Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24134
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 15 times
Contact:

Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by Mark R »

Mark Rainsley
FACEBOOK

User avatar
Ceegee
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:32 pm
Location: Mallorca North Coast
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by Ceegee »

Unbelievable

Presumably the advantage of learning how to do a basic assisted rescue, as opposed to 4 hours of open water swimming, will not be lost on the victim for the future.
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

johnb
Posts: 487
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:49 pm
Location: Rainow, Cheshire

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by johnb »

"kayak" can mean anything from inflatable kayak, sit on top through to decked varieties, so it's difficult to know what happened and how quickly the swimmer was parted from their boat.

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 13964
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 48 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by Jim »

johnb wrote:"kayak" can mean anything from inflatable kayak, sit on top through to decked varieties, so it's difficult to know what happened and how quickly the swimmer was parted from their boat.
Yes, but his wife apparantly stayed in/on hers and paddled alongside him all the way back to shore, which makes one wonder if some rescue training could perhaps have allowed her to help him back in/on his own boat?

Of course, empty kayaks blow away damn fast if you let go - decision: do you paddle after it and get further from shore hoping you can slow it enough for the swimmer to catch up, or do you leave it and help the swimmer get to shore......??

That's a good one to think about, I am quite familiar with rescues and carry VHF etc. but even so faced with a swimmer who had let the boat get away I have no idea what my decision would be - I would probably take account of where I am etc. to guide me, and maybe would choose opposite options depending on the external factors.

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8089
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by MikeB »

Jim wrote: Of course, empty kayaks blow away damn fast if you let go - decision: do you paddle after it and get further from shore hoping you can slow it enough for the swimmer to catch up, or do you leave it and help the swimmer get to shore......??

That's a good one to think about, I am quite familiar with rescues and carry VHF etc. but even so faced with a swimmer who had let the boat get away I have no idea what my decision would be - I would probably take account of where I am etc. to guide me, and maybe would choose opposite options depending on the external factors.
It's a hard one - as you say, the boat can get a heck of a long way away in a very short time! Each scenario will be different, but getting the boat back is a high priority - the swimmer will more or less stay where they are in the water of course. Finding them again may be a challenge - a paddle held in the air helps locate them. Assuming they have one, and haven't lost it as well. Equally, one of the benefits of the structured training process (the Star awards - - ) is that one gets drilled not to let go of the gear. Paddling back into a chunky sea against a strong wind may be interesting too, possibly towing a flooded boat.

I do know of one scenario where (as I understand it) two people ended up in the water in the Forth - one let their boat go (they'd never had any training - - ) and the boat just took off and there was no way it was going to be recovered - F7 apparently, and the boat just skipped away at speed, being bounced over the wave tops. That one ended with 3 rescue boats following a mobile phone call - from one of the swimmers! No one had VHF - although in fairness, it was a while ago and they weren't commonplace back in the day.

I guess one of the other lessons is about choosing your paddling companions with care. It's why I'm possibly over-cautious with what I do when organising outings with people I don't know.

CM2
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:32 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by CM2 »

Mike is spot on it might be a case of learning the advantage of keeping hold of your boat and kayak.

I was once doing an incident management session on a symposium. When one of the instructors was paddling alongside me and another person in the group. He asked if either of us had a towline, looked around then jumped out his boat and pushed it away.

At the time it was blowing about F5 but we were in fairly sheltered waters so there was minimal swell. I told the other guy to stay with the swimming and went off at top speed to pick up the boat. Despite us paddling downwind (i.e. I didn't have much turning to do before starting the chase) I was about 300m away from the others by the time I had caught it. I would have been hard to spot a swimmer to return to rather than a kayak.

I was aware how many things could make the "rescue" much harder. Without a towline it would be almost impossible to move the kayak back to the swimmer. With only people you have a hard choice of trying to recover the kayak or staying with the swimmer. The instructor looked round for squalls before jumping, he said that at around F7 the kayak would start to roll over the water at almost the same speed as the wind giving a kayaker no chance of catching it.

