RNLI - talk to us!

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RNLI - talk to us!

Post by RNLI » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:00 am

Dear paddlers,

Here at the RNLI we depend on you, the public, to fund the lifesaving work of our volunteers – without you we couldn’t save lives at sea. But it’s not just your financial support we value – you all spend time on the water and we’d like to listen to what you have to say.

So, we’d like to start some online conversations about the RNLI – what we do and how we run – so that we can answer any questions you might have and take your suggestions onboard. The idea is that we'll learn from you and maybe you'll get to know us a little bit better too. We're also trying to find out what you think of us so that we can make sure we're the best we can be at saving lives at sea.

The plan is to get a conversation going over the next dew days. I'll keep an eye on the thread, or feel free to PM me and I'll get back to you.

Just in case you think we're trying to be sneaky - we checked with Mark (one of this forum's Moderators) and he's given us the go ahead!

So, we’d like to kick off with an obvious question first:

How might you describe the RNLI to a friend who knows nothing about it?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Isla

RNLI

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by wideblueyonder » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:09 pm

Hi Isla,

Assuming you are the same Isla I met when NFKCC did the joint exercise with Lymington RNLI?

Good to see the RNLI getting involved on forums like this.

How would I describe the RNLI:

A group of highly professional, well trained and caring volunteers who give up huge amounts of time and effort to save lives on the sea.

Having watched the the Calshot Crew launch twice in the last week or so there are so well drilled it's amazing to see, and rain or shine they are there every Weds evening putting in the hours training. Superb stuff.

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by tg » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:45 pm

As wildblueyonder above of course.

With regard to my local station I would be able say that many are experienced professional seamen and women, away from their duties with the RNLI. With crew members having experience ranging from MCA, to Trinity, to work boats, harbourside, fishing etc etc.

The training seems unparralleled. Any queries or subjects raised on this forum that I put to any of them they are willing to provide answers and direction to further sources of information, and I have found them very diplomatic in their discourse. Very admirable.

Of course they are, almost without exception, if the local crew are anything to go by, rubbish pool players. 'Sorry Tim, can't make it Wednesday, I've got training next week'.. to busy in Poole, to play pool .... no wonder we're, at the bottom of the league.

Seriously, a great bunch of guys and gals. Including visiting engineers and relief cox's that come here from time to time.

Tim
"I sink therfore I am".

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by RNLI » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:51 pm

Hi Wildblueyonder,

Yes, it's me. I don't think there are that many Isla's around!

Thanks for your and tg's comments about the RNLI - I'm glad to hear we've made such a good impression. Although I'm not sure what to suggest in terms of improving your local crew's pool skills...

Keep those answers coming - we'd like to know what everyone thinks.

Regards,

Isla

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Yakdiver » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:12 pm

One word - courageous
Name Richard
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by puddled » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:25 pm

My perception is:
• Indispensible British Institution – glad it’s never been absorbed into Public Sector.
• Largely run by volunteers whose “professionalism” is much copied and envied in other countries.
• Completely positive image from any perspective.
• One of UK and Ireland’s favourite charities and rightfully so.
• Hope I never have to call you for help but glad you’re there.
• Even though I live no more than half a mile from a Lifeboat Station and have been used to seeing RNLI on the water in all parts of the UK coastline, I only recently realised that RNLI also runs Lifeguards on some beaches; I simply assumed that they were council run.
• I sometimes get miffed when I read on our local shout list of call-outs to silly and incompetent individuals – guess improved safety awareness and education may help but there will always be someone who’s just destined to be a casualty.
• I’m an Offshore Member and happy to help.

Oh yes, almost forgot – great Christmas cards but naff teddy bears ;-)

And another thing, how about some more sea kayak rescue practice on some of your Lifeboat Days?

How’s that for starters?

Pud
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by TheJesusofkayaking » Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:12 pm

RNLI wrote:
So, we’d like to kick off with an obvious question first:

How might you describe the RNLI to a friend who knows nothing about it?

Isla

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Ian_Montrose » Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:17 pm

I'd echo the sentiments expressed so far and I doubt you'll find anyone on here that holds the RNLI in anything less than the very highest regard. You are the fourth emergency service, despite what the AA might think.

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on sea kayakers, especially observations on common causes of kayak related incidents and unique challenges (if any) that sea kayaks present to your crews. Also, as it has been the subject of some discussion on here lately, do you see a growing trend in kayak incidents to the extent that it is causing concern?

