Section 26 - Gearing Down

After completing your safety stop and surfacing, remove your weight belt or integrated weights and place them in the kayak seat area. If you haven't yet mastered getting back into the kayak and are afraid you may roll it, place the weight belt in the tank well instead and close the buckle and secure it with the kayak strap. If you are using integrated weights you may want to place them in the front hatch if you are afraid of rolling the kayak. Losing the weight belt/integrated weights is the most common problem with gearing down.


Take your BCD off. Having a BCD with quick release buckles on the shoulder straps comes in real handy here. Connect the tank leash to the BCD.


With your fins on, put your strong arm over to the opposite side of the kayak in the seat area and swim up into the kayak turning at the same time so you end up sitting sideways.

 


1. Remove your fins and place them in the front hatch.
2. The XT is a very stable kayak, but straddling it facing the front or back offers more stability than sitting sideways. So how you sit gearing down from this point on is solely based on your personal confidence level. Remember, anything that is not tied down is history if you roll your kayak. Unless of course you have enough air to go after it and want to chance a "bounce dive", depending on your dive profile. Besides, your anchor is already on the surface, so you have likely drifted from the spot where you lost the item. 
3. Start placing all your miscellaneous gear in the front hatch. Stay aware of the ocean conditions with this hatch open.
4. If you used your dive sausage as a "lift bag" for the anchor, it will be floating on the surface. Reel in the anchor line, deflate the sausage and place the anchor, line and sausage in the hatch.
5. Close the front hatch.
6. Turn and sit facing backwards, then pull the tank up onto the kayak sideways across the tank well. This can be a difficult task if you have left integrated weights in your BCD. It can also increase the risk of rolling the kayak depending on how much weight is in your BCD. Turn off your air, deflate your BCD, place the regulators and instrument console on top of the BCD. Turn the tank and lower it into the tank well being careful not to damage any of the regulators or instruments.
7. Leave the tank well leash connected to the BCD.
8. Place the weight belt across the base of the tank with the buckle closed. If you are using integrated weights I suggest you invent a leash to connect the weight pouches to and place them across the tank base. Leaving a weigh belt or integrated weights in the front hatch will make it more difficult to lift and pull the kayak onto the beach after landing.
9. Secure the tank and weight belt/integrated weights  with the kayak straps.
10. At this point all your gear should be secured.
11. Remove your wetsuit (partially or completely) and your ready to paddle.