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 Post subject: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:03 am 
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Anyone hear about this rescue?

http://tillamookheadlightherald.com/new ... mment-area

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NETARTS - Emergency crews responded to assist 16 different kayakers late Friday afternoon who had been pