Surfski Rescue Techniques: Deck Rescue Variation
Here, the swimmer is being towed by simply holding onto the stern of the surfski. The swimmer does not try to climb onto the stern, but keeps his body in the water, arms extended. In this position the swimmer can kick to assist the paddler, and because the swimmer is mostly in the water, the paddler should feel stable.
On my Epic V10, I have removed the cover plate for the rudder well. This makes for a decent place for a swimmer to hold onto the edge of the rudder well. It is important he does not try to hold onto the rudder shaft or spectra cord, and avoid trying to grab the rudder underneath the hull. This can damage the rudder system or cause the paddler to lose steerage.
Brandon’s Vector has perimeter decklines mounted on the bow and stern decks, which the swimmer can easily grab onto for a tow.
Like every rescue method, there are positives and negatives to this towing technique:
The paddler may find it more stable;
The swimmer can help by kicking;
If you are worried about having the entire bodyweight of the person you are rescuing laying on your super lightweight, fragile, $4000 surfski deck… this keeps their weight in the water.
Because the swimmer’s entire body is in the water, forward speed is slower;
The onset of hypothermia is not reduced as it is when the swimmer is on the deck;
On many surfskis there is nowhere for a swimmer to hold onto, so this technique may not be possible, though attaching a handle is an option;
It may be impossible for hypothermic hands to hold onto a stern;
In bumpy seas, the tip of the stern could thump a weary swimmer in the face.
Even if the negatives seem to outweigh the positives, towing is a viable technique to add to your surfski skill set.
Try it! Try the deck rescue. Try a variation of your own. Remember, survival is not always about having the perfect tool or the right resource. It’s much more about having “resourcefulness.” When you’re at work dreaming about being out paddling, spend some of that “visualization” time innovating new self-rescue and assisted-rescue techniques and methods, and try them the next time you’re out paddling. If you learn something valuable, share it with us!
~In the Spirit of Compassion and Adventure~
Heather, Brandon and Baby HB