Found adrift kayaks in WA lead to rescue

Discussion in 'Paddling Safety' started by Peter-CKM, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
    Messages:
    517
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    chodups likes this.
  2. designer

    designer Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    428
    Location:
    Bend OR USA
    I always tie my boat, even when I "look foolish" doing it (15 ft from high tide up on a log). Once I was paddling with a "friend" who said, "I'll just pull the boat up." Note - he was using a loaner from me. So I checked where the current was going and where the boat would end up once it started floating - we were in kind of a lagoon. So I knew it wasn't going on it's own solo journey. Sure enough, when we got back from our hike, my kayak was faithfully where I had tied it and "his" was ... range free. I hope the look on his face when we rounded the last corner and he saw his boat wasn't there indicated that some learned lesson had taken place.
     
    chodups likes this.
  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,590
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    I'm guilty of failing to tie mine off when taking a brief break, and I will only be a few steps away. Only takes a few minutes of free floating for it to get out of reach. Glad they got off OK.
     
    chodups likes this.
  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Often , it's easy to overlook the possibility of freighter/ferry wake crashing ashore. I had my kayak half unloaded - I was trudging to the tent site- one day at Arbutus Pt (Portland Is) when I heard the surf. I only had to wade a few feet to grab the boat.
    On another occasion I was camped at the N end of Wallace - boat was pulled up right to the 'path' and tied off. In the morning it was still there, but in a different spot...I figured a freighter had come in, headed for the Crofton mill, while I was asleep.
     
    chodups and Astoriadave like this.
  5. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2014
    Messages:
    57
    Camped at Vicker's Creek at the north end of Pitt Lake. We tied the canoe to a tree in a gravel bed beside a creek that runs down from the mountain. There was absolutely no reason to tie it up as the site was very far above the lake, and even though it it is a tidal lake, it was well above the high tide mark. I'm not sure why we did tie it up. There was no rain overnight and temps were cool. In the morning, we found our boat upside down in the now diverted creek. Go figure. I'm glad we had tied the canoe up or it would have washed downstream and probably would have gotten damaged.
     
    chodups likes this.
  6. chodups

    chodups Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Messages:
    927
    I was working pukers at West Point (~7.5 NM north of Blake Island) and heard Seattle Traffic and talking with the Fauntleroy Ferry about spotting a kayak adrift. I worried. Then more radio traffic started commenting on different colored kayaks adrift. Conditions were very benign and while it's always easy to see one boat adrift and think the worst it is harder to think that so many paddlers had come to grief on such a mellow day. When I got home I went online and saw what had happened.

    The shipping lane to Port of Tacoma runs past Blake Island. Lots of big cargo ships pass that way. While I was out the USS Manchester passed West Point headed south for the Duwamish (still north of Blake). It was moving fast. Traffic said it was traveling at 34 kt. I figured that I had misunderstood and carried on waiting for its wake. Tide was up so the depth off the point was not great for tickling waves into producing their best. I was watching for the wake and wasn't seeing anything at all approaching so I was lulled into hanging out in the narrow shallows directly over the spit. Suddenly the wake was nearly on me and I ran for deeper water but it was curling at a good 6 foot height right behind me. More than I was out for but it turned into a nice fast, long ride along the south side Discovery Park.

    I could see something like that taking boats off the beach.
     
    Astoriadave and JohnAbercrombie like this.
  7. WGalbraith

    WGalbraith Paddler

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    Victoria
    I once camped in Widgeon Creek near Pitt Lake and tied our canoe up to a log that hung over the water 5-6 feet above the water. During the night it rained heavily and the creek rose enough to sink the canoe. Had it not been tied, we would have been stranded.

    Numerous lunch or pee breaks in the kayak have resulted in a quick stop where there is little to tie to. Inevitably, as soon as I leave the boat, am distracted by wildlife, an interesting camp spot or engaging conversation, the tide rises enough to float my boat away. After one of these scares I now always look for a short stick or rock to tie my bow line to. I stack rocks on the rope, or bury the short ( 1-2') stick/ rock in the sand, placing more rocks on top. More than once, I returned to find my boat in a foot of water but was able to wade in and retrieve the bow line. A sharp tug on it pulls it free of the rocks or sand. It is a really BAD feeling to return to find your ride gone.
     
    chodups likes this.
  8. chodups

    chodups Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Messages:
    927
    JKA and Astoriadave like this.
  9. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    74
    Good story, chodups. I've put my boat up on big logs before that I am certain are secure. Now, I'm going be a little more skeptical!

