Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill^

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by horis karloff » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:18 pm

would love to know the full story to this, leadership, plans, individual skills etc.

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Barnacle Bill » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:41 pm

Five paddlers from Isle of Portland Canoe Club paddled from Portland Harbour around the Island East to West. We heard the group of 15 paddlers from Hamble Canoe Club, call sign Yellow Kayak, check in with the coastguard at 10.30 as we were paddling across Portland harbour.

We found conditions to be quite sporty in places with tidal activity off all the small headlands. We had a reality check at the last headland before the Bill and as all 5 of us were comfortable we went round.

Portland Coastguard talked to us when we were on the western side of the island and heading for our landing at Chesil cove to warn us of a difficult landing in dumping surf. We landed without incident and told Portland Coastguard when we were safely off the water at 14.00.

We did meet a person who was waiting for the Hamble group and after we had been ashore for an hour (waiting for shuttle etc) I turned my VHF back to Channel 16 at about 15.00 in case there was a problem, I didn't pick anything up - the incident didn't happen until 16.00

Thanks to Portland Coastguard for your help with our group today .

Much sympathy with all those involved in the incident. I hope everyone involved is now safe and well.


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Mark R
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Mark R » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:14 pm

Reports seem to indicate that those involved are all now safe, I do hope that this is the case.

Major sea kayak incidents are rare in Dorset. In recent years there has only been one other Portland incident and the Swanage Race.

Please keep comments sensitive and unspeculative.
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Sprucey » Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:06 pm

There is a certain irony here!

This morning, we at Portsmouth & District Canoe club were on a visit to Solent Coastguard Rescue coordination centre at Lee on Solent and we saw the initial report from the 16 kayaks letting the MCA know of there intentions for their paddle. It was logged onto the MCA system, both at Portland and at Solent.
One of the questions we asked is should we call in intended trips to the MCA and the overwhelmig response was - YES!

Telphone them before launching, check they are not handling an incident and let them know what you are doing. The important information requested was solid info ie Number of kayaks, colours of boats paddling, intended destination with timings and more importantly, splits or intermediate check points with estimated timings where you can call/check progress (it minimises potential search areas if it does go wrong), is there a listening watch on VHF? etc. They sugested a "Club" CG66 form (rather than idividual although it is well worth us all logging on to get individual CG66 forms as well - it cost nothing an might just save your life) to cover all the boats paddling - that would include trip and alternative contact telephone numbers and an amendment could be made re: numbers and colours of boats actiually paddling that day.

We left the centre at 1300 so cannot comment any further.

I have just watched the report on BBC news - it looks like they are all safe and well which is great.

Sprucey

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by brevan » Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:23 pm

I'm a member of the club but have not heard from any of the club members involved about what caused the problems for them - they'll be getting home late.

There were certainly experienced paddlers in the group and it was well equipped according to the coastguard http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-12106015

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by powereduppackman » Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:31 pm

Everyone involved is now fine.

Big thanks to the RNLI and the Coast Guard for a very speedy service.

- Chris.

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Yakdiver » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:25 am

That's my club too, 16 people and there kayakers is a lot to rescue so three cheers for the RNLI well done guys
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Mark R
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Mark R » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:13 am

This incident has made the national news. Inevitably, opinions have been expressed in the press, including implied criticism of the group from Portland CG -

http://www.thisisdorset.net/news/876635 ... land_Race/

Image

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h06yYhrFoqM

I've collated a whole load of news reports at the SWSK FB page - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=1 ... 954&v=wall
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Barnacle Bill » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:51 pm

Everyone involved is now fine.
Glad everyone is OK. It must have been very scary
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:59 pm

As always some of the press have distorted things.

Looks to me like someone made a good decision in plenty of time and followed it up in the best possible way.
I wonder how many of us would have missed the signs and not made a call until after there had been capsizes and the group was scattered to the 4 winds? I doubt I would.
Good job I say.

Sprucey - could you start a new thread with the stuff you picked up from the coastguard? I feel there is more to discuss but that this is not the thread to do it in.

Jim

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by yellowportland » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:27 pm

Hi,
Thanks Jim for the support.

As you have probably guessed from the last reply, I was the person leading the group.

The press have tried to sensationalise the event. Quite news day, 16 people involved?.

