Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chapter 13: Happy Endings

Not every incident related in the book, "Sea Kayaker: Deep Trouble" results in a death or serious injury. In this chapter, a whitewater kayaker goes out to assist a sea kayaker in trouble. Although the whitewater paddler was unable to complete the rescue on his own, he was able to signal for help to his wife on shore who contacted the Coast Guard. A nearby fisherman heard the request for assistance that was broadcast by the Coast Guard and came to pick up the swimming sea kayaker. In the second incident related in this chapter, the sea kayakers were able to successfully complete an assisted rescue following a capsize in the clapotis along a breakwall. A third assisted rescue was completed successfully despite the lack of deck lines which made it harder for the swimmer to get back up on the deck of the kayak.

Practically any kayaker who has been paddling for a number of years can relate personal stories of capsizes and rescues that occurred and were successfully completed. Most of these incidents make for interesting story telling later and provide experiences that we can learn from as we move forward. In my twenty-two years of paddling, I have had many such experiences. A capsize into ice cold water ended without serious injury because my son was dressed for the water temperature, nearby paddlers performed a quick rescue, and spare dry clothing and fire-starting materials were close at hand on shore. Many years later, I learned how useful a tow rope can be for retrieving a kayak that blew away from my friend following a capsize. Although it was winter on Lake Michigan, my friend was in a drysuit and was wearing his PFD. Kayak and paddler were quickly reunited without further incident. On a sunny warm day, a paddle snapped in half while a teenager was making a crossing between island on Lake Huron in one-foot swells. We grabbed the spare paddle and quickly continued the crossing.

What experiences have you had on the water that ended happily? What did you learn from them? Did you make any changes as a result of the experience?


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