    I almost lost my crossover boat last summer on the Snake River. No, the high water that arrived in the middle of the night was not caused by an upstream storm, it was caused by Hell's Canyon Dam. The amount of water released by a dam varies with electrical demand, and this creates what are known as river tides. For example, the tides in the Grand Canyon are up to four feet. The tide that almost caught me with an untied boat was a little over two feet. This happened on my 9th and final night on the river after traveling 200+ miles down the Main Salmon. Since the Salmon River is free-flowing, I always tied up my boat at night just in case there was a storm, but by the time I got down to the Snake, I had completely forgotten about the tides. Fortunately, I woke up at 2:30 am and walked down to the beach to check on my boat... only to find water lapping at its edge. Ugh!

    Of course, a missing boat means an immediate call to the CG (if you're on salt water) or to the Sherriff's office or Park Ranger if you're on a river. Someone is going to see and report an unmanned boat afloat and a full-scale SAR response will be activated. Don't waste too much time looking for a missing boat before you make the call. Better to call back and say, "No worries, we found it," than to cause a massive emergency response.
     
    Astoriadave and chodups like this.
  10. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,590
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Freighters upbound on the more confined sections of the lower Columbia River often produce pre-surface-wake surges which on low gradient sandy beaches will form an aggressive three foot mini-tsunami. These buggers can sweep small children, distracted adults, all manner of beachgear, and even light runabouts right up the beach.

    A somewhat drunk bevy of a dozen Folbot paddlers, well up in the horsetail zone and safely encamped, had a fine time lifting, pushing, and pivoting end for end a heavy stranded NOAA skiff which got stuck some 20 meters up-beach. The two novice NOAA workers were very redfaced and chagrinned. We told them we were too compromised to remember the incident. That was kind of a lie. :);)
     
    chodups likes this.
  11. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    74
    Dave, good reminder about freighter wakes. There are many beaches in the San Juans where the wake from a large, fast freighter can really hit the beach with surprising force. Turn Point on Stuart Island comes to mind, but there are others along Rosario Strait as well.

    And as WGallbraith noted, the one time all year when you get distracted and leave your boat unsecured is the exact moment that a big, random wake will wash ashore! Last year, I started carrying an 8 inch aluminum sand stake to secure my boat for short stops. Just drive the stake into the sand with the heel of your foot and clip onto your bow line. This is not secure enough to leave for hours or overnight, but it does offer some protection during a short hike up the beach or into the woods to check out a possible campsite. Since I often paddle solo it's just not feasible for me to haul my fully loaded boat up the beach every time I land.

    The sand stake works great on those huge flat sandy beaches, of course, but I'm also thinking about carrying a large aluminum stopper (climbing nut) for rocky landings. I haven't tried this yet, so I don't know if it will have the same ease and utility as the sand stake, but I'm going to give it a try. I just know it's harder than you think to create a solid anchor in the rocks with a short loop of webbing.
     
    chodups likes this.
  12. chodups

    chodups Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Messages:
    927
    Both good ideas!
     
  13. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    mini-snow peg.jpg
    There are a couple of ways to make those sand/snow stakes more effective. A piece of line tied through two of the holes mid-way along the peg, extending 12-18" 'out' with a carabiner on the end provide a better anchor point, whether the peg is driven vertically or buried horizontally in the sand/gravel. If your peg doesn't have holes, they can be drilled easily.
    Other variants use the 'deadman' idea and can be flat plates/discs of aluminum or plastic, with line or cable for attaching.
    Sometimes the peg/deadman can be put behind a crack in rocks, between (well buried) logs, etc.
    The MSR sand stake uses those ideas.
    mini-MSR sand Stake_.jpg
    Years ago, I spent quite a bit of time 'hanging on' while trying to find the correct (fixed size, 'old school') stopper from the rack. Once camming devices appeared on the scene, it was no accident that rock climbing 'standards' jumped up. Carrying one stopper...well, you may be lucky! :)

    Another approach is to just carry (on a thin plywood 'reel' or just in a stuff sack) a long length of thin line. Light spectra/amsteel/dyneema or Zing-It will do the job for short duration stops.
     
    chodups likes this.
  14. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    74
    I considered buying a cam instead of a large wallnut, but I'm concerned about how well the mechanism will hold up to saltwater corrosion. I used to have a set of uncoated aluminum locking carabiners in my WW rescue kit, but found that they quickly locked up with corrosion, even here in the PNW where the water in our rivers is very soft. (Down in the SW US, where mineral content in "fresh" water is much, much higher, it takes very little time before the locks become "frozen.") A couple years ago, I switched to coated aluminum locking carabiners and so far, so good. You still have to check them every now and then, though.

