Howies Scuba

Scuba Diving Perth WA

Shore Diving

 Kayak Diving


Kayak Dive No#1

Penguin Isl. Mersey Point. Rockingham WA.

My first attempt at Kayak Diving was to say the least amusing, in fact it was quite hilarious, frustrating and at the same time absolutely brilliant.  My buddy Luke and I did not have a clue, we set the kayaks up on the beach and felt pretty chuffed with ourselves, this lasted for about 5 minutes.

Firstly due to the weight of everything, it was impossible for us to push the kayaks further into the water using the oar whilst sitting in them at the waters edge, this is a trick I usually do when kayaking from a quiet river shoreline with no additional weight. So I sat in my kayak and Luke pushed me into the surf, no problems, a few wobbles due to the heavy laden and odd balance of the kayak but I was afloat heading out to sea, actually it's a small channel between the shore and the island but it needs to sound dramatic. Poor luke managed to get two meters from the shore line, successfully got in the kayak, attempted to alter his back rest and capsized......... hillarious. 

I couldn't stop laughing for about 2 minutes and during this time I had started to drift back to the shore, so I turned the kayak around and.........bam !.......... heeeeeeeeeeelp ! I was in the drink. Luke had been lucky, his cylinder and BCD remained firmly attached to the kayak where as my gear came free and spilled everywhere, luckily it was just floating on the surface as we had placed air in the BCD and attached the gear with tether lines (good idea), but I could not for the life of me get the gear back on the kayak so I thought I would just tow it to the dive area (not a good idea).

Tip: Do not tow your gear in the water unless you have no choice, it was like trying to tow a sleeping 10 tonne Elephant wearing a wet woolly pullover and lead boots (if that's actually possible), simply put it is really tough and saps' your energy, and you're not even diving yet.

Luke however, had now composed himself and with his gear firmly placed on the kayak was now casually cruising to the trial dive area and I just wanted to give up and go home. Anyway after fighting a moderate current and towing the said Elephant we where deep enough to try out Kayak Scuba Diving.

What is the official name for Scuba Diving from a Kayak ?....... Scayaking ?..... Scuyaking ?..... Yakuba ?..... in fact is there an official word for Scuba Diving from a Kayak ?....... I think I like Scuba-king...... not Scu-baking though as it kinda sounds a bit flour-ery.... anyway I digress. 

At The Dive Site 

At the dive site, setting down and setting up is easy enough...... as long as you do what you are supposed to...... you can tell by this statement straight away that we didn't, cant you.

Ok, unfolded the 2.5 kg sand anchor (folding anchors are a good idea for space saving on the kayak) threw the anchor in but forgot to tie it off at the appropriate luckily I still had hold of the rope so no lost anchor. Pulled the anchor back up, tied it off and again threw it back in..... brilliant.... so why are we still drifting ?..... When I brought the anchor back up to the surface I had folded the anchor back up again and then threw it back in so it had no way to dig into the seabed..... I was beginning to think I had left all my common sense back at the shore, anyway we sorted that out and I have to say the little beauty worked perfectly, we where stable and secure in the dive spot. 

Gearing Up 

Luke had jumped into the water thinking it would be easier to put his fins on in the water.... wrong.... putting your fins on in the kayak gives you that extra bit of power and control to your buoyancy when you get into the water. So I put my fins on in the kayak, which I have to say was not the easiest of things, especially as I had tethered them in a bag that was facing the wrong way and the tether line wasn't long enough for me to reach so Luke had to pass them to me, also I am not the most supple of people and twisting and reaching nearly put me back in the water before I was ready. That said all was good and I just dropped off the side and was in the water.

Wetsuit: should you completely dress before or after you head into the water, I guess the simple answer is its up to you, but it is recommended half and half as getting your wet suit on completely before hand can cause some chaffing when paddling, put your wetsuit on and roll it down to your waist, whether you decide to finish off donning your wetsuit in the water or on the kayak at the dive spot again is up to you, we finished off in the water and I have to say it was no real bother. 