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by TheJesusofkayaking » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:41 pm

Ian_Montrose wrote: Also, as it has been the subject of some discussion on here lately
The lifeboat chaser Rainsley puts loads of rescue threads on here so there's plenty of examples.

Makes me wonder if he's taking a bung out the RNLI charity box to keep banging on about it so much. Maybe he should have his own thread for rescues?

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Mark R » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:57 pm

TheJesusofkayaking wrote:The lifeboat chaser Rainsley puts loads of rescue threads on here so there's plenty of examples.

Makes me wonder if he's taking a bung out the RNLI charity box to keep banging on about it so much.
I could list several specific reasons why I report kayak rescues and near misses when I hear of them. To that list I've just this moment added, 'to irritate ignorant and blinkered idiots'.
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Dave28 » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:00 pm

The entity without which my wife (she of little faith) would never let me go sea kayaking, even in a group.

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Jim » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:24 pm

What an excellent opportunity, and as usual I can't think of anything to say at the right time....

To answer the question, basically I'd explain that the RNLI is effectively the 4th emergency service, and what is most amazing is that it is virtually all volunteers funded by charity. On top of that I would also mention that the volunteer crews are highly professional and seem to launch in just about any conditions to help absolutely anyne and point any sceptics towards the biography of lifeboat coxswain Dick Evans - 'Lifeboat VC' by Ian Skidmore.

There is apparently a growing number of false alarms for sea kayaks (apart from the growing number of real ones) from well meaning members of the public who can't tell the difference between a worn out paddler struggling and a fresh paddler having fun, or don't realise that if a kayaker has fallen in but is close to the beach surrounded by friends not only is there a very good chance they will be able to rescue the victim, but that it may even be a controlled training exercise, or one of the most difficult - have no concept that we might have set off with camping kit for a week and have got worried because it's nearly dark and we haven't returned (there are not many places these days I am comfortable leaving a note on my dashboard stating when I intend to return).

I guess then my question to the RNLI, in fact to the crews especially, is:
"Do you ever get fed up with call outs to kayakers (and lets include conventional sea kayaks, sit on kayaks, surf kayaks, general purpose/river kayaks and even the occasional canoe) who turn out to be perfectly in control of the situation and not requiring assistance?"

I think this is perhaps one of our collective concerns - are we in danger of becoming persona non gratis on account of others crying wolf?

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by RNLI » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:44 am

Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support for the RNLI - we really appreciate it.

Ian - interesting point about whether we're getting more call outs to paddlers. I'll look up the rescue stats to paddlers over the last few years and get back to you with those.

Jim - good question. I spoke to Poole lifeboat station and the Mechanic there said don't worry about it - they would much rather launch to find someone doesn't need their help then not be called out to someone who is in trouble.They'd also rather get to a situation early, before it becomes something more serious. Also any shout, whether a real rescue or a false alarm with good intent, is a chance for the crew to put their training into action and gain experience. I think it's fair to say that sentiment will be echoed by stations around the country. He also said that if you are worried about cheesing off your local lifeboat station, why not give them a call and chat to them about your concerns - most lifeboat stations will jump at the chance to have a chinwag over a cuppa!

As wildblueyonder mentioned, some of our lifeboat stations have been working with their local canoe and kayak clubs to do joint training exercises. That way both the lifeboat crew and the club can learn something and the crew get to practice their skills. I know that during the exercise with Lymington lifeboat and the NFKCC the crew were impressed with the club's safety kit and experience and were surprised at the distance they covered when the tide was with them. One of the learning points was that the kayakers, even on a relatively calm, clear evening, were hard to spot from a distance, simply because they are close to the surface compared to other craft. Read more about the training exercise here: http://www.rnli.org.uk/who_we_are/press ... eid=688209.

I hope that helps.

Keep your questions and comments coming...

Isla

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:49 pm

TheJesusofkayaking wrote:Makes me wonder if he's taking a bung out the RNLI charity box to keep banging on about it so much.
I wonder at which point you thought that was even remotely a worthwhile contribution to the forum.

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by tg » Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:17 pm

Hi Isla,

MCA has a Canoe/Kayak Liasson(?) Officer.
Does RNLI?
Do RNLI Press Releases/Crew/other reporters, distinguish between open (canadian) canoe, river, WW playboats, Sit On Top and 'trad' or 'true' (q. Kayarchy) sea kayaks, etc. etc?

There is obviously a raft of 'so called' canoes out on the sea and the number seems to be increasing. Some are eminently suited, some are not.

I feel such information is useful to the general paddling public. Particularly those new to the 'sport'; such as might be browsing the internet with a mind to run the Portland Race in an open canoe, with no PFD in the dark ... !


