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How to freedive from a sea kayak

Using video and images  I will show you how I use my sea kayak (Barracuda beachcomber) as a platform to freedive for crayfish. This session was recorded in the Coromandel, NZ in spring, the water is a little cool still (16dgrees) but this time of year the visibility is good and the crayfish in the shallows have not been hammered by the summer holidays.

The Gear

I will just point out the key accessories used to help freediving from a  sea kayak, this is not a guide in choosing wet suits, snorkels etc..you will need to speak to a specialist dive shop to get the right kit for you and your area. first and foremost pic your weather, I only do this when the weather is calm or I can access a  sheltered bay to explore. Reason 1 being that it is more enjoyable and Reason 2 if its too rough you have greater risk of capsize or filling the cockpit with water from waves etc..stick to your level of experience..preferable take a friend especially when learning..for me  this does not always work out so I go alone, in these sessions I make sure someone knows where I am going, when I will be back and I do not push my limits ..if in doubt don’t go out.

  • Stable sea kayak with paddle float/rescue attachments – The Beachcomber is a good stable sea kayak, and even though the cockpit is not a large opening I can get in and out of easy enough..if you are a larger paddler or not as nimble as you used to be, I suggest practicing entering and exiting on dry land with wet suit on before attempting this on the water.
  • Paddle float  this piece of kit is essential for stabilizing the kayak while you kit up, exit and re-enter..I use a inflatable dual chamber paddle float a this offers greater buoyancy and packs down out of the way when not in use. If your kayak does not have attachments behind the cockpit for securing a paddle with paddle float then you will need to get them fitted, it is poss to use deck grab lines but I find this unreliable when leaving the paddle float attached while in the water or towing the kayak as it can slip free leaving you paddle less!.
  • Anchor and rope –  This is essential to have, I choose a length of rope at least 2 times the max depth I will be diving, this can be attached to the kayak using a fixed running rig or just tied to the bow handle (make sure it is well tied). I use a board to wind the rope on, this allows me to set the length rather than having too much rope floating around risking getting caught up in. I either use a small grapnel anchor or if I have forgotten this I will use one of my spare dive weights. Once in the water hold the weight or anchor and swim the kayak behind on the rope, once I have located some structure to dive on I drop the anchor… NOTE: it is important to dive on the anchor and ensure it is fixed in position..the last thing you want is your kayak drifting away while your are busy hunting…
  • C-Tug trolley this makes life easy when transporting the kayak to and from the launch spot with extra gear inside including heavy weight belt etc.. The C-Tug breaks down to fit into the back hatch under my insulated bag attached to the deck
  • Surf to Summit Insulated fish bag large  I prefer to have a bag mounted to the deck for items such as fins, snorkel & mask, cray hook & dive hoodie etc.. this makes it easy to access from the cockpit. Heavy items such as weight belt sit on the floor of my cockpit to ensure the kayak does not become too heavy. My catch goes in the front hatch of the Beachcomber.

If you have any questions dont hesitate to contact me via the contact page of my website..and be sure to tell me about it if this has been useful to you :-)

Location : Hahei Beach, Coromandel NZ

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C-Tug trolley stows away in rear hatch

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On short paddles put wet-suit on fully before paddling

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Drop anchor & Set Paddle float

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Putting on Snorkel and flippers made possible with float

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Put weight belt on once in the water

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Ensure anchor rope & anchor are secured properly

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