Kayaking is the ultimate water sport. It involves paddling down the river through the help of a double-bladed oar, in a small vessel known as a kayak. It has the perfect amount of adventure and exposure to nature. The sport is tricky and can be quiet dangerous, especially if you encounter a strainer. Now, you’re probably wondering, “what is a strainer in kayaking?” If you want to know the answer to that question, keep on reading to find out.
It is primarily an obstruction in the river body that hinders the flow of water. It can be anything from a fallen tree trunk to a large rock in the middle of the river bed. It feels like being put through a sieve that does not have an opening big enough for a boat to pass through.
Usually, kayakers encounter such obstructions during the flooding season. Excessive water flow leads to the erosion of the river bed, which results in trees falling into the river. They are pretty standard on rivers and streams in Pennsylvania and can prove deadly.
Is Strainer Dangerous?
They can be pretty dangerous, especially if you do not know how to pass one safely. If you are kayaking in a high current water body, then there are high chances of your boat capsizing when met with a hurdle. If you’re unprepared to deal with such a situation, you may be pulled under.
Getting out of such a situation is almost next to impossible. The pressure from the water puts you against the fallen tree, immobilizing you. You are helpless in such a situation. It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a life jacket or not. You need proper training to deal with such a situation.
River water is incredibly cold, and besides the risk of drowning, you’re also at risk of a hypothermic chill setting in. In extreme hypothermia cases, you may experience severe shivering and mental confusion. Therefore, you should avoid falling into the stream at all costs.
We understand that many people kayak for leisure. As such, the chances of them getting caught in a strainer are minimal as they usually look for calmer river bodies. However, here are a few ways you can pass one with minimal effort.
Avoid the Obstacle
The simplest and safest way to deal with such an obstacle is to avoid it. Doing so is not possible in all situations. However, it is the path you should opt for whenever you can.
To avoid an unexpected fallen branch in the river, always follow the outer bend to cross it gracefully. If you move within the inner curve, the water current coming in from the outer curve will push you up against the branch, caving you in. Within minutes, you will find yourself underwater.
You won’t always be able to avoid such situations and obstacles. If you find them blocking the route, prepare yourself and get ready to climb over instead. If you feel like you’re too late to be able to steer away from the strainer, do not attempt it. Let your boat get stuck and ensure you grab onto the hurdle for safety.
Once you are safely out of the current, you can always rescue the vessel and carry on with your journey. Recovering the boat requires significant help. If you do not have anyone to assist you, get off the strainer as quickly as possible. Move downstream towards the shore and call for help.
Swim Head First
If you end up in the river, you need to work fast and switch positions. Usually, you land in the water in the foot first position. You must slip over to the head first position and swim towards the shore as fast as possible.
It is essential for survival that you do not allow the water to pit you up against the strainer. You will need a significant amount of strength to get out of such a situation. If you feel you will not be able to make it to the shore in time, use all your strength and climb over the strainer.
You can always climb down the obstacle towards the shore to escape the current. When deciding on whether to climb over or to avoid it, you need to take two things into account:
- Your skill level
- The water
Understanding the current and the flow of the water, and being able to assess the risks is pertinent to the sport. You cannot go for a trip in a quick-current river stream during the flooding season. During that time, not only is the river flow dangerous, but it is also filled with obstructions. You will have a higher chance of encountering a strainer during this time.
We suggest that you only attempt such a trip if you’re a certified professional with swift water rescue training. It is also essential that you go in large groups to help you in difficult situations. Here are a few basic safety guidelines for kayakers:
- Be aware of weather situations and forecasts
- Know the temperature of the water and dress accordingly
- Beware of the wind direction that may affect your performance
- Always follow the boating rules of the area you are in
- Be completely sober when boating, paddling, canoeing or kayaking
- Don’t exceed the weight capacity of your vessel
- Keep a basic first aid kit
- Seek essential guidance about paddling techniques
- Practice rescue operations in calm, shallow water first, and then practice once again in rough deep waters to get the hang of what to do
- Always wear a personal floatation device also known as a life jacket
- Wear a helmet
- Stay hydrated and keep plenty of food and water with you at all times
- Most importantly, tell someone about your plans and have them check up on you at the end of the day or around the time you are expected to return.
Is Kayaking Dangerous in a Lake?
No evidence can prove that kayaking in a lake is safer than it is in a river. However, the perceived risk of taking out your canoe over still water is lower than it is with flowing river bodies. We suggest that when you go for a swim or a trip down unknown waters, you should always read up about it.
A simple Google search will tell you about the nature of the water body and its depth. Both of them are critical when it comes to determining how safe it is to go for a swim. Some lakes are riddled with swamps and mulches, which can effortlessly trap you. These are just as dangerous as strainers.
What is a Sieve in Kayaking?
A sieve in kayaking is much like a fallen branch but worse. There is no way you can get through one on a kayak, which is why you should avoid them at all costs.
A sieve is one of the most dangerous situations a kayaker can encounter. It is when the water makes its way underneath rocks on its way downstream. It can be a gap in the rocks or a collection of boulders that water makes its way through.
If they show up after a sudden curve, you may not be able to stop the vessel in time and get sucked underneath. You could also be pushed up against the rocks and find yourself unable to move. Much like an obstacle, once trapped, you will find yourself sucked underneath and will run the risk of drowning.
How Dangerous is Canoeing?
Canoeing can be very dangerous as they are straightforward to tip over. The slightest bit of movement in the weight of the canoe runs the risk of the vessel capsizing and throwing you into the freezing water. Many people tie paddles to the boat to keep it steady. However, if the ship does tip, these paddles can be extremely dangerous. They turn into an obstruction when you try to set the vessel right.
Do Kayaks Tip-Over Easily?
Many people might think that kayaks are easier to sway. However, they are a lot more stable than they seem. The stability of the kayak depends upon the design of the hull. Longer, narrower hulls are less durable as compared to wider ones. Many recreational kayaks feature flat shells, which give them more stability.
With the hull, we suggest that you opt for a vessel with a sit-inside design. It gives you more control over the stability and allows you to control the movement of the boat better. It can prove to be a blessing in tumultuous waters.