Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lessons in Naval Architecture

Let me start off by admitting that I am a naval architect by trade.  I of all people should know the relationship between center of gravity and the stability of watercraft...

At 22" wide and 15' 2" long, my Prijon Catalina sea kayak is built more for speed than for stability.  While sitting in the cockpit, if I simply bring my knees up toward my chest, the craft immediately becomes tender due to the slight vertical shift of the center of gravity.  I recently bought a bag that attaches to the top deck of my sea kayak forward of the cockpit.  Despite this relatively high location, I've never had a problem simply keeping some snacks, some tippet, and some flies in the bag with all other supplies going in the hatches.  More and more, however, I've been tempted to place other things in the deck bag out of convenience, and on Sunday I loaded it down with everything I could possibly need while on the water.  After a couple hours of paddling I leaned back and pulled my knees up out of restlessness, and, with little to no warning, over I went.

I was up to my knees in mud and up to my chest in water.  The kayak was swamped and was more stable upside down than right side up.  The best part?  The hand bilge pump I just purchased was back at my house - after all, I was just going kayaking in the bayou.  Simply brilliant.  With one hand holding the kayak upright, I spent the next 20 minutes bailing the cockpit with a sponge.  Fortunately, things would get better from there.  My fly rod luckily survived the incident no worse for the wear, and all of the electronics (phone, camera, flashlight) in my deck bag were spared due to my diligent practice of putting such equipment in plastic bags when I'm out on the water.  Furthermore, I've actually been dying to practice flipping over and getting back in with assistance from my paddle float.  I eagerly set it up and proceeded to get back into the kayak with no troubles, just like I'd learned from (I seriously love that site).

The experience could have been much worse.  I was prepared for the incident as a whole but will probably never leave my bilge pump at home again.  I got to test out some of my emergency gear in a non-threatening environment, and it passed with flying colors.  Most of all, this naval architect now knows the relationship between center of gravity and kayak stability.

Hope you enjoyed this and learned something from my experience.

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

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