Search underway for missing paddlers

2 weeks 5 days ago #38562 by Scott S

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2 weeks 4 days ago #38571 by Atlas

Current skis:
Epic V9 Ultra, Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double

Previous skis
Spirit PRS, Fenn Swordfish, Fenn XT, Fenn Swordfish S, Think Zen, Epic V10L Club

Most with DK rudders.

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2 weeks 3 days ago #38572 by robin.mousley
This is such a strange story.

The guys set off at 10h30 in the morning for what appears to be about a 16km paddle. 

BUT:  the conditions were (apparently) 20-30kt SE wind with a massive 4-6m swell. 

They launched from the protected side of the island (Dunwich), with the idea of going through the South Passage Bar and then along the north side of the island apparently directly into wind to Cylinder Beach.  They were  planning to paddle for around 2hr.

They were apparently paddling in board shorts and shirts - no PFDs, nor, it seems, any other safety  gear.  There was no mention of leashes.

The South Passage Bar is so notorious that it has its own page on wikipedia - and there are  videos on youtube showing how rough it can be there. 

The reports say that three hours after they started, they were in "dangerous water" - presumably the area of the bar - at 13h30 - when Jack  McDonald's ski started to "take water".  One question is - why were they still there?  Was it that they were trapped there by an outgoing  current being taken into massive breakers coming the other way, that  they couldn't get through?  Was McDonald's ski actually smashed by the  breakers?

At that point, apparently, Jordan Kelly paddled to McDonald to help him.

Then the reports say that they were both holding onto the ski (did Kelly fall in?), in the water, for hours...  in fact until after dark.

McDonald finally "made his way" - what does that mean?  Did he swim?  Did he  still have the ski?  Was he paddling? - to the Amity Point Wharf, where  he arrived at 8pm, TEN HOURS after they started.  He was only mildly  hypothermic.  (The water must have been very warm for him to survive for that long.)

So what was happening to them after 13h30, all afternoon?  Were they just being swept out by the current and into  massive breakers? 

What is clear is that if they'd had a PLB - or even a cell phone with SafeTrx - they'd have been found very  quickly.  It sounds as though there were some very basic mistakes made - and now one guy is almost certainly dead. 

I just don't understand why anyone would go out into such a dangerous place - did  they not know its reputation?  And without the fundamental safety  gear...  I feel so sad and sorry for their friends and family.

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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2 weeks 3 days ago #38573 by mrcharly
There seem to have been some strange decisions made, but 20/20 vision from 12000 miles away isn't very precise. This strikes me as strange:

“Jack said they paddled and paddled and didn’t move from the same spot for five or six hours.”

I'm puzzled as to why you wouldn't turn around and head back. Maybe they were locked in place by a combination of standing waves and current? I know that if I'm in rough water my speed goes way, way down.

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2 weeks 3 days ago #38575 by robin.mousley

There seem to have been some strange decisions made, but 20/20 vision from 12000 miles away isn't very precise.

For sure (although to be precise it's 12,000km in my case!).  I do hope that the full story does come out so that we can all learn from it and I certainly don't mean to cast blame or shame...  If what I said came out that way, I apologize.

I'm puzzled as to why you wouldn't turn around and head back. Maybe they were locked in place by a combination of standing waves and current?

From what I've read, the currents in the channel are strong - up to 150cm/sec (around 5kph) at full ebb.  But it wouldn't have been that strength for 7 hours.

There's so much that doesn't make sense. 

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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2 weeks 3 days ago #38576 by robin.mousley

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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2 weeks 3 days ago #38577 by mrcharly
My comment about 20/20 vision from a distance wasn't aimed at you, Robin, more the difficulty of working out what has happened via news outlet reports.

Everything we read has been filtered by someone with no surfski knowledge, who is trimming information to fit into a wordcount.  "Jack said they paddled and paddled and didn’t move from the same spot for five or six hours" could have been:
"After one ski sank, we took turns at paddling while the other person clung onto the ski. We paddled and paddled and didn’t move from the same spot for five or six hours."

