Accident in Howe Sound

It’s like there was never decision to stay in a stable situation but to continue leaving a stable situation towards the destination.

Still more chill?

– Last Updated: Oct-10-07 6:46 PM EST –

It's a very sad thing. I haven't had an opportunity to listen to the broadcast, will tonight. Maybe I am way off.

With that level of seas, even the people who had stayed in their boats would have been getting wet and cold as they stopped and started to handle problems. And they had already completed a portion of the (informal) competition. It may be that everyone was working with a little diminished judgement and the normal inclination to a destination overtook any other response. Add the fact that they honestly were not prepared to handle an emergency of this nature - no extra clothing, not dressed for immersion and no emergency signaling device, maybe no food - it couldn't have been comfortable for very driven, independent and physically strong types like this to just sit and wait rather than try for land some way.

Again, people here are mostly thinking like sea kayakers. These folks weren't, and the problems really all fall from there.

I don’t think this was a competition
they were doing it all on their own, but maybe you’re right about the mindset.

as dubside says
The water is your friend. If you love your friend, respect your friend, understand your friend, and protect your friend, your friend the water will never harm you.

The weather
I don’t think I’ve got anything to add about the incident itself but the weather component hasn’t really been discussed except to say that the winds were forecast.

Deep Trouble chapter 4, relates a somewhat similar incident in Howe Sound with better results. There it was catabatic winds in early November. I don’t know if this time it was also catabatic winds but my company’s weather forecaster says the Pacific Northwest is experiencing weather patterns normally not seen until November. In any case, it is probably worth it for people in this part of the world to use a bit of extra care in paying attention to the unseasonable weather.

not sea kayakers: huge distinction
naturally, i too feel bad about these people. a very sad story, not unlike many that unfold on our west coast. i’m reminded of the couple guys who crossed Johnstone Straight in the spring with wind against tide and how one died…

i sometimes get frustrated with some people in my surroundings, friends and family who don’t understand the difference between people going kayaking (even highly fit, competitive athletic ones) and dedicated sea kayakers. these folks did not take the sea seriously in terms of clothing, and communication devices. and they paid the highest price. the media portrayed them as being highly experienced and they may have been, but experience doesn’t always equal expertise. i know i’m preaching to the converted here, and that you are the sea kayakers who know different. i just needed to rant a bit directed to those who can’t appreciate how seriously most of us take safety, our own, and that of others.

and i mean no disrespect to these people either, it’s a tragedy and could have been avoided, a dam shame.

I agree

– Last Updated: Oct-12-07 3:54 PM EST –

when I go out on the ocean, even in good weather I always have a vhf, compass, chart, gps, tow rope, signal flares, cell phone, pfd, sling web, paddle float, pump, and in all but the hottest weather am wearing a wetsuit(and in the hottest weather I take it with me to put on if the weather changes)--after september, instead a a wet suit its a drysuit--here in Maine the water temp is quite cool.)I also always always check the weather forecast, particularly paying attention to wind velocity and direction. And there have been plenty of times I've cancelled a trip due to weather.

The problem with these people is that they are not sea kayakers per se but so called extreme atheletes---the fellow being interviewed emphasized repeatedly how fit everybody was, but not how experienced they were at ocean paddling. First of all I question how "fit" a person can be at age 60---although by the looks of him he was in good shape for his age, as we get older, we get weaker---simply a fact of life and not to acknowledge it is foolish---secondly no matter how fit a person is at any age, the ocean is always stronger and if you don't exercize good judgement it will bite you--hard. Finally there is a attitude, found in many "extreme" atheletes, that they can overcome anything---by virtue of muscle power alone.

Here you had 8 people in four boats setting off on an exposed crossing---it didn't say what the wind speed was when they started but it did say on the return trip that the windspeed was 85 kilometers--about 52 mph---they attempted the trip back in horrible conditions with no wet or drysuits, no vhf radios(and I suspect no rescue flares or other signaling devices) and apparently not a whole lot of seakayaking experience, except for the races they were in. Granted it may have been unpleasent to stay on the island to await calmer conditions or summon help but how many of you out there would attempt an open crossing in 52 mph winds without anytype of rescue equipment other than a pfd? Better yet how many of you would attempt such a crossing no matter what you had for equipment?---

All that said, I also agree that it is a tragedy and my sympathy goes out to their friends and families

Hypotermia gets complicated because your ability to think rationally gets degraded. Worse yet, it can make you ornery to the point of hostile towards those who are trying to help you.

