Speaking of rescues

Celia, it’s not elitist. That paddling environment required rolling skills. Anyone who paddles the ocean has to have rolling skills, especially when solo and near a drop off where waves concentrate. He knew there were small craft warnings, but blew them off.

This is a fantasy adventure: Meeting dangerous animals on their term, where what happens is up to them. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Evidence of the adventure were lost at sea.

32 1/2 mikes out to sea. 22 hours, on the ocean, seasick and throwing up, drinking caffeine to stay awake, eating pudding and turkey jerky,fitful sleep. (Not sure how long he slept, but 65 miles in 22 hours is avg of 2.95 mph; he mentioned 4 mph avg, which is 16 hrs paddling). Frozen block of chum on his boat for 8 hrs, but he couldn’t figure out why the birds were diving on him.

Always dilemmas: light on attracted birds, could only see their [devil] eye when in the midst of them, then couldn’t paddle for fear of clubbing them. Couldn’t read his compass with the light, could see the card without. Had to rely on the GPS, but lookimg down made him dizzy. [What to do? Turn around and go home!] Didn’t expect Great White sharks off the coast of Washington, which are rare, except near Gray Harbor and usually when you’re chumming, but these weren’t your ordinary sharks, they was the electric blue vaiety and only 6, maybe 7, 8 ft, but no more than 15 or 20 ft, or however large they were. Chum tied to the boat? He had dozens of frequent encounters with whales, and could tell how close they were, [by their hot, fetid breath - my words], yet he never worried about being tipped out of the boat 32 1/2 miles from shore.

No, the story isn’t right. The chart shows he capzized near the shore (the bar?) Probably while trying to get out of the boat on a steep shore of rip-rap. Then his boat broke free, and he chased it as it was carried out on the ebb tide. I’m sure he was rescued.

He didn’t have the skills needed to venture anywhere near the harbor entrance. Sounds like he mis-timed the start of the tidal flood by up to 6 hours. I don’t know anything about the area, but I believe he would negotiate a dangerous entrance like that and survive more than once. No, it isn’t right. Jonathan Swift has a better version, but I think that actually happened.

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A few notes. As others have mentioned, a DSC capable radio would have been helpful because when activated it would have continually broadcast his GPS position and displayed to the USCG and other similarly equipped boats in a consistent fashion without the confusion or what format it was in. That being said, he was found relatively quickly due to his being in a heavily trafficked area. Even with DSC, in many areas it can take the USCG an hour or more to respond on site. For serious open water paddling, DSC is well worth the extra money in my opinion.

As others have mentioned also, his neck gasket was pretty much gone. It appears to have been trimmed back too much and is visible dry rotted. He mentions that all three gaskets were shot. In that case, he was wearing little more than a shower curtain for immersion. As it flooded, it would become more a danger than useful.

It’s interesting that he mentions using a paddle float as an outrigger to nap, but he appears to have made no attempt the do a self rescue. Of course, as his drysuit filled with water, this would have been increasingly difficult.

All in all, his clueless risk taking combined with his inadequate skills and knowledge, this trip seems to be a precursor to an eventual Darwin award.


So I’m kinda a believer that if others have to get involved so that you can make it home in one piece then mistakes were made. Understanding those mistakes might be informative for my own safety.

A s far as boating with blown drysuit gaskets- that’s what duct tape is for- just kidding but not really. Yeah see, I’ve boated a number of times with blown gaskets. Never ocean kayaking though.

Where ever you paddle, I like the idea of self rescue, be it a roll or swimming ability.

So the person being rescued bit off a bit more than he or she planned. Help was called and help was given. What happens next?

If they were traumatized they might not paddle again. Or they will paddle but stay away from the environment where the mishap occurred. Or they may work on skill development to increase their potential for success. The last option is to remain clueless and keep repeating the same mistakes.


