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skyhigh



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:10 am    Post subject: CLOSE CALLS Reply with quote

OK all of us from the NW have had some sessions that went awry,usually having something to do w/ hypothermia.Let's hear it!!!!!! here's two of mine.I was at maryhill early in the spring,a little too early in the spring and got out and could'nt stop myself from heading all the way across instead of turning back.gust hits mid river, i'm down. It was the fastest water start i've ever had thank God. and made it back safely.the other was at tillamook bay w/ my buddy,Rees,he's who introduced me to the sport. I only had a 3/2 wetsuit and was'nt planning on going out,then the sun came out,so i went. I was maxed on my 4.2 and the sun went away, and i fell. burrrrrrrrr. made it back!
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14319

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I chose decades ago not to die from hypothermia. I always dress for the swim and just unzip and/or jump in if I get warmer than I want to be. It has saved my butt many times and it extends my daily shred time by preserving my fuel to run my muscles rather than my furnace. To me skimping on insulation is like driving without seatbelts or riding dirt bikes or skateboards without helmets.

BECAUSE of that, my "moments" had to do with sailing in barge lanes with my rectum blocking my vision, sailing alone in big swell in the dark, losing time due to injuries caused by trying to manage too much power, and power boat operators with arrogant vendettas against WSers. BECAUSE of that, my multiple-hour post-sunset swims were just PITAs, not "moments". I've had park rangers on two occasions tell me they were very relieved to see how I was dressed when they rescued me because far too often a non-summer rescue becomes a body recovery.

\m/
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jse



Joined: 17 Apr 1995
Posts: 1298
Location: Marin

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have two, one from the gorge and one from Cali. I'll start with that one. Mid January, took my son (13) and his friend to Stinson to surf. Quit at around 3 and when we got to the turn off to head back home, we noticed the wind. So we instead, headed north to Grassy Pt. on Tomales Bay. It was about 5.5 when we got there. I decided to rig. Hit the water around 4:30, and sailed across. When I got to the other side, the wind started dying. I knew I couldn't waterstart so I headed to the shallows for a beach start, or uphaul in the flat water. Problem is, the wind died completely. Even if I got up, it would have done me no good. I could see my car where the kids were waiting for me, a mile across the bay. Tomales has a reputation for being sharky, in fact it is a breeding ground for great whites. I decided to stash my rig and walk out. By the time I had my rig stowed, I took one last look. It was getting dark. I saw a fishing boat headed out to sea, coming up my side of the bay, so I waded out, gave the universal distress signal. They stopped and were nice enough to take me and my gear across to the other side. By then it was dark. That night, at my house which is inland, it was damn cold. Made me think of that long walk through the wilderness of Pt. Reyes. Lesson learned: Only sail Tomales when it is blowing like Tomales should.

Last summer, we rented one of those houses in Rowena. We sailed all morning from the house and then I took a walk down to the public park. Hung out there for an hour talking to the locals. Then my son (now 17) drove up and told me his friend and my wife were in trouble. Seems that his friend paddled out in an aluminum canoe to the middle of the river and DOVE IN!!! He was clowning around I guess. Well the current took him west, and the wind blew the canoe east. And he had no lifejacket or wetsuit on. So my wife went out in the plastic kayak with a missing plug looking for him. When I got there I saw the kid swimming in the middle of the river and my wife in the water hanging on to the sinking kayak. The Canoe was headed upstream. I told my son to spot his friend and I put on my wetsuit, and tied a line to my back footstrap and headed out to pick up my wife. Towed her and the sinking kayak in. By that time, my son's friend had made it to shore, albeit on his way to Mosier. So I went after the canoe. I finally caught up with it at the park, where some thoughtful sailor had collected it. (If you're reading this, thanks. You never came by for the beer I promised, but I can understand. Your help was appreciated.) Lesson Learned: Teenagers are brain-dead. Never trust crappy equipment that comes with a rental house without inspecting it fully.

Steve
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14319

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jse wrote:
the current took him west, and the wind blew the canoe east.


Exactly why I abandoned the idea of getting a PWC to play in the swell.

\m/
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jse



Joined: 17 Apr 1995
Posts: 1298
Location: Marin

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isobars wrote:
jse wrote:
the current took him west, and the wind blew the canoe east.


Exactly why I abandoned the idea of getting a PWC to play in the swell.

\m/


I suspect that happens pretty often there?

Steve
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14319

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We used to see PWC in the swell at the Hatchery, but very seldom any more. Don't know why; the skilled and careful PWC riders seemed to have a ball there. But the current shouldn't affect vehicle separation; the problem's the wind. If there's enough swell to make a PWC interesting, there's enough wind to blow it away when the rider loses his grip on it.

\m/
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Viento79



Joined: 19 Jun 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find this topic of the greatest interest. It is an excellent way to share experiences related to the safety of our sport and therefore learn from each other's. There are so many things that we take for granted but only when close calls happen we realize how fragile (and how stupid, sometimes) we are. I think windsurfing is a relatively safe sport if reasonable precautions are taken and people are aware. I have been into the sport for about 20 years, taken my share of close calls but never really worried much about safety, until I became a father. Now I windsurf with my 15 yr old son and have been exercising more caution than ever so that he follows the example. He just learned waterstarts and to go planning on harness/straps. Recently he fell on his back while still hooked to the harness line and panicked when he tried to swim out and felt the pull of the harness still hooked. He struggled for some 10 seconds to release it and came out pale and scared saying that he almost drawns. I got scared like hell. He knew that he could use his hands to release the line, but somehow in the heat of the moment did not do it that way but struggled trying to swim back and forth out of the sail covering him. It was such a simple and common incident but still could have had serious consequences. There was nothing wrong with the equipment, it was the way he reacted to the situation.