Tim
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by adrian j pullin » Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:17 pm

What I would tell someone...

Key features of the RNLI:

A charity funded by public donation and here is how you can donate. This is usually a web link these days but I'll rattle the collection tin on the bar whenever there is one.

Saves lives at sea, and sometimes inland. We've seen the flood rescue land rovers a few times recently, I guess doing training or publicity stuff.

The best at what they do, anywhere in the world.

Leading edge on boats, equipment, training, education etc.

The best organisation that I hope I'll never need!

If you want a one word answer: heroes.

I've never had the chance to do a training exercise with our local RNLI but that is more down to us not getting organised than anything to do with the RNLI. It is on the list.
Cheers

Adrian J Pullin
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Bards » Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:44 pm

Right, well here's my highly personal offering...

I'm from Poole, where RNLI is based, have personal and family history with crewing fishing boats, and family and friends who have both volunteer crewed locally and elsewhere and had paid jobs onland at B.K. building with the charity. That's not to suggest a lot of knowledge, in fact more to jeapordise my credibility as I may be grinding personal local axes to grind...

Well that's set the scene for the following;

Until relatively recently it was considered by self and others that the crews had always been second to none and fully deserving of utmost respect, but very, very ill-served by the retired ranking naval types who pulled the strings at upper levels in a rather self-serving, inefficient fashion that needed a good overhaul. Well I may have lost a few with that statement, but the point is how the RNLI has managed to turn around it's executive in recent times and how one now feels that a far greater portion of contributions to the organisation will realise greater benefits 'on the ground'; provision of staffed Beach LifeGuard stations (complete with defibrillators) along beaches, training of PCSO's in relevant skills, and increased public awareness quite apart from boats and crews spring instantly to mind. I'm not sure how that reads, but it's intended as a big 'thumbs-up'; the organisation is now viewed as more of a positive whole, rather than 'lions led by donkeys' and I'm unreservedly pleased to be involved in anything which raises money for RNLI.

In brief, my opinion would be - here is an organisation which practices it's motto "Train one - save many" and are deserving of full support; both in terms of taking any guidance offered by them, not adding to their workload, giving financial contributions and showing gratitude practically where possible. Preferably more than just 'thanks' on a forum. However,

"thanks" ;-)

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by RNLI » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:53 pm

Hi tg,

We don't have a kayak/canoe liaison officer I'm afraid. But we do have a team of Coastal Safety people who can offer advice on all sorts of safety for all sorts of sports. We have some key advice that is fairly universal too, no matter what kind of boat/board/craft you're in, so we try and get these across to everyone. Things like getting some training, checking weather and tides, carrying a means of calling for help etc. We're always ready to learn though, so if you have some specific advice that you think would be useful for paddlers, then let me know and I'll pass it onto the Coastal Safety team.

As for recording different types of kayak/canoe, I'm afraid we don't get into the specifics of Canadian/sea/river/sit-on-top etc. That's partly because there may be no paddlers on that rescue who could identify those differences - I know it might seem obvious to you, but we're not all up on or paddle-sport knowledge ;-) - and to keep the classification system simple. When we right press releases we also tend to keep things simple, again because the journalist reading it might not know what the different types of boat are.


I hope that helps,

Isla

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by tg » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:00 pm

Thanks Isla,

Many RNLI and MCA press release and reports are detailed on the forum, (see j.o.k.(er)'s rather fatuous comment earlier in the thread), by the most thoughtful and benevolent MarkR (...do you prefer that Mark?). A concern of mine over the past couple years is that, perhaps because of some high profile and unfortunate incident, sea kayaking may find itself subject to unfair criticism and possible restrictions. Also, I feel, with current technology, the first ports of call for information and advice for novice paddlers may not be the RNLI, MCA or even a recognised and affiliated canoe club. So while JW trounces records all over the place and Mike Mayberry can now say 'Rosslare to Whitesands.. so what!', lesser mortals, like myself, would perhaps find more detailed reporting (ie; types of craft) of incidents more useful and, forgive me, a more robust 'wake up call' before venturing out.

I would like to see a lot more info diffused to the public via the forums. I realise there are practical issues here, obviously not every incident could be linked to the forums, but stock advice and resource must surely be available online and it seems that the most direct access to it these days is in the front room; laptop, etc.

An example recently was the MCA's Annual Canoe and Kayak Report;

http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/2010_canoe_an ... ev_1-2.pdf

MarkR posted the link. Shouldn't that really have been the MCA?

