Author Archives: Jay Murdock

Whale Paddle a Success

WhalePaddle 2-16

Eleven paddlers went out on February 6 to see some whales, and we not only saw two of them, but we were given a wonderful show by a few Pacific White Sided Dolphins. While no photos were captured of the whales or Dolphins, the picture below is what the Dolphins were doing. They may have been chasing small fish, or just showing off, but they were coming all the way out of the water very close to us.

Pacific White Sided Dolphin

The whales were not spotted until we were on the way back, and not more than 1.2 miles from the south jetty at about the 60 ft depth. Those whales may have been heading  inside the kelp bed, but could have gone either way. We waited for a while to see the water spouts south of us, but never did.

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Click to enlarge photos

The paddle lasted about 3.5 hours and we went 7.2 NM with an average moving speed of about 2. 2 knots. John and Scotty were on paddle boards, and Matt and Justine were in their new two  person inflatable kayak, in which they had no problem keeping up with the group. Good weather and a great time on the water.

Photo by Rheta Schoeneman

Photo by Rheta Schoeneman

 

Tragic Kayaking Death In Chile May Have Been Avoidable

CPat18[1]Accident Site Map

General Carrera Lake in Southern Chile (Click to Enlarge)

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

The Accident

In December of 2015 a San Diego Kayak Club member sent out a National Geographic story of an incident earlier that month involving well-known world-class outdoor adventurers. Six highly skilled and experienced men, including the founder of North Face were kayaking the northern shore of General Carrera Lake in southern Chile, and were caught 600 feet (a distance of two football fields) from shore in sudden high winds while rounding a large peninsula. Within 10 minutes the conditions changed from calm/no wind, to gale-force winds creating six-foot-high, closely set waves. ** (See link below to read the story first)

An Accident That Could Happen to Anyone

No one, regardless of experience and skill level, is immune from an accident. In most cases an accident is caused by a series of mistakes, even with those events related to severe weather. For instance,  the FAA has found in studying air plane accidents, when human error was a factor, there were two or more reasons, or mistakes, that typically contributed to the accident. They found in almost every case the accident could have been avoided had different decisions been made. And it was found that pilots who took chances were more likely to be involved in a tragic accident. By looking closely at the Chile tragedy, we can learn from what happened, and maybe avoid an accident in our future.

General Carrera Lake - Apprx Accident LocationGeneral Carrera Lake - ChileGeneral Carrera Lake - Landing Sites

(Click to Enlarge)

Why They Were So Far From Shore

By examining the incident report, satellite photos and topo maps, it is evident just where the tragedy took place. Looking at the 3 maps above, the most likely reason the group was 600 feet from shore when the winds came up is that they were taking a direct line between two jutting land points in order to save time or some other reason, but it does not appear they were avoiding shallow water. In the above map/left side, the six men were rounding the peninsula going east, and were caught by the sudden wind somewhere in the area of that map marker off shore. You can see why they decided to “cut the gap” along the curved shoreline, taking a direct route across the opening in order to round the point on the far right side of the map. The two satellite photos have a yellow line I’ve added, showing the 600 foot distance they were from shore, a line which would be perpendicular to their line of travel across the opening (orange line on the expanded area photo). The far right photo clearly shows 4 emergency landing sites along that steep rocky shore, places to exit the water before rounding the point on the far right of the photo (the place where some in the group made it to).

The 100 Foot Safety Rule

Crossing large open water on a lake or bay should take several factors into consideration. Group size, boat traffic, water temperature, wind and weather conditions/predictions, working condition of your equipment, time of day, and capability of each in the group. Unless you absolutely have to venture far from land, it is always much safer to stay close to the shore. It may add another mile or so to arrive at your destination, but taking the safer route is always the wise choice.

By simply “Hugging the Shore” not more than 100 feet away keeps you within that distance where you can reach a landing point quickly, while staying just far enough off shore to avoid rocks or other obstacles just under the surface. 100 feet is about six lengths of a sea kayak. By staying close to shore you are hopefully within two minutes of landing, given that you may need to paddle along the shore to find a place. Mild, prevailing winds are not the concern here. If a sudden wind starts up, or a mild wind suddenly increases, that is the time to start moving toward shore and looking for an exit site. If the best exit point is upwind, you will need to make that turn before the wind gets too strong. Closing that  distance part-way will increase your “Margin of Safety”, and will let you get in faster if the wind continues to increase in velocity. Knowing where you are, and the best places to land will allow you to make quick and reliable decisions for the best outcome. In this case under examination, from the account in the article, the two men were being taken by the wind and current out into the lake. Had the group been hugging the water’s edge, that curved shoreline area was most likely in a partial lee from the wind, and not in the current (many large lakes have currents caused by wind, water temperature variants, and inflowing rivers, and the shoreline typically slows down a current due to friction).

