Kayaking and kayak fishing are a blast. Each and every year new kayaks get better and more stable. At each and every boat show stability is always a primary topic with future and seasoned anglers during conversations. While kayaks today are more stable than ever, there is always a chance that you could take a tumble into the drink. While being in the Big Rig I have been shifting around and stepped on a tackle box I left lying at my feet and nearly fell off of the kayak. While the boat didn’t move, I was a stumbling mess. This year I took it upon myself to get with the Indiana Chapter of Heroes on the Water and practice some reentry drills before my season really gets underway. My goal was to try out my new PFD and get the reentry movements for the “when” something happens. The drills really opened my eyes to a few key items I had not really noticed until pulling my body back onto my Jackson Cruise 12.
Kayak rigging is the main talk for many new kayak owners. There are hundreds of gadgets and gizmos that you can add to your rail tracks that will aid you in a day on the water. But one thing I have notice after doing reentry drills is how many people are cutting off the possibility of reentering their kayak. When I view a lot of these photos there are so many accessories on each side of the rail tracks, things that stick up that could and will catch on your PFD or clothing. The accessories could even be tall enough to limit your ability to get over the top of them. Another trend is mounting your depth finder centered but not leaving yourself enough room to lie across the kayak to pull yourself back in. This could be a big issue as this is also the area where you will be trying to recenter yourself.
The solution to this is simple and that is to look at the items to find what you really need before you attach them. On my Big Rig you will find the only item on my left is a lone Roto Grip that is placed as forward as I can get it. My depth finder is not centered but connected to the right side of the rail near the seat and low enough not to interfere with me getting back into my seat. I also run a 5” screen for the simple reason that the bigger screens create drag through the water if I’d ever have to flip the kayak back over.
Now back to the left hand side of the kayak, this is my entry and reentry point. It gives me a spot where I do not have to climb over or pull across anything but the kayak itself. In the case of an emergency I also have a place to bail out without having to worry about getting caught and being face down in the water while the leg of my pants are caught on the boat. The left side is my “Way In” if you will. The RAM Mount that holds my depth finder becomes something to assist in me pulling myself back in since it is sturdy on the right side. I chose the left side just because it was comfortable to me. Everyone should choose the side that best fits them at the end of the day. The best way to do so is to take some time and pay attention to how you enter the kayak.
One last topic for reentry is your PFD. The 1st thing you need to do is read the label and make sure you have the right size for your weight. Secondly put it to the test and get in the water with it on. You are going to be glad you did because it is going to build trust between you and your PFD, in a bad situation that is going to go a long way. Lastly while most PFD’s have pockets try to not attach things or fill those pockets. Those bulging pockets are just one more thing that could end up snagging during reentry.
The biggest thing here is to prepare, like I said in the beginning its not “if” it’s really “when”. Nobody wants to go in but these are a few little tips that could have some impact on helping you get back into your kayak. Make an attempt to get with a group and practice the reentry drills. It’s a set of movements that you are really going to want to be fluid with when the time comes knocking. Prepare your kayak for the moment and add reentry as the defining factor for placement. There may just come a moment when that little bit of preparation goes a long way.