You pretty much covered all of my thoughts after I read a bit of his blogs and listened to the sound clips. I did wonder if I was in his spot if I would not swim like hell for the jetty, since he apparently never actually went outside the jetty. (I admit it I’m a very practiced swimmer after breaking my surf leashes a number of times, and getting stranded upside down in rivers.)

The thing that really made me take notice is when he is many miles off the coast in the Pacific Ocean and he starts chumming for the birds with frozen fish sticks. (Don’t worry there aren’t as many Great Whites out here as say Año Nuevo shark preserve, and besides that I’m packing a 1911 GI issue .45.) I wonder if he thinks GWS slowly come to the surface, knock on your door and announce their intentions to rip you in half. I wonder if he has ever seen an adult white shark up close, or seen one breach clean out of the water with a sea lion in it’s mouth. Probably not. he’s an Ex-marine you know.

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My opinion is all men are free to do as many stupid things as they want in an attempt to win the annual Darwin Award. The problem as I see it is when you put others at risk or take away resources from where they may be better used. I know that is their job and what they are there for, and on the other hand we shouldn’t assume in the risk assessment they will be there for us.

The part of the whole story that bothers me the most is this “adventure” on his part was there for him to blog about and I assume make money off of and his lack of responsibility to use his misfortune to teach others not to do what he did that was clearly stupid on many levels. Instead he glamorizes it so others will try to outdo him.

I know a guy who 40 year ago was stupid enough to set out to cross frozen Lake Erie mid winter with hardly no plan or equipment. He took a couple PB&J sandwiches and a thermos of coffee and told his wife he would call her from Canada that night. It was a stupid thing to attempt and he did make across with about 10 hours more walking than he had thought. The big difference is he now tells people and young people just how stupid that was to even think about trying and how he risked his own life but others also had he got in trouble.

This guy shows none of that remorse.

The illustration shows he capsized close to the shore. The ebb current “pulled him onto the bar” and breakers prevented him getting back in the boat, but he never explained how he came out of the boat.

I find the story hard to believe; he doesnt have the skill to take on the challenge. A likely scenario is he capsized near the steep shoreline and the waves kept him from getting back in the boat, then he chased the boat.

He clearly explains how he came out of his boat. It’s in his trip report posted above.

True. Following seas. Capsized.

While he made errors in judgment, it’s unfair to make assumptions about the reason he publishes his trip reports, especially when that information can easily be found at his site.

On this sea kayaking website, I’ve tried to honor the original spirit of the internet: making stuff I think is cool, setting it out for others to discover.

In that spirit, you’ll find no advertisements here. No affiliate links. No donation button. No store. No social media. No likes. No comments. No feed. No subscription. No tracking. All you’ll find is good, old-fashioned, read-only Web 1.0.


On the internet there is very little that is totally free. The appearance of free is everywhere and because we are not seeing the impact of cost to us directly the net does not run itself.

Maybe his motives are just to gain celebrity and down the road profit from that celebrity we really don’t know. Ether way we live in a world where kids go on some stupid site like tic TikTok and see some guy stack up 10 milk crates and stand on them before falling to the floor and are encouraged to try 10 and see if they can do 11. Meanwhile the ER’s are full of kids with broken bones trying to be the one to beat the record.

I don’t get this non-accountability that’s all around us gaining notoriety if not money while tempting others to follow your poor judgment.

But then,

I guess this really isn’t any different than Evel Knievel. We watched him on TV and every kid around was building a ramp for his bike to ride off of. Nothing he did was logical also and no one told others to not do the same and many did. Maybe it is a getting older thing and viewing the world differently than I once did. I guess my assumption is wrong and this guy in the kayak didn’t really do anything wrong with his adventure and he lived to try something even bigger next time. It is his story to tell how he wants to tell it, and if some one read his exploits and wants to do the same it is their right to do so.

I stand corrected.

I don’t know his motivation and won’t assume anything. I don’t really care about his misjudgements and mistakes. We all make 'em.