So sad…


Feel good philosophy…

– Last Updated: Oct-11-07 10:06 AM EST –

Clearly Dubside is a cool fellow doing some great things. While I respect his philosophy from the standpoint of relaxing and working with the environment, I don't believe Nature in any form is "our friend", nor our "enemy". It is impartial, not fair, and randomly ruthless. It just "is". Plenty of mariners with great love of the sea have fallen victim. Human beings have a need it seems to create such models for comfort. Nature doesn't "care". We can do everything right by our models and get obliterated...and that's OK.

That respect part
First thing I learned at a New Jersey beach as a kid doing some body surfing - never never turn your back on the sea. Somewhere between respecting the sea and placing it on enemy status I guess.

The second thing was that two piece suits are a really bad idea for body surfing, at least the part when you land.

But for the grace of god …
They’re dead; and,

We are not.

And for some reason many paddlers find comfort in examining and dissecting the actions, or inactions, of the recently deceased.

Why don’t we all just recognize that if their cars hadn’t started that morning they’d still be alive, so why not blame it on their cars!

Sheesh …

I am so tired of this neaner-neaner, we-are-better-than-they-are because-we’re-not-dead talk that passes for safety discussion on this board.

Why don’t we all just recognize that shit can – and does – happen to ANYONE and be done with it.

Please, allow the recently deceased to rest in peace and show their families and loved ones some respect.


– Last Updated: Oct-11-07 12:12 PM EST –

this isn't a church or restaurant or a memorial. It's a forum for paddling and something as significant as death requires analysis and understanding. It's not enough to say "oh well, stuff happens" because some comments come from a judgemental or self-satisfied place.

Everytime there's an incident there's a report and after action analysis otherwise folks are simply trying to re-invent the wheel. Whether it's the rescue personel, the participants or the folks like us in a paddling forum.

The "would a" "could a"s can also be another way of processing the information, albeit in an indelicate manner.

Two seperate issues, respect for the lives lost and lessons of the event that can be used by others.

That’s a key point
WestCoastPaddler: “I tend to look at this situation as a sea kayaker and not from the point of a competitive athlete”

This is an important point.

From the article:

“Within 10 minutes, however, they were hit by 85-kilometre [53 mile]-an-hour winds and two-metre waves.

“We should have turned back,” Mr. Faulkner lamented. “But this is our love. We were all experienced paddlers, and we were carried away by our own testosterone.””

It’s not at all clear how much experience these unfortunate people had as -sea kayakers-.

When things turn bad, there is very little margin to work with if you are on the water.

Learn from the experience of others

– Last Updated: Oct-11-07 12:40 PM EST –

It would seem to be a waste not to take this unfortunate situation to try learn something from it.

It would seem, given the candor of the his comments, that Faulkner would expect it.

for example
When I lived out west there was a regular paddling spot I went to alone, estuary opening up to the ocean.

A friend said she was worried about me paddling solo a lot.

Another friend went paddling solo at the same spot then was found 8miles out dead.

The details of his condition, what he was wearing,where he was paddling, what his skills were became a topic at the club meetings.

If this was a forum where the paddlers participated then there would be a natural space for grieving, I don’t get the sense anyone here knows them personally and if they do I trust they would understand.

Hard to read

– Last Updated: Oct-11-07 6:44 PM EST –

Your post is rather hard to read. (Not any more!! Thing of beauty!)

I can’t make you happy—put the breaks in because in another post on another thread you complained it was all one paragraph and it was hard to read—all right I’ll take them out but don’t ask me to change them again—if you want to read them in the future you just have to concentrate

there I fixed it

New age
"The water is your friend. If you love your friend, respect your friend, understand your friend, and protect your friend, your friend the water will never harm you."

On the other hand, if you treat the water as your mortal enemy, you will avoid it entirely!

Thus, both philosophies work equally well!

A “race”, it appears

– Last Updated: Oct-11-07 1:48 PM EST –

From the article:

"For the eight experienced extreme athletes, it was a last rush of adrenaline to mark the **end of their adventure racing season**, as fall storms began to lash the West Coast."

It's implied that it was a race (otherwise, it would not be a part of the "racing season").