What should be done if a kayak starts sinking?

Kayaking can be a thrilling outdoor activity, but it comes with its fair share of risks. One of the most concerning situations for any kayaker is when their boat starts to sink. This can happen due to a number of reasons, including collisions with obstacles, excess weight in the kayak, or damage to the craft. Whatever the cause, it is essential to know what to do when your kayak starts sinking.

The first thing you need to do when you realize that your kayak is sinking is to stay calm. Panic is never helpful in any emergency situation and can lead to poor decision-making. If possible, try to paddle to a shallow area or a spot where you can pull yourself and the kayak out of the water. If this is not feasible, then follow the steps below:

1. Keep your PFD on – If you do not already have a personal flotation device (PFD) on, put it on immediately. This will help you stay afloat and reduce the risk of drowning.

2. Secure your paddle – Your paddle can float away, making it difficult to navigate your kayak. Secure your paddle by clipping it onto your kayak, so you don’t lose it.

3. Shift weight – If the kayak is not totally submerged, you can try shifting your weight towards the bow or stern to help keep it afloat. This is typically only effective if the water is calm and the kayak is sinking slowly.

4. Remove any extra gear – If your kayak has any additional gear or luggage, try to remove it as quickly as possible. This includes things like coolers, fishing gear, or anything else that could add additional weight.

5. Swim to safety – If the kayak is beyond being salvaged, swim to shore, using your PFD for buoyancy. If you’re paddling with a group, stay together and make sure everyone is accounted for.

Finally, once you have made it to safety, assess the condition of your kayak. If the craft is still in good shape, you can likely get it repaired. If it’s beyond repair, it’s best to replace it. Avoid using a damaged kayak as it can be incredibly risky to do so.

While the sinking of a kayak can be scary, with the right knowledge and cool-headedness, you can mitigate the risks. Remember to prioritize safety, stay calm, and follow the steps outlined above. Happy (and safe) kayaking!

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