I have always been told to leave my spray skirt on. As you go over, press your hands down behind your back and you’ll come out of the boat right away UNLESS your spray skirt was on too tight, so make sure it isn’t before you paddle off.
Have a look at some of the Gordon Brown videos. He has some very good ideas of how to get back into a boat with assistance – if you are not too heavy. He also has some videos of St. Kilda that include sequences of getting back in your boat in rough weather. I heard that he had moved to Victoria a few years ago and I’m not sure where he is now, but it would be worth researching to find out. Perhaps he runs kayak capsize courses here or as part of some of the trips I know he was leading off the BC West Coast.
Yes, you need to practise, practise, practise – or don’t go out. Silvio’s “not feeling well” was a red flag. I would not have gone out with him like that – or chosen a very calm sheltered piece of water.
In about 50 years of paddling, I have rarely capsized unexpectedly because I am very, very cautious about the weather. When kayak camping, I always made sure I had extra food for several days and good rain gear and tarps so that I could stay ashore when things got nasty. I have also aborted trips for the same reason, if I guessed wrong. I will soon be putting my well kept iconic kayak up for sale along with some good ancilliary equipment, so watch for it but you will need deep pockets. Heather Harbord.