Kayaker saved by diver

a solo diver spots a flipped kayak fisherman at night.

good ending here but the lessons are obvious.\

with the growth of our sport and explosion of kayak fishing it is a wonder (thankfully)we don’t see or hear more about these situations or worse.


You’re advising not trolling at night?

he was lucky
A disaster waiting to happen. He even took off his PFD because it hurt him. Clearly he never even tried his PFD before let alone practice at getting back in to his fishing kayak. Just one of the dumb masses. There are many more out there.

trolling is always good for some.

not so much for others.

Not just fishing
Several years ago a paddler we know came upon a guy hanging onto a flipped sea kayak in the middle of Lake George. (not swimming distance to shore) This is one of the chillier upstate lakes to be in for a long while, and the swimmer said he’d been waiting for assistance for at least half an hour. And on a bright sunny day his hull would look like a nice little wavelet for a big motor boat to bounce through.

The paddler we know got the guy back into his boat, in the process confirming that it was a fully equipped sea kayak with bulkheads and perimeter rigging that anyone with a whit of training would have been able to at least try to re-enter.

But this guy apparently had an alternate theory of on-water rescue. He figured if he hung around long enough someone would come and help him. This was not the first time he had put himself in this fix. Unfortunately he had deep enough pockets to afford a fiberglass sea kayak and all the gear needed to put himself into the drink in the first place.

It is not just fishermen on SOT’s who are putting themselves unnecessarily at risk.

Illustrates something I wonder about when I see guys out in their fishing kayaks with all kinds of spikey contraptions and appurtenances sprouting off the deck and gunwales (not to mention the beer coolers strapped to the stern compartment) – how the hell do you climb back in over all that cr@p if you get dumped?

And taking off your PFD in rough water in the middle of the night…beyond stupidity. Wonder if he learned anything from that experience?

reply to all of the above

OTOH, maybe there’s so many they can
save each other. Motorboat fishermen save kayak fishermen after shark attack:


In my view

– Last Updated: Oct-10-14 7:32 PM EST –

there is a very serious problem because the dangers that we all see and understand and appreciate are not obvious to good smart people who have no experience. They do not perceive the risks of the sport. My feeling is that the Kayak industry is making serious money putting unsuspecting people in serious danger and the industry should be ashamed of itself. I do not blame this on the inexperienced and uninitiated buyers - I blame it on the industry.

No one associated with the industry will ever acknowledge that the industry has any real responsibility. They minimize the dangers and make it seem like the accidents are rare and all the fault of the buyers.

There is something to this…
but I’ll point out some aspects where I differ in opinion:

“there is a very serious problem because the dangers that we all see and understand and appreciate are not obvious to good smart people who have no experience. They do not perceive the risks of the sport.”

I agree with this. Not everyone does the homework required to enter the sport with a reasonable degree of knowledge. Because, skillwise, all you need to move the boat is a paddle, there is little effort on the parts of some to understand the fullness of “what can possibly go wrong.” The information is out there, but folks can enter the sport without making a token effort to understand the risks.

“My feeling is that the Kayak industry is making serious money putting unsuspecting people in serious danger and the industry should be ashamed of itself.”

Yes and no. Those who sell kayaks probably are not raking in a lot of dough and they’ll never turn a profit by scaring off potential customers, so there is a disincentive to saying, “these are shark filled waters,” for example.

I do agree that there are some things that can be done to help raise the level of ability and awareness of novices who enter the sport (such as setting up buyers with contacts, such as clubs, informal groups, etc., or offering a some sort lesson along with the purchase. I’ve seen this in SCUBA and other water sports/activities as well. The risks are there and it seems that everyone assumes that the consumer has knowledge of all of them.

“No one associated with the industry will ever acknowledge that the industry has any real responsibility.”

That acknowledgement would probably end up exposing them to legal liability, and that is something they’d prefer not to be burdened with. I can see your point, but I’m not sure I want to invite every lawyer within reach of an ambulance to monitor the sport.

