Monday, October 4, 2010

Tragedy at sea

Catching some surfing action

Saturday Gary and I had a paddle in conditions and some surf practice afterwards. At almost 2:30 we called it a day.

A few hours later, 15 kilometers to the north, two men in a 5 meter zodiac would run into trouble in the same conditions. Their outboard motor failed. As they tried to place an anchor, the zodiac broached, swamped and tipped over. One managed to swim to shore, the other is still missing.

The sea can be very unforgiving when unanticipated things happen. That is why I practice, practice and practice. Even when good judgement is exercised the sea can be unpredictable and if that happens skills had better match the conditions.

While not second guessing, I wondered if they had a sea anchor or drogue on board they may have been able to keep the zodiac headed into the seas. It would have been quicker to deploy. I wondered too if I should invest in one.

Just a few times a sea anchor would come in handy in wind and heavy seas:
  • If I injured myself, it would keep me from drifting onto rocks or away allowing help to arrive quicker.
  • After rafting up, it could give extra time to attend to someone in distress or prevent the loss of hard gained ground.
  • It could be deployed to take a rest if winds of unexpected strength or duration occurred.
  • Putting out the sea anchor would hold the kayak heading into the waves to deal with equipment failures, pump out the cockpit etc.
There's lots of other possible scenarios when dealing with wind and big seas. Should it be part of a standard kit for kayakers? Why not?

1 comment:

  1. I don't think they really broached and tipped over - that's really hard to do in a Zodiac because it's so wide and the CoG is really low. A 15ft zodiac weighs 283 pounds empty - that's nothing, really. I think they went to back to check on the engine which caused the bow to raise. The very high winds that evening caught underneath the craft and flipped it!! A light inflatable like that is just like a kite in high winds and should not have been on the water in those conditions.

    Sad to say but sometimes NLers are their own worst enemies when the food fishery rolls 'round!!

    Rant over.