I'm not going into exact details, as I could get quoted from this site. but I have put the statement that I have given to South Today.
Who are going to show footage of the rescue filmed from the helicopter on tonights program.
The group were experienced, trained and fully equipped for paddling the waters around Portland.
Having successfully negotiated Portland Bill from east to west. The final leg was started. Several small things during the day had compounded to alter the groups original plan. Back up plans were used and whilst the group were heading for a landing spot by Portland Bill, one of several back up plans and something the group was capable off. One person took a swim and was rescued by members of the group back into their kayak. The group had now drifted on to the edge of the tidal race. The decision was then made to call for assistance. All Persons were rescued from their rafted kayaks before darkness fell. The kayaks were rescued afterwards, hence why it was dark.
I can not praise the rescue services enough for their professional and speedy response, and also the paddlers involved who put their training into practice, making sure the group stayed safe.


Also if any local paddlers to Portland recover any kit, please PM me.
All boats were accounted for, but were short of a couple of paddles, tow lines and pumps.

One of the people rescued has some footage of the rescue and will post shortly.

Thanks
Nig

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Mark R » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:15 pm

Jim wrote:As always some of the press have distorted things.
...or misunderstood things. For example, I doubt that everyone in the group was an instructor.

However, the coastguard's comments cannot be ignored or dismissed. They do not issue uninformed, impromptu or baseless statements to the press; they will have chosen those words very carefully.
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Yakdiver » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:46 pm

Just out of interest, how does one get out of your kayak and on to a pitching boat, I hope it never happens to me
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Jersey Kayak » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:36 pm

Things go wrong. Perhaps what is needed is an outline from the group as to what happened as the media reports vary. Until then it is perhaps best to wait before passing judgment.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to make the call for help. Incidents are often a result of a chain of events and if we know them then something positive can result from this.

There may be lessons we can all learn from and I hope that this is shared like the Dutch did below (even if not in such detail).

There was a major incident involving some very experienced Dutch paddlers in June 2010. No doubt already linked on this site. Their review highlights some key factors. http://www.seakayaker.nl/TMP/ReportSeaK ... ne2010.pdf

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Jim » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:12 pm

Mark R wrote:However, the coastguard's comments cannot be ignored or dismissed. They do not issue uninformed, impromptu or baseless statements to the press; they will have chosen those words very carefully.
Some of the comments are strange and may have been used out of context, it looks more like a collection of sound bites than a statement, but you are right, comments from the professionals are always worth thinking about.

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Bridget » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:47 am

I was in the area that afternoon, wishing we'd brought our kayaks with us instead of the day's walking - maybe not! I'm not an experienced paddler, but would always be with someone who was.

Just a couple of things that worried me a bit about what happened at Portland Bill that day that I only ask for future reference for myself. It seems the kayaker's were experienced and did everything by the book but were you aware of The Race and it's tidal currents? And did the coastguard inform you of the possible danger in that area? It was an excellent rescue operation and I'm very pleased you all made it out of the water safely, possibly due to your brave and early call for help, so I am not criticising, simply wondering how you find out about particular risks in certain area's. I've paddled before in Dorset and hope to again soon. We (stupidly, I see now) didn't think to inform the coastguard of our trip. Does the coastguard readily give you this info?

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Bards » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:15 am

Bridget, I think the CG would be of the opinion that if due research hasn't been done by the paddlers in advance when a location is of such national reknown, then they would probably not like to see them active on their manor, and would be likely to make that very clear! Even if the feature were unknown, a quick squint at an OS map would show the East-West tidal flow is likely to result liveliness at least around such a prominence and is hence in need of more prior familiarisation. That is neither a criticism of your question (just my opinion of the answer, and well done for asking it...) nor the kayakers prompting it; I have no info on the incident bar that on the web and do not wish to question any of their decisions from a position of ignorance. I find it hard to believe any localish club would not have access to a guide in any case (chart, almanac, MarkR's book...)
The more help we give the CGs (registering activities which may cause false alarms, alerting of sights we are concerned about etc) and less we ask from them - in this case of this question info we can get elsewhere, and also response to an incident that could/should have been avoided (not a reference to this incident please note) the better IMO...

In any event you may well soon need to 'phone Solent and not Portland, but that's another whole can of worms...

I'm sure those involved in the actual event of this thread could give you some first-hand info - we all always have something to learn, and I look forward to improving my awareness from it; whether it turns out to be learning from an example of 'good practice' or otherwise... I have certainly been too shy with CH16 once before, though fortune saved my blushes and the rescue services increased inconvenience that day.