“They minimize the dangers and make it seem like the accidents are rare and all the fault of the buyers.”

And here is where I have to ask the question as to how much liability does the seller have after the transaction? It’s a knotty problem. If someone buys a lawnmower and tries to trim a hedge with it by holding it in the air, is the hardware store at fault for not suggesting that this is not an approved use (and yes, that actually happened, BTW)? Sure, it is reasonable to assume that a boat (regardless of type) will be used on the water, but the shop isn’t responsible for asking how you intend to use it or state the conditions where the boat is least seaworthy unless the paddler is an expert, are they? If I paddle into a rock garden, is the shop that sold the boat responsible if I lack the skills for that activity? If I paddle over Niagra falls, even you would have to put a significant amount of blame upon me.

You’re not wrong, and there is some introductory information the shop could gather about the person, their skills, and where they intend to paddle, and then make recommendations as to put ins, training, etc.

And all of this becomes moot when the paddler buys a used boat. I don’t think anyone who sells a boat should be held responsible for anything more than the condtion of the craft at the point-of-sale. A tad harsh, perhaps, but I really don’t want to see that type of sale overburdened with the responsibility of the safety of the buyer.

So, no, I don’t think the shop should be held responsible if they don’t tell a buyer not go kayak fishing in the shipping lanes at night and the like.


Its called the duty to warn.

– Last Updated: Oct-11-14 7:47 AM EST –

Manufacturers and sellers have a duty to warn. There is no duty to warn of obvious dangers. My main point is that although the dangers are obvious to experienced paddlers, they are not obvious to most neophytes. If the manufacturers are held responsible then they will be forced to give the needed warnings and information. Many, not all, tragedies will be prevented.

Trust me, the executives running Confluence are making serious dough. The only thing they listen to is the almighty dollar.

another forum posted
This guy who was in the water posted what happened to him on this forum http://www.bigwatersedge.com/bwevb/showthread.php?s=d17a3c8ff215924aa79a95c3ab4f25e6&t=23475

he clearly thinks he did just fine but fails to mention the diver who helped him. It sounds like he feels he is well prepared. Which is just down right funny. He doesn’t mention how he takes his life jacket off.

Mixed response

– Last Updated: Oct-11-14 11:39 AM EST –

Agree that there is an event waiting to happen, or in some cases it already has.

There was the incident several years ago where two young women took Swifties or similar out in fog and ended up being lost off the end of South Monomoy. The tide carried them out and, as anyone who has ever paddled that short stretch off the southern tip knows, it is no place for a rec boat. For the next several years a bill requiring everything but paddler training was presented in the Massachusetts legislature and my still be. If they had rented those boats from a livery I bet they would have had a business-ending suit on their hands.

Even with what would be called decent prudence, a good outfitter on the Cape had a suit some years ago over a death during a basic training session. It settled but it all must have lost them a lot of sleep.

Similar incidents have occurred elsewhere and there probably were lawyers involved, but I don't know of those aftermaths.

But the leap from incidents like this to making sure everyone is safe on the water is nearly impossible, at least in this country. We see posts on this board constantly from people who want to get into paddling and read all the information on manufacturer's web sites. Those web sites usually do provide information that tells an experienced paddler that a given boat is not appropriate for waves or surf or whitewater. But it clearly does NOT tell a brand new paddler. Obviously intelligent people keep asking about taking Swifties down class 3/4 rivers or on multiday open water trips.

They have a system to manage this in Great Britain, at least to a degree. Paddling tends to operate through a club system, so it is more common than not to see people get to the water in the first place via a group where they get some advice. And the Coast Guard equivalent will take unprepared paddlers off the water at least in the North Sea. If they find you out there without the proper setup and proof of skills for the water - it is categorized - they will take you in.

The problem is, as long as people have wallets and we have free commerce, people are going to go out and get into trouble. While I agree that not all of those who sell kayaks do so as responsibly as I would like, there really is no way to stop risky behavior either.