The part that irked me was exactly that – not a hint of self-accountability. Had he even just said, “Hey, I effed up…”

Without reflection and accountability, there is little or no room for learning or progression. As the saying goes, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”



I didn’t say anything about the self-rescue option above because at its worst jumbling it appears he was in conditions where the only option would have been a good, challenge worthy roll. In breakers the non-roll self-rescue options are non-winners. So learn to brace in following seas or you are in for a long swim.

But since this is still going on I will comment on what jyak’s info points out, a lack of basic seamanship. Beyond the chum and attracting sharks and whales, which is pretty strange.

Anyone who has ever been on salt water should be able to recognize what that chart represents, a potentially tricky passage at certain tide states even without the added fun of small craft warnings. Narrow channel for deep water boats, significant depth changes over a fairly short distance and a pile of land features that contain and direct/alter the tidal flow. In an area with 10 ft tides.

Even on a calm day, if I had to take a first try at this passage I would hold until the highest part of the tide and near slack. In conditions like this, lots of water is your friend. It is usually the low water moments that are the most risky.

The other option that this guy might have had if properly dressed would have been to go around the point, then try and swim he and the boat into the beach to the north and walk a fair ways to his car. I have yet to need it for solo paddling, but I don’t discard bail out points in Maine as options where I might have to walk a couple of miles to get to the cabin and my car. Getting onto land can be more important in a problem than the details of where.

I call some of this “destinitis” - the compelling urge to get somewhere the way you want in the face of signals from Ma Nature that your plan stinks. It is a common problem in paddling and why older and wiser sea kayakers have all that stuff in their boats. So if they have sit things out for a while unexpectedly they can stay hydrated, nourished and relatively warm.

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The quote that got me was:

“it would have been difficult or impossible to recover on my own amid the choppy conditions on the bar, so it is likely that the community’s response saved my life.”

So what is he doing out there in the first place?

Not a sea kayaker, but it sounds like he was rushing so he wouldn’t have have to wait a couple of hours for the next ebb? He knew the risk he was taking, and he did it anyway.

I can sympathize - you’re out on the water, you’re tired, you’re anxious to get home so you roll the dice on something that you probably shouldn’t. The fact that he is out there alone doesn’t help.

Lucky guy.

p.s. - looks like Celia made the same point - great minds think alike :wink:

I just recently joined this so-called community to find like-minded people to learn from and share tales of adventure with. After checking out this thread I am appalled by how mean and childish many of you are behaving. I read this kayakers original post. Did he make some dangerous mistakes out there? Yes he did. Talking about those mistakes is fine, so we can all learn from each other and become better paddlers in the process. This thread has gone far beyond that, as many of you sound like a mean high school clique tearing down a classmate. Did anyone think to email this kayaker and invite him to this conversation- ask him directly what he learned and how he might change his plans for a trip like this in the future? Nope. Instead I see many of you shaming, and creating unfounded meanness towards a fellow kayaker behind his back who is posting his mistakes for us to learn from. Well shame on all of your behavior. Assuming he’s doing all this just for profit or fame is both jaded and unfounded. He has a pretty great website that I appreciate very much as a fellow paddler, full of details that are really helpful for trip planning. Why are you guys behaving so mean? As a new member it feels incredibly unwelcoming and against the forums policies of Civilized Community Behavior in the welcoming letter that a robot sent me. I invite all of you to reread it. Mahalo is a concept of gratitude and thanks, towards each other, ourselves, and nature. It’s worth taking some time to think about how to give each other kindness and gratitude while simultaneously learning from each other’s mistakes. Hope to see improvement in this so-called community.


I can agree to some extent when reactions are based solely on brief news articles with little info. However, in this case we have his own words. And for all those words, he didn’t share anything he may have learned and which might have benefited others.

Frankly- dragging chum tied to his boat but boasting of having a .45 auto with him to shoot attacking sharks- he deserves all the invective I can muster. And that’s just one egregious example.


Hey welcome. This “community” is as “so call” or as “real” as you want to put energy into it. For me, it is a place to share, reflect, learn by sharing experiences - including mistakes - and being open to critiques.

