Long swim.

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Tricky Ricky
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Long swim.

Post by Tricky Ricky »

As reported on ABC great southern news service.

"Kayaker swims 1km to shore: A man luckily survived after abandoning his kayak and swimming more than 1km to shore during rough swells off the south coast late last week. Police say a man was in his kayak at Waychinicup last Friday afternoon when heavy winds and rough swell pushed him about a kilometre offshore. When he lost hope of paddling back, he abandoned his kayak and swam to land. He later called police to tell them the kayak would be floating in the ocean."

If your being blown offshore, how hard would it be to swim back?

rockhopper
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Re: Long swim.

Post by rockhopper »

I would find it a lot easier to kayak back to shore than to swim....

Rog..

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Re: Long swim.

Post by mrcharly »

You have to wonder if he had lost his paddle, or he kept capsizing.

mcgruff
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Re: Long swim.

Post by mcgruff »

IMO regularly practising a 1km swim is more important than carrying a buoyancy aid. I don't want to bob around in cold water (survival times are not good). I want to get out as fast as I can.
Have fun and don't die.

Pedro75
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Pedro75 »

Doesn’t say what kind of kayak. Could have been an inflatable.

PlymouthDamo
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Re: Long swim.

Post by PlymouthDamo »

I would normally answer this question with some predictable, boring waffle about rolls and re-entries being the thing to focus on, not swimming. However, I recently discovered how my own incompetence/tight-fistedness could have resulted in me being forced to do a swim: I'd used the wrong sort of wood when I made one of the bulkheads I used to convert one of my boats into a 3-piece sectional boat. Thankfully, I noticed it had become rotten whilst I was on dry land - if not, I could have been who-knows-where in a broken-in-half boat.

If I did end up treading water, I wouldn't be at all confident in my ability to swim a long way back to shore and I'd definitely drown if there were any current working against me. I'm a fairly slow swimmer, and I'd be rubbish in my usual paddling clothing. I've had a go at using my paddle as a swimming aid, which was surprisingly helpful, but I'm not sure it would be enough to save the day. Combined with a reasonably long pair of diving fins, I might stand a chance?

Beryl
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Beryl »

I recently read Southern Exposure which is about a solo circumnavigation of the South Island of New Zealand. Despite paddling routinely outrageous seas, what really freaked the author out was being caught in an off-shore wind.

The report is from Australia so the water may have been warm (and full of sharks)
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P4ddy
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Re: Long swim.

Post by P4ddy »

No VHF radio then??

Chris Bolton
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Chris Bolton »

I wondered about VHF radio, but having looked up where Waychinicup is (a mostly empty part of a mostly empty continent), I doubt there would be anyone listening!

JKA
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Re: Long swim.

Post by JKA »

Beryl wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:55 pm
I recently read Southern Exposure which is about a solo circumnavigation of the South Island of New Zealand. Despite paddling routinely outrageous seas, what really freaked the author out was being caught in an off-shore wind.
Note also that the author of that book, Chris Duff, is a former US Navy diver, with the water confidence and ocean-swimming skills that role required.

When he was smashed up in surf on his South Island trip he had multiple roll attempts during which he was frequently pounded into rocks. Most of us would have swam after the first impact. He's a tough dude.

I would suggest that most mortals would be unlikely to survive a 1km swim in the sea.

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Re: Long swim.

Post by mrcharly »

JKA wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:36 am
Beryl wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:55 pm
I recently read Southern Exposure which is about a solo circumnavigation of the South Island of New Zealand. Despite paddling routinely outrageous seas, what really freaked the author out was being caught in an off-shore wind.
Note also that the author of that book, Chris Duff, is a former US Navy diver, with the water confidence and ocean-swimming skills that role required.

When he was smashed up in surf on his South Island trip he had multiple roll attempts during which he was frequently pounded into rocks. Most of us would have swam after the first impact. He's a tough dude.

I would suggest that most mortals would be unlikely to survive a 1km swim in the sea.
I agree.

Many of us can swim 1km in decent conditions.

Rough, breaking seas, cold water, already tired (or injured)? Not a hope.

IF we were wearing a PFD and suitable clothing for immersion, yes, we might make it.

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Re: Long swim.

