Like many kayak anglers, when I got started in this sport I was an angler first and foremost. I did not give much thought to the kayaking aspect. But, after some unplanned swims, difficult attempts at getting back on my boat in deep water, and a couple of embarrassing yard sales at the beach, I soon realized that learning and honing the skills to be a proficient paddler were as important as honing my fishing skills.
Recently, I had the good fortune to attend a class about self-rescue, rescue and recovery of others, and towing techniques. The training was led by Tom Reilly. Tom is the co–owner of Central Coast Kayaks in Pismo Beach, CA. He is an ACA certified Kayak Instructor and a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Licensed Fishing Guide. Learning to self-rescue or to help someone else get back on their boat and how to safely and effectively tow someone out of trouble are all potentially life-saving skills every kayak angler should learn, practice, and master.
Spend enough time on a kayak especially on the ocean and the probability that you or your buddy will end up in the water is pretty high. Would you be able to get back on your kayak? If your kayak capsized would you be able to right it? If you partner fell into the water and couldn’t get back in their boat could you help them? Would you be able to safely tow someone back if they were no longer able to paddle on their own? These are all questions you need to ask yourself. I would not want to be in one of those situations and find out the answer is, no.
Taking a class put on by a professional, experienced instructor opened my eyes to the importance of knowing the proper techniques for effectively performing self-rescues and being able to help others, especially if they are unable to help themselves. I learned and physically performed several new techniques and I came away better equipped to employ those techniques if a rescue situation were to arise. You have most likely invested a nice chunk of change on your kayak and your gear, I would urge you to also invest in your safety and confidence on the water. After taking the class I felt much more confident that I could answer yes to the questions I posed above.
Wilderness Systems Pro Staff
PRO Kayak Fishing Pro Staff
**Editor's Note** Many kayak shops and outfitters offer safety courses around the country. Reach out to your local shop to see what they offer for safety training. Don't let a fun day on the water end in tragedy. Always wear a PFD and learn the skills to save yourself or those around you.
Tom Reilly can be reached for classes and more information at:Central Coast Kayaks
1879 Shell Beach Road
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
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