Putting on the BCD & Cylinder was easy, just as you do in your Open Water course, sit on the opened up BCD and slide down into it, fix all the straps and there you have it. We made some 1 meter rubber weather proof tethers and attached these to the front of BCD for easy un-clipping and the other end to the kayak. This will give you enough space to manouver yourself and gear, when the gear is on just un-clip and you are free, if there is a little bit of current I guess you can stay attached until you are ready to descend so that you don't drift off.


There is only one rule I can suggest before descending..... make sure you do a thorough buddy and equipment check. I guess I got a little lost in the moment and maybe with trying to do something new our heads where a little turned around, we did not do a proper descent and I had forgotten my compass which I would of realised if I had done a correct descent procedure and equipment check.

 The Dive

In all honesty I am sure we were hoping to see something totally different and out of reach from an normal shore dive, but in reality we werent that far from shore, we where in shallow waters approx. 3 - 4 meters and today's dive was about ironing out some of the kinks. The dive lasted about 30 minutes and there really wasn't that much to see.

All Aboard 

You thought we had problems getting out to the dive site.... Loading your gear on the beach is simple, trying to load it back into the kayak even in a few meters of water was initially impossible.

The hardest part of all is trying to get your cylinder and BCD back on board, the initial attempts did not work, simply trying to lift it on is no good and the weight will push you under the water, which happened to me and I swallowed a few litres of water, not nice, trying to drag it on will make you loose balance and tip you back into the water. However we persevered and came up with a somewhat simpler way of getting the gear in the kayak. Simply we took one side of the kayak each, I tilted the kayak up on its side and Luke rolled the gear in, as soon as it was half in I rolled the kayak back and gravity did the rest, Luke just made sure his hands and arms where free and gave me the call to roll the kayak back in its seated position.... I have to say quite ingenious and not that difficult...... but don't worry there is still more ridiculous stuff to come.

The rest of the gear (except fins) just gets thrown on and getting back into the kayak is easy, hold onto the side of the kayak, do a few fin kicks push the kayak under your body and launch your body over the kayak, twist and swivel on to your backside.... easy.

Ok who gets the anchor ? on this dive the anchor got stuck and we could not release it, but you don't want to release it before all your gear is on board and you are ready to leave as there was a current that was capable of drifting us a 100 meters in 5 minutes. As this was our first dive we were not sure what to do here, so Luke swam down released the anchor and hopped on board, how this would work out in deeper water is yet to be worked out, I guess we would just drift if the anchor could not be freed by paddling past its anchor point, we will find out.

The Journey Home 

The journey back to shore was not easy, the current had changed slightly even in this short time and was moving parallel to the shore now instead of towards it like it was when we first got in. Due to our inability to load the kayaks up properly in the water all the gear was dumped in the center of the kayak.

lukes' wasn't too bad as he just had his cylinder and BCD but I had that plus anchor and dive flag. Have you ever tried to kayak with your legs in the air or hanging over the edge, its farcical it really is, I am tiny and my legs just don't reach that far, my kayak was like a back-packers camper-van ready to tour Australia, it reminded me of holidays when I was a kid in England and my parents would have 4 kids and themselves jammed into the car and a roof rack full of every bit of crap needed to look after so many on their summer holidays.

About half way back to the shore and after drifting about 200 meters in 10 minutes I had had enough and decided it would be easier to swim back to shore and tow the kayak in..... glad I kept my fins on, not that there was any space left on my Kayak to store them. Anyway after about 5 - 10 minutes we had made it back to shore..... 

Summary & Conclusion

So, how do I summarise this up, we started out chuffed with ourselves, quickly got slapped in the face, nearly lost my gear and possibly my will to live after dragging an Elephant, got caught up in all kind of lines and nearly lost the anchor, forgot to don some equipment and nearly drowned trying to put the gear back on the boat, did not see a damn thing on the dive and almost had to have two hip replacements because of the way I loaded up the kayak, also nearly drifted out to sea (seriously this time) and had to swim back to shore towing a kayak in by hand......

Would I do it again........... absolutely...... we had a brilliant day, the most fun I have had diving in ages and I can't wait to do it again. Regardless of all its faults and all its problems we will learn to iron them out and hopefully get to see some little gems of dive sites that the average shore diver cannot reach and the boat diver most probably doesn't even bother with due to having Rottnest Isl. a little further away........ if you can do it.... I say do it.



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