Hugging Shore

Hugging the Shore

Resources to Help in Planning and Executing a Paddle

Topo maps are a great help in determining safe places to land on shore, but Google Earth can often be more help in actually seeing what is there. By looking at the topo map and Google Earth photos above, you can quickly see this advantage. Topo maps show the obvious contours of the land, and show the hill on the right side of the peninsula, the place where it was rocky at water’s edge. Google Earth not only lets you see the Lat/Lon and elevation as you move your curser over the terrain, but it lets you look at the features from near-ground/water level as you move along a proposed route. Before you leave on an extended paddle to a new location, study both in order to determine your best places for an emergency landing, and carry a print-out of critical areas along your route. Before each leg in a trip, go over the maps/photos of those areas in order to refresh everyone on an emergency plan. Carry a reliable means of communication. In remote areas, that means a satellite device. If possible, find out what the weather will be that day, but at least know what could occur by knowing the wind patterns for that area. Wind is the most difficult thing to predict, which is why the NWS will not give the wind speeds more than two days out. And wind can suddenly shift directions, which could result in a capsize. The area in Chile where this incident took place is known for sudden, fast-rising, high winds.

Other Considerations

  1. Wear the right safety gear and protective wet/dry suit for the water temperature, covering your whole body with one immersion suit (our legs comprise the largest percentage of skin area of our body, and a one-piece suit also protects your mid-section). Protective clothing will also help stave off shock from sudden cold water immersion. If you find yourself suddenly in cold water, you have about two minutes before you become numb and unable to function, so act fast. Know how to perform the “Heel Hook” reentry and a “Quick-Tow” if you cannot get back in your boat with two attempts. If both of these procedures fail, or you are being blown off shore, then a back-stroke swim to shore is your last resort, followed in by the other kayaker instructing you which direction to swim.
  2. Constantly check your equipment to make sure everything is working properly. If not, stop and fix it before proceeding. Carry a back-up and repair kit for the most critical items. One very important safety item to have is a paddle tether. There are choices in tow lines. My quick-tow line is deck mounted, and always right in front of me ready to use. It has a carabiner at one end for a quick attachment to the other boat. I have a small “jam cleat” mounted on my deck just behind me on the right side for a quick attachment of the other end, and a quick release if needed. The line is small diameter but strong, and long enough to have two feet over my lap, and a four foot gap between the boats.
  3. During each paddle, especially in a new location, observe the shoreline as you proceed in order to note the immediate best exit point. The more you pay attention to that, the more it will become an automatic observation.
  4. One more critical thing that is sometimes not considered essential: Fueling up prior to, and during the paddle with high-energy food. Even though adrenalin kicks in during an emergency, having enough energy to deal with high levels of exertion, and guarding against hypothermia is a vital consideration. That also means staying hydrated with water from an insulated container on cold air temperature paddles. More information on all this can be found on the San Diego Kayak Club website in the Safety articles (which have been given a “Thumbs Up” by the local Coast Guard).

Conclusion

It is most likely the group had been paddling close to shore that day as they went around the peninsula, until they came to the place where the shoreline fell away to their left. Seeing the other point of land to the east, they decided and assumed the sunny and calm conditions would hold while they crossed directly to that point, which was less than a mile away. Relying on their vast experience and skill level, they took a chance because it seemed easy. For those men on the lake that day, the difference of 500 feet distance from shore may have been the difference between life and death.

**- Details of the incident can be found with the following link:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/151213-doug-tompkins-chile-north-face-rick-ridgeway-patagonia-yvon-chouinard-death-general-carrera-lake/

New Club T-Shirts now Offered at a Special “Promo Price”

T-SHIRT FRONT-POPED  T-SHIRT BACK-POPED

(click to enlarge photos)

Our club now has a cool new T-Shirt to wear with our hats! The image on the back conveys not only who we are, but where we are, with those palm trees in the background. The shirt we have chosen for this is the Jerzees 29M, a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester. This t-shirt has all the best qualities of cotton and polyester: heaviness, strength, and moisture-wicking. It is also shrink-resistant, and dries faster than an all-cotton shirt. The images will be “silk-screen” printed, producing an even better look than those in the photos. Here are the color choices:

