Friday, September 9, 2016

Surviving the Elements


The sky was a perfect slate of brilliant blue. The temperature was expected to be in the upper 80’s. Winds were blowing from the east around nine miles per hour. The water was slightly choppy, but the waves were not high and the current was moderate. Yes, the day presented itself well for fishing from a kayak on the coast.
The fish had a history of biting over the last couple of weeks, and I was anticipating the same results. But something was different. The water was flowing one way, the wind the other. The kayak just did not want to behave like it should in the turmoil from above and below.
The chops were created from the mix of the current and wind as well, which caused a lot of sea spray and slaps along the side of the plastic vessel I was relying on to stay afloat in 60 feet of water.
And the water was extremely cold.
Despite the fact the air was warm, heck, downright hot, and had been for the last few weeks, the water just had not caught up in temperatures.
Why is this relevant? Well, Memorial Day is here and that historically and culturally marks the time to hit the water. Pools open, ski boats come out of hibernation, and the lakes and reservoirs. Skiing, boarding and getting pulled on floats behind the boat is one thing. You are in the water and then you get out. But a new popularity has brought about new dangers.
Kayaking, canoeing and paddleboards are becoming the in thing. Paddling seems easy enough. The vessels are more stable than what we had several decades ago as engineers have taken to the designing and composition of the crafts more seriously as the purchases increased.
However, you still have a great potential of ending up in the water. Even the most experienced are known to turtle, a term used for flipping the vessel upside down while on the water.
The issue with this is the number one cause of outdoor fatalities is not being bitten by venomous snakes or spiders, nor is it falling from cliffs or even drowning. No, the number one cause is succumbing to hypothermia.
Recently two kayakers traveled out on one of our rivers for a fun day’s paddle. One was new to the sport, in face it was her first time. Paddling the river, they found spot that was not kind to them, and both topsided. Left clinging to one of the rocks breaking the water’s surface, they held on tight for fear of getting swept away in the river’s current.
One more seasoned paddler found a way to use his phone and call for emergency help. With a storm approaching during this same time, it took the emergency personnel nearly six hours to rescue the two stranded paddlers. Their only words of encouragement were to hang on to the rocks until help could arrive.
Things turned out fortunate for the couple. Things could have turned a lot worse. The cell phone could have been damaged by water not allowing for the call for help. They could have been either swept away or taken in the currents while trying to make a swim for shore. An injury could have cause prolonged exposure in the water, which then could have turned into danger from exposure to the cooler waters.
There is no way to prevent accidents. That is the very nature of an accident. There is a way to be as prepared as possible for the worst and knowing the inherent dangers even in an otherwise normal situation.

1 comment:

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