Q: What advice would you give on judging whether or not it might be too rough? CHRIS PECK, BY EMAIL
MC says: I made a very simple decision when I first started using a kayak. If I have to ask myself if I should launch or not, the answer is not.
Over time, I got better and pushed my boundaries, and there’s very little weather now that I’ll not venture out and fish in, and I’ve yet to come a cropper.
There is no substitute for practice, and you should never blindly follow someone else if you’re concerned. I have more than a thousand launches under my belt now, in all conditions and in many different kayaks over the last dozen years, and there are still times when I just say no.
Q: I’ve read about outriggers that can be attached to help stabilise a kayak. Are these worth buying, or should I change my kayak for a wider one? GRANT STEVENSON, BY EMAIL
MC says: No to both. The stability of a kayak is a compromise between how it sits on flat water and how it handles in rough water.
Time spent using and practising will increase your own connectivity with your kayak and increase your stability through compensating instinctively to all movements.
It’s similar to getting used to walking on a ship. You would soon negate the need for any accessories that can get in the way, increasing water and wind resistance, so they will become superfluous over time.
I regularly fish in rough conditions, and all my kayaks are slim with hull shapes more inclined to speed through the water with their flat water stability reduced. When I'm anchored in conditions that are less than ideal, I put my feet over the side, (as above) acting like outriggers, with the added bonus of being instantly adjustable just by moving.
The danger with fixed ones is that they can contribute to an increased chance of flipping you over when hit broadside by a steep wave; they can get caught around the anchor and fishing lines; and they also slow you down considerably when paddling.
With practice and confidence you will soon find that you can stand up (abvoe left) on your kayak if you ever feel the need.
Q: Can you suggest a good undersuit for my drysuit for winter fishing? I use fleece or thermal trousers and tops, layered. Is a one-piece suit better? PETER TUCKER, BY EMAIL
MC says: Definitely! Many drysuits come with a thin, one-piece base layer, but this often isn’t enough for periods spent at anchor rather than paddling.
I turned to the scuba diving companies for a solution, and the one I chose is my one-piece Weezle Extreme. It’s flexible, comfortable and warm and hasn’t required the use of other layers, even in the middle of winter. I also have the bootees, which are very good, but do require larger than normal boots to go over them, and you need to make sure that they fit inside the drysuit socks.
There are other brands making similar products, so visit a dive shop to check for fit and compare quality and prices.
In spring and autumn, I use the lighter Palm Tsangpo one-piece suit.