Interesting comment above about responsibility when selling a used boat... there is still a boat in the basement that a friend wanted to buy some years ago. He had never been in a kayak, thought it looked cool. But he refused to try it out on our terms, to go out with him for a first paddle. He wanted to just take it out on the Hudson by himself, irrespective of the weather. That was a deal stopper stopper for us, and we subsequently learned that he was only being held on this plane of existence by anti-depressants.

There is no duty to make sure safe -

– Last Updated: Oct-11-14 9:13 AM EST –

the duty is NOT to make sure everyone is safe. No one is suggesting they have a duty to make everyone safe. There will always be a certain percentage of people who ignore information and take risks and you are correct that there is no duty to keep such people safe.

On the other hand there most certainly is a duty, (moral and legal), to educate or warn buyers of the dangers that are not obvious to ordinary people who are using the product for its intended purpose - ie. floating in water. We all know what those dangers are, but regular good folks off the street do not. They often have absolutely no clue. In fact, I can recall when I did not perceive some of the dangers when I was getting into the sport. All the manufacturers and sellers have to do is provide information. They do have to make sure people heed the warnings. That is all I am saying. Don't hide the dangers - highlight the dangers for the buyer.

The problem became much more significant with the explosion of the kayak industry. The boats are being sold to every Tom, Dick and Harry, on the street. That was not the case 30 years ago. Also, the problem is much more significant with the entry level rec boat sales and it is interesting that these boats are likely the most dangerous to people with no understanding of the risks associated with paddling.

I respectfully disagree
First, I doubt that “the Kayak industry” is making “serious money” anywhere. The makers who produce the fine kayaks most of us admire and use are either cottage industries, or manage to barely finance their operations by selling rec boats. I have no specs, I’m just surmising based on knowledge of other industries.

Second, I don’t think manufacturers (or even retailers, mostly) have, or should have, any responsibility at all, other than offer a product that meets the specifications and descriptions used to promote. This is a free market system (speaking of the US anyway). I would prefer that it stay that way.

A useful example is in the motorcycle industry, where one organization (business, really) managed to manipulate the issue of helmet safety such that they acquired a monopoly on “ratings”. They then instituted “programs”, which cost manufacturers a ton of money and force many small shops entirely out of the industry - or else leave them to market without the rating and have to explain themselves (and suffer market share due to consumer ignorance).

I would advocate that we leave it to consuming public to educate users, and not try to impose warning and safety issues on manufacturers. Or you may soon find that you can’t purchase a 17 inch surf ski within the bounds of your Free Market Country.

As I said previously…
I’ll agree that the industry, such as it is, could do more to warn individuals of the risks. If you rent a kayak, there is often a liability waver you have to sign. That this exists suggests that the risks are significant enough that the shops don’t want to be held accountable for accidents that are easily foreseen.

I’m not trying to change your opinion, I’m trying to determine just how you would prove due diligence. Once you start regulating, you go down the rathole of enforcement and liability, and this means taking away the freedom of those who enjoy the sport.

Let’s say that I sell a boat to a novice who only wants to paddle flat water on a nearby lake. I give him sufficient flatwater training for said purpose. He drives by a beach, sees a bunch of people playing in the surf and decides to take his poorly designed rec boat and unskilled carcass into the surf for fun (it doesn’t matter if this is three years later, or not) and gets pile driven into the bottom.

I maintain the paddler is at fault. Should he have been informed of all the potential risks of boating when he demanded flatwater training only? This type of scenario is guaranteed to happen and suits have been filed attempting to pin the blame on the seller.

I even concede that more can be done to enhance safety, but there is a cost involved, to both the buyer and seller. If you can’t make the buyer pay those costs, there is little the seller can do other than ask for the buyer to sign a waver saying that they’re received adequate training for their intended, and stated, usage of the boat.

