Tragic story out of NZ

11 months 3 weeks ago #32522 by downwinda
Replied by downwinda on topic Tragic story out of NZ
A real tragic story.

I think one of the things that people need to remember is getting out of the water is the most important thing when dealing with cold (or in this case chilly) water. If you can't get in the boat after a few tries, get your body out of the water and draped over the boat! Even in cold air and windy conditions, you will lose less body heat than being immersed.


I'm a straddle remounter, so I climb on the ski just like I'm climbing on a surfboard, lying lengthwise on the ski. At this point I'm out of the water and even if I was unable to obtain the seated position, I could very easily hand paddle the ski like a prone paddleboard. I have had a converted Bixler Bullet ski that I used for years as a prone board, and I've also used a Hurricane OC-1 (15 inches wide) sans ama as a prone board.

The point I'm trying to make is that you need to think outside the box, and that there are many options available. If you can't get remounted into a seated positon, at least get yourself out of the water. You'll have to lie behind the seat, but you can splay your legs out to the side to act as an outrigger for stability. At this point you may be able to paddle home with your hands. You can also steer by reaching forward to push the foot pedals. Try it, it may save your life. Ohh, I forgot to add that you'll probably have to dump you paddle to accomplish this.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Fath2o

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11 months 3 weeks ago - 11 months 3 weeks ago #32531 by robin.mousley
So... In my post I mentioned that we had a situation here in Cape Town on Saturday morning where an unidentified paddler got into trouble, not being able to remount.

"Unidentified" no longer - I spoke to him this morning.

Basically: he's a relative newbie, but decided to do our "Reverse Miller's Run" in the northwester on Saturday morning.

He's fit, but not very experienced in downwind. During the run he'd already fallen off a couple of times before they reached Miller's Point.

On reaching Miller's Point they decided not to go in at the north ramp on the windward side of the point, but rather to go around the point and in at the leeward ramp. This meant turning broadside to the wind as they passed Miller's Point itself. The point is no protection at all from the wind and he found himself unable to cope with the gusts and fell in.

He said he remounted and fell off somewhere close to 30x! He maintained that he wasn't too concerned and had a plan B in mind, which was to swim the boat into shore, aiming to land further downwind. (I think that would have taken a long time and he'd have been extremely cold... but the important thing is that he had a plan B).

He said that each time he remounted, the gusting wind would hit him or his paddle and tip him in again.

He was equipped with leash and PFD and his buddy was nearby. He said that on some of the dunkings, his leash became wrapped around the boat, but he didn't panic and each time simply ducked under the boat, or rolled the boat to unwrap it - he didn't undo the leash... 10/10.

Two other paddlers saw what was going on, watched for a while and when it was clear that he wasn't making progress, they paddle a Fenn XT double out, put him in the back of it while one of them mounted the casualty's boat (Swordfish) and paddled it in.

So it all ended ok.

But the fact is that the water was (for us) very cold, the wind was picking up and the rocky coastline in that area is not very conducive to landing.

The biggest concern for me on the day was that the forecast was saying gale-force conditions at the time we were on the water. In the event, the wind was only about 20-25kt, but it was picking up and a few hours later it was definitely gale-force.

Without being judgemental (anyone can make a mistake, and I've definitely made my share), I would urge people not go downwind if they're not right on top of their game when the forecast says that things are going to get hectic... Forecasts are notoriously unreliable and extreme weather may come earlier (or later) than forecast.

Secondly, if you are going to go downwind in extreme weather, you MUST be fully confident of your ability to get back onto the boat in extreme conditions. [Edit: Primarily of course, you need to be fully confident of your ability to handle the conditions and not fall off in the first place... A classic sign of someone who shouldn't be is when they ask, "do you think it's ok?". If they're asking that question, it's not ok for them and they shouldn't be going out.]

I've just heard that for the Qualifiers for our Cape Point Challenge event at the end of the year, there's been a proposal that at the end of each qualifier, each paddler will have to go back out into deep water and get off their boat, get back on it and come back in i.e. remounts to be part of the qualifier - and I think this is an excellent innovation.

Accidents will happen and the nature of our sport is that we do go out in "extreme" weather - and I wouldn't want it any other way. And I'm definitely not an advocate of heavy-handed rules and regulations - so it's up to more experienced paddlers to set an example and to encourage the less experienced to become proficient and not to take unnecessary risks.

