and I'll see that it shows up. We will provide links to others that have knowledge to spare and are willing to share . I like to consider Paddlers to be a sensible lot (who else would invent such fine things as waterfall jumping )  I'll put some effort into connecting you to some very worth while sites and we would like to hear of your adventures in return.  See you on the water . PFD'S Rule  Greg

Extend the life of your Tundrasail
I have been sailing my  rig for about seven seasons an the only real wear I have found is at the upper points of the sail . This is where the mast tips are located. I have taken the mast out and placed a little tape there to soften the edges and that will greatly reduce the friction.
I would suggest doing this as soon as your sail arrives and it should eliminate the problem. My sail gets a lot of use and a little needle and threat work will clear up my wear areas nicely and I'm good to go another couple of seasons at least. Consider the latest model of High viz sail from PA sails. RThe same as a regular PA sail however only the top sail band is nylon the remainer is clear see through but strong plastic, giving a great view towards your bow.

Kayak News great things here

Paddlers Prefered spot, you might even win a boat

Compliments of Guillemot Kayaks

We are back and had a good trip. The weather conditions were not ideal for the sail. We had gusty 15 to 30 all week, with 2-3 foot choppy waves. We ended up doing a lot of paddling in the red mangrove forests. Lots of wildlife and a great opportunity to use the gps. I did try the sail a couple of times and found it to be a lot of fun. Down wind was very fast in these conditions and I felt comfortable almost right away. As soon as I tried to reach across the wind it got very hairy. I really needed a leeboard of some kind. The wind gusts made it like walking a tight rope.

aaron reiser

Other tricks under your skirt
Everyone knows having a bombproof roll is your best defence in terms of self rescue, but how many of us have it . I work on mine always and know my weak points so I practice these as well. We should remember to work on the other stuff as well. When it is just impossible to roll ( we should have put into shore before then) it is nice to know that your wet exit and re entry techinques are up to snuff. The best method to get  good here is to practice all the time in various sea conditions and then practice some more. Paddle float, T-Rescue, Stirrup entry are but a few that you should be familar with and working on improving. Our best defence is of course common sense and knowing when to head into shore.  It is always better to roll then swim and inside the boat is much better than outside of it. Greg

Knots you boaters should know and know well
I have included here the five basic knots from my Swift water rescue course and these will get you through most problems on the river. Just remember that water and rope do not mix well so get trained and play safe.
  • Bowline ( loop in end of rope)
  • Tape knot for webbing slings
  • Munter Hitch for creating friction for rappels and lowers
  • Double Prussik Hitch for safety back ups and accending rope
  • Double Fishermans for joining rope ends into slings or tying two ropes together (same diameter )
  • Should you be new to knots there are websites and books galore out there so  a libarary visit my be in order. Knots are easy and fun don't give up and once you have them they are like Carnagie Hall practice, practice, practice and you will get there.

There are many more knots and the more you learn the better off you will be, but these will allow you to set up a Z drag (3/1)or Pig rig(4/1) mechanical advantage system for unpinning boats and this would allow you build a lowering system to get your boats to the water if needs be. Practice your throwbag skills every chance you get and swimming a lot will help keep you in shape to save your butt. When swimming white water keep that head up to see where you are heading and many times you will be swimming against the current in a ferry attempt so it is hard work. The last thing you ever want to do is enter the water to attempt to rescue a paniced boater as you stand a good chance of drowning for your efforts. Never enter the water if there is any way around it. Use the ladder method and and you may never have to get wet. Talk (convince them they may swim in if this is possible), Reach (paddle, oar, stick  anything that can reach them and be pulled on works), Throw (toss them your throw bag or a line and pendulem them to shore) row paddle out in another boat and bring them back. The idea behind this is to avoid entering the water for your own safety. These are just food for thought and we hope we get you interested enough to take the proper training. 

A basic swiftwater rescue course sets you back about 300.00 dollars and when you are finished you will agree, loot well spent. First aid training is also money well spent so get some, Greg

Don't forget these items, they are required by law
When paddling in Canadian Waters you are required by law to carry the following safety gear.
Canoes and Kayaks and Rowing shells
  • PFD or Lifejacket of the proper size for each passenger
  • 15 meter buoyant heaving line (try the throwbag in a jug for this, works great)
  • One manual propelling device ( Paddle or oar )
  • Manual bailer or water pump
  • Sound Signalling device ( whistle, canned air horn or similar device )
  • Navigation lights or a waterproof flash light if you are out after dark
  • These are very important and you don't want to be stuck out on the water without things items. Kayakist and canoeist should carry their emergency dunk bag with them at all times. Short swims in cold water are always much further then you think and are usually longer than you can make. Staying with the boat it is usually your best plan. Be familar with your signalling devices and be sure that they are easily reached when needed.

