Q. When our troop goes on a kayaking trips my kayak always sinks? How can I stop it from sinking?
— Sinking Sam, Dallas, N.C.
A. Dear Sam. Sorry to hear about all that sinking. Okay, couple things: First, it depends what type of kayak you’re paddling. I’m guessing you’re not on what’s called a sit-on-top because those are self-bailing boats designed with holes built into the hull which actually make sinking impossible. So, odds are you guys are paddling traditional sit-inside-type kayaks with open cockpits.
When paddling those boats, wind chop can break over the bow and slowly fill your boat with water. And those paddle splash fights with your friends can really sink you quickly too. In either case, you should get a spray skirt, basically a tight nylon or neoprene cockpit cover that you wear around your waist and attach to the rim of the cockpit to keep water out — and keep you from sinking. For kayaks with very large open cockpits, most kayak manufacturers make spray covers that attach to the boat (but you don’t wear) that will protect the front 2/3rds of the cockpit from incoming water.
Also, try bringing along your own bailing bucket. Any kind of plastic drink bottle or quart-sized milk jug works well. Just cut off the front edge (bottom) of the bottle at a sharp angle and use it to shovel the water out of your boat. A huge sponge, like the one your dad uses to wash his car, is also handy. Keep it in the bottom of your boat and it’ll suck up water. All you have to do is wring it out off the side of the kayak.