Post by PlymouthDamo »

mrcharly wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:53 pm
IF we were wearing a PFD and suitable clothing for immersion, yes, we might make it.
PFDs and dry suits are obviously important for keeping you alive, but can stuff you when it comes to long swims. I know of two local divers who came up from a boat dive off the coast of Cornwall, to find their boat had headed back without them. This disastrous mistake wasn't realised until their dive club had got back to base and they noticed two extra sets of clothes/bags sitting there. The lifeboat spent hours searching for them without success, and it was only a fisherman who'd heard the unfolding incident on his VHF that was able to use his knowledge of the local tidal flows to motor out and find them. I saw these guys on the Torpoint Ferry a few days later and they were telling my mate that they'd basically accepted they were going to die. They were theoretically within swimming distance of the shore, and had fins on, but they were too cumbersome in their dry-suits and buoyancy aids and the tidal currents had other plans for them.

On a different tack, at the time, this incident gave me an idea about a simple design change to kayaking dry-suits which could make a huge difference to sea survival. Diving dry-suits have inflate valves to 'trim' your buoyancy underwater, but can also be used to turn yourself into the Michelin Man at the surface. This would mean you were floating like a balloon on top of the water, rather than treading water in a vertical position where your suit gets shrink-wrapped around you. This would massively increase your insulation - trapped air is a great insulator, so if your suit is fully inflated, you'll massively reduce your surface area exposed to the ambient water/air temperature. So if paddling drysuits had a one-way oral-inflate tube somewhere near your mouth, like you get on life-jackets, you could massively increase the time before you die of hypothermia, or reduce the chances of you dying of cardiac arrest if you were lifted in a vertical orientation onto a rescue boat. (Obviously, if you ever found yourself in a position where you needed to use something like this, you're probably dead anyway, but it would be a very cheap and easy way to buy you a few extra hours.)

rockhopper
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Re: Long swim.

Post by rockhopper »

and...floating on top of the water you would be much easier to spot..

TheEcho
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Re: Long swim.

Post by TheEcho »

Interesting idea! Maybe the next time our club does a wet skills session I shall produce a short length of stout hose and invite a swimmer to thread it through their wrist seal and start blowing themselves up.

They might think I was insane for even suggesting it, but maybe they think that anyway.

Chris Bolton
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Chris Bolton »

There's another way to surround yourself with air, which is to take one of those orange polythene survival bags and hold it open above your head so that the wind fills it. Then pull it over you, round your feet and up between your knees. You are now inside a large orange marker buoy, protected from spray and with reduced water circulation around you. After about 15 minutes you need to refresh the air. I've tried it and it works.

mcgruff
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Re: Long swim.

Post by mcgruff »

mrcharly wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:53 pm
Many of us can swim 1km in decent conditions.

Rough, breaking seas, cold water, already tired (or injured)? Not a hope.

IF we were wearing a PFD and suitable clothing for immersion, yes, we might make it.
On the few times I've tried, it was surprisingly easy to swim in rough water. Just dive under the breakers and out the other side. Timing is everything.

I remember one rough, squally day on Skye when a friend and I had gone down to the beach to wash off the bothy grime and play in the surf. There were big, intimidating waves rolling in but we kept swimming out farther and farther. Eventually we got smacked by a vicious hail shower and we were so far out we couldn't even see the shore through the driving curtains of hail, hissing on the sea all around us. Just these big breaking waves everywhere and the two of us, laughing our heads off because we weren't dead yet.

We didn't stay in long though. We weren't that stupid.
Have fun and don't die.

mcgruff
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Re: Long swim.

Post by mcgruff »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:24 pm
There's another way to surround yourself with air, which is to take one of those orange polythene survival bags and hold it open above your head so that the wind fills it. Then pull it over you, round your feet and up between your knees. You are now inside a large orange marker buoy, protected from spray and with reduced water circulation around you. After about 15 minutes you need to refresh the air. I've tried it and it works.
Some packrafts are extremely lightweight and small enough to stow. The problem would be getting it inflated while you tread water.

At least navigation would be very easy: "which way is the wind going? Alright then."
Have fun and don't die.

ChrisJK
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Re: Long swim.

Post by ChrisJK »

Waychinicup is roughly facing the Indian Ocean https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/waychinicup. I guess it is spring there so the water won't have been at it's warmest.
The kayaker may just have been wearing a wetsuit and been a good swimmer. As previously mentioned he could possibly have been in an inflatable. I regularly swam over half a mile in my local pool till Covid deprived us all of so many things and 1km is 40 lengths. Without a BA a strong swimmer is a lot less susceptible to the wind.
There are many unknowns in this story. I generally carry a Chillswim float/drybag which has a belt attachment so I guess if I really had to swim I'd take that with me.

