WHY I KEEP A KNIFE IN MY PFD
Whenever I head out on my kayak, I always go armed. Not because I am expecting some end of the world-type scenario whilst out on my kayak but because a PFD knife has come in handy in a number of situations.
CUTTING MYSELF OUT OF SNAGS
I was a relative latecomer to the PFD knife. I had all the kayak gear but had resisted the urge to buy a knife. The reason was, that I hated the look of a knife on the outside of my PFD. I thought it made a gentle kayak fisho look like he or she was gearing up for some Rambo-style foray into the Australian outback, complete with stealth assassinations and explosions.
But one day I was paddling under a pier and didn’t notice a tightly knotted bundle of abandoned fishing line. I ended up snagged and in a bit of a pickle. I had a knife in a dry bag, but messing around trying to find the thing while completely entangled in monofilament line was not a pleasant or swift ordeal. I made a compromise with myself then that I would carry a knife in my PFD pocket. The knife isn’t on show but it is there when I need it.
If you are in any scenario where you are using ropes or line, be it a fishing line, or throw ropes and tow ropes for whitewater kayaking, it is probably a good idea to have a knife within arm’s reach. You could become snagged and in whitewater. Having the speed of access to a knife could mean the difference between life and death.
BEING THE GOOD SAMARITAN FOR BIRDS
Aside from cutting myself free from snags, I have also been able to play the part of the good Samaritan with several gulls I have found wrapped in fishing line. They all seemed very grateful, and one even hung around to share my sandwiches with at lunchtime.
This is by far and away the most common use for the PFD knife I have experienced. I am forever using it to spread peanut butter on crackers, butter bread and on several kayaking trips abroad, popping open oysters right off the side of the kayak. It also makes a handy bottle opener.
WHAT SORT OF KNIFE DO YOU NEED
If you have been won over by the idea of a PFD knife, where do you go from here? You cannot skimp on your PFD knife. It is going to be exposed to some pretty testing elements, particularly if you take your yak offshore. Stainless steel is okay, but will eventually rust. A knife made of a carbon steel alloy would be better. These are usually used in the construction of good quality hunting and fishing knives and will stand the test of time far better than a simple stainless-steel blade.
TYPE OF BLADE
Regarding a plain blade or serrated edge, or a fixed mechanism versus a flick or folding mechanism, these are down to personal preference. I have met kayakers like myself who prefer to keep their knife in a pocket and therefore prefer a flick or folding mechanism, but I have also met ‘yakers who keep a fixed blade on the outside of their PFD.
While everyone has to take care with a knife being so accessible, and accidents do certainly happen, I would prefer to have something within easy reach to cut me free in entanglement situations. It is not foolproof, but I certainly feel safer for it.
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