Throw bag in a bottle
This is a very slick trick and your recycling as well. This rig works better than any throwbag I have ever used and you are required now to carry one. You need one empty 2 litre plastic juice jug / bleach bottle and 15 metres of 5/16 poly rope.
Make a 3/8" hole in the bottom of the jug and feed the rope through the jug, pull all the rope through the jug untill there is about two feet left sticking out the bottom, using the long end of rope tie an overhand knot or something like it and pull it back into the jug. This knot stops the rope from pulling out the bottom. Tie a grab loop( figure 8 in a bight) in the remaining rope sticking out the bottom. Now just feed the rope into the jug untill there is about a foot left and tie this to the handle so it won't go into the jug. When you need to use the rig, untie from handle, hold the rope end in one hand and launch the rig at your target. I showed this rig to the local lifeguards and they are all making one now. Should a second throw become necessary remember that  you only need to throw enough rope to reach the person so don't reload the jug,  just coil the rope into one hand that your keeping stationary and then throw the rope. This is a quick and cheap way to make a piece of gear that works great. Greg 

Weather lore
Weather we like it or not this effects our lives in the kayak a lot. Lets take a moment and borrow some time honoured traditions from the days of wooden ships and iron men as they have a lot to teach us. Most sailors of this time were unable to read and so ditties, jingles and poems were used to pass the knowledge along. I will add a few of these as our lives together progress and soon the list will be complete. Lets start here.
Rain before seven, fine before eleven.
Evening red and morning grey, two sure signs of one fine day.

When grass is dry at morning light, Look for rain before the night.

Red sky at night sailors delight, red sky at morn sailors be warned.

The moon and the weather may change together,
But a change of the moon, will not change the weather.

A ring around the sun or moon, means rain or snow coming soon.

No weather's ill if the wind be still.

The higher the clouds the better the weather

 The list is quite long and also hundreds of years old. Take your time and learn some of these as they are as true today as then. I for one was born in this life to late, but a topsmen in a previous life I must have been or will be yet, there are other worlds than this.

The stuff we probably forgot

Stability There are two types that affect your Kayak, Inital or primary stability is the kayaks natural tendency to remain upright. Secondary stability is the Kayaks tendency to resist rolling over. You will notice how much you can lean your boat before a capsize wants to happen, this is where secondary stability kicks in, but this point can quickly be overcome and over we go. Good bracing techique can of course prevent this.

Centre of Gravity / Bouyancy

The centre of gravity in your kayak isn't where most people like to think. Kayaks have a much higher centre of gravity and you will find it around your waist level (belly button ), this is where the forces that are pushing downwards like to hang out. This centre remains constant. The balance between the centre of gravity pushing down and the centre of bouancy pushing up keep you upright. When you lean your Kayak without bending at the hips the centre of gravitiy shifts outward faster than the centre of bouyancy and this causes you to capsize. To remain upright when leaning the kayak swivel at the hips to keep your head over your butt and you will remain upright. There is a a fine line here and it takes practice to be able to hold yourself there. It is however a skill you can easily learn and have fun with so try it. You will improve quickly.

Anyone can quickly learn the first half of the Eskimo Roll, but time working on the second half (rolling up) is time well spent. When you have a bomb proof roll, life is easier as your confidence level is way up there.

Rule of Thumb

When dressing for the days outing remember to consider this, if the air temperture and water temperture add up to less than 100 degrees slip into your wet suit. Always dress for the water temperture and not the air. Water conducts body heat away at a rate roughly 25 times faster than in air, so if you're in the soup you'll cool quickly.Your PFD is also added insulation as well as floatation, so be sure your wearing it. Please remember that your PFD will degrade with time and old reliable may no longer be worthy of the name.Test it at the start of your season and replace them as needed. No sense cutting a great paddling life short over such a detail, small but important..

Strainers and Sweepers 

The best way to deal with strainers is too stay well clear and let them be. Strainers refer to an object of any type that crosses the current forcing the flow to pass beneath the object. Trees, old collasped fence lines , brush piles anything or everything, and these are the most dangerous of obstructions that you may encounter. Sweepers are almost the same but refer to objects that are above the surface of the water for example a tree sticking over the water where the bank colapsed. These tend to knock you from your vessel. Treat them with respect and give them plenty of room and you should have no worries. Professional safety training will give you the tools needed to help should you become unfornuate enough to get stuck in one. Distance from strainers is the best tool in the box .

Standing in the current

Standing in the current in water above your knees is another one of those things that just is not done. Foot entrapment and currents do not go together well. Should your foot become entrapped and you are pushed over by the current, face down and submerged is where you will end up. This enviroment does not suit the kayaker well! Remember if your swimming some rapids feet up is the way to go, hold your boat in front to avoid being pinned between it and a hard place, feet up and face downstream. Becoming bomber with your roll, will reduce your chances of swimming, so remember tis better to roll than swim.

Proper instruction from professionals is the way to go when learning your river tricks of the trade.

Basic Stroke Types

There are two basic stroke groups in Kayaking and they are the Positive and Negetive strokes.  Positive strokes do two things with the kayak which are create forward momentum and alter direction without the loss of forward momentum. Negative strokes are used to impede forward momentum and to alter direction while impeding forward momentum. Braces are very handy to know as well and I willl add more about them later.