Here endeth the lesson. The SE is blowing today, yeeeeeeeha! See you on the water.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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11 months 3 weeks ago #32532 by Impala
Replied by Impala on topic Tragic story out of NZ
"Secondly, if you are going to go downwind in extreme weather, you MUST be fully confident of your ability to get back onto the boat in extreme conditions."

I beg to disagree somewhat :unsure: ... our 30x remounter was able to do that, as he nicely proved, but it did not help him. What does your successful remount help you if you can't get back to paddling and get out of the danger zone? The incident is an almost comical illustration that self-rescue stops being helpful once the combination of conditions and boat can't be handled by the paddler. So the widespread assumption that what you need to be safe is a solid self-rescue (be it a remount for surfski or, for sea kayakers, a bomb-proof roll) becomes simply invalid if conditions plus boat are beyond your skills. Then you will be in BIG trouble regardless how many time you manage to roll your kayak or remount your ski ... it will just wear you down, but not bring you back into control. So choose conditions and boat such that you have a safety buffer (and I hope that it is now clear that a swordfish is not a newbie boat), as otherwise you can as well call the emergency right away after leaving the surfs zone.

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11 months 3 weeks ago #32533 by robin.mousley

our 30x remounter was able to do that, as he nicely proved,


I disagree! He didn't succeed at all. He failed 30x.

I'll amend my statement - "...MUST be fully confident of your ability to get back onto the boat and continue to paddle in extreme conditions"

I agree with the rest of your comment... "...choose conditions and boat such that you have a safety buffer..." Spot on.

I'm sorry if I didn't make it clear that that is what I was trying to say!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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11 months 3 weeks ago #32534 by Impala
Replied by Impala on topic Tragic story out of NZ
Hi Rob,

I wanted to stress that the two activities 'self-rescue' and 'paddling' are very different things. When deciding to go out at forecast conditions, you should primarily ask yourself 'can I PADDLE this without falling in?' before going to 'can I get back into the boat after falling out?'. I just know from the whitewater and sea kayak scene that self-rescue is often marketed as if it were a substitute for paddling abilities ('you have to be able to roll before you join us on that river!'). This is misguided, you foremost have to be able not to constantly capsize. If people continue to capsize, they should not consider this normal .. it isn't, because it puts you to the brink of an emergency situation each time! They should stay out of such conditions, get a way more stable boat and work on their abilities. Paddling skills are underestimated, and self-rescue is overestimated as long as the former is the case.

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11 months 3 weeks ago - 11 months 3 weeks ago #32535 by robin.mousley
Agreed.

I've edited my post to reflect that.

But you do need both - we've had cases where elite paddlers have got into trouble because they hadn't fallen off in living memory and hadn't practised remounting. I know of at least two instances of this - on the second occasion I assisted, much to the paddler's embarrassment.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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11 months 3 weeks ago #32536 by Impala
Replied by Impala on topic Tragic story out of NZ
"we've had cases where elite paddlers have got into trouble because they hadn't fallen off in living memory and hadn't practised remounting."

I am not an elite paddler, but as I hate falling out and only did it twice involuntarily, this could well happen to me! So I am trying to integrate remount into my interval exercises ... 30 min sprint, fall out, remount, one minute pause ... that makes it a bit more fun.

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11 months 3 weeks ago #32537 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Tragic story out of NZ
Absolutely. You need to have both paddling and self-rescue abilities.
From my short experience with sea kayaking people tend to neglect self-rescue practice. I have seen strong paddlers failing to do a simple paddle float self-rescue in flat water.
But of course it's not a substitute for a good head on your shoulders as far as conditions go.

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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11 months 3 weeks ago #32538 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Tragic story out of NZ
I am trying to be casual with my remounts during my flat-ish water practise. Too hot-swim to chill. Camera crooked - dismount and adjust. Foot plate needs moving, do it while swimming. Sometimes when I come to a point in the distance where I take a break I play this little game as if there is a voice in my head that yells "capsize!" randomly.
It's fun and builds confidence nicely.

Current: Think Evo II
Past: Epic V7

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11 months 3 weeks ago #32545 by CleaverX
Replied by CleaverX on topic Tragic story out of NZ
Sad story, sincere condolences to the family, friends and loved ones.
Many thanks to all the members that provided reminders and tips to stay safe out there, regardless of water condition.
In my situation I have to carry a compact air horn also, to ward off power boaters that are not paying attention (far too many close calls).
Just in case I also bring a paddle float, got many folks back into their boat by lending them mine and showing them how to use it.
I also make it a point to regularly practice remounting at the end of a long and hard paddling session: a humbling experience.

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