    Anyhow, that's why I've been hesitant to try out a cam. As you said, a line attached to the center of a sand stake could also be used to make an anchor in the rocks. It's not particularly strong, but it doesn't take a super strong anchor to keep a boat from floating off a beach.
     
  15. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    That would be my concern also - steel spring and aluminum body = trouble. And camming devices are expensive.
    I tried using 'leftover' climbing 'biners for kayak and sailboat duty, but they needed constant rinsing and lubrication to keep from seizing up. The LevelSix 'big' carabiners are good because the spring is the gate and is fully exposed. I do give them a rinse in fresh water when I can.
    They can clip over a paddle shaft, which is handy. (Not locking, though..)
     
  16. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    74
    Yeah, I switched to locking biners after my most recent Swiftwater Rescue class. The instructor had a couple stories about how easy it is for a rope from a throw bag to slide over a gated carabiner and inadvertently clip into it, creating a whole new world of forces and vectors and potentially trapping a victim into an even worse situation.

    I'm not sure how big this hazard would be for sea kayakers and, as you noted, the big, a open biner on a rescue vest makes it easy to clip directly onto a paddle. I have a locking biner or my rescue vest as well so when I need to clip onto a paddle I have to make a loop around the shaft and then clip back onto the rope. Only takes a second, but not as easy as simply clipping directly 0nto the paddle shaft.
     
  17. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Getting a bit off-topic so this will be my last on carabiners for now...
    I 'fell out of love' with locking biners while ice climbing one day. Some fuzz from my Ragg mitts got into the threads, water ran in there and froze and I couldn't unscrew the lock. It took some cursing but eventually I got free from the belay and could get off the waterfall...visions of Eiger climbers entombed in ice were on my mind for a minute!
    After that it was doubled biners with the gates facing in opposite directions when necessary....no more locking biners for ice climbing!
    Not a hazard on the water, though....
     
    chodups likes this.
  18. AndyM

    AndyM Paddler

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Messages:
    12
    Besides 'water', 'wind' is another hazard for those of us with those lightweight (eg Sterling) boats.
    I usually 'one-trip' it, but on particularly long, grueling paddles, I will do the gear first, then come back for the kayak. I can't leave it unattended if there is any wind, it likes to fly. (always carry a stake)
     
    chodups likes this.
  19. designer

    designer Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    428
    Location:
    Bend OR USA
    One consideration with climbing protection is it is designed to work - in climbing environment - with no pull on it until there is one big pull in one direction. In the boat-on-a-line scenario, I'd imagine you have tug and release, tug and release. An anchor/knot might be good when there is a steady pull on it but can loosen up when repeatedly presented with slack. But anything is better than nothing.

    The last "good" decision I made was while waiting on Johns Island for the slack-ish current along Spieden. I saw the tide was going out and instead of pulling my loaded boat ashore, I let it float with a long line wrapped around a rock. As I had lunch, the tide went OUT and OUt, and Out, and out. Occasionally I'd walk out, in the muck, and move my anchor point further off shore. When it was finally time to leave, my boat was way (way, way, way) out there. I was so glad I hadn't kept it close to shore because I would have had to unload it and carry the boat and then gear across a very slippery mud flat. So tying up is good. But if temporary, with outgoing tide, consider the potential carry if your boat can't move with the tide (and still be secure).

    The kayak is in the center of the photo, just past the seaweed. Had I beached it, it would have been just beyond the log and grass. I must have move it (retied to a rock "anchor") about five times.

    outthereA.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
    chodups likes this.
  20. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    74
    designer, you make a good point to consider the types of forces and vectors placed on an anchor. To me, a sand stake is just a temporary anchor that will buy me some time (one minute? ten minutes? a hour?) in case I get distracted while on shore or something unexpected happens like a huge wake washing ashore. Something is better than nothing, as you said.

    In regard to your photo & story, yeah, it sucks to make an easy landing on some beach, then wake up the next morning to find the water is about a quarter mile of muck and suck away from you! That big bay on Spring Island (Kyuquot area) has probably suckered in hundreds of paddlers over the years!

    Down in Baja, I found that a good, steep beach usable at all tides was often demarcated by a rusting refrigerator. The refrigerator was put there by local fisherman, which meant they could land their pangas no matter how low the tide. If the beach was clean and "wild" looking, it usually meant that it dried out for miles. (okay, not miles, but a long, long way!)