Missing Lake Washington Kayaker

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by glcwhistler, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. glcwhistler

    glcwhistler Paddler

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    Missing Lake Washington kayaker believed to be Bellevue man
    Authorities believe a kayaker on Lake Washington missing since Saturday afternoon and presumed dead is a Bellevue man.

    By Katherine Long
    Seattle Times staff reporter
    Authorities believe a kayaker on Lake Washington missing since Saturday afternoon and presumed dead is a Bellevue man. The search will resume today.

    The man, whose name was not released, was reported missing to police Saturday.

    The search near the Newport Shores boat launch is being called a recovery, rather than a rescue, because there's little chance the kayaker could have survived in the cold Lake Washington water for very long, Coast Guard spokesman Nate Littlejohn said Sunday.

    The search was called off late Saturday, then resumed at daylight Sunday with help from a Coast Guard helicopter crew, which spent several hours looking for the kayaker, Littlejohn said.

    Searchers are using sonar to try to find the man's body. The search area is about 200 yards offshore, and the water is about 35 feet deep at that location, said Mercer Island police Cmdr. Leslie Burns.

    On Saturday, a witness on shore saw someone fall out of a kayak near the Newport Shores boat launch, about 200 yards from land, Burns said. The witness called authorities about 3:45 p.m., after failing to see the person get back into the kayak.

    Littlejohn said a life jacket was found floating in the area, suggesting that the kayaker wasn't wearing one. In cold Lake Washington, a person in the water "would only have a couple of minutes" to get to land before the water temperature would cause his or her arms and limbs to go numb, he said.
     
  2. IanC

    IanC Paddler

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    Re: Testing Darwins theory.....

    Thanks for posting this, but I am bothered by your subject title.

    This is a tragic event. We know little about the circumstances and nothing about the man who died. You unfairly belittle his life and death with that glib and mis-used "Darwins theory" reference.

    Just my opinion...
     
  3. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Re: Testing Darwins theory.....

    I had missed this.
    The lake is 46 degrees right now.
     
  4. rider

    rider Paddler

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    Re: Testing Darwins theory.....

    I agree.
     
  5. Andy_Ferguson

    Andy_Ferguson Paddler

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    I altered the title; a fellow kayaker is presumed dead. A little respect is warranted.
     
  6. RoyN

    RoyN Paddler

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    Lake Washington water temp this last weekend was 45 degrees F according to the King County website for Lake Washington weather bouy. The lake was calm, almost dead flat until around 10:00 when the wind started blowing. When the wind started blowing, it hit hard & fast. I don't think a person in a FSK like an Epic 18X would have been able to make it to shore from 1/2 way between Mercer Island and Newport before the wind was kicking-up white caps in the area.

    He was probably out for a leisurely Saturday AM paddle like he's done many times before, just unfortunate the wind came up as fast and hard as it did.
     
  7. glcwhistler

    glcwhistler Paddler

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    When I posted this I also wrote why I called it "Testing Darwin's theory".... I went to submit it, everything stalled and the entire thing was lost... I cut and paste the article again, left out what I wrote and kept the title...

    Why did I call it testing Darwin's theory? Because he was...

    At 3 o'clock the wind was howling coming from the South... Did he get caught in calm conditions and have them turn bad? Maybe... Is this testing Darwin's theory? No...

    This is....

    Did he need to cross from Mercer Island to Newport Shores? No... It is the most populated shoreline anywhere, he could have pulled out anywhere and used anyones phone to call for a ride back to his own vehicle.... Maybe it was the short distance he needed to paddle back to his vehicle that made him think he could make it?

    This still isn't why I used the title I chose... This is..

    His family said he would frequently paddle without a lifejacket... He sank so that would also imply he wasn't wearing any sort of wetsuit or drysuit which would have kept him afloat and been the appropriate attire for the water temperatures this time of year...

    If he would have been wearing a lifejacket would have he still died from exposure? Who knows, I doubt it.... He was getting attention and 911 calls were being made...... Why was there no one else out in a boat on the lake at that time to help him? They too were testing Darwin's theory and passing... He drowned 200 yards from shore and in front of a marina... No one else was boating when he was... It's not the fact he was going out in stormy conditions, it is the fact he wasn't prepared to be out in those conditions even if they would have been calm with the temperatures being what they were..

    I would have helped the guy to the best of my abilities if I saw him having troubles... He just left so many margins for error that the time frame for helping him was limited for anyone...

    Am I making fun of his lack of preparation and disregard for using his lifejacket? Definitely... He didn't need to die and he was his own worst enemy on many an occasion from the information his family relayed to the authorities about his kayaking tendencies..

    Why did I post this? So others who have the same bad tendencies might learn from this guys mistakes... Talk about drowning in your own bathtub... In regards to "Sea kayaking" this is as close as it gets to drowning in a cold bathtub... This didn't need to happen...

