This is my first year kayak fishing and I must say I love every minute of it. My friends and I go out at least once a week after work to unwind it’s been a huge stress relief for all of us. When we go back to work the first thing we do is check the weather forecasts for the next time we can get back out there. As time has gone by we’ve learned through trial and error and have become pretty confident out there on the water in our kayaks but that over confidence can lead to mistakes. What I’ve learned is you need to respect the water conditions and pay attention to the kayak you’re on so you can prevent mistakes and put yourself in a precarious position.
I regrettably learned this a few weeks ago while a mile offshore in the Chesapeake Bay. While out there we came across a school of Bluefish and I was so focused on catching fish I wasn’t paying attention to my kayak. The kayak unbeknownst to me had taken on water in the rear and the added weight forced water to come up the scupper holes that were meant to be self bailing and into the center hatch I was using as a cup holder for a bigger thermos I brought. That water then entered the hull of the kayak and before I knew it the center of gravity on the kayak was affected. It’s at that point I knew something was wrong but it was too late to fix. I calmly called my friend and told him there was something wrong with my kayak and I was heading in. He offered to follow me in but I told him to stay out there and I’d be back after fixing the problem once I got to shore. Lucky for me he had more common sense at that time than I did because I got about fifty feet while trying to paddle and the kayak flipped putting me in a position I never expected. I’m now in the water, my kayak is upside down and we are a mile offshore in a pretty good current. Ken was already on his way to me when this happened. After several attempts to get me back in to the kayak and trying to have Ken tow me and my water logged kayak back to shore I was left with no other option but to have Ken call for help on the marine radio I made fun of him for buying. It’s ok to laugh because I also see the ironic humor in it. Ken also has the ultimate “I told you so” moment that I shall hear for the rest of my life . The Coast Guard came and fished me out of the water and brought me and the kayak to safety.
So what have we learned from this experience? First would be wearing a life jacket is essential. We estimated that I was treading water for almost an hour and I can tell you my whole body was sore the next day from doing so. Second would be to prepare for when, not if , you flip your kayak so you don’t panic. Have a plan in place and practice reentering it. Make sure you don’t go out alone so you have help available and lucky for me my fishing partner was more prepared than I was. Also don’t be surprised when the other member of your group documents the event and takes selfies as you are rescued by the Coast Guard and those photos become hilarious memes for all to see. Thank you Charlotte for that one. Don’t be surprised also when your buddies,once they know you aren’t hurt, bring up topics like sharks while you are helplessly floating and clinging to your kayak. But most of all what we’ve learned is pay attention, be prepared and have a plan so you can avoid a potentially disastrous result.