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8089
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by MikeB »

I've found that having the "short tow" / "contact tow" on my boat makes boat recovery a lot easier - that, or a waist tow. Using the long boat-mounted line is a pain in such situations. But if nothing else, some form of tow capability is essential. Another thing one learns having done some training, and not just "gone paddling" with pals. (Unless of course they provide similar training / development - which is, in my experience, highly unusual). I found out about the short-tow idea thanks to an update / development-day some years ago.

User avatar
mduncombe
Posts: 141
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:59 pm

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by mduncombe »

Yes, but his wife apparantly stayed in/on hers and paddled alongside him all the way back to shore,
Its an interesting scenario. Lets say you have two paddlers, one more experienced/confident than the other and the experienced one ends up in the water for what ever reason. Should the less experienced one leave the one in the water and chase after the boat, possibly resulting in them being separated and even both ending up in the water some distance from each other. I can see that there would be times that letting the other boat go would be the right thing to do as having two with one kayak is better than having two without and separated, especially if the one not in the water was not confident to chase after the loose boat safely for what ever reason.

Of course it would be best not to get into that situation to begin with by having at least 3 paddlers, not putting yourself into a situation were it could happen and hanging on to your boat/paddle if you do go in and having a means to tow a boat etc.

Just out of interest, would a paddle attached with a paddle leash, dragging in the water slow the loose but down and make it easier to catch either by the swimmer or another kayak?

CM2
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:32 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by CM2 »

mduncombe wrote:
Yes, but his wife apparantly stayed in/on hers and paddled alongside him all the way back to shore,
Its an interesting scenario. Lets say you have two paddlers, one more experienced/confident than the other and the experienced one ends up in the water for what ever reason. Should the less experienced one leave the one in the water and chase after the boat, possibly resulting in them being separated and even both ending up in the water some distance from each other. I can see that there would be times that letting the other boat go would be the right thing to do as having two with one kayak is better than having two without and separated, especially if the one not in the water was not confident to chase after the loose boat safely for what ever reason.

Of course it would be best not to get into that situation to begin with by having at least 3 paddlers, not putting yourself into a situation were it could happen and hanging on to your boat/paddle if you do go in and having a means to tow a boat etc.

Just out of interest, would a paddle attached with a paddle leash, dragging in the water slow the loose but down and make it easier to catch either by the swimmer or another kayak?
Even if the less experienced paddler is in the water it can be a dilemma, by the time the experienced kayaker has caught up with the boat and attached a tow line they might find it very hard to find the swimmer especially if there is a swell. When I sailed dingies the man overboard drill was if there is more than one person still in the boat one should do nothing but keep his eyes on the person in the water to reduce the chances of losing them. If there is only one person left you still try to watch them nearly all the time and try to turn back to them ASAP while still giving you time to get into position. This shows how easy it is to lose sight of someone in the water.

Regarding the paddle leash I'm not sure how much it slows the kayak down but it does mean that as long as the capsized person keeps hold of either their boat or their paddle then they have both.

User avatar
TechnoEngineer
Posts: 3352
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 7:47 pm
Location: Berks, Hants, Essex
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by TechnoEngineer »

Paddler should hold onto their paddle - and then he can hold his paddle in the air to keep himself more visible.

I like the idea of having a drogue sat on top of a SOT....
XL-Burn-3 / Monstar / XPlore-X/ My Videos

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8089
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by MikeB »

In reality, in any real wind, a paddle on a leash isn't going to get any grip in the water. On the subject of leashes, while they have benefits, there is also a view that they cause more problems than they solve. Certainly using them as a solution to not learning to hang onto the kit isn't a good one.

Two more stories - a pal with more money than sense actually asked a retailer to outfit him with the sort of gear which would save him having to actually learn how to paddle. To avoid learning edging, he bought a boat with a rudder. And a paddle leash seemed, of course, another tech solution. Anyway, halfway to the Farmes, our man ends up in the water with the leash wrapped round him and by his own admission would have drowned had someone else not been there to cut him free.