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Mark Gawler » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:49 am

Yakdiver wrote:Just out of interest, how does one get out of your kayak and on to a pitching boat, I hope it never happens to me
When I was kidnapped by the RNLI I got out in to the inshore lifeboat and then transferred to the Severn Class lifeboat.
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Geko » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:35 am

I think you are very fortunate in your part of the world to have the rescue resources quick on hand that appear in the video clip and fantastic that all paddlers are safe.However at the risk of being a little crass who pays ??
Chris

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Jim » Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:47 am

Bridget wrote:It seems the kayaker's were experienced and did everything by the book but were you aware of The Race and it's tidal currents?
Could I suggest people read YellowPortland's statement a few times, you may find some answers are already there.... (in this case, yes they were aware)

Bridget - as a novice, were you aware of the Portland race and/or do you know how to find out about an area before paddling there?
These are the sort of things I hope we can help with here, there is a lot of knowledge in these forums to tap into, the difficulty is in how to let novices know..???

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Jim » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:06 am

Geko wrote:I think you are very fortunate in your part of the world to have the rescue resources quick on hand that appear in the video clip and fantastic that all paddlers are safe.However at the risk of being a little crass who pays ??
Chris
The lifeboats (RNLI) are funded by charitable donations.
The helicopters are funded from different sources, where military aircraft are used the operation replaces otherwise pointless training missions so there should be no difference in cost to the public purse (although the bean counters probably have a different take).
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency are partly funded by taxpayers and partly by the fees they charge for all sorts of shipping and marine related services, they make no charge for using their rescue services (they operate some of the helicopters through private operators), but where the money to provide them actually comes from I couldn't say. The co-ordination role is an extension of the co-ordination of all marine traffic in UK waters which they are doing 24/7 anyway.

A great many recreational sea users make donations to the RNLI, many take out subscriptions or make them their charity of choice when doing fundraising events (I do).

I don't know what the breakdown is between rescues for leisure users, and rescues for the various marine industries, but whilst the latter is still a major factor it's a service that is unlikely to be cut. No distinction is made, our rescue services will airlift a sick phillipino crew member from a spanish freighter with the same priority as a british kayaker - it's about preserving lives on 'our patch', not whose life and whether they can afford or deserve it. In the end, as taxpayers we all pay.

It is a pretty good setup eh?

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Bridget » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:48 am

My apologies if I have caused offence to any of the 16 paddlers on the trip regarding prior knowledge of the Race. It is simply my own ignorance of the information that is available out there, that I wondered. The statement made talked about drifting into the tidal race, but did not state whether this was something the group had known about before or not. I see now, that such an experienced group would have had prior knowledge, however my ignorance reflects possibly much of the general public who would be unaware of such things and this is such a question that many non-seafarers may wonder.

Yes, us novice’s are a danger, but speaking for myself I would not contemplate such a paddle without being in the company of experienced paddler’s. I belong to a club (always a good thing) and have paddled around Poole Harbour and Harry’s Rocks but along with 4 instructors. As for how to get the message across to inexperienced paddlers such as me, well unfortunately that’s a difficult thing but its incidents like this that highlight the dangers, so if you feel the event was over-sensationalised, perhaps it wasn’t such a bad thing. Luckily in this instance, all were safely rescued and maybe they have inadvertently saved the lives of others in the future who like me, it’s made them think about the issues more seriously and question what information is available to make the trip safer. Of course this group seemed to do everything by the book and accidents will always happen, but it could well have been their expertise and early call for help that saved them from a terrible fate.

This incident led me to your forum, where I can see much information is available and has made me think to question the leaders of future sea trips I go on about the knowledge they have of the area, the tides, the weather conditions and making the coastguard aware of our presence. Maybe an averted tragedy has saved more than simply the 16 kayakers from Hamble on the 2nd Jan. As well as refreshing our opinions of how valuable and excellent the rescue people are and possibly encouraging more support of their services.

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by TechnoEngineer » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:51 am

yellowportland wrote:I was the person leading the group.
One person took a swim and was rescued by members of the group back into their kayak. The group had now drifted on to the edge of the tidal race.
I'd be interested to know (by PM if necessary) how the group has reflected on their experience, and what lessons they learnt from it (i.e. whether there was anything they could have done differently). Such as, could/should have some people been towing the rafted group away from the race (or was this actually being done)? I don't recall ever practising such a technique (i.e. tows and T-rescues performed separately rather than together) so it could form useful input to training sessions.
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by johnb » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:28 am

If I'm reading my tidal streams info right, the group would have been in the vicinity of 3-4 knot flows. Not easy to tow against.
Couple this with the fact that eddies quite often mean tides both sides of the Bill will be pushing you further out into the channel and the larger race waves.
I.e not much room for error. I can easily see how having a swimmer could lead to this scenario.

