T Rescues & Variations
So if you like pyjamas and I like pyjahmas, I’ll wear pyjamas and give up pyajahmas
For we know we need each other so we,
Better call the whole off off
Let’s call the whole thing off.
As we slid back up upon the beach after sharing a rescues class we began talking about our individual methods and perspectives. Even with a little warm up discussion before a class it seems it’s not until you are actually out there in front of them that you get a real look at the different ways we do things. Over time we learn to be quite adept turning our different styles into “alternative methods” on the fly. Later, after the class, we can take the time to talk and/or debate our variations.
Chances are nothing in sea kayaking has gone through more changes and variations over the years than the old standby T-Rescue. For those of you who don’t know it by name, a T-Rescue is the way one paddler who is still in his kayak can help someone who came out of his boat, get back in. Now the process goes something like this. . .
1. You find for whatever reason there is a paddler in the water. Hopefully they are still holding onto their boat and paddle.
2. “Are you Ok?”, the rescuer yells to the person in the water. “What happened?” This is a chance to assess the situation. You don’t just want to go rushing in for fear of facing the same danger that put the other paddler in trouble or the chance that the person in the water may panic and pull you over as well.
3. An experienced paddler who for some strange reason ended up out of their boat will of course keep hold of their paddle and their boat. (Right???) Remembering to always hold on by the deck lines to be sure that wet hands don’t let their boat slip away. (One good tip that the paddler in the water is experienced and clear headed is if they left their kayak upside down and are working their way hand over hand, up to their bow as you come in to do the rescue)
4. The rescuer comes zooming right at the bow of the upturned kayak if possible. Of course you may not go for the nose, but usually that’s simplest. (insert variations here)
5. Once your hand is on the bow toggle (remember you don’t want the boat to slip away) it’s a good time to get the guy in the water where you can watch over them. It’s also a great time to stow your paddle (and theirs?) under your bungies. (You will need both hands soon.) If they are not at their bow of their kayak already, you can have them walk hand over hand by their deck lines to the bow of their boat, then grab onto your kayak’s deck lines. From there you could have them stay on the side of your kayak or move to your bow. One thing I will not do is have them holding on behind me where I can’t see them. (insert variations here)
6. So far we have not turned the flipped kayak right side up. Why? Well, as soon as you do it becomes more susceptible to wind and can get a bit wily. However now that you have the swimmer holding on to your kayak and have a hold of their boat (it’s still at a right angle to your kayak, correct??) you can spin their kayak right side up. Notice I said “spin”. You absolutely do not want to lift their heavy, water filled kayak.
7. Once their kayak is flipped over and right side up again, their pointy bow makes a perfect ramp to slide their kayak up over your boat and onto your lap. There is no reason to bring half their boat up over your lap. Just bring enough of their boat up so that when you spin it upside down again, the water pours out of their cockpit. ( Why don’t all kayaks have slanted rear bulkheads??)
8. Spin their boat. (It’s usually easier to spin the boat toward you than away from you.) There is not really a need to spend much time here. As soon as you turn their kayak upside down again most of the water will rush right out as long as their cockpit is out of the water. By the time you count “1001, 1002”, most of the water is out and you can spin their kayak right side up again. Remember, this is a rescue and we are trying to be quick. Unless we are in a perfect calm sea, there is no need to shake out every last drop of water. Just spin it around, pause for a second and spin it upright again. (insert variations)
9. Now here’s the tricky part. We want to put the kayaks side by side. It’s simplest to just move their kayak so that it’s rear or stern is lined up to your bow. (can it be done the other way??) If you put the swimming paddler at your bow, they just wait there until the kayaks are lined up, then walk their way, hand over hand by the deck lines, to the outside of their kayak near their cockpit. IF however you placed them alongside your boat you may want them to grab the deck lines of their kayak before you line the boats up. The point here is that you want to avoid if possible having the person in the water caught between the two kayaks. Especially if they are being pushed around by the waves. (insert variations here)
10. Now that the two kayaks are side by side and the person in the water is on the outside (opposite side as your kayak) next to their cockpit, you have a bunch of options as to how to get them back in their boat. You can have them jump up on their back deck, face the stern and while keeping their body low, slither and twist in, you can have them hook their inside foot under their combing and grab their hand and pull them up and let them spin in, you can turn the boat sideways, let them crawl all the way in, lay back, then you bring their boat up again. . . and that’s just a couple ways. However you do it, in the end you want to be holding onto their kayak in a strong position so they can get settled back into their boat, pump out, put their skirt back on, and do whatever else they need to do to be ready to paddle.
11. The big last step is to hold onto their boat until THEY say you can let go. When they are good and ready to paddle, you can hand them their paddle back and let them go.
Yikes! Have you ever tried to write a T-rescue?? Diagrams and physical demonstrations are much better! You’ll notice I placed all sorts of “insert variations” tags in there. What did I miss? Wanna have a go at some variations? Would you share these variations with new students or do you teach one method to avoid confusion? What about the old “put them at the tail so they can help (as you see in the image above)?”
For my part I feel of all the things we teach in a class, rescues are by far the most important. This is the part of the class where I put my serious face on and try impart the focused nature of controlling and succeeding in a rescue in the quickest, most efficient way possible. I always wrap up the T-rescue session with a few variations specifically because I realize that people of different body shapes and strengths may not succeed at one method or the other and I want them to at least remember there are options if the time comes. My thought is that if we box them into “one way”, we may condemn them to failure when they need it most. But of course, I could be wrong!!