Oxford Charcoal Grey California Blue

Oxford                                            Charcoal Grey                               California Blue

“Promo Deal”: The shirts are offered at a special initial price to club member similar as we did with the hats. If you place an order now, the special price is $15, which is a $3-$5 savings off the price when they are available for sale at Aqua Adventures. If you are not a member, simply sign up to be on our mailing list, and another email notice will be sent out in a few weeks. Just reply to that email and instructions will be sent for mailing your deposit in. The shirts will then be available for pick-up at Aqua Adventures sometime late January. The deadline for placing an order is December 23rd. Like the hats and decals, part of the proceeds from the sale of our shirts will go to the club for ongoing skills lessons and other activities for years to come. Below is a chart to help in what size to order. The shirts are a trim fit, so if you want a more relaxed fit, simply order the next size up. The shirts are only available in sizes small, medium, large, and extra-large. At this special Promo price, you may want to get 2 shirts!

SIZE CHART

“Bonus Challenge”: The photo on the back of the shirt was taken years ago on a Wednesday morning paddle. It the best photo I’ve caught of someone doing the “Eskimo Roll”, and was transformed into a “Pen & Ink” image for the shirt. Everyone in the Promo order who correctly guesses who is doing the roll will get a free club decal with the shirt. So, get your order in soon, and give yourself (and the club) a Christmas present!

TRR Fundraiser “Pints & Paddle for a Cause” a Big Success

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Click to enlarge

Sunday, November 15 at Paradise Point Resort/Mission Bay was where over 100 people showed up to support the efforts of Team River Runner in their work with our Veterans. Two TV stations were there to record the event, and interviewed several people.

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Lynne Warner (left photo above) does considerable work with TRR, and is registering a safety paddler at the start point at North Cove. Gilbert Siegel is seen turning on the steam around the second marker in one of the races (middle photo), and Joe Mornini (right photo above), the founder of TRR, is going for the finish in another race.

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There was a wide range of people in the Recreation Paddle, including a few families. Time around the island was from 28 minutes to just over an hour. All who participated seemed to be having a great time.

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After the paddles, the lunch and raffles took place at the Barefoot Bar. The person in the above right photo with the clipboard is Dale Osborn, the organizer of the paddles, and is the San Diego TRR Chapter contact person.

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Jen Kleck donated a boat for the raffles, and is shown with friends enjoying the event. Aqua Adventures also helped with boats, etc for the paddles, as it does each month with ongoing TRR paddles. Thank you Jen for all you do.

Team River Runner (“Helping our Wounded Veterans”), is a national organization working with our vets and active military through on-the-water activities. To learn more about TRR, here is their website:

http://www.teamriverrunner.org/

Club Decals now Available at Aqua Adventures

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Decals can now be purchased for $2 at Aqua Adventures, with $1 of the proceeds going to the club for skills lessons taught at AA (to be announced). The decal measures 4 3/4″ in diameter, and is great for placing on your car window or your kayak. While you are in there pick up some SDKC business cards to hand out also, and help spread the word.

Oct 31st Skills Session Report

Click photos to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge

Ten people turned out for the fall skills practice session at Mariner’s Cove. Jane Hardy, and Gennifer Gatan (on far right) from CKF lead the group in practicing the “Heel Hook Rescue”, the “T-Rescue”, and the “Cowboy Recovery”.

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There were some new people there, and it was so good to see Robin on the water again.

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The Cowboy Recovery (above photos, first two) may be difficult to master, but it is a great way to develop your balancing skills. The T-Rescue (not shown) is a basic skill that everyone should learn. Photos of that will be added when this report is turned into a safety article.

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The Heel Hook Rescue is the easiest way to get back in your boat. For fast rescue in high wind and cold water, it does not matter which way to have the bow pointing, and can be performed as Jane and Erin are demonstrating below (first 4 photos) with a bow-to-bow configuration, but is more efficient if the boats are bow-to-stern. The rescuer holds the boat as shown, while the other person faces aft and hooks the heel inside the cockpit toward the bow, then pull up and roll onto your stomach, assisted with your arm while straightening your leg. If you are using your right heel, then your right arm is used to reach across your boat to assist in the rotation. Grab both your deck line and the other boat’s deck line with that hand, which will keep the boats together, making the entry more stable, especially in rough water. The Heel Hook is easier than other reentry methods because our leg muscles are much stronger than our arms, so let the leg do the work.