Barbara - slightly different topic, but the photos on facebook showing the landing at Chesil Cove are from the same day?... the conditions there don't tie in with the "dumping surf" warning you were given. If I was leading a group and given that warning, then deciding to turn around and risk another negotiation of the Bill instead is a serious decision and I'd be pretty miffed if I knew the landing was OK.

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by adrian j pullin » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:52 am

Jim wrote:
I don't know what the breakdown is between rescues for leisure users, and rescues for the various marine industries, but whilst the latter is still a major factor it's a service that is unlikely to be cut. No distinction is made, our rescue services will airlift a sick phillipino crew member from a spanish freighter with the same priority as a british kayaker - it's about preserving lives on 'our patch', not whose life and whether they can afford or deserve it. In the end, as taxpayers we all pay.

It is a pretty good setup eh?
The RNLI publish stats annually which are available at http://www.rnli.org.uk/who_we_are/press ... oad_centre

FYI: commercial/MOD casualties account for only 2% of launches with fishing vessels adding 6%.
Pleasure craft split as follows:
Powered: 24%
Sail:21%
Manual (which I assume includes kayaks and surf boards): 9%

Over 50% of launches are to pleasure craft.

Might be a good time to visit http://www.rnli.org.uk/ and click "Donate now".
Cheers

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Barnacle Bill » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:53 pm

Barbara - slightly different topic, but the photos on facebook showing the landing at Chesil Cove are from the same day?... the conditions there don't tie in with the "dumping surf" warning you were given. If I was leading a group and given that warning, then deciding to turn around and risk another negotiation of the Bill instead is a serious decision and I'd be pretty miffed if I knew the landing was OK.
The photos are of the same day. There was some groundswell but the landing was not difficult. Our group landed at Chesil Cove at 13.45.
Portland CG spoke to us on VHF (using the call sign kayak Caroline)at about 13.00 when we were off Blacknor Point on the west side of the Isle of Portland. At that point it was calm enough to sit and eat sandwiches without being rafted. The CG had received information from an experienced local sea kayaker (who we know and trust) about large dumping surf at Chesil Cove. We discussed the info and decided we would get ashore at Chesil somehow as going back round the Bill (now the tide was nearing the ebb and flows would be approaching 5 knots) was not an option for us. Two of our group are born and bred Portlanders and we all had knowledge and experience of the area. We knew we could get ashore at Chesil. We approached the beach with caution and observed the waves for a while before going in. We all landed without difficulty.
I don't know if 'yellowkayak' had the same warning as we did. I didn't hear any communication from the Upper Hamble group after their call to log their trip when they were launching at Castletown at about 11.00.

The trip report and images from Isle of Portland Canoe Club trip around the Isle of Portland on 2nd January 2011 can be seen on http://www.iopcc.org
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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by Owen » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:59 pm

adrian j pullin wrote:
Jim wrote:
I don't know what the breakdown is between rescues for leisure users, and rescues for the various marine industries, but whilst the latter is still a major factor it's a service that is unlikely to be cut. No distinction is made, our rescue services will airlift a sick phillipino crew member from a spanish freighter with the same priority as a british kayaker - it's about preserving lives on 'our patch', not whose life and whether they can afford or deserve it. In the end, as taxpayers we all pay.

It is a pretty good setup eh?
The RNLI publish stats annually which are available at http://www.rnli.org.uk/who_we_are/press ... oad_centre

FYI: commercial/MOD casualties account for only 2% of launches with fishing vessels adding 6%.
Pleasure craft split as follows:
Powered: 24%
Sail:21%
Manual (which I assume includes kayaks and surf boards): 9%

Over 50% of launches are to pleasure craft.

Might be a good time to visit http://www.rnli.org.uk/ and click "Donate now".
That only makes 62%, what's the other 38%?

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by mduncombe » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:19 pm

It strikes me that a lot of things went right in this incident...

From what I can tell the group was well equipped, had informed the CG of their intentions, had experienced paddlers, had ways of communicating with rescue services, rescued a swimmer back into their Kayak, were able to raft up and called for help before things took a turn for the worse.

I do wonder if having such a large group makes the leaders job more difficult though, communicating whats going on, what to do in an emegency etc and results in people panicking, getting split from the main group. Is there a point where safety in numbers is no longer true?

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Re: Portland Coastguard assists 16 kayakers at Portland Bill

Post by nigelhatton » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:06 pm

Although 16 paddlers does seam a large group for this area it looks like the leaders did the right thing with their actions.

Unfortunatly there will always be experts sat in front of computers making assumptions about an event they were not present at.

If we had all been watching this incident from above we'd all know the facts.

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