Safety Lesson Learned

April 24, 2002 · 2 comments

Jan - Jericho

Hello paddlers:

Well, it seems that Jericho made the news Apr. 23 - on many radio stations, including CBC. In case you haven't heard, we had a bit of a mishap the previous night - Apr. 22.

12 of the Jericho women went out for a paddle that night. The wind was up (30+ knots) and the water was big (6 foot and bigger waves). We debated for awhile if we should even go out. The boats didn't have spray skirt as they had been removed for repairs. We finally decided to go out, head to Kits and stick close to shore.

With the wind and waves behind, paddling down to Kits was a blast, big surf and all. Then we had to turn around. At first, it was just a slog. The boats were near each other and we got hit by a big wave. 2 people were bailing in each boat. We got hit by another big wave. The boats were swamped.

We did our safety checks. PDF's went on, heads counted and as much as possible, paddles collected. We did lose a couple of paddles.

We then did everything we could to try and turn the boats so that we could huli them or point ourselves downwind to start again, but the water was too big. Bailing was futile as more water poured in for every bucket out. Both boats had the same problem. We were slowly moving them towards the Vancouver Yacht Club as that was our closest point of land. We had a couple people paddling and a couple swimming and pushing boats.

After about 15 minutes of this, the docks guys from the Yacht club came out in their rescue boat. It wasn't easy for them to get near the canoes as we were getting bounced about so much. But, they got 6 of us out of the water, and back to their Yacht club. By the time we got on the dock, the Coast Guard had come up from Burrard and got the other 6 paddlers. Paddlers had been in the water 20-30 minutes.

We were all huddled in the Yacht Club shower room, soaked to the skin and the paramedics came to check us out. We were all fine, in a shivering sort of way. We were provided with heat packs and lots of blankets, and checked out to see that no one had hypothermia. We were lucky to have been in that water for as long as we were and come out with nothing but crazy shakes. It was quite the production to get a few people warmed up, then back to Jericho to pick up bags of cloths and gear, and then to get everyone dry and on their way home. The dock guys from the Yacht club pushed the boats in and tied them up there.

Anyway - obviously we should have handled things differently. We could have stayed off the water, but of course from shore, it didn't look that bad. We should have headed west first, to test how bad the water
was. But, as we had stayed near shore, we were spotted quickly when it was obvious we were in trouble. Unfortunately, the boats did suffer some damage and that hurts our club.

The paddlers were all great - no one panicked and everyone did what they could. We were all in good spirits, if not feeling incredibly silly. Imagine having the docks guys, the Coast Guard and the
ambulance service coming out after you..... All these people were great. They took care of us and no one called us a bunch of twits for being out there.

A few thoughts for outrigger safety that clubs may want to consider. ALWAYS have enough pdf's on board. A safety kit may be in order. A dry bag stowed on the boat could include a flares, a throw rope, lights,
flags and a marine radio.

Thanks to everyone for remaining calm. Thanks to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, the Coast Guard and the paramedics.

We'll be back on the water, lessons learned and safety in mind.

Jericho Women

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brent Bagnal April 30, 2002 at 3:16 pm

I wanted to thank the Jericho women for being candid about their
experience on the water the other night. We actually had the same
storm pass through Penticton later the same night which took down healthy trees 18 inches in diameter.

Last year, Penticton RCC put on the annual Duel in the Desert and for the first time held it on Skaha Lake. Though the wind was up and we were getting information a storm was on the way, we (and I in particular) were telling people not to worry and that no one would need spray covers…

Wrong. We did. And we should have altered the course. We ended up with winds blowing about 20 to 30 mph from the north, it became really cold really quickly and boats were swamping as soon as they turned into the wind. We lost one of our escort boats. We were on the water for well over two hours when we had estimated the race would take about and hour and 30 minutes.

No one was hurt. We had a couple of folks pretty hypothermic and others fairly concerned about the conditions. It could have been much worse. We were lucky. So were the Jericho women.

Before you go out, make sure your canoe is rigged and secure, that you have pfds (and wear them if it is really dicey), adequate bailing buckets (at least two smaller bleach type buckets and maybe one big one secured to a wai), a light, a whistle, a dry bag with extra gear to keep people warm if you have to put in (or swim) to shore, and that your crew is experienced enough to handle a huli, or even better, prevent one from happening.