    Am I a calloused prick for saying this? Sure, and I feel right at home with many of you who post on this site...
     
  8. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Actually, saying that puts you in a home all your own -- probably at the end of a lonely dead-end street.

    People here tend to show a lot more compassion and understanding than you have in this post.
     
  9. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    You don't sound like someone I'd want to paddle with... :?
     
  10. blacksheep

    blacksheep Paddler

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  11. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    This is not necessary. It reflects poorly on both you . . . and us.
    Your analysis however is helpful, complete, and useful. The other stuff is not required in order for you to make a forceful impact.
     
  12. sushiy

    sushiy Paddler

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    Luck of education.
    How can we change it, so no one have to go through such loss and still have a lot of fun with this sport?

    I would not blame this man and we should not waste this man's tragedy and his family's tear into finger pointing whom to blame.
     
  13. rider

    rider Paddler

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    Sounds like you have come up with the correct conclusions as to the causes and the circumstances.
    Did the guy make a series of ignorant/uneducated decisions that led to his own death? Sure sounds like it.
    Make an example of his mistakes,sure. But disrespecting the dead (that you know next to nothing about).... Does that give your ego a boost,make you feel like a pro by comparison? Because I'm sure you've never done anything dumb in your life. I sure as hell wouldn't want to paddle with someone like you.
     
  14. bigbear

    bigbear Paddler

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    Well stated "rider". In total agreement with your reply!
     
  15. mikemike

    mikemike Paddler

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    There are so many really decent boats out there these days, but people still buy these pieces of junk at costco. I can not believe that companies are legally able to design and sell boats that are completely unseaworthy. There are so many Ford Pintos when it comes to kayaks.

    Obviously a lot went wrong in this case, but IMO given the situation even a really experienced paddler would be in a tough spot in that particular boat.

    Not claiming to be a pro by comparison; personally I do more than my share of dumb things. I'm just saying that all boats are not created equal, and, if you get off on the wrong foot with the wrong boat, you're bound to stumble at some point.
     
  16. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    Unseaworthy, though, is defined by what seas you're in. As you note yourself:
    There are lots of rec boats and daytrippers from "real" kayak companies that are equally unsuitable for extreme conditions. I'd hate to see a regulatory environment in which a kayak that wouldn't (and shouldn't) be used for anything but pond paddling had to be built to Winter North Atlantic specs. And I'm not even sure how you'd do that: the best of the British style boats intended for extreme conditions are designed with the assumption of a skilled paddler as an integral part of the boat and its "safety systems".
     
  17. KayDubbya

    KayDubbya Paddler

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    Though not quite as calloused as you portray yourself, I'm generally in agreement with you on your disdain for people who keep a PFD bungeed to their back decks. It's been hammered into us for years that a PFD only works when it's worn. I have kind of a low tolerance for stupidity myself (though I won't take credit for that great line).

    However, I'd probably wait until some sort of investigation had a chance to reveal any "extenuating" circumstances that might explain what really happened. Thanks for posting the original article as well as your explanation, however poorly received. If nothing else, I hope it serves as a harsh reminder to all of us on this forum, to not be complacent on safety, especially when paddling solo.
     
  18. rider

    rider Paddler

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    IMHO safety is made up of 3 main components :
    1 Skill/physical ability
    2 Gear/equipment
    3 Judgment about the ability of the first 2 to cope with the conditions at hand or that may arise while on water.
    Take out any of the 2 and you're likely to get into trouble.It's likely that he had neither of the 3 working for him. I wouldn't blame the boat. Hunk of crap as a Pelican may be,there's many boats out there with hulls even less sea worthy,made by big names like Johnson Outdoors and Confluence.
     
  19. mikemike

    mikemike Paddler

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    That's a good point. I'd hate to see a regulatory environment in any regard. The first thing they'd probably do is assume that all boats with narrow beams were unsafe and outlaw them.

    I'd add a few other big-name companies to that list as well. In the case of the lake washington incident I'm not blaming the boat exclusively, but I think we'd both agree that boat design is a sizeable factor when the conditions turn evil.

    Those three points on safety are well made. I always think to what Nigel Foster said: the skill level of an intermediate paddler and an advanced paddler are more-or-less identical, the big difference between an intermediate paddler and an advanced paddler is in their levels of awareness.
     
  20. Doug_Lloyd

    Doug_Lloyd Paddler

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    Re: Testing Darwins theory.....

    That award nomination, though tongue-in-cheek, never seems appropriate when conveyance is in a posthumous context. Maybe if the guy was drinking or something but whatever traits steered him toward trouble it may have less to do with evolution and genes and more to do with where our collective society hasn't evolved to. Certainly some of our comments shout-out to that.

    Anyway, I agree that it would behove those of us who observe and make comment about various paddling-incident reports to hold back from conflagrating the information and realize very rarely does the media get it right.

    Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before more regs come down the line...those making the regs perhaps also not able to get it right either.

    DL