Rachel Ginsburg has planned a BASK trip to the Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island that Maryly and I will join. She held a skills practice for this trip on a day when Maryly and I and a few other people could not attend, so we scheduled another skills practice at China Beach to practice with some of the same people. Don Fleming ran the practice and insisted that everyone had to get wet. Evelyn Poates was unable to attend, but her friend Martin was there. Evelyn called around and asked us to make sure that Martin did get wet. He had never learned any kayak rescue skills and needed some instruction from Don. Martin turned out to be a natural. He was very comfortable in the water in or out of his kayak. He said he was a “water dog” and had grown up in the water with no fear of it. When Don asked him to roll the boat over the first time, he tucked his paddle against the boat like he was setting up to do a roll.
I had been bragging that since I learned to use a Greenland style paddle I could ROLL ANY KAYAK. I even suggested that I could roll a piece of 4x8 plywood if I was strapped onto it and had my Greenland paddle. There’s something amusing about offering to roll a piece of plywood with a former 2 x 4. So I declared that I was going to roll the large double “Tofino” kayak that Maryly and I borrowed to take to the Gulf Islands. We figured that this would be easier for me without another person in the boat, so Maryly stayed out after a wet exit practice. She helped Don practice towing a person on the rear deck of his boat while I worked up to rolling the Tofino. First I leaned back on the deck behind me and got a feel for how it felt sculling from a laid-back posture. I tried leaning out partway and sculling but the boat was too big and round for this to feel comfortable. So I went for a resting brace the way Maligiaq does it, by throwing the boat over and trusting the paddle to bring my face back up. This worked and I was able to do the resting brace then sweep back up to an upright position. I was able to do the same thing on both sides but it was more work than in a little river kayak. It felt more comfortable on the left side so I set up to fall over on my right.
With my dive goggles on and the paddle positioned ready for the sweep up, I leaned forward and rolled over on the right. Practicing in the pool with this paddle I had found that the it could be sculled up from pointing straight down into the water, or I could arch my body to the side and start sculling with the paddle already near the surface. I tried this with the Tofino and was easily able to scull until the boat rolled most of the way to the 90 degree position. I pushed with my right leg and pulled with my left knee and this large wide boat slowly tipped up. When it passed 90 degrees my face rose out of the water and I could catch my breath. This rolling the boat over feels a little like a slow “hip flick” which is supposed to be the key to a good roll. I don’t think a boat this large can be “flicked” over rapidly but it could not resist a gentle pressure to tip it over slowly. Once my face was out of the water, I was in the resting brace position that I had already been in. It was more work than with a river kayak, so I quickly set up for an extra long scull or sweep and sat up. The crowd when wild! Several watching BASKers almost fell out of their boats in surprise and admitted that they never expected this to actually work. Especially with a former 2x4 instead of a “real paddle”.
Maryly and I tried it a few times with her in the front seat, but never managed to get the boat up with two bodies in it. We both agree that with a little more practice and better communication we could probably do it. I’m starting to “design” my 4x8 sheet of plywood. Is it fair to staple a strip of foam down the middle of the plywood so it will tend to roll around its long axis instead of the short one?