Right now we simply don't know and can only hope that Jordan has made it to a beach somewhere.

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2 weeks 3 days ago #38578 by robin.mousley

My comment about 20/20 vision from a distance wasn't aimed at you, Robin

Ah, thanks for that! 

Everything we read has been filtered by someone with no surfski knowledge, who is trimming information to fit into a wordcount.

Agreed 100%
I do hope the facts come out for the benefit and learning of the surfski community.

can only hope that Jordan has made it to a beach somewhere.

Strength to the S&R teams and to the family and friends.

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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2 weeks 2 days ago #38580 by Scott S
The media reported wind and swell was the first search day. On their paddle date wind was forecast around 20 knot SSW and swell 2 m. This seems to align with he comment they intended to stay close to the island to avoid the waves. In theory paddling around the Northern tip of the island would be the leeward side and sheltered from the chop. Unfortunately the wind direction was offshore.
High tide was 11 am so they had a very strong outgoing current in the passage until 5 pm when it got dark.
The air and water temperatures were both about 22 degrees celsius but after 5 pm temp would have decreased with a wind chill in single digits.
The media reports the guys live on the Sunshine Coast which is a 1.5 to 2 hr drive away. They probably didn’t have local knowledge of the South Passage reputation.
One media source reports they experienced difficulty balancing and staying on the skis before one ski took on water. If one paddler was in the water holding on to the remaining ski it would have been impossible to make headway back to Amity against the outgoing tide and offshore wind. Once Jordan slipped away unable to hold on then Jack was able to paddle the ski back to Amity.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to Jordan, Jack and their families and friends.
The following user(s) said Thank You: robin.mousley

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2 weeks 2 days ago #38581 by robin.mousley

On their paddle date wind was forecast around 20 knot SSW and swell 2 m.

Thanks for that tidbit.  Makes a lot more sense than the reported conditions.
Clearly that South Passage is a real handful.

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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2 weeks 4 hours ago #38585 by robin.mousley

Search called off.

Yep.  Tragic.

So many questions.
  • Which ski broke and sank?  (Reports first said McDonald's ski sank, this latest one says Kelly's ski sank).
  • What happened in the channel/bar?  Were they stuck between outgoing tidal current and incoming breakers?
  • Was McDonald still paddling when he got to Amity Wharf at 8pm?
  • What were the weather conditions on the day?  The media reported big swell, strong SE wind, but it seems that on the day, the waves were smaller (although 2m against current can jack up to something horrid, especially if it was long interval) and the wind SW.
It seems obvious what went wrong:
  • Lack of knowledge of the danger of the bar - and much fiercer conditions than they expected.
  • No PFDs/leashes
  • No Cellphone/SafeTrx
We all make mistakes, but is there anything less obvious that we can learn from this?

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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2 weeks 3 hours ago #38586 by mrcharly
I'd like to know what happened, to learn from it.

Outgoing strong tide. Opposing swell and wind.

Combine that with a sandbar and the waves would be horrendous.  Easy to imagine a ski breaking up under those conditions.

Many years ago a clubmate undertook an epic trip up the West Australian coast, in a heavy duty sea kayak. A storm folded the kayak up like a carboard box. He made it to shore and had an equally epic walk out to civilization. 

We should never underestimate the ocean.  

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1 week 4 days ago #38592 by Scott S
As Rob has said the standard safety measures are critical; pfd, leash, phone, tracking app, people knowing your route and eta.
I wonder about the less obvious being an adaptable mindset. With the lack of details it reads like they paddled for hours without making progress.
We can only wonder what other strategies they tried. Could any of us have made the decision to leave one person swimming alone without a pfd much earlier than total exhaustion to paddle away to instigate a search. It’s not fair to speculate what we would have done in this case but for future situations. If your phone/tracking or communications die (wet, flat battery, lost in the conditions) is there ever a time to leave your mate alone to seek help? Tough decisions that go against the grain but if made early could it ever be the right decision?
I think recognising the seriousness of these situations early and the rapidness with which the margin for a positive outcome deteriorates is also important.

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