On the Water And In The Woods

Sea kayaking, sailing, and lightweight backpacking in the-Chesapeake Bay, Mid-Atlantic region

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dry storage for flares

A prudent sea kayaker carries hand fired flares on trips, and carries them on their pfd. I typically carry SkyBlazer hand launched flares by Orion.

One of the problems with flares is that their reliability decreases drastically when they are repeatedly exposed to submersion, as in a kayakers' pfd. The failure rate for flares goes up dramatically, as proven at the Sk102 flare demonstrations, where I have tested flares that were stored in a pfd pocket for one year versus flares stored dry for one year.

What can you do to try and keep the flares dry? A number of suggestions have been suggested and tried over the years:

  • Keep the flares in a small dry box in the pfd - hard to store due to bulk of the box, and not all pfds have pockets of a suitable size. Also, when you open the box, you risk dumping all of the flares.

  • Seal the flares in a "seal a meal" type plastic, either using a commercially made machine that does this, or the home iron. My experiments have found the seals to rupture or fail after repeated stuffing in the pfd pockets. Also, some of these plastics are difficult to rip open without a knife.

  • Store each flare individually in a commercially available latex product, and tie a knot in the end. Sorry, haven't tried this one myself, the it is reported to not be particularly sturdy over the years.

Recently at a SK101 intro to sea kayaking class put on by the Chesapeake Paddlers Association, Todd showed me a new way to store the flares. He stored his flares in a dry pack bag.

Here's how to do it:

Materials needed:

Dry Pak Cell Phone Case, small, Clear/Blue, product #DP-46.

SkyBlazer hand launched flares by Orion - Four pack

Make sure the flare expiration dates are far in the future.


1. Insert three of the flares in the dry bag. Put the fourth flare in your emergency bail nalgene bottle.

2. Close the dry bag, and use the lanyard to lash it to one of the lash points in the pocket of your pfd.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chesapeake Paddlers Association - Greenland Paddle making class

The Chesapeake Paddlers Association held our third annual Greenland Paddle Making class this Saturday. Participants arrived with basic tools, were given a blank piece of wood previously roughed to their dimensions, and by the end of the day most of them were putting the finishing touches on them. Thanks to Gina for organizing this! Photos here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Praise for Folbot!

Prior to today, I have dealt with only one company that I would recommend to people solely based on their warranty policy, irregardless of gear quality. That was Kokatat, who volunatiry replaced my old beat up dry suit several years ago with a brand new suit for free, when I was ready to have to buy a new one.

Now, I have another company that I would recommend based on their warranty.

Folbot. In about 2005 I purchased their outrigger system for my sailing kayak. The system included two inflatable amas, which are plastic inflatable bladders inside nylon ballistic cloth fabric. This outrigger system has been stuffed in kayaks, lived in the back of a pickup in the heat of summer, and had some "interesting" shore landings over the years. This winter I discovered that one of the bladders had developed two small pinhole leaks. The bladder material was not one I had ever worked with, so I emailed Folbot for their recommendations on how to make the repair.

Their reply was that, having purchased the equipment directly from them the warranty (I didn't know there was one at time of purchase) would cover it, and they are now sending me a replacement bladder, at their expense.

It's nice to find a company that has that level of warranty!

3/11 update - The new bladder arrived very quickly. It is made of a heavier gauge material than the original bladders - more like the vinyl used in inflatable boats. Should be very sturdy, and likely easier to field patch.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

CPA does SK101

The Chesapeake Paddlers Association put on a one day seminar for people who are in the process of buying their first boat and gear for sea kayaking. Lectures during the seminar included kayak history, boat design, paddle selection, gear choices, and places to paddle. The event sold out, with over 100 people registered. Photos here.

In April we will hold SK102, a weekend event of kayak instruction in a heated lake, aimed at the first time kayakers.