Mark Graham
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Mark Graham »

A couple of years ago a fisherman fell overboard in Loch nan Uamh and managed a very long swim, I think it was about 3km. The alarm was raised when his creel boat was found aground. I understand he was found in the pub!
Speaking as an ex diver, an inflated drysuit restricts your movements massively so it might keep you afloat but you would have difficulty orienting yourself and avoiding breaking waves etc. I'm also an occasional triathlete and I'm confident of being able to swim a couple of Km in open water - but wearing a purpose designed swimming wetsuit. It's much harder in diving or even windsurfing suits, although I have done it. I don't think it's the swim that's the problem, it's the cold.

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EK Sydney
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Re: Long swim.

Post by EK Sydney »

I once convinced a particularly hairy chested group who were wanting to have a surf coaching session in some outrageous swell, to instead go to plan B, by telling them that before they could go out in their kayaks, they had to swim out past the last line of breakers and body surf back in.

I can usually rely on your average sea kayaker being a pretty shit swimmer, even here in Australia where the water is warm,
I reckon if you intend to paddle on the ocean, you should also be very competent at swimming in it.

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Ceegee
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Ceegee »

This reminds me of https://youtu.be/2_i3SE3ECPY
. From 24:00 to avoid the tedious intro and clownishness. Swimming is generally a bad idea! This guys boat washed ashore intact and was quickly found, while he ended up swimming an entire night.
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Re: Long swim.

Post by adventureagent »

Ceegee wrote:
Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:10 am
This reminds me of https://youtu.be/2_i3SE3ECPY
. From 24:00 to avoid the tedious intro and clownishness. Swimming is generally a bad idea! This guys boat washed ashore intact and was quickly found, while he ended up swimming an entire night.
Thanks for this link, Ceegee. I'm gonna pass it on to a couple of groups here.

We recently had a cold water swim here in Ontario Canada. I offered to tow the paddler to shore and get the boat and all after that. He chose to bounce in the chop and push his boat ashore. There was a construction crew about a hundred metres away and warm cars. He got back in the boat. Dressed for warm weather, no paddling shell, no hat, no skirt.

Our "trip leader" and the other paddler had been ahead and seldom looked back. Only my shouts brought them about. She chose to take a long straight route to our put-in. I don't like to argue in some situations. She avoided the shelter of the islands enroute, which would have been warmer, less challenging conditions. I stayed downwind, back with the wet paddler, monitoring. I've yet to get together with these folk and advise them of my thoughts.

It seems timely that this presents itself. Personally, I like to stay close to shore. I'm not a strong swimmer at all, and my paddling swims were in December and January, so I know what cold water does to ME. This video may smarten some of us up. Thanks again.
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Douglas Wilcox
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

I have had a 1.5km swim in rough conditions after windsurfing gear failure. It is a very frightening experience and you need to keep a very cool head. If you panic, it is probably game over.

In autum 2015 I was out windsurfing on Fleet Bay on the Solway with a brand new top of the range rig. It was blowing F5-F6 from the south west against an ebb spring tide which was running about 2 knots. It was rough with about 1.5m steep, breaking waves but excellent fun. About 1.5km offshore the new universal joint sudennly parted company with the new mast foot, while I was travlling at about 25 knots. I found myself flying into the water still holding onto the rig. The board disappeared downwind. I immediately swam after it as quickly as I could but it was drifting downwind about 3 times faster than I could swim. I gave up and swam back to the rig (it cost more than a carbon sea kayak). As I swam I contemplated what to do. I was on my own but I did have a PLB. I could have hung onto the rig, activated the PLB and waited for rescue hoping a bright sail would be visible from the air despite being carried out into the North Irish Sea by the tide. However, I decided to abandon the rig. I swim a km in the pool every day during the winter and from late June to end October, when the sea temp is above 12C, I swim a km most days.

I was wearing a 5/4/3mm tight fighting, stretchy wetsuit, which lets almost no water in. The water temperature was 12C so fortunately I was not cold. I had a 40N buoyancy crash flotation vest and a waist harness that probably had another 4N flotation. I knew it would be a waste of energy and impossible to swim back to my launch point up tide so I swam at right angles to the direction of the tide and the opposing wind, which meant I was swimming parallel with the waves and at right angles to the shore. I was not trying to head for a particular point on the shore and let myself be carried along the coast by the tide. Fortunately, as a wild swimmer and a windsurfer, I am used to seeing waves from water level, it is very scary. I found it very difficult to breath in the broken, aerated water and several times was tumbled over and over by breaking waves. I did realize that each time this happened I gained some ground against the tide. I swam a sort of side/breast stroke so I could see the waves coming and try and time my breathing to avoid choking on the foam.

