luck, guardian angel or....

it’s 6 am, im on the beach (fort lauderdale).

wind out of the ssw 8-12 knots

2-3 foot swells after the surfzone.

possible rain and thunderstorms predicted.

i decide not to go out.

Group of 14 yakfishers decide its fine.

As i watch them gear up on boats from scupper pros to an incredibly wide hobie mirage pro angler, i overhear one fisherman (sorry, just cant call him a paddler)say “can i borrow a PFD?”, to which another replies “you can use mine, i don’t wear it”.

I ask and find out that this was the first time out together for many in the group.

By the time the last boat got off the beach (sun is now up) i could no longer see the first boat even with binoculars.

must say i was surprised everyone got through the surf without incident, and i made a note to be on the beach when they expected to return 4 hours later.

i’m back at the beach 3 1/2 hours later, parking.

i see wide boat guy dragging it back to his car. he looked spent.

I ask, “how’ld you make out?”

“Not so good dude. Really rough out there,5-6 footers. lost my plug and took on water. Then I flipped and lost a lot of gear.”

I find out later that after multiple capsizes and a loosing battle trying to bail out his boat, that he decided to head back and did so alone. Within sight of the beach he capsized one final time and was unable to complete a self rescue. A woman who had been paddling earlier noticed his peril and jumped in her boat to go out and help.

A resort jet ski rental guy saw her actions and responded as well. Fisherman and barge get towed to the beach.

As i watch, i see, with binoculars, 11 boats on the way in. I watch as a 35’ sportfisher goes right through the middle of the very loosely formed group.

Wind is now from WSW and bringing dark storm clouds with it.

some time later i see the last two boats racing to beat the storm.

no chance.

lost sight of them for over an hour due to the storm conditions.

in the end all fisherman safe and telling fish stories…

luck, guardian angel,or a hidden skill set, not sure.

maybe i overthink things and get scared too easily…

post getting way to long but i need to know…is it me?

Sounds risky
Sounds risky for that group of fisherman to go out. Laughed about guy who said, sure use my pfd I don’t use it.

Now as for you I guess it depends on YOUR skill set and what gear and kayak you had. But sounded like a bad day to go out either way.If you stayed close in maybe it wasn’t too risky for you.


– Last Updated: Apr-15-13 2:25 PM EST –

stuff..i saved a life some time ago. i guy was about to try his tuilk. my boat was elsewhere, but i got this feeling,lets go back and see what happens..i heard a week scream.."heeeeelp" i ran like craxzy
and got the boat rightendef. he was stuck and about to drown.thank god i had my drysuit and PFD on.

my head hurts
because I must have dope-slapped it four or five times reading your story. No, it’s not you.

Sometimes I think a nonlethal capsize and scary rescue is the best things that can happen to people, because nothing converts like a firsthand experience.

good story
they were lucky. glad you had the mind set to go back and check on them. i had a few friends go to school in florida and have never really canoed before. there first trip they decide on an ocean trip and were rescued by one of the big coast guard ships. needless to say since they have been back i have never gotten them to go on a canoe trip with me yet lol.

I don’t know this area at all, so the main risks, as I see it, are the thunderstorms, the (slightly) western wind, and the lack of time on the water for some of them. With a good weather forecast you should have some idea of the max. bursts. “Possible” thunder sounds not too bad, same for waves.

Reading your description, I’d say I would have gone out, provided I was on a good day, and had some places to beach if storms looked ugly.

But well, everybody is different? What is your “risk assessment”, here?

Not you
People just don’t use their heads. I was out on a lake here in NJ last weekend and on the way back in watched as the Fire Dept Water rescue team helped out 2 fishermen in a john boat. The wind coming across the lake plus the chop caused by it(not a huge lake mind you) must have caused them to lose balance and fall into the water. Water temps are still 30’s/40’s? No PFD’s. They were lucky they were close to the shore but both went in. John boat capsized and was swamped. Both guys I believe were ok, ambulance took them both away.

risk assessment
individual vs group risks not exactly the same IMHO.

For the group I would have put it a medium to high. Why? not know their skill set.

I observed a loosely formed, seemingly cavalier and at least partilly ill equiped group heading out in shetchy conditions. Didnt mention current was estimated at 4 knots that day.

some of the guys commented afterwards that it had been the worst conditions they had been in. Some spoke of multiple capsizes and had not been able to fish saying they would not have gone out had they correctly guaged the conditions.

I understand assessing conditions becomes an individual situation regarding skill and experience after basic safety issues that all should consider.

An important point here I believe is the group factor. Having paddled in many groups but never having led one I am of the belief that the group is only as safe or strong as the weakest member.

I could have gone out and have in worse, but the group itself played as much a factor, maybe more than the weather.

Understand of course that weaker, less experienced paddlers can and probably should expand their parameters when afforded the chance by paddling with a more experienced group.

I think as a community we should be conscious that due to the huge growth of our sport of choice there will be many poor decisions made by “paddlers”. I would rather hear about a great new spot than read about some unfortunate mishap.