Probably the closest call I had was when sailing in Virginia Key beach close to Miami with rental gear. I was trying a jump while about half a mile offshore and the mast broke. I unrigged and started swimming back, it was late in the day, very few sailors around and the tide was ebbing so I was not making any progress in the swim and getting tired. Finally I saw another sailor and managed to get his attention. The guy towed me about halfway until he became too tired, so I continued swimming, but at that point the tide current was not strong and I managed to get back before dark.

I think it is a matter of awarenes of these unexpected situations, so the more of these stories we know the more likely is that we will know how to react when they happen, or the better we will know how to prevent them. Look forward to hear other sailors close calls.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14319

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Viento79 wrote:
The guy towed me about halfway until he became too tired, so I continued swimming


Next time, tow the easy way, which involves virtually no effort of the person doing the towing (the "tower").

Towee de-rigs.
Tower sails up to him, drops his butt to towee from lee side, towee grabs tower's harness with one hand and hangs on to gear with other hand, and they sail off into the sunset with the tower remaining in water-start position and HOOKED IN.

I once towed a guy across the Gorge at the end of a 4-hour session, quite overpowered, and if he weren't a good conversationalist I would have fallen asleep while towing him, because I was just lying there in my harness, feet on the board and butt in the water, steering with my fingertips on the boom.
By the time we reached the far shore I was rested enough to keep going for another hour.

This stuff doesn't HAVE to be work.

\m/
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windowsurfer



Joined: 14 Jul 2007
Posts: 2
Location: Chilliwack, BC >> Harrison Lake

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sailing in Manitoba, the enemy can often be lightning as hot weather, end-of-day storms hit suddenly. On one occassion I saw a huge thunderhead coming our way and decided that there was time for one more reach in the freshening wind being pushed ahead of the storm. I passed numerous small fishing boats that were plodding in through rough water as I screamed out. I jibed to head for home when - pop - my universal snapped. I spent 15 minutes trying to jury-rig a set-up to get in on but I couldn't make it strong enough to withstand the by-now overpowering conditions. I was alone on the lake and I could hear and see the storm piling in on top of me. Finally, I gave up on sailing in, jettisoned my rig and started paddling my board for a rocky island about 1000 yards towards the far shore. About half-way there, a slow aluminum boat with an ancient Merc outboard came around the edge of the island, heading for home, just ahead of the storm. I waved him down and he was clearly perplexed by my being there, in the middle of the lake on a board in a lightning storm. I clambered in off my board, hoisted the board in after me and we made for shore. I tried to make the fisherman understand about my rig, but he could not make sense of it. Finally, I could point to it and we pulled up alongside and I grabbed it. We made it in - slowly under power of the 1960's era outboard - under mad black skies with lightning hitting all over the place. A tree-breaking storm, lasting 20-minutes ensued. After the storm, the sun came out brilliantly and then set as we sailed on the strong gusts following the storm, now clocked around 180 degrees.

Another time, a similar situation with some weird wrinkles. My cottage at Jessica Lake in the Whiteshell Park was (is) in a huge windshadow for northwest winds. To prevent being caught on the lake and having to sail upwind into the windshadow to get home, I would often tow my board and two rigs (two mast feet on the board) out to the middle of the lake. It became my water station, offered a change of sails and also gave me the ability to hustle in if lightning or dead calm struck. Best laid plans -- with a storm approaching, I made it back to the boat and started motoring in with the two-sail rig behind me. It was a full-on gale and I was getting tossed around in my 12' boat, the rigs behind me in tow making it super hard to keep going. I kept having to turn back and re-organize everything. Suddenly one of the sails pulled the mast foot (not tightened properly) out of the board and there went $800 in the 3'-4' waves. I had to circle again to get the little boat going forward in the storm, the thunder cracks were almost simultaneous with the flashes so I knew I was in a jam. I was about to say to hell with it and go downwind to a small island to sit out the storm when the storm took a 90 degree turn to the east, my detached rig surfaced enough for me to see it and I went back out, re-anchored and continued to sail. Sheesh.
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svance



Joined: 18 Jul 1999
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had so many... hmmm... let me think. Here's one story that some may find interesting.
I was sailing at Waddell in the late 80's. I was just starting to try wavesailing, and I couldn't jibe yet. Yeah, I was pretty scared to just go out in the 5-6 foot waves. I soon found myself separated from my equipment, taking wave after wave on the head. I had somehow drifted into the place where Waddell creek flowed into the ocean. It made a deep spot that tended to whirlpool around. The current would sweep me back into the breaking waves, which would sweep me back into the current. After about ten minutes of this, I was pretty tired and was beginning to despair. I really didn't think I could take many more dunkings. But, just as I was about to really panic, someone sailed up to me and offered their board to give me a chance to rest and catch my breath. That's all it took. I soon had enough strength and confidence to break through the current and make it to shore. I had a long WOS back, but I felt happy to have made it. I actually went out again that day after resting more. Thanks to that very considerate sailor!
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