Lost Another one, St Augustine, 12-23-23

Lost another paddler today. Fitness instructor in what looks like a surf ski , rolled over and disappeared. Water temp is running about 59 degrees, St Augustine has significant current during ttide changes. He was last seen wearing dark pants, no shirt and no PFD. Typical surf ski racer attire. Was with other paddlers and they reported him missing. Coast Guard looked for him for two days. My guess was he was hot, sweaty, rolled and gasped for air when hit cold water and drowned. Either way my hypothermia chart says he had only 1 to 6 hours.

Once again it is nice weather. Local tv weather calls it “top down” weather… assume top on car. It’s in the 70s with sunny days. Still, it is winter in Florida and the water is cold. Dress for the conditions, immersion is a condition.

Coast Guard: Search suspended for missing kayaker last seen off St. Augustine Inlet (msn.com)

A George Washington University crew coach drown on the Potomac in 2005. He was trying to restart his outboard engine when he lost his balance and fell headfirst into the Potomac in view of onlookers. His body was found several days later.

Local authorities said his death was probably preventable if he had been wearing a PFD. This occurred in warm water. It does not necessarily take cold water to elicit the gasp reflex in sudden immersion. This type of event is known as sudden disappearance syndrome.

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Can you roll a surf ski?

it was an outrigger canoe
Search suspended for 46-year-old missing man near the St. Augustine Inlet?

Could be. News reports are sketchy. They did show a capsized hull that had surf ski lines, which would match one of the racing outriggers. Will Schaet probably knows the guy.

Wise up and wear a PFD and live to paddle another day.

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Thank you for posting. I think it’s important to share real examples.

It’s not intuitive but 50-60F is the worst case water temperature for cold shock (gasp reflex).


It is the reason that I wear a regular PFD and not a more-comfy inflatable…I’d like to avoid or minimize dunking my head if I go in. It’s also the reason they run water safety ads in mid-summer around here because some folks jump off their powerboats on 90 degree days and never come back up in 60 degree Lake Michigan water.

It’s almost 60 in Michigan today. I think it’s all too easy to become a little bit complacent (and maybe underdress) when air temps are so comfy. Your 60 degree water might even pass the finger test where a finger test in my 40 degree water reminds me that going in would be quite dramatic.

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“can you roll a surf ski” …I used the term “roll” because the news used the verb “flipped” that just doesn’t describe normal capsizing .

Surf skis roll pretty easily IF you’re wearing a thigh strap to keep from falling out. Of course you would probably only do that if you just wanted to see if you could roll it!
I kayak solo on Lake Ontario and use the ski instead the kayak in the winter. Even though I’m much more likely to get knocked over on the ski my head and neck are unlikely to be held under water so I’m less concerned about a gasp reflex. The partially burped drysuit turns your legs into built in “paddle floats”, making remounting extremely easy.

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The found the body today along the shore today.

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