Try to save myself …

Try to save myself, but myself keeps slipping away.

Into the Void, NIN, The Fragile

I’m still obsessing over self-rescue techniques. Alan and I duly went along to Garnock’s club night and very beneficial it was too. Richard, the kindly coach who offered to help us, lost no time in getting everyone out of their comfort zone by encouraging us to experiment with balance. This led to some early entries into the Loch as most of us failed to reach the pinnacle of balancing achievement, ie standing in our boats. Alan and I have promised never to call our boats “tippy” (whilst comfortably seated in them) again. In contrast to Loch Eck, Kilbirnie Loch was quite warm, albeit a bit browner. After some expert demos from Richard, we were soon ducking our heads underwater and positioning our kayaks overhead ready to push them up and turn them back to an upright state. This wasn’t really happening for me, unfortunately, as the kayak above me merely pushed me further underwater it seemed. Ultimately, after my assisted rescue produced a double capsize (cringe), Richard showed me how to place the kayak high on to my shoulder and then push it up and turn it over. This worked much better and I succeeded in emptying out the bulk of the water.

Forgetting what an inroad this was from 2 weeks ago, I went back to Loch Eck this week to practice some more and set myself the unrealistic goal of emptying every last drop of water out of the cockpit. I began to feel despondent when this wasn’t achieved after repeated attempts. Apparently, my over ambitiousness was catching as Alan too vied for the title of World Champion Kayak Tipper Outer, almost emptying the cockpit once, but failing to replicate this success. After about an hour of this, the cold and the effort got to us and I could scarcely hoist myself back into my boat.

I feel strongly that the no-gadgets, no-nonsense, purist approach to self-rescue is the thing to master and I was very pleased to have made progress. I still believe that a touch more upper body strength, surely achieved through practising this technique, would help in terms of being able to push up just that little bit further and thus get more water out.

I dare say it won’t be long before I can fixate over much more trepidatious matters such as eskimo rescues and even – ultimately, eventually, some day – rolling.

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