Kayak Leash E-mail
Saturday, 08 January 2011 06:47

Bob's kayak leash

An unmanned Kayak can blow across a lake or bay like a wayward beach ball. Whether the kids didn't beach it properly or it blew off a dock a kayak is light on the water and hard to catch once it gets out on the water alone. A 5 mph breeze can turn a sunny day retrieval into an Olympic swim.

As a kayak fisherman I am most concerned about unintentionally becoming separated from my ride. I often find myself fishing areas where the wind and currents are in opposition. The rips hold a lot of gamefish. However should I ever get bucked into swimming mode my chances to get back to my Hobie would be near zero. A straight up Google search for “Missing Kayaker” confirmed my concerns with dozens of hits where Kayaks and gear were found without their unfortunate riders.

My solution is a Big Dog 25' Retractable leash. Initially I tied the leash to the seat back and snapped the dog end to my belt. I enjoyed the freedom the leash gave me while clamming and a feeling of being prepared should the unexpected happen. A couple surf entries and exits later sand became a problem as it jammed up the retractable part. After disassembling and cleaning I discovered why the leash had a $40 Pet Smart price tag. The mechanism had been submerged in salt water repeatedly for most of the season but there was no trace of corrosion on the spring. The spring looks like a stainless steel alloy. By accident I bought a quality product.

With the sand removed from my leash I decided to tie wrap the handle inside the Hobie to the scupper tube and feed the leash strap through a slot at my seat back. I replaced the dog snap with a quick release clip from an old life vest and I have used it without trouble since. I used a 9/64” drill bit to poke 4 holes side by side and then cleared the remaining material with the side of the bit to make the slot.

If you decide to include a leash on your ride there are a couple practical issues I have come across. Don't forget to unsnap when you go back to the truck or walk around your kayak with fishing rods in the holders. And form a routine of entering and exiting from the same side of your kayak. The routine is important to me because my electronics and spare rigs are on one side only and I prefer not to climb over my gear. The use of any equipment or activity always carries some risk. When I fish narrow rivers and streams with log jams I do not leash up. If I go over I can make the bank safely and do not want to be tied to my ride if it drifts into a brush pile where entanglement is possible. The same would be true for farm ponds without current, I would swim to the nearest bank and retrieve the kayak from the windward shore. I advocate the leash on all open water, current and windy conditions where separation from my ride would result in being stranded.

We have all heard admonitions and cautions for safety at every seminar, at each store where we make an equipment purchase and pretty much every time we leave the house. We buy engineered life vests; carry cell phones, VHF radios, flares, signal mirrors, flags and whistles. We leave the house with float plans posted and the weather report memorized and yet each year some of us do not return. The rewards of fishing from a kayak far outweigh the risks but if the unexpected happens to me, I will be found leashed to my kayak and might be remembered for saving the search party many dangerous hours of searching for my cold wet carcass.

 

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