Never Underestimate the Power of Wind

This is very said yet it’s a reminder of how bad things can get on the water even in an inland lake. In a kayak this would be quite a challenge but in any watercraft you have to go in the direction of the waves and wind as much as possible. I’ve experienced these types of storms with no warning - clear day with a positive forecast. Wear your PFD and practice your rescue techniques.
Pray for those injured and the family members of the survivors.

Indeed, inland lakes can have some surprising winds. I sure hope they find the other 4 people but it doesn’t look good. I struggle to understand why the PFDs wouldn’t have been worn when the weather turned.

In the linked video at 00:21, the emergency worker hawks up a big gob of spit. Why would you include that clip in the broadcast?

I do not necessarily agree with the statement that you have to go in the direction of the wind and waves as much as possible. I would much rather face the waves and wind and gradually work my way toward shore in a lake, or river. Going downwind in very large waves leaves you with less control and you’re more likely to broach and capsize. In the ocean is a whole nuther matter.

Duck boats, are however, not exactly foul weather craft. They were designed to ride following seas to shore to deploy troops. They are not designed to combat weather. Nosing into waves will pretty much ensure that they take on water and when this happens, they sink like the provoberial rock. Add a canopy, such as was on this one, and it will sink quickly and entrap anything that floats toward the surface in what functions as a net. These accidents are rare only in that there are not that many duck boats in the world.

Sadly, I doubt the operators understood the limitations of their craft and watching them nose into heavy conditions is horrifying to watch.

I’m not saying you can’t go into the waves and wind but if you are good at controlling your kayak the best thing to do it get to shore as quickly and safely as possible. Going with the wind and waves is the way to accomplish that. I’ve been stuck in a few storms over the years and that’s what my experience shows me.

Bad history with them. They sucked on D-Day too.

Every boat is different. Head into or run with the wind and wave is dependent on many things. There is no one answered. Except one made it and the other didn’t.

However one thing is true. A “duck” is not a proper boat.

CNN has video taken just before (and looks like just as) the boat was going under:

Many areas (including here in San Francisco) have removed Ducks due to the safety concerns, as was talked about in the article listed in the post above.

Death traps

Looking at the video, it appears the waves were only 18" or so at the shore. Im surprised how un-seaworthy the boats appear to be. I know they are tourist calm water boats, but still…dont they have a military origin? or are the tourist boats something completely unrelated to the landing craft?

Easy to say from afar, but I think downwind was the way to go there. Who cares what’s in front of you. When you only have a 10hp motor to push a large, broad sided boat like that into 50mph wind with waves breaking over the bow, I’ll take my chances downwind any day. Looks like they were making nearly 0 forward progress. Sad story.

Are you looking at the second video? Yeah, the waves in the foreground don’t look too bad there, but look way out into the main lake (only a quick glimpse out there is possible in that clip), where the waves are quite huge, made obvious by the fact that there’s so much spray whipped off the wave tops that there’s a thick white haze layered above the water. The brief video that comes first which actually shows two ducks, shows waves splashing high over the bows and enveloping them. Those waves are probably 5 feet from trough to crest, and steep too.

3’ waves

Videos always make the waves look smaller than when you were out there in 'em.

Looks like the company could care less about the safety of ther passengers . They completely ignored the weather forecast and storm warning. Unexceptable.

@DrowningDave said:
I’m not saying you can’t go into the waves and wind but if you are good at controlling your kayak the best thing to do it get to shore as quickly and safely as possible. Going with the wind and waves is the way to accomplish that. I’ve been stuck in a few storms over the years and that’s what my experience shows me.

For sure, every occurrence will be somewhat unique and a person must make a judgement about the best course to safety might be. My comment was with reference to what a kayaker might do in a situation where a sudden storm comes up.

It wasn’t a storm that suddenly came up, but a very strong wind developed while I was on my way back to my launch site. I could have just gone to shore and waited for the wind to die off a bit, but after looking out at what I would have to go through, I decided to go for it. From my vantage point before entering the fray, the waves didn’t look too bad. Well I knew from lots of experience that it’s always worse than it looks like from a distance and this was no exception. The waves were very steep and averaging about nine feet from trough to crest and the tops were breaking. It all went very well and was actually kind of fun once I realized that the boat was handling it just fine.

In this incident, the choice wasn’t to go downwind, or upwind, it was that I had to go upwind to get back to the launch site and I was more than happy that the launch wasn’t downwind–especially after I got into the worst of it. I do a lot of surfing, but not on waves that steep and and not that high. I think that would be a good way to go pearl diving.

Latest report has death toll at 17.
Supposedly, 9 family members (from one family) were victims.
Tragic, anyway you look at it…

If you were in the area today: it would be difficult to avoid/not trip over an ambulance chasing lawyer, law enforcement, fire department and/or rescue team personnel, and masses of media seeking a ghoulish story.

I view the incident as one that could have, and should have been avoided.
The area is a tourist mecca, and all that goes with that…
Too often the “show me the money” attitude prevails.

Luckily, some people scheduled to do the "ducky ride requested & received refunds on their tickets “prior” to departure time. They decided it was in their best interest to “bail out”.
Thus the death toll is lower that it might have been.


I just wanted to comment that you don’t have to be on a lake to get in trouble with wind. I’ve had two memorable episodes happily paddling upstream with the help of a tailwind and then having a weather front come in and wind speeds increase a lot so when I turned around the current was no help and I’m facing whitecaps and serious headwinds and a big stretch of open water.

I’m an open canoer and rarely go far offshore but as I recall Sea Kayaker had a story every month that was basically the same; Here’s where we put in, here’s where we were when the weather changed, here’s where the body was found.

To big for a duck boat not even a challenge e for me in my kayak. Why no pfd’s put on when it got rough makes no sense. But reminds me of what happened to me many years ago. I was on power boat, it got real rough 30 foot cabin cruiser in front of us with high bridge was disappearing in waves in front of us. I went and got pfd’s for me and everyone on my buddy’s 25 foot boat. Later after we were back at dock I was yelled at by my buddies girlfriend for scaring everyone by making everyone put a pfd on. I would think she would thank me but NOPE. she was mad at me.