Assisted not-rescue

Let us know what happened so we can all be safer paddlers.
haresfur
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Assisted not-rescue

Postby haresfur » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:19 pm

I went out on Lake Eppalock for the first time since the recent rains topped it up. A breezy day with wind from the north-west. I paddled north around the point at the main picnic area and the the waves picked up although there wasn't really much fetch. Saw 3 sit on top kayaks with one paddler in the water. I paddled up and asked them if he needed some help getting back in. Asked if he had done it before and they said not really.

Started talking to him and he seemed concerned about the water in the kayak, but I was thinking, "It's a SOT, no worries". I had him hang onto my boat while I got his situated, cursing the lack of deck lines. Sent him around the outside and started to talk him through, "Ok kick your legs up to the surface and slide your belly onto the kayak, then I want you to..." At that point he pulled himself onto the kayak with his arms and proceeded to pull his feet up so he was crouching on the kayak and of course flopped back in.

"Ok just stay there and catch your breath. Then this is what you are going to do - belly, butt, feet. Slide you belly onto the boat, roll over so your butt is in the seat, *then* twist around and bring your feet in." Lesson learned #1, give the overview and at least try to get people to go step by step.

That went better but he was floppy as all heck before I could get his paddle back to him. That's when I noticed he had hatch down into the hull and had knocked it open so he did have a kayak full of water. Gave my hand pump to the wet kayaker so he could start to pump out. Lesson #2 hand pumps are a bridge to far for a sort of freaked out fisherman. Looked for something to attach a tow line to. Got his friend around to the other side so he could help support him. Lesson #3 he couldn't help worth shit, but at least he had something that maybe I could have attached a line to. Lesson #4 wear your bloody tow belt *always*, don't stuff it in a hatch on the off chance you need it. Ok I should have learned that last time... Fisherman was back in the water but we had blown close enough to the point that he could stand up so all was good. I really wasn't worried because I knew he wasn't going to blow out into the Southern Ocean or anything. I guess I wasn't much help but they seemed to appreciate a calm presence who at least acted like he knew what he was doing. As I left I said, "Remember, belly, butt, feet. Practice it."

If it had been necessary, I suppose I could have tried to pump his kayak - I don't think it would have been practical to try to X-rescue and dump it out through that little hatch. Other options if he had been out further? Have him hold onto his friend's kayak and try to tow the two of them? There is no way I would have let him up on my back deck. In N. America, spring is a real danger-time because the air gets warm but the water is still near freezing and people head out not dressed for the water. You have to get them out of the water right away. I guess the only option in that situation would have been to raft-up, get him lying down on the kayak to keep his centre of gravity low then hang out until someone fetched us. But maybe one of you has some good ideas.

Bottom line: kayaks with no deck lines, no tow point, no flotation, and dodgy hatches, suck.

Mac50L
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Re: Assisted not-rescue

Postby Mac50L » Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:08 am

haresfur wrote:Bottom line: kayaks with no deck lines, no tow point, no flotation, and dodgy hatches, suck.

They are a disaster waiting to happen.

I've had 2 incidents with sit-in kayaks, "get it right or someone dies". They were no problem, either of them, and the kayaks had decklines and a tow points. Both times a "raft-up" after recovery and either run at an angle to the wind to shore or attached tow to calm water.

Decklines are like seatbelts in a car and should be mandatory.

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Megan
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Re: Assisted not-rescue

Postby Megan » Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:37 am

A guiding friend of mine told me about the "white noise of fear." Although you can give instructions, sometimes the white noise of fear gets in the way. It is best to keep instructions short, one by one, and in a calm, direct manner. They may still have to stuff it up a bit before they listen!

It is good for them to sort it out if they can, it helps the lesson sink in. People do like to be independent. The trade off is that they may exhaust themselves unnecessarily. Sometimes all you can do is observe calmly and let them sort it out, just be there as a safety net.

I have to agree with the decklines. See thread under Kayak Talk, Cheap Imports viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3105 It is not being snobby to have a well built, specked and maintained sea kayak. It is a matter of safety.

Cheers
Megan

Camanche73
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Re: Assisted not-rescue

Postby Camanche73 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:34 pm

I completely agree Megan that safety is paramount. However not everybody can afford a premium brand product. And decklines are important, but they are also very very easy to retrofit. What I often see overlooked is a safe PFD and suitable clothing for immersion. I would say it's even more important than decklines. However all are important .

haresfur
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Re: Assisted not-rescue

Postby haresfur » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:32 pm

Megan wrote:A guiding friend of mine told me about the "white noise of fear." Although you can give instructions, sometimes the white noise of fear gets in the way. It is best to keep instructions short, one by one, and in a calm, direct manner. They may still have to stuff it up a bit before they listen!


Good point about white noise fear. Step by step is how I learned, too. The problem I found here is that it can be hard to get people to work through step by step - once he got going he wasn't going to listen and as you said, stuffed it up. In this case it worked better to have him listen to the whole thing through first. Then I could talk him through as we went. I was kind of proud of myself for telling him to catch his breath and listen to the process before we tried again. Not only did he need to catch his breath so was happy to listen, but I could give him the instructions 'in the meantime' without criticizing him for not listening before.

It's ironic that I tend to encourage casual kayakers to get sit on tops rather than rec kayaks with an open hull because I thought that SOTs at least have flotation and don't fill with water :shock:

I did an assisted rescue of a S&G kayak that didn't have deck lines, one time. That was actually the least of the problems. A story that probably should be told over a round of beer.


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