Stable sit-on-top kayaks are difficult to capsize.

A few weeks ago I was leading a Kayaking Trip here on the east coast. A small group of guests arrived ready for a day's paddling, one of which had some extensive paddling experience (so he told me). With some wind and small swell, I decided to shorten the route, landing a little way down the coast for a brew on the sandy beach before returning.

Guests were safety briefed as usual and the route made clear. I clearly asked everyone to remain in the small bay into which we would launch, thereby warming up in a sheltered area which would allow any initial capsizes to just wade back onto the sandy beach. And as always, I briefed out the standard procedure for capsizing by raising a paddle high in the air so that we know there is someone in the water.

You guessed it, two minutes in and this couple (with paddling experience!) had paddled out of the bay and into the onshore wind parallel to a sea wall. The chap doesn't raise his paddle so no-one knows his partner has capsized and the result; a very wet, cold and miserable guest hauled out of the water.

The moral of the story, no matter what activity ALWAYS listen to your Guide! They don't say this stuff for 'shits and giggles', there is a reason for every action we take based on years of experience and past learning. This is not just true for paddling events but any activity; scuba and snorkelling, sky diving, cycling and walking outdoors, bushcraft activities, any activity where there is an element of inherent risk.

And remember, professional Guides and outdoor businesses have a duty of care to all of their paying guests and as such have criminal liability, both Guides and the Directors of the business should anyone get injured. So you have a moral and ethical obligation to do exactly as you are told or don't join the activity in the first instance. The downside of this experience is that as a Lead Guide, I have now tightened up my SOP to the point of almost treating guests like children to ensure they can't go off and do stupid shit!

So the next time you stand there and sigh impatiently whilst your Guide pedantically goes through their operating procedure, remember, there is always one (in this case two) twat(s) out there and you may be it!

Published On: 25th May 2017