It was not long till I decided not to look at the shore as I seemed to be making no progress. Instead I decided to swim 250 strokes then look. If it still didn't look like I was getting there I would have activated the PLB. Fortunately I could see some progress and I adopted the Joe Simpson (Touching the Void) approach of breaking the seemingly insurmountable task into small achievable steps. I stopped for a look every 100 strokes and each time I could see I had made a little progress. It took an hour and 20 minutes to finally reach shore, several km down tide. I was shaking like a leaf and could hardly walk back. I phoned the coastguard to report the lost gear. Later I recovered the undamaged board from downwind of where I had lost it but never saw the rig again.

It put me off swimming in rough water for a couple of weeks but I gradually regained my confidence. Obviously some may say that I should not go out on my own but if that was the case I wouldn't get out at all, mid week in autumn. F5-F6 is not particularly extreme for windsurfing and since I started in '77 I have never suffered a gear failure like this, either before or since. The gear brand was a well known premium American company but, unknown to me, it had been taken over by a European company and quality control had slipped. I also practice a variety of self rescue techniques including rough water swimming. I have previously rescued myself after breaking a mast, breaking a boom and going right through a sail (not all at once). I have also recovered myself after breaking ribs, broken nose, dislocated thumb and dislocated knee. Anyway I still windsurf on my own. I know you are not supposed to leave the boat as you will be easier to find. However, in this case the "boat" left me. I was fortunate that the tide was carrying me along the line of the bay. I calculated that I would have time to swim to shore before the tide carried me out the bay. So, self rescue was an option in the circumstances. If I had been at the mouth of the bay when the gear failed (I always keep inside the bay if I am on my own) then I would have hung onto the sail and activated the PLB.

Although this was not a sea kayaking incident, if the worst happens and you end up out your kayak in the water, the similarities begin to appear. I also sea kayak on my own, probably about 90% of my paddling miles. When on my own, I always dress for immersion in the current sea temperature, even though I can swim for 30 minutes in 12C water without thermal protection. I also carry a VHF radio and a laser flare when sea kayaking.

Conditions were like this on the water:
Image


and this on the shore:
Image


I regularly swim in rough water which I think played a major part in my successful self rescue:
Image

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Ceegee
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Re: Long swim.

Post by Ceegee »

Wow Douglas! What an epic (and expensive) outing!

Sometimes swimming just isn't an option anyhow. My last incident of any epicicity was a solo trip around Cap Formentor. Sea state on the south side was unfortunately an order of magnitude worse once rounding the Cape, requiring standing off several 100'm. The problem here was turning and fighting back against wind and quartering seas, or just pressing on, which I chose to do.

It's around 5km of zero, and I mean zero, landing either back or forward, or a swimming even further across an open bay to an equally inhospitable headland.

Image

In all, better to have reliable roll and self rescue skills, which involves NOT loosing the boat or paddle. If I HAD had to swim, I'd definitely stay with the boat, for buoyancy and visibility, and even if I couldn't re-enter, straddle flat on the rear deck, out-rig with a paddle and float, and then let the wind take me to calmer water on a sheltered shore.

If solo and concerned, I usually clip the paddle lease to the deck (always have a spare anyhow) and my waist tow to a deckline. I don't think the risk of entanglement on rolling or exiting is of much concern.

At least here on the Med you are normally talking about 18°+ water and onshore afternoon winds.
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Steve C. G.

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Re: Long swim.

Post by mcgruff »

Douglas Wilcox wrote:
Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:56 pm
I have had a 1.5km swim in rough conditions after windsurfing gear failure. It is a very frightening experience and you need to keep a very cool head. If you panic, it is probably game over.
You can train, choose the right equipment, dress for immersion etc, but this must be the hardest part of all.
Have fun and don't die.

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Re: Long swim.

Post by ike »

Thanks for sharing Douglas. I always suspected from your posts that you were some man for one man.

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Re: Long swim.

Post by Beryl »

ike wrote:
Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:26 pm
Thanks for sharing Douglas. I always suspected from your posts that you were some man for one man.
I also think Douglas has done a good job with his allotted time that has benefited kayaking by some margin. His opinions on the Norkapp lV helped me understand the behaviour of my shrike for example. It has no defined edge, you just have judge it by eye.
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