Good afternoon readers,
We decided to have a day out near the water this afternoon; it was very hot today. We decided on a quiet little area where the munchkin can play, and still be safe in the water.
Deaths in water
As you might know, there have been a lot of deaths in NSW in and around water over recent weeks. Before the holiday season began, I read that deaths in recent years were predominantly males. The statistics showed that over confidence, risk taking, drugs and alcohol were some of the contributing factors.
Hmmm I thought… Interesting.
Until about three years ago, I was a kayaking instructor, but due to an injury, I decided to have time out, and give my body a rest. However the aspiration is still there, and I have slowing been working my way back up to kayaking again.
Over the years, I have seen lots of silly things on the water. People who think they can just jump into a kayak and paddle. Even with a sit on top kayak, there are some risks, and people often get themselves into the water, and sometimes in danger.
Oh well I hear you say, that’s OK – kayaking’s pretty safe isn’t it?
Well, maybe, and maybe not.
Some kayaking scenarios
What would happen if you hit your head on the boat as you tip yourself into the water – or you hurt yourself in some way. What happens if you can’t get yourself out of the cockpit easily (sit in kayak), or what happens if you are in shallow water and get caught on submerged debris; perhaps you can’t reach your kayak so that you can hang onto it again?
Generally you drown.
As I was going through my training as an instructor (some time ago now), we were told of an incident where a mixed experienced and less experienced group went out paddling, but they didn’t do through enough checks of the weather. Risks were taken.
The group got into trouble due to a weather change, and at least one person died – even though there were some experienced paddlers with them.
Sadly it happens, and all too often.
So what is the point of this post?
Today I saw an incident that I thought was going to become quite serious.
A young man, probably in his late 20s was in a kayak that looked to be a kids boat. It was windy, probably 15-20 knots, with gusts around 25 knots at least. It was a “tippy” boat, a lot of rocker, and very narrow.
For inexperienced paddlers, the wind was dangerous. For experienced paddlers, you would seriously consider your options, and not paddle unless you had to. Even after about 8 years of paddling, I thought the conditions were even of concern to me as a relatively experienced paddler.
While I was drying and wiping the sand off my feet (we were packing up), I was watching this person some distance from shore. It was obvious that they were a novice, and I thought they were a bit far out for the conditions. They were also very near the river channel, which increased the risks substantially.
I had previously checked the tides, and was aware that the tide was going out. We were essentially in the middle between low and high tide, which meant that the current was at its highest.
The next time I looked up from wiping my feet, I noticed that the person was no longer sitting in the boat, but in the water. The boat was upside down.
(my thoughts as the situation unfolds are “blockquote” and in bold)
Hmmm I thought, this looks interesting.
As I watched, the wind and tide were pushing the man further into the channel, and he appeared to be getting himself into trouble. He was floundering, and trying (unsuccessfully) to get back into the boat.
Hmmm I thought, this is starting to look a bit concerning.
At this point in time, I said to “B”, is that guy in the kayak getting into trouble? “B” didn’t know, and wasn’t even aware of what was going on – like everyone else on the beach!
The next moment, I see a hand go up, and he is waving to the beach. Nobody seemed to notice!
A boat motors by, and I thought, they will stop and render assistance, but they keep going…
Hmmm, OK, he is now being pushed further into the channel by the wind and current, and closer to the bridge…
A jet boat zooms by, and I think, they will stop – Nope!
Nobody on the beach seems to have noticed, or they don’t seem terribly concerned
Hmmm… I am not quite sure what to make of this situation. I don’t want to overreact, but the situation seems to be getting more serious.
Some of the recent drownings were rescuers trying to rescue victims – what should I do?
Is the guy really in trouble, do I put myself at risk to be a rescuer?
As I watched a bit longer, the guy is still floundering and I see him wave again – he appears to be getting a bit more desperate. Then the waving stops; the boat appears still; I can’t see any movement.