More important over the years, I have met and paddle with a bunch folks on this site from across the country. So, it is not only a virtual community but a real one. Here is a the “secret” of a “community”. It doesn’t exist wide-open. It’s created from developing shared goals, objectives, practices and then trust. Thus, l learn the hard way to be selective about who to paddle with in real life because my life and theirs are dependent on mutual understanding and trust of each others knowledge and skills.

Best wishes as you seek out and develop your community.


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I suggest that you spend a little more time learning who the people commenting here are before saying some of the above. There are people commenting with decades of paddling in extremely tough conditions. I am not talking about myself - most of these folks are way better than me. My judgement is better than my formal skills these days. Just to ask, are you a sea kayaker?

The comments may be on the frank side. But if you read them carefully, you will also see that many of this guy’s choices are way outside of prudent practice, not just minor misjudgments. Like attracting sharks when you are by yourself in the open in a skinny 17’ length of fiberglass. And RC51Mike’s comment is correct, from the point of view of a somewhat seasoned if not way talented sea kayaker there are a lot of extremely poor decisions. I would not myself send anyone to this guy’s site for advice.

In any case It is common to vet incidents in sea kayaking in order to identify how to avoid such errors. The old Sea Kayaker magazine had an article every month where they would review a situation that went bad and identify the decision points that took a wrong turn. At times it was quite harsh, but people often died in these incidents. This analysis was invaluable to new paddlers like myself who paid attention.

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I’m glad to hear this is a place where you are friends beyond the forum. Learning from each other’s mistakes and planning great trips whether together or solo is exactly what I would hope for a place like this. Reading some of this kayakers other posts he’s obviously a birder and is new to sea kayaking. He wasn’t using chum to shoot sharks. He was trying to attract wildlife with it, and there was probably a better way to do that. Like maybe tossing fish oil on the water surface (anyone have experience with this?) . Based on your replies it sounds like being mean-spirited, shaming, and saying mean things about another kayaker behind his back is just how it’s done for all of us to learn from those mistakes. Broadcasting on the internet that you’d never want to go on a trip with someone who has such poor judgement is mean-spirited. Criticize the methods, not the person. He needed a better dry suit, he should have waited a few hours, better wildlife attraction methods, or ways to stay awake. Using previous mean, shaming behavior as an excuse to use it yourself is something to be curious of.

I think my question still stands about whether you sea kayak.

Most of us who have extensive time on the salty stuff have set some criteria for who else we want to be out there with. In many cases based on actual experience, like being in a smaller water environment with someone and finding they did not have a kayak or themselves the ability to be helped back into their boat. If they cannot participate in solving a problem 20 feet from shore in a warm small pond, the last thing that anyone would consider to be safe is taking them miles offshore.

This is not hypothetical. We are nearing the time in spring when we will see reports of people who end up drowning because they came out of their boat and could not get back in before cold or lack of swimming ability got them. On big lakes and on salt water.

You also too easily dismiss the beneficial impact that can be gained from setting criteria. For a time we had a local paddling group that would go into the winter until the water became solid. Our rule was that no one could come on our trips November thru at least mid-spring who did not have a dry suit. Kokatat did quite well by that and we had a number of paddlers who were safer on the water. They were not necessarily better paddlers, but we knew they would be safe from hypothermia while we got them back into their boats if they capsized. Not apologizing for that.

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If the author had used his blog to outline his mistakes and learned lessons with a grain of humility, the tone of this thread would probably be different. Instead, his blog reads like a celebration of stupidity.

Going out in a drysuit without functioning seals (seems like he didn’t even have a spray skirt to keep water out of his cockpit), and unable to roll or self rescue while knowingly going into a place with conditions that would suggest a high likelihood of capsizing, at a time where he knew he would be exhausted, showed a great deal of poor judgment. It needs to be called out, picked apart and criticized, maybe even harshly, and used as a great example of “what NOT to do” to those of us that are new to kayaking.