Life Lines and the thoughts behind them
 You may notice that on Wooden sea kayaks that there is in many cases an absence of deck rigging and life lines. On production boats this is very rare. Lifelines that travel down both sides of your deck from bow to stern are there to aid you in holding onto your kayak should you find yourself outside of it. Kayaks are slippery things at the best of times and when your outside, cold and wet they can be very hard to hold on to. You would really hate to watch the wind and waves carry away your boat while you couldn't do anything about it and this happens quickly. Life lines also aid the rescuer and yourself in positioning the boat for re-entry. Should your boat lack these handy little fellows, should install some before your next paddle, properly done there is no reason for them to detract from the appearance of your boat and as a step towards seaworthyness you can't go wrong. Your best defense is a bomb proof roll, but even then you may have to swim occassionally.

Throw Bag Clean Line Principle
The clean line principle is the latest improvement and could very well save a life.  The loop handle of your throw bag rope that you retain when throwing  the bag has caused some problems and the new standard is to remove the loop. Should you have to release the line during its use the trailing loop can snag on the bottom, between rocks  and just about anywhere. This causes the rope to become tight forcing whoever is tied to it or holding it to be forced under the water, not good for us. Rescuers would be connected via a self releasing harness and could disconnect, but anyone holding the line over there shoulder could be in trouble. We should remember that the swimmer at this point could be pretty scared and unwilling to release the rope and the result is a underwater pin.
A clean line when released would just follow the swimmer and with no knots just flow through any obstructions greatly reducing the chance of a snag. Ropes and water really don't mix well and anythng that reduces the chance of a submerged pin is a huge benefit to all concerned. Your throw bags are just that and if a proper rope is available it should be used in all systems that invovle mechanical advantage of  big loads as they will over strain your throw rope and when you need it again it may break.

HELP Position (handy to know if your floating in the drink)
The Heat Escape Lessening Position will help to conserve your body heat whilst your floating in the water awaiting pick up. Assume this position by brining your legs together and tucking then to your chest. Your arms should wrap around pulling on your shins to help hold the tuck position. This works by reducing heat loss to the water as all the major heat loss areas are either out of the water (head ) or pressed agaist their opposite member insulating thenselves. Major heat loss areas include your head, groin, armpits and sides of the chest. Small groups can reduce heat loss by huddling together placing the smallest in the centre. This works best if conditions are a little rough, in calm conditions it can be wiser to have each person assume the HELP and just stick together as a group.

Broach Bars
 You may have noticed on the newer white water playboats there are recessed metal bars in various locations around the boat. These are usually located just fore and aft of the cock pit and perhaps one or two other areas. I had been wondering what they we're for and then Murray explained all, these are broach bars and are used to assit in recovery of the boat that has been pinned. Ropes from z-drags and other mechanical advantage systems may be connected here to help pull the boat free. These bars allow Karabiners to be quickly connected or lacking those a knot to be easily tied. Thanks for the additional safety feature

Coast Guard Approval Ratings:

Type I  
Provides the most buoyancy. It is effective for all waters, especially open, rough or remote waters where rescue may be delayed. It is designed to turn most unconscious wearers in the water to a face-up position.

Type II –  
Intended for calm, inland water or where there is a good chance of quick rescue. Inherent buoyant PFDs of this type will turn some unconscious wearers to a face-up position in the water, but the turning is not as pronounced as a Type I. This type of inflatable turns as well as a Type I foam PFD. 

Type III – 
Good for conscious users in calm, inland water, or where there is a good chance of quick rescue. It is designed so wearers can place themselves in a face-up position in the water. The wearer may have to tilt their head back to avoid turning face-down in the water. The Type III foam vest has the same minimum buoyancy as a Type II PFD. It comes in many styles, colors, and sizes and is generally the most comfortable type for continuous wear. Float coats, fishing vests, and vests designed with features suitable for various sports activities are examples of this type PFD. This type inflatable turns as well as a Type II foam PFD. 

Type IV – 
Intended for calm, inland water with heavy boat traffic, where help is always present. It is designed to be thrown to a person in the water and grasped and held by the user until rescued -- It is not designed to be worn. Type IV devices include buoyant cushions, ring buoys, and horseshoe buoys. There are no inflatable Type IV devices. 

Type V – 
Intended for specific activities and may be carried instead of another PFD only if used according to the approval condition(s) on its label. A Type V PFD provides performance of either a Type I, II, or III PFD (as marked on its label). If the label says the PFD is "approved only when worn" the PFD must be worn, except for persons in enclosed spaces and used in accordance with the approval label, to meet carriage requirements. Some Type V devices provide significant hypothermia protection. Varieties include deck suits, work vests, and board sailing vests. 

Message from Greg
Folks thanks for stopping and dropping your anchor for a while, always a pleasure to see you here. Enjoy your stay and drop back anytime.
Contact me at , should you have questions regarding the sails or the local area around Yellowknife.
I am now using Skype and if you can contact me through Skype, my name being cominco2.