At this point my heart starts racing as I realise that I will have to act. I have enough experience to know the behaviour of water filled boats, and inexperienced paddlers – and it is windy and gusty – my concern for my safety is very high, and I don’t want to be another casualty.
Should I attempt to rescue this person? It is high risk for me, having not paddled much over the last three years! My competence and my experience is less than optimal – what should I do?
Panicking people often struggle, fight their rescuer and often cause a rescuer to drown. I don’t want this to be me.
If he is unconscious, can I safely bring him back to shore, without risking my life too? I can’t see any movement.
Based on what I was witnessing, I honestly believed that this was going to be death number 15 for NSW!!!
I am trained in kayak rescue/recovery (getting a person back in their boat), I am a former instructor only three years ago. But I have to assume that this person is a complete novice, and doesn’t know anything about rescue/recovery – it is potentially high risk.
I raced to the water, threw on my PFD (Personal Flotation Device – used to be called a life jacket), got myself into my boat and raced out
Good grief, am I going to have to rescue this bloody idiot?
Am I putting my life at risk trying to rescue this person?
Will I be the next casualty?
When I got there, the guy was conscious but appeared to be a bit stressed, a bit embarrassed, and some of his family had swum out to try to help him (about 80m [about 90yd]). When I asked him if he was OK, he indicated that when he tipped himself in, he was trying to wave away the motor boats that were getting a bit too close, the wind and chop had tipped him in. He couldn’t get himself back into the boat, and needed help, he was drifting further out into the channel where there were motor boats!
He was not wearing a PFD, he was in a boat that was inadequate for the conditions, it was very windy and gusty, he was too far out from shore, he was inexperienced and wind and current were pushing him into a channel where the current was at its fastest.
This was a recipe for another death on the water in NSW – simply because the guy was stupid and thought he was more clever than he actually was!!!
I didn’t have the heart to berate him for his stupidity, as he was already embarrassed and a bit stressed. I as at least glad that he was OK, and that I didn’t have to rescue the silly bastard. I was also very relieved that I didn’t have to put myself at any further risk.
This situation could easily have led to another death. Should this person have drifted further into the channel, experienced some stronger wind gusts, got hit by a motor boat, or become tired, another drowning could very easily have occurred.
So going back to my comments above. Water is dangerous, it can easily become a death sentence as this incident demonstrates.
With regards to kayaking, just because you have a new kayak or canoe, and that you think you can easily paddle it, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get yourself into trouble.
It might seem to be a simple task to paddle a kayak, but, as seen in today’s real life situation, it can also be simple enough to get yourself into some very serious trouble and even die.
DON’T RISK IT
Some simple questions to ask yourself should you have a new kayak or canoe for Christmas.
- How does the boat handle in wind and waves – how do you cope with wind or waves?
- What do you do if you tip yourself into the water – what if you are a long way from shore?
- Can you get yourself out of trouble if you get into it?
- Where is the nearest help – can they get to you should you get into trouble?
- Do you know how to handle tides, or currents – when is it most dangerous?
- Do you know what the weather will be like as the day progresses?
- Do you know the shipping rules?
- Have you got all of the essential safety equipment?
- … and these are only a some of things you need to know.
If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, you probably shouldn’t be getting into your new kayak this summer.
If you don’t have a PFD on, you shouldn’t be paddling AT ALL!!!
There are basic courses to bring you up to speed. If you have a new kayak, it would be a good time to phone a few providers – that is of course if you value your life, the lives of your children, or your family or friends you lend you kayak to.
Am I being too harsh here?
Water kills – do you want to be the next statistic?
Water can be very dangerous and people regularly die. If you don’t know what you are doing in your new kayak, you could be the next casualty!
Please use your brain!
Bye for now,
#kayak #kayaks #kayaklife #kayaking #water #paddle #river #adventure #canoe #canoeing #NSWCanoe #PaddleNSW #AusCanoe