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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:34 am 
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I just bought my first ever kayak, the i12s. I spent a day in the pool practicing righting and re-entry after capsizing, and found I couldn't re-enter whilst wearing my PFD. On the advice of the store where I bought the kayak, I bought a thin-back Stohlquist PFD. Because the 2016 kayaks have the new Vantage CT, they pointed out a thin back PFD would be more comfortable when sitting, and they are absolutely correct, but thin back = thick front, so the bulging PFD catches on the side of the kayak, making it near impossible to get back in. I also practiced getting in without a PFD, and that was pretty easy; so I'm confident it isn't my lack of arm strength.

I've now purchased a self-inflating PFD and set it to manual inflation only, as that seems like a good short-term solution, but of course if I'm ever in the situation where I need to inflate that PFD, I'm probably stuck in the water. I tried improvising a "rescue step" from some Polyethylene line, but that didn't help. In fact, standing on the rescue step and pulling on the far side of the kayak caused it to capsize. Not really an improvement in my situation! :)

I freely admit I'm on the heavy side - 230lbs, so that isn't helping I'm sure.

At the moment I'm sticking to kayaking in the Dana Point marina, so worst-case scenario I can easily swim the kayak to a slip and climb out, but eventually I'd like to venture out a bit further, and I'm not going to do that until I'm certain to be able to recover myself from a capsize.

So, does anyone have any suggestions/advice/experience/cool stories to tell?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:38 pm 
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Your vest and i12 are different from mine, but here is some brainstorming. Have you tried coming up on the bow, maybe more lengthwise at about 45 degrees from the point of the bow? My i12s has a huge compartment there, but with your lesser buoyancy you can probably manhandle it down under you and without creating so much of a rolling impulse. I have another yak where I have threaded line thru all the D rings on top, and lunge for the line on the far side with just the right angle and location with good success.

Might work on the stern also. On my i12s I require a bowline to launch and land from a vertical dropoff. I anchor it underway thru the triangle rings to the cockpit, so have a grabrail of sorts. I suppose in distress I could also free the line and clip it to a pfd and even take it off and use it as a crude floating step assist. If I had the seat like yours, I might go entirely backless with the ultra cheapo pfd that I use as a cushion on another yak. I think I could twist it around to my back for reboarding since there are no armholes.

P.S. Somewhere there are videos of reboarding inflatable kayaks. I believe one emphasized you should float as horizontal as possible on your stomach before lunging up... your front pfd probably strongly resists this and pushes you to vertical which will maximize rolling and snagging. Also I noticed that much footwear will mess up your ability to scissor kick up to assist that lunge upward. Try a kick stroke with footwear like a bumptoe sandal (terrible) vs other or barefoot.


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Last edited by daft on Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:40 pm 
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Some interesting ideas, thanks for the reply!

I didn't try reboarding via the bow, s even though there isn't a compartment, there is still a large sealed "bilge" for buoyancy. It makes the bow rise higher, and there isn't a suitable handhold on the far side ahead of the mirage drive; although your other suggestion of a line threaded through all the D rings might make that feasible. Ditto the stern (although I'd worry about catching the rudder somewhere sensitive).

100% agree with your point about not being able to lie horizontal because of the PFD too.

A good line all around the kayak might also help if I want to try adding stability using a paddle float like in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10H-X5tWPRY (there is currently nowhere to put the paddle to act as a brace)

Thanks again for your input. Definite experiments to try next time1


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:42 pm 
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I'm glad you posted this because I have the same problem in my i12s. I too am heavy and also not very strong in the arms (I'm 74 years old). I know that water is cold where you kayak, and it's even worse where I live in the Pacific Northwest. I don't feel safe unless I've got on at least a thin wetsuit. In an emergency I might also find myself wearing some other encumbering clothing. I also just bought a thick-fronted PFD. I have an inflatable PFD as well. It seems to me that if I capsize or otherwise fall in the water, and if I experience any difficulty at all, I will have to inflate my PFD, which makes it as thick as the other PFD. Years ago I had a Hobie SUV kayak. I had a procedure involving a float-equipped rope, my paddle, and a paddle float. That worked when I tested it, but with difficulty, and it was rather complicated. I'd rather not go back to that. Kayaking season is starting up here, and last night I found myself worrying about various overboard scenarios. I kayak in deserted places, and the very cold water gives me a deadline for getting back aboard again. This requires a quick and simple procedure with minimum gadgetry. So I hope we hear some good suggestions.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 10:27 pm
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Location: Newport Beach
maybe this tool can help? The rescue ladder. Have seen similar product used before on a non-inflatable but I think it should work similarly.

Now I don't have exactly the same boat as you two, I have an i11s, and my wife would remove the drive (make sure it is chained to the boat!), and lift one leg into the hole from above to get back on, but I can see that is not an option on the i12s, the sides are much higher, but maybe use the drive as a handle?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:03 pm 
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Location: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Very interesting discussion...[Sorry, not an i12s owner, but I look to learn from all re-entry/PFD discussions]

My recent experience was with my first ever inflatable PFD that I wear on hot days because it is cooler than a noninflatable PFD. When my sailing kayak capsizes it turns turtle so my first surprise was the PFD automatically inflated under the boat -- I thought it was manually operated! Disconcerting, but not a problem.

The second surprise was that because the buoyancy of my inflatable PFD is located largely around the neck/upper chest, I was lower in the water than with my normal sailing (not inflatable) PFD, so the opposite rail or fins was much harder to reach to right the kayak. Reaching was also made much more difficult by the frontal bulge of the PFD.

The third surprise came when I tried to use my normal method of vaulting over the stern (like getting out of a pool) to get back on the kayak. (I weigh nearly 80 kilograms and my kayak is rated to 102 kilograms). Because I was lower in the water at the start and because of the PFD bulge out front, I had to start the vault further away from the kayak, so it was a lot harder to get up onto the kayak. Yes, I could have deflated the PFD but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a PFD. (I also have a paddle float).

I still wear the inflatable PFD (converted to manual activation) when it is hot and I am in sheltered waters. But to deal with the shortcomings of the inflatable PFD, I have installed the kayak rescue step. This is a very neat package and it works as a throw rope as well.

When I am in open sea or the water is cold, I wear my sailing PFD, a Zhik dinghy one that has all round buoyancy. I don't like the idea of a thin back to a PFD because it means too much padding out front. My recent experience has made me realise how much I was using the buoyancy of my sailing PFD to bob up and down in the water to get momentum for a vault/lunge.


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