Another low-water un on the Codorus Creek near York, Pennsylvania . We have six boats total” four kayaks and two open boats. The trip leader and I determined that we would keep the two inexperienced kayakers between us in case they had problems. What we didn’t know was that one of them had never done a wet exit from his kayak!
Everyone was having fun all the way down to Lead Shot. We ran the drop without incident and caught an eddy to try some surfing. You can guess what happened next. One of our novices tried it and flipped.
He’s thrashing, but not coming up. Maybe he’s trying to roll. Fifteen seconds later his paddle is floating way and he’s still thrashing. C’mon, get out of that thing! Ten seconds later everyone realizes what’s happening. It’s another twenty seconds before the first boater gets to him. But being in a kayaker, he sits really low and can’t reach down and get the fellow’s head up. After ten more seconds an open boat arrives and between the two of them they manage to pull his head up long enough for a gulp of air. But they can’t hold him up and he’s still thrashing! Finally, with the help of a third boater we get him half upright, and support his body so he can breathe. After about ten minutes of rest he’s OK, and we complete the run without further incident.
The next time we paddle with an unknown kayaker we’ll ask him to demonstrate a wet exit before the run. I’m getting grey hairs fast enough!
SOURCE: Greg Noll
EDITOR'S NOTE: Those of us who teach eskimo rolling at pool sessions know the quickest and easiest way to upright a panicked kayaker is to swim up to the kayak, reach across the hull, grab the opposite seam, and pull the boat upright. Be prepared to bail out of your boat to make the rescue if it can be done safely.