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Thank You - the Gorge

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Joined: 12 Jul 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:13 am    Post subject: Thank You - the Gorge Reply with quote

After sailing for decades and perhaps over confident, I was separated from my 3.5 rig Monday in strong current mid-river at the Hatch. I could not catch my rig, and was worried that I was not going to be able to swim in.

Along came JAY who didn't hesitate to offer his back foot strap and dragged me to shore, at great effort to him and much swallowed river by me.

A huge shout out to Jay - you saved my butt!

The current took my rig down river. A kiter grapped it and hung on to it all the way to Swell, but he could not get it in past the outflow current. He left it there and a young lad grapped it but could not swim in with it. I swam out but the lad sailed it in and I dragged myself in.

A reminder to me of how dangerous that river can be - respect it!

And a reminder as to how good people can be - thank you all.
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Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 18821

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad you got help and got in OK, Chris, but there's a universal lesson in your story that applies to any WSing or kiting activity: Going out beyond one's ability to swim to land is an unnecessary risk to one's life, whether due to offshore currents or wind, watery terrain, fatigue, landlord, boat traffic, or whatever. That's one great thing about the Gorge: we're always within swimming distance of land, so there's virtually no excuse for dying out there.
Insulation, armor, and flotation should reduce almost ANY Gorge "emergency" to a hassle ... maybe a huge one, but still a hassle, not a life or death situation. Probably the most difficult threat to prevent is a dislocation, which the above accoutrement won't prevent, but even then more than one sailor has dragged or sailed a grotesque shoulder dislocation across the river.

That back strap tow job is a nightmare. If Jay had had a tow handle on his harness a la kiting harnesses, his level of effort and your water ingestion would have been zero.

And the Gorge current affects only hassle, as it doesn't carry us away from land; it merely increases our hiking distance sometimes ... unless, of course, we sail upstream and use the current to our advantage.

We must assume we're on our own out there, completely self-reliant. I've looked for known lost WSers many times -- a known overturned fishing boat once -- on lakes without finding them. Objects disappear very quickly in very small chop, and if we're unconscious we have < 4 minutes to live. I swam my broken gear for a mile out east one summer day while guys on shore searched for me the whole time; they saw me, backstroking away, only when I neared land right in front of them. The chop @ 15 mph concealed me.

I fired flares when my 10-foot-long ocean racing/jumping power boat overturned in the corridor in plain view of hundreds of people including the Sheriff's boat directly off the Event Site. Not one person came to help; the one WSer who slogged by on a big board in the light breezes refused to help me ashore. Damned glad I was wearing a wetsuit and my rib armor (maybe 6-8 pounds of flotation, just enough to keep my piehole above the chop), as despite my lifetime in water sports, swimming in that knee-high crap was TOUGH.

We should plan on saving our own ass. Getting rescued should be a bonus, not a necessity, in normal WSing and kiting (as opposed to something like pro-level surf with pre-arranged PWC rescue).

Mike \m/
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Joined: 06 Jul 2001
Posts: 4875
Location: Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania. Colorado

PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks Chris for sharing not only the event but the support from both kiters and windsurfers.

very pleased to hear it ended well .

K4 fins
4Boards....May the fours be with you
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