I cut a rather expensive p/leash one day while rescuing someone's boat in some lumpy stuff and a bit of a blow - the blasted paddle went under my boat and made it almost impossible to recover their boat. They weren't pleased.

Mike.

User avatar
Ceegee
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:32 pm
Location: Mallorca North Coast
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by Ceegee »

Nearly every aspect of this thread goes to training.

We discuss scenarios and have reactive strategies planned for each eventuality, preferably ones that have been practiced in advance.

Our general consensus is leave the swimmer and go for the boat, immediately, time being of the essence!

There is an argument for putting the stronger paddler (potential rescuer) upwind so they can see the incident and chase down the drifting boat, passing the swimmer to give assurance. This IMO is preferable to having them downwind having to constantly check behind for a potential incident, although that allows them to sweep up the loose boat more quickly.

Battling upwind towing the boat, in lumpy seas where you cannot easily see the swimmer is an issue, hence the shorter the delay the better.

As regards the weaker paddler leaving the stronger victim to catch the boat. They should not be out beyond the competence of the weakest paddler at all IMO. If the stronger paddler is swimming it is likely only a matter of minutes before the weaker is in, especially in a high stress solo situation chasing, catching, turning and towing a boat. In this case they are both potential swimmers the second the stronger paddler goes in. In conditions where the weaker paddler is in, the stronger paddler should still be in conditions of relatively easy self rescue, if needed.

The best solution is separation avoidance. I'm also mixed on paddle leashes, but carry one to use if needed, especially if hands-free are needed during rescues. Again, if a paddling in conditions where a paddle might get lost, that is where you are carrying a spare - or should be). A waist tow is also highly advantageous,and in worst case can be clipped to the boat in advance of or after a swim. And f course a contact tow for quickly latching onto and controlling the boat to be towed.

The main lesson (not appreciated even by many experienced and competent paddlers) is the impossibility of catching a boat drifting faster than you can swim. A boat a mere 6" out of reach is to all practical purposes no different to being a mile over the horizon.

My daughter learned this the hard way after some rescue practice when she accidentally let go during a self rescue. I back paddled to keep pace with her drifting boat as she vainly tried to catch it as it drifted tantalizing inches further from her fingers than she could swim after it. There wasn't even much wind!

For any of the above to be effective you need to be out there with:
1) spare paddle
2) paddle leash (whether used or not)
3) contact tow line on front deck
4) waist-mounted long tow

but then we all are aren't we?
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

User avatar
Ceegee
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:32 pm
Location: Mallorca North Coast
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by Ceegee »

mduncombe wrote:would a paddle attached with a paddle leash, dragging in the water slow the loose but down and make it easier to catch either by the swimmer or another kayak?
IMO not really. The paddle tends to lie flat on the water on the lee of the drifting boat. It was attached in the scenario I described above and made no difference. My suggestion is try it! Wait for a breezy onshore day and go for a "swim" with a paddling partner present. It is an eye-opener.
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

User avatar
Kitfaffer
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 3:59 pm

Re: Rescue of 'drifting kayak' at Needles

Post by Kitfaffer »

Dress for Immersion. carry your location gear with you actually on your person. Not in your boat.
Have the means to quickly attach a jockstrap to your PFD. Buy a Yellow Aquatherm hood from Reed put it on if you lose your boat. After all any rescuer can only see your head. Holding a paddle vertically, if you retained it, whilst trying to maintain your orientation in the water column sufficiently to protect your airway is not realistically going to happen. in seas that caused you to swim in the first place. Buy a see Rescue Streamer. Inflate your drycag or drysuit. Inflate your Hydration bladder if it has a dry lok tube.
Attatch yourself to your boat ( Use a weak link )
Velcro sandwich is the best method. If you lose your paddle no biggie. You should have a spare strapped on your boat ... right. Remember you will die at the onset of hypothermia from water ingestion leading to drowning. Hypothermia doesnt kill swimmers. You dont live long enough.
Using Tapatalk

Post Reply