Tim
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by RNLI » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:52 am

Hi Tim,

You've got a few good points there - in future I will post relevant rescue stories/reports here for you as and when I come across them. It might add to the sea kayaking (or at least sea-going) bias slightly as we predominantly rescue people off the coast rather than inland. When I do post those stories, I'll try and make sure I get as much detail about the type of canoe/kayak involved.

Does that sound like a deal?

For those of you waiting for those rescue stats, they are on their way - my colleague is pulling them together at the moment.

Isla

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by markg » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:36 pm

Hello Isla,
Fantastic service from true committed. One thought (and more work for you lot!) if you post the rescues and try and include pics of the crafts involved we, as a community, could aid you in identifying the type of rescued boat? As has been mentioned some do try and take the most unsuitable (after all it is only a kayak) craft onto inappropriate situations. Just a thought.
Keep up the some of the best work in the country,
Mark.

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by RNLI » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:12 am

Right, here are those stats I promised you.

In 2010, the RNLI launched to paddlers 253 times out of a total of 8,713 launches.
In 2009, the RNLI launched to paddlers 274 times out of a total of 9,223 launches.
In 2008, the RNLI launched to paddlers 241 times out of a total of 8,293 launches.

And here's a break down of the causes of those launches to paddlers:

2010 launches to paddlers:
Adverse weather and conditions 114
Equipment failure 0
Man over board 24
Stranding/collision/nav failure 11
Person in difficulty 1
Other 103

2009 launches to paddlers:
Adverse weather and conditions 138
Equipment failure 0
Man over board 26
Stranding/collision/nav failure 13
Person in difficulty 6
Other 91

2008 launches to paddlers:
Adverse weather and conditions 116
Equipment failure 2
Man over board 24
Stranding/collision/nav failure 6
Person in difficulty 9
Other 84

The 'other' category includes false alarms with good intent and malicious hoax calls, assistance by other people, searches where the casualty is not found or found by others, and incidents where the casualty has sorted out the situation themselves.

What do you think of these figures?

Isla

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Ian_Montrose » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:24 am

That's very informative Isla, thanks very much.

Personally, I find these figures encouraging. It seems that sea kayakers (and I assume your stats include all canoes/kayaks and not just what we would think of as legitimate sea kayakers) are barely a blip on the radar as far as incidents at sea are concerned. That doesn't mean of course that there is any room for complacency and I'm sure there is still a lot that can be gained by improving communication between the RNLI and sea kayakers.

Looking at the attributed causes, the most significant factor is obviously "adverse weather and conditions". That really means either failure to check forecasts properly (and allow safe margin for error) or unrealistic self-appraisal of the paddler's ability to cope in the forecast conditions. Possible opportunities for targeted education and/or better identifying root causes of incidents.

One important factor that is not covered is group size. More qualified minds than me (and there's plenty of them!) might comment on this but at one extreme solo paddling requires a far higher degree of competency than paddling with the support of a small group and at the other extreme large groups can prove difficult to manage/lead. Group size is probably not nearly as relevent to any other type of water craft and non-paddlers may not fully appreciate its importance, so it's something you might want to consider.

Finally, one of the posts in this thread made reference to an RNLI crew learning about the best way to empty a flooded sea kayak. I'm sure there are lots of little things your crews could learn that would help them both in conducting kayak rescues and advising paddlers on general safety. If it hasn't been suggested already, maybe crew members could be given the opportunity to participate in rescue training sessions that most good sea kayak clubs should regularly run. I'm sure both sides would learn from the experience and have some fun too.

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Jim » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:38 pm

RNLI wrote: What do you think of these figures?

Isla
My first reaction is that it's a lot, but after thinking about them for a bit it is clear they are if nothing else steady.
Although there is only 3 years of data, there certainly doesn't seem to be the massive growth some of us have feared - I'm sure there will have been since the 70s when there probably were only 300 sea kayakers, but over the period where our awareness of rescues involving kayaks has been raised, it seems that there aren't more rescues, we are just finding out about more of the normal amount.

It is difficult to draw any real conclusions without having participation stats (I don't think our NGB has a meaningful breakdown, and a lot of people aren't members so won't appear anyway).

Relating to my own question regarding mistaken call outs etc. - it seems that these (included under other) are much lower than the impression I have picked up recently. I think you have about 50 stations, so that's less than 2 false alarms per station for year (although presumably they are concentrated at certain stations), so individual crews aren't getting dragged out of their beds for false kayak alarms very often at all (although I guess most false alarms are early evening anyway).