The end result is the same. Individuals don’t learn judgement until they make mistakes and recognize why they occurred. Lacking the ability to realize the causes, they often make the incorrect assumption (“I should have worn immersion gear” rather than, “I had no business, at my level of skill, to try to paddle a class V rapid in a 23 foot double sea kayak.”)

As someone pointed out, the individual rescued in the video seems to feel that he did everything fine and his judgement was excellent (even to the point of wearing his vest, which he wasn’t in the video).

I don’t think anyone who has posted here will agree with him on this. I don’t think anyone will agree that the shop is responsible for his optimistic delusion that he is safe on the water (if you follow the links, you see he does this quite often - from reading the responses to his page, I note that nobody has told him he is an accident waiting to happen - are they at fault for not pointing this out?).

I really think the blame for most accidents occur in the minds of those who just do not seem to learn from experience, and I don’t think much, if anything, will be gained by forcing retailers to make their patrons sign a piece of paper proving they did due diligence.


Wrong about the PFD
I re-watched the video and he does have the PFD on at the beginning. They take it off later so he can re-enter the boat.

My mistake.


our opinion doesn’t matter
It does not matter if we individually feel (or don’t feel) that sellers of recreational equipment have an obligation to warn consumers of the inherent dangers of kayaking and advise them of the proper use of the gear that they sell them. The courts have repeatedly found the vendors and even manufacturers at fault for injury or death caused by recreational equipment, even when it is misused or poor judgement caused the accident.

Back when I was involved in mountaineering in the 70’s and 80’s including working for a couple of outfitters, I recall several huge lawsuits that were won against climbing gear makers/sellers because people were hurt or even died using items they had bought, despite the fact that it was proven the gear had been used incorrectly. What is now Patagonia was originally Chouinard Equipment, but they had to file Chapter 11 in 1989 and sell off their assets and patents after a couple of such suits (including one where a person completely misused a rope ascending device and ended up paralyzed).

Considering the massive explosion in even absurdly frivolous liability lawsuits over the past decade, I have long thought that it’s only a matter of time before a case like this lands in the courts over someone “damaged” by dim-witted usage of a kayak.

I agree with this

– Last Updated: Oct-11-14 2:44 PM EST –

I think your first and second points are absolutely correct. Also, you bring up some issues with motorcycles, which is a perfect topic with which to make a point.

I saw a TV news documentary in the late 80s or early 90s about motorcycle safety in which they visited a salvage yard where the owner had put up an enormous stack of wrecked "crotch rocket" motorcycles, where every bike in the pile had less than 1,000 miles on the odometer. His point was that huge numbers of beginning bikers do stupid things and crash. If we are going to require kayak makers to "instruct the public" about how to be safe, is there really any limit to how far this must be taken? After all, the motorcycle industry is many millions of times bigger than the kayak industry, with much greater dangers presented to beginning users of the product, and they currently aren't required to "educate" us.

I am certain that imposing such requirements on the boating industry would put most of the best builders (who are also the smallest) out of business. With the kayak industry being just one extremely tiny segment of manufacturing, and since it only makes sense that a great many other businesses would need to be forced to conform to such requirements if they were imposed on kayak makers, I can't imagine how destructive such a requirement would be to business in general.

I doubt that very much

– Last Updated: Oct-11-14 4:42 PM EST –

"The courts have repeatedly found the vendors and even manufacturers at fault for injury or death caused by recreational equipment, even when it is misused or poor judgement caused the accident."

I'm a lawyer and I think you're just remembering wrong or something. Or read something in the media and interpreted it wrong. I'm not aware of any case where a retailer was held liable for an injury caused to a consumer when it was "proven" that the product was used incorrectly, and I'd be surprised if any court allowed that to happen.

I'm not even sure I can think of a case where a retailer was held liable for injury when the product was used correctly, as long as the product itself was not defective (and that's a manufacturing issue).

Really, if you have real examples of this, please direct us to them.