Better some days to go to the pub and talk about racing than to go out and put yourself at risk…

Brent

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Mike Billy July 5, 2002 at 3:25 pm

It was a few years ago, after season. September or so….We had shut the canoe shed down,no one had been out in a while. It was too sunny to resist. I was still in pretty good shape, so I put on a tank top and nylon shorts and ran down to the shed for a short
paddle.

I noticed there was a good wind heading northeast. My dugout canoe was covered with plastic from the last race I entered, so it made a perfect spray skirt and with the weight of the canoe it was perfect for the conditions and I surfed the waves east till I got to the other end of Burrard Inlet.

I knew it took me only 20 minutes to get there, but it was gonna take me over an hour to get back…I should have told someone were I was going.

It was great! the waves were about 2 or 3 feet very consistent and close together back to back my plastic skirt was holding up great, I could feel the back being swallowed up and the front would go under a few feet.

It was a rodeo. I should have worn my cowichan vest as I could feel the fall cold and the water was brisk to say the least, by then I was at the far end of the Inlet, almost to the Second Narrows bridge when I decided it was time to do the big move and turn around the canoe to head home.

In waves to turn sideways and take them from the side in a dugout is insane! but I had to head back so I turned north.

The canoe was getting stubborn and wouldn’t turn..I looked up, the dry dock was a cement wall 20 feet high and miles wide and the waves were doubling back off it making the water a nightmare and the worst thing that could happen happened….I missed my change and in a flash! SUBMARINE TIME!

I tried a Eskimo roll but I was way out of practice, my canoe was too narrow and it was filled up in a couple of seconds, so I had to bail . [#1 time over] I was in the water.

Yep, the water was definitely getting colder, but I had won the “tipover” race a few times so I knew all I had to do was bail the water out.

I tried the “get under, push up, then flip the canoe in the air technique” that worked in the races…Well, a few attempts at that
brought me to the conclusion I would never get all that water out with that plastic on the deck so off it had to come! Not as easy as it sounds – it was heavyweight plastic and very well duct taped on so by this time over 15 min had past and the clock was running….My life jacket! Some one took my life jacket out!! and the waves seemed to be getting worse!

But plastic off, I turned the canoe that now weighs 45 lbs belly
up, swam underneath it, kicked upwards, pushed the canoe up and out of the water then lowered one hand while pushing up on the other flipping the canoe in the air and emptying the water.

Then up on side of the canoe putting my hands balancing the canoe while sliding me back in and getting my paddle and I was back in buisness! But COLD ,VERY COLD and those 3 foot waves were punishing my canoe with its 10 inch gunnals. I was filled with water again in no time then swamped, [#2 time over] back in the water .

I wouldn’t mind that plastic back again…and my hands! I can barely hold my paddle from the cold. so, under, up and over again and then back in. The clock was running 30 mins now…All I need is to paddle about two city blocks and a little bit of luck.

[#3 time over] back for another dunk. Hey, where is everyone? The harbour is usually a busy place?

I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Back in the canoe and heading for shore the tide is pulling me up Indian Arm under Second Narrows bridge. I’ve got an idea…if I got away from the North Shore where the waves were bouncing off the side of the dry dock, I could head across to the south side and the current that was pulling me east would push me south.

[#4 time over] I was back in the water again. It is 45 min now, I can’t hold my paddle, and the weather or water has turned into an animal and is hunting me and almost has me!

[#5 time over] under, up, over, then up and back in, get my paddle and go! I swear if I go under again, I’m just gonna stay in and keep on paddling. Even if I’m 90% under I can still balance and paddle. #6 I’m just moving very slow.

over again#7 that’s it…I’m just gonna take a short rest on my canoe, so I drape my arms over the canoe and try not to let go of
my paddle . This is geting serious…. is this it ? is this were I end up?

I have two daughters and a perfect wife at home in the apartment and my daughters waiting for me to pick her up at school.

The anger rages in me as I look up at the sky. God ….

A yacht is heading past me, the people are waving they keep on going…. hey! they’re coming back! They pull up to me and drop a rope ladder and pull me up! thank God!

They gave me a blanket and some hot coffee, I said “th th th thank yyou vvery mmuch”

I never told my wife about my dip for a few months…Know what I found under the Christmas tree for me? a beautiful new wet suit!

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