Rescues due to 'Adverse weather and conditions' , and 'Stranding/collision/nav failure' are often avoidable, we may not be able to reduce the actual numbers (because the people involved may not read the forums, or be in clubs or their NGB or take any outside advice before paddling) but awareness that these are common should be a stimulus for each of us personally to make sure we plan well enough not to add to them.

Thanks

Jim

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Mark R » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:41 pm

Very useful data, thanks for sharing.
Ian_Montrose wrote:Personally, I find these figures encouraging. It seems that sea kayakers (and I assume your stats include all canoes/kayaks and not just what we would think of as legitimate sea kayakers) are barely a blip on the radar as far as incidents at sea are concerned.
Whilst I'm not looking for an argument, I don't really agree with your analysis.

- We don't feature too highly in RNLI call-outs, but I don't see approx 1 in 40ish of all callouts as 'barely a blip'.

- A paddler or paddling group has been rescued more days than not, for at least three years straight. If emergency services were responding to a group meltdown on whitewater rivers on two out of every three days year-round, I have the funniest feeling that we'd be hearing quite a lot about it in the media. I think we have the discretion and low media profile of the MCA/ RNLI to thank for our relative lack of media visibility up to now.

- I don't accept/ agree with you that there is such a thing as a 'legitimate sea kayaker' - that's simple complacent/ lazy blame-shifting, we're all paddlers on the sea and part of the same sport, end of. Anyway, the notion that one kind of paddler is any safer than the other holds little water (given various evidence available). The most spectacular and high-profile incidents of recent years have mostly involved groups whom I suspect you would categorise as 'legitimate'.

- As you note, by far the biggest factor in incidents is bad judgement on weather/ ability before launching. The fact that we can't get this most fundamental skill of our sport right - even among experienced coaches and club leaders, who I firmly believe feature significantly in those figures - should be a source of major concern to all of us.
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by RNLI » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:59 pm

Just a quick reply to Jim -
I think you have about 50 stations, so that's less than 2 false alarms per station for year
We actually have 235 stations around the UK and Ireland, and the rescues stats are from all of those. So hopefully that puts it into more perspective. On the flip side, there are other rescue organisations (independent lifeboats, coastguard, navy helicopters etc) so our stats won't reflect anyone rescued by those agencies if we weren't involved.

Any more thoughts on the stats?

Isla

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Mark R » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:14 pm

Mark R wrote:- We don't feature too highly in RNLI call-outs, but I don't see approx 1 in 40ish of all callouts as 'barely a blip'.
Apologies for my dodgy guesstimated maths - I just did the actual sums, we represent 1 in 34 callouts.


Question for Isla - is the RNLI's (very welcome) presence here in any way related to/ resulting from the prevalence of kayak-related incidents?

Thanks,
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by MikeB » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:18 pm

Interesting - I'm very pleased to see RNLI engaged here.

Thoughts on stats? Yes. On one hand, there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics. On the other hand there's a document showing lots of rescues and call-outs. That's the problem. Without knowing all the background it's impossible to determine whether any set of stats is just that, a set of stats.

For these stats to be really meaningful, I'd want to be able to split out the types of kayak, the types of padder and the exact situation which caused the incident. Only then can a meaningful analysis be made of exactly where the problem may lie, and then only based on the incidents reported. To fully understand whether there is a problem, one would need to dig very much deeper into the incidents.

Is there a source of major concern, as MarkR asserts? Possibly - on the basis of the information I have seen to date I remain at best unconvinced. At worst, "case not proven" - a Scottish term of course.

Should we encourage safety within our sport? Of course.

Mike.

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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by Mark R » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:21 pm

MikeB wrote:Is there a source of major concern, as MarkR asserts? Possibly - on the basis of the information I have seen to date I remain at best unconvinced.
Six sea kayakers died in UK waters last year, Mike.
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Re: RNLI - talk to us!

Post by MikeB » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:40 pm

No - that's not the case. There were 6 deaths on the sea. There were 2, possibly 3, deaths involving cases where it is reasonably clear and known that the people concerned were sea-kayakers.

That is the core problem with using the MCA report as anything other than information. It doesn't specify the craft, the paddler and the event.

The RNLI tell us they can't id the craft (fair enough). Contact to MCA on the subject (including a contact of my own) hasn't produced any engagement from them. I expect they'd say the same thing anyway.

2 or 3 deaths are tragic, of course, but from what little we know of those incidents it's rather hard to form the view that there is a massive problem with competence or otherwise. In any event, don't we discourage such speculation?

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