OC6 security

I'd like to learn from your experience on OC6 safety issues.
I mean : On this forum, there's a lot of very skilled paddlers, going on rough seas, and I'm willing to understand.
When paddling OC6, did you ever run in some major safety issue while capsizing ? Like total OC flooding ? Impossibility to tow the boat or just bail out ?
rigging breaking ?
In my tiny experience, the amount of buoyancy in the bow, stern and ama was enough to secure the boat and crew.
Anyway, do skilled crews ever capsize at all ? :-)

Submitted by fabrice on Wed, 06/06/2012 - 4:06am

Catalina crossing 2010:

We had an ama-side quartering tailwind and swell the entire race. At mile 10-12 we got sloppy with one of our 9-man changes and had a huli. The force of the huli knocked the rigging loose between the iakos and ama.

We managed to get the canoe back upright but there was literally no way to re-rig the ama so we took ropes, bungees and rubber strips from the chase boat and MacGyvered the crap out of the ama/iako connections. It was pretty nerve-wracking as we would catch some bump and if the ama came off the water it would literally be swinging back and forth.

Needless to say, it held for the rest of the 25 miles.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS check and recheck your rigging prior to a race!

#1 Wed, 06/06/2012 - 5:48am

I Believe there is ample room for innovation for canoe/paddler safety and recoverability. From a huli, swamp, or whatever else happens out there. This could be with regards to canoe and rigging design and individual paddler technique.

One must always consider the following before leaving the beach:
1) Judge the conditions and evaluate you or your crews ability, experience, and knowledge of SAFETY PROCEDURES.
2) Discuss what to do in the event of a catastrophe (perhaps losing your rigging).
3) Review weather conditions and tidal information.
4) Have someone on land that knows when and where you are launching.
5) Evaluate the soundness of your equipment (this seems to be the most common source for problems)
6) Carry emergency equipment (first aid kit, life vests, epirb, lifeproof iphone, flare gun, electric bailing pump, radio, anything and everything that might save your butt)

The list will go on and I hope others add to it. The paddling community is full of good people that should never find themselves in a life or death situation. The only other thing I can say is use your common sense people. If you think you are in danger then do something about it. If the conditions look beyond your ability then don't go out, the local search and rescue and those who care about you will appreciate it.

#2 Wed, 06/06/2012 - 10:29am

rule number one

only go as far off shore as you are able to swim. EVERYONE overestimates their swimming ability. go to a pool and swim laps till near exhaustion. this is your absolute ideal scenario. if your canoe is lost while paddling you will be tired, panicked, fighting current, and the water will be sloppy.

for ILH paddling every paddler is required to complete a swim test. for safety reasons it would be a great idea for ALL paddlers to do this.

#3 Wed, 06/06/2012 - 11:01am

Regarding safety crews during races : Do they tow a recked OC6 ? or leave it to later recovery ?
Did it happen that a perfectly sound OC6 couldn't be bailed out ? Or even righted in rough conditions ?
Was there a safety boat able to right the OC with a lateral rope ?

Gaucho, I couldn't agree more, your #5 point is often underestimated : It might even be THE major safety flaw.
That's the reason for my OP : Prepare for the worst an learn from the experienced.
There's another reason, actually : The French fed new regulations try to minimize the race risks.
With that everyone should agree of course.
But they believe mostly in hull modifications (foam everywhere, eventually leading to some freaky sit-on-top OC6 like monster), and I do believe they're wrong on that matter.
I'd rather plan something sensible from your testimonies !
A good example : Spare rubbers and ropes (never came to my mind, doh !)
and so on ...

#4 Wed, 06/06/2012 - 8:30pm

Knock wood....I've never been out in OC6 failure but 2 years ago myself and 2 buddies were out in OC1s on a bit of a rough day. We got offshore about a mile and one of the older OC1s ("evaluate soundness of your equipment") had equipment failure. The ama broke loose from the iako. We were being pushed out to sea rather quickly by wind and tide. Sure, the other one or two of us w/ good canoes could have paddled in for help but I had a "Macgiver" moment and took the cord from my shorts and limply tied the ama to the iako. The guy was able to limp home on this. I thought...what if I was out by myself (which I usually am)? Besides the phone, life vest, etc., I now make sure to always carry extra rubbers AND I bought one of those survival bracelets that once unraveled, gives you about 10 yds or so of cord. I think having extra stuff like this on 6-man could come in handy too. There might not always be a chase boat for supplies

#5 Thu, 06/07/2012 - 4:28am

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