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There are videos on the web showing these and other methods of getting back into your boat, but the best way to master them is to take a class at Aqua Adventures and come out to our practice sessions. Hope to see you next time.

 

June Lake Trip Report

Click photos to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge

Thirteen of us went up to the June Lakes Loop north of Mammoth on Oct 14-18 for the 3rd Annual Fall Colors Paddle and Hike trip.

GULL LK PADDLE PARKER LK RETURN PARKER LAKE HIKE

Cool temperatures and some rain gave us that great fall experience. We paddled Mono Lake, Silver Lake and up the inlet, and Gull Lake.

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The two day-hikes took us up to Parker Lake, and around Gull Lake.

DES RESCUE HIKE TO PARKER LK PARKER LK HIKE

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Some of us drove up to Conner Summit to see the Aspens in deep red, orange, and yellow colors. Everyone who went said they had a great time, and we hope you join us next year.

FALL COLORS2 GULL LK PADDLE2 HIKE AROUND GULL LK

Photos: Dale Osborn, Kirk Rozelle, Jay Murdock

Skills Practice Session Report

September 12th was an ideal day for refreshing our kayaking skills, with warm air and water temperatures. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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Learning and practicing “Safety Skills” is very important for any level of paddler. Some practiced the “Roll”, while others concentrated on Self-Rescue and Assisted Re-Entry.

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Two basic skills to learn and practice are the “T-Rescue” and the “Heel-Hook Re-Entry“. Both are easy to understand, and not that difficult to execute. The Heel-Hook is great for using with a paddle float self-rescue, and with the assisted re-entry. If you are a beginner, you need to learn them. Take the basic skills class from Aqua Adventures, and “up” your level of being a safer kayaker. Then come practice those skills with us.

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Jane demonstrated her flexibility when she practiced the Balance Brace and then attempted standing up…good exercises for developing your balancing skill. Gilbert helped several people with pointers, and did a few nice rolls.

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John appeared out of nowhere on his SUP looking dapper (but missing something?), and everyone had a good morning of practice. It was time well spent.

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This article will be soon be posted as one of the Safety Articles, and expanded on. The local Coast Guard Auxiliary Liaison Officer has read several of these articles, and has given them a “thumbs up“. There is a lot of information there that will help you in becoming a safer paddler, which is why practice sessions are so vital. Come join us next time we have one of these. They are fun and not intimidating.  We simply pair up and work on whatever you need to. The higher your skill level, the more you will enjoy this wonderful sport.

Tall Ships Paddle A Big Success

Click on photos to enlarge

Click on photos to enlarge

Thirty five paddlers joined together to see the collection of tall ships at the embarcadero on September 5th. People came from not only the SDKC, but several from Valley-Wide, the San Diego Meet-Up Group, TRR, and CKF paddled with us. Chris Griffith took point, while Joe Morin brought up the rear as safety.

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We had ideal weather and mostly calm waters throughout the 8 mile paddle, and more people joined us for the picnic. Even though Steve Wilson had an injured hand, he still managed to give us one very nice song, and we thank him for that. Many brought group food items, which turned out to be a great time of visiting with old friends, while meeting several new ones. We were even joined by a kayaker from Maine who discovered our website, and has become a fan. She even bought one of our hats, making the state of Maine now the most distant place from San Diego to have our hats worn! How cool is that?

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Not only were there several beautiful square riggers, schooners, and yawls on display, but a very interesting outrigger canoe reproduction was of special interest to us, which is based on the original sailing canoes in the Mariana Islands. The person on board the canoe said an augmented version of that design holds the world speed record for vessels under sail.  For more information of all the vessels on display, click on this link, then the participating ships box:

http://sdmaritime.org/visit/public-events/festival-of-sail/

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The replica of the San Salvador was also on display, which was recently launched by the Maritime Museum. Everyone who paddled up close was impressed by the craftsmanship of this wood vessel. We not only were viewing the Tall Ships event, we became part of it, as the Union Tribune included a photo they took of us in their write-up. Click on this link to see it:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/sep/05/festival-of-sail-san-salvador-2015/

To everyone who participated in this fun paddle and picnic, the San Diego Kayak Club thanks you, and we hope to see all of you next year for this wonderful chance to paddle with friends from throughout southern California…and those visiting us from other parts of the country.

 

Tall Ships Club Paddle and Picnic

Kayaking affords a special view

Kayaking affords a special view

The “First Annual SDKC Tall Ships Paddle and Picnic” will coincide with the “Tall Ships” event on the “Big Bay” this year. The Liberty Station launch ramp is the ideal place for us to gather, launch our boats, and have a  picnic afterwards. There is plenty of parking, and restrooms are close by, just to the south in the park. The “Tall Ships” will be tied up at the embarcadero area of downtown, and there will be “Gun Fights” on the bay throughout the day for us to view as we paddle.

Date: Saturday, September 5th

Launch Time:  9:00 am

Launch Location: Liberty Station launch ramp (see map below)

Who is Invited: SDKC members, CKF members, Night Herons, Valley-Wide Kayak Club, TRR people, Thursday Night and Meet-Up Paddle Groups, and any guests you want to invite. SOT’s & SUP’s are encouraged to join in on the fun.

Rentals of Boats & Stand-Up Paddle Boards Available:  Aqua Adventures is offering special “overnight rental rates” for boats, paddle boards, and foam car top carriers. You must pick yours up at AA on Sept 4th. Give them a call to reserve yours at (619) 523-9577.

Raffles to help raise money for the SDKC: To raise funds for ongoing expenses of web site fees, Skill Sessions subsidies, and promotion costs, there will be several raffles:

-Club hats ($15 value each)    -Special Kayaking Items from AA   -Two Jen Kleck Instructed SDKC Group Skills Sessions ($20 value each)  -One Jen Kleck Instructed Private 2 Hour Skill Lesson ($150 value)  -A few of Steve Wilson’s Hull Cracker music cd’s ($18 value each)

Picnic Following the Paddle: Around 1 pm…or when we return from the paddle. 

Music: Steve Wilson of “Hull Cracker” fame  will be there to sing some of his great songs, and will bring a few of his albums to the event.

Club Hats: We will have a few hats at the picnic to purchase for $15 (which includes tax).

Duration of the Paddle:  We will be on the water for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, checking out the Tall Ships and gun battles out on the bay.

SAFETY NOTICE: This is a intermediate-level paddle of at least 7 miles, not intended for beginners. Please read the “Disclaimer” at the end of this announcement.

There will be a lot of power boats, personal watercraft, and sail boats on the bay during this event, so we need to stay close to shore at all times. When we cross the open water between Harbor Island and the B Street Pier, we need to stay in large groups, in order to be more visible to other boaters.

CAUTION: The ramp at our Liberty Station launch site can be very slippery, so be careful when you walk down that concrete ramp.

Our Plotted Course is in Yellow

Our Plotted Course is in Yellow

What to Bring: All safety gear (life jackets must be worn by all paddlers), VHF radio, camera, zinc sunscreen for skin and lips, sun glasses, water and snacks for the paddle, hat (a few of our new club hats will be available to purchase for $15), food and drinks for the picnic (everyone brings their own, and no glass bottles please), and a blanket to sit on. There is a grassy area next to the ramp for cleaning off your boat, so bring water for that.

Directions to Liberty Station Launch Ramp:

From I-5 south and I-8 west, take the Rosecrans exit (which is Hwy 209 on the map). Take Rosecrans to Lytton Street (at the Sail Ho golf course) and turn left. Take the first right, into Liberty Station. Follow the one way street to Sims Road and turn left. Turn left on Historic Decatur, a one-way street which takes you back toward the entrance. You will immediately see another street named Perry on your left. Turn into the parking lot on your right at that juncture. The ramp is at the east end of that lot (LS Launch on the map). There are restrooms just south in the park (follow the sidewalk along the canal/park).

Liberty Station Launch Site

Liberty Station Launch Site

PLEASE NOTE: The announcer of this event is not the leader of such, merely a “coordinator”.

Disclaimer: We will have experienced paddlers on this trip, but they will not be responsible for telling you what is or is not safe for you to do. We watch out for one another and assist one another, but all individuals are responsible for, and manage their own safety. This responsibility includes assessing your gear, skill level, and physical conditioning relative to conditions and location, as well as making decisions about what you will or will not do. Participants acknowledge that kayaking on the open sea or bay is inherently dangerous and can lead to physical injury including death as well as property damage. Participants, on their behalf and on behalf of their heirs and assignees, agree to hold the announcers and other participants blameless in the event of such injury, damage or death. Please join us if you want to mildly stretch your capabilities, but please stay home if you would be wildly stretching them. Participants should have bracing skills, be able to self-rescue and assist in the rescue of others. They should be able to launch and/or land along the rocky bay front.