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Spray skirt question


Nick1979
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How tight should a spray skirt fit the cockpit of a kayak? I am asking, because my new sprayskirt (which I like a lot) has been a real pain to remove during practiced wet exits. It has a strap across for "emergency removal" which could not even get it removed as I was underwater and struggling to get free. It is the correct size for my kayak, but I am already thinking of getting a size larger. I am not comfortable knowing that the skirt would make it very tough for myself to detach from the kayak once in the water.

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If you have a FG boat you may need to push the loop away from you before "lifting" it up to remove it from the coaming.  Of course that assumes you can reach that far.  Just yanking back and up will often not work well on a FG boat while it will work on a plastic boat.  I once saw a long time WW kayaker struggle and essentially fail to get a spraydeck off a FG boat because they were using the technique that always worked on their WW boat.  Coamings are usually very different in contour, etc. between the two.  I would forget about, if not remove, the "emergency" strap and instead practice grabbing an edge and rolling it off.

Ed Lawson

 

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Valley Etaine 17.3 composite.  Skirt is Immersion Research touring "medium" cockpit, with a bungee cord. Yes, my kayak being FB has a very pronounced lip that locks the sprayskirt in place, making it very hard to put on and remove. I am looking at Seals skirts (size 1.4 for my kayak). If I get 1.7 would that be a better solution assuming it would still stay on?

 

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Based on only the sizing chart info and taking a SWAG at it, seems the IR medium is too small for your rim,  a Seals 1.4 should work, but my guess is a 1.7 would be way too big. Best to take the boat to the store and try the skirt on the boat if possible.  I would rather have a spraydeck that is harder rather than easier to put on and take off, but to each their own.

 

Ed Lawson

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Nick, like Ed said, the first point might be to review the wet-exit procedure to make sure you are trying to remove the skirt properly.  Pulling the loop forward first allows the front tip of the skirt to clear the lip of the coaming and then the rest peals out from underneath as you lift and pull back.  If you just try to pull up and or back, the front lip of the skirt will just grab the coaming and hold tight.

With that said (again - sorry for repeating what Ed said), a tight skirt would be useful for whitewater or heavy surf where large implosion forces can be exerted on the skirt, otherwise a comfortably snug fit is all that is needed for most kayakers.  I can't find information on the IR "medium" skirt that you have, but it seems that the IR skirts utilize silicone coatings to make the skirts stick to the coaming more, which may be part of your challenge in removing it.  I was also not able to find any information on the Etain 17.3, but the 17.1 is sized for a Seals 1.2 skirt, and the 17.5 is sized for a 1.4 skirt, so a 1.7 skirt will most likely just fall off the Etain 17.3 coaming.

If you really like the skirt you have, I would recommend that you try a few "dry" wet exits again, by putting the skirt on and taking it off without going over first (we would prefer that you not drown in the process!).  However, it may be helpful for the skirt to be wet in order to stretch a little better, so doing this in your living room may not be ideal.  If you do another test using the technique of pulling forward before pulling up and back and still find the skirt difficult to remove, then you should consider replacing it for one with a better fit.  For what it is worth, I prefer a skirt that I can remove with one hand (and a little effort) to make it easier to hold onto my paddle during exits (both emergency and for landings).  I don't know if I have better strength than the average paddler to be able to do this, but in my opinion, if it takes two arms to release the skirt, it is too tight for the average sea kayaker.

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This is all very helpful. I felt I needed both hands to pull adequately the front of the skirt and somehow I was able to free myself while underwater. It wasn't a good experience. There is not way I can do it with this skirt one hand only. 

Could someone explain step by step what is done during a wet exit, including the removal of the skirt? And I assume this is done while one is upside down in the water. This will help me determine what part was my skirt's fault and what part was me now knowing what to do properly. I think it is both for sure.

 

 

Edited by Nick1979
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1 hour ago, Nick1979 said:

This is all very helpful. I felt I needed both hands to pull adequately the front of the skirt and somehow I was able to free myself while underwater. It wasn't a good experience. There is not way I can do it with this skirt one hand only. 

Could someone explain step by step what is done during a wet exit, including the removal of the skirt? And I assume this is done while one is upside down in the water. This will help me determine what part was my skirt's fault and what part was me now knowing what to do properly. I think it is both for sure.

 

 

quick and easy video and info here:  https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/kayak-wet-exits-rescues.html   

really important parts (again depending on skirt and boat) is the tuck forward, grab the loop and push forward and up (not pull)  away from the body before pulling the rest of the skirt off.  As said by others, if you can't do it sitting upright in your boat on dry land then its the wrong skirt for you and your boat.

Phil

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Please be aware that I'm among the least experienced of those likely to weigh in here. That being said, mine would never come off if I didn't push forward first. Also I don't know what others do but I always use two hands. If I'm coming out I want it to be fast. I think I hold my paddle with one of those hands but I'm not sure, maybe I pin it while getting free.

Edited by Jim Snyder
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An option for the two-handed release is to tuck the paddle under an arm. This is slightly challenging since paddles tend to float and your arms are under water. The issue is that letting the paddle go to use both hands is not the best idea since it is possible to loose the paddle altogether, greatly reducing your ability to do any kind of self rescue, not to mention paddling home. 

I have found that I can grab the loop with one hand and turn my elbow in so that my upper arm is braced against my body. Then, when I lean forward, I use that leverage to pull the skirt forward. There is a little strength required to pull the skirt loop up at this point, but you can probably leverage your forearm against the coating enough to get the skirt to clear.  Then it is just a matter of pulling up and leaning back to release the skirt.

if people can help me remember, we could do some video demonstrations to post here. 

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Nick, Kudos to you for raising an issue we have all had to deal with at one time or another... an ultra-reliable wet exit that works in all conditions and then... setting up the skill development for a solid self-rescue.   As you indicated, and others have echoed, properly fitting and functioning equipment is foundational.  Building confidence and self-awareness follows closely behind.  

One of the things that I have found helpful at those junctures, especially underwater is to keep my eyes open.  During practice I will also periodically wear a diver's mask to reinforce the practice   I realized I was keeping my eyes closed quite a bit.  The mask allows you to observe what's happening at key steps and make quick  adjustments.  Naturally, we have to also acclimate to exercising the new skill without the mask.

One piece of advice I was given along the way was to work on my hang time. That is, increasingly getting comfortable upside down and simply staying there for increasingly long periods.  I've drawn on that practice over and over again when sometimes it's best to let whatever knocked you over pass or subside before attempting a self-rescue.  

These kinds of things are ideal for the NSPN winter pool sessions and the weekly practice sessions recetntly posted on the site.

Good luck!

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On 6/7/2017 at 6:26 PM, cgr said:

An IR bungee skirt will also stretch. Try leaving it on the boat a couple of days. A skirt will also go on and off easier if it's wet.

 

Are you able to put the skirt on the rim by yourself easily?

With a lot of pulling yes. Not too easily, no.

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On 6/7/2017 at 10:42 AM, David M said:

Nick, Kudos to you for raising an issue we have all had to deal with at one time or another... an ultra-reliable wet exit that works in all conditions and then... setting up the skill development for a solid self-rescue.   As you indicated, and others have echoed, properly fitting and functioning equipment is foundational.  Building confidence and self-awareness follows closely behind.  

One of the things that I have found helpful at those junctures, especially underwater is to keep my eyes open.  During practice I will also periodically wear a diver's mask to reinforce the practice   I realized I was keeping my eyes closed quite a bit.  The mask allows you to observe what's happening at key steps and make quick  adjustments.  Naturally, we have to also acclimate to exercising the new skill without the mask.

One piece of advice I was given along the way was to work on my hang time. That is, increasingly getting comfortable upside down and simply staying there for increasingly long periods.  I've drawn on that practice over and over again when sometimes it's best to let whatever knocked you over pass or subside before attempting a self-rescue.  

These kinds of things are ideal for the NSPN winter pool sessions and the weekly practice sessions recetntly posted on the site.

Good luck!

Good words, thank you. For someone like me, for example, opening eyes would be a bad idea. I wear contacts and the water was murky brown due to algae with almost no visibility. But wearing swimming goggles and practicing with them in a pool setting would be something I have to try. 

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Nick, I agree with everything said, except I think it’s a bad idea to remove the emergency strap. It’s a belt and suspenders backup if the grab loop rips off. I have a snap dragon model with the emergency strap and, although it’s not recommended, it’s much easier using it than the grab loop. Just a little force* to the right (or left) moves it off the side of the coaming and the spray skirt practically falls off by itself.

The force on the side to stretch the spray skirt x inches is much less than the force from the front. Think of pulling on the side of an elastic band stretched between two points vs. pulling (or pushing) perpendicular to the elastic band.

 

Edited by leong
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's worthwhile practicing taking a pinch of your spray skirt on the side of the coaming and lift it off from there in case your grab loop was accidentally tucked under the skirt or in case the grab loop rips off (unlikely but not impossible, especially if the forces of panic are at work). I have a very tight sprayskirt bungee but this technique works well even with my model. Practicing this with gloves on is even better.

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Nick, I had the same problem with my first neoprene spray skirt. I'd broken my wrist in the winter and bought an expedition model neoprene skirt which was really reinforced. I had a hard time getting it on, let alone off. I replaced it with the snap dragon model and I can get it off several different ways now. I can pinch the side and pull it off, I can use the emergency strap, I can push it forward and off and if need be I could probably climb out of it as it velcros around the waist. The pushing forward then up is the key. My first spray skirt was nylon and I got used to it just easily popping off so I had to practice the forward push, then up. Good luck! 

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4 hours ago, jmcotton said:

Nick, I had the same problem with my first neoprene spray skirt. I'd broken my wrist in the winter and bought an expedition model neoprene skirt which was really reinforced. I had a hard time getting it on, let alone off. I replaced it with the snap dragon model and I can get it off several different ways now. I can pinch the side and pull it off, I can use the emergency strap, I can push it forward and off and if need be I could probably climb out of it as it velcros around the waist. The pushing forward then up is the key. My first spray skirt was nylon and I got used to it just easily popping off so I had to practice the forward push, then up. Good luck! 

Which model Snapdragon did you get?

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I hope it works for you! I had to figure out which model I have. I have the Glacier Trek Flirt. It does not have the reinforced fabric around the front portion of sprayskirt so it stretches a little easier. I like the flirt model as the tunnel is not so tall. You can also get the skirt wet and leave it on your kayak for a day to help stretch it some. Practice coming out of your boat in shallow water with someone standing besides you in case you have difficulties before you go on a paddle. I did that with Lorrie when I had the expedition model and neither of us could get the skirt off!  When I got my current spray skirt we did the same thing and I was easily able to do it. 

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I am happy to report that my new SnapDragon skirt has arrived. I dry-tested it and it fits so nicely! Much of an improvement in the way it attaches and removes from the cockpit. Will soon try in on the water with a lot more confidence when I practice wet exits. A step in the right direction for me for sure!

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  • 5 years later...

Yes, I had the same problem, with a hard to remove spray skirt, and finally found an easy solution for it!  I had the Seals "extreme tour" with a yellow grab loop in the front. It took a lot of force to remove it, you needed to grab the loop with both hands, lean back and using shoulders and abdominal muscles.. I even stored it on the kayak for years, trying to stretch it, but it never stretched very much.   Then finally I noticed there are 4 smaller tabs located on the sides of the skirt.  If you grab one of those small tabs, one of the side ones, it pulls off easily, using just one hand.  (The rim of the cockpit is much shallower on the side),  What a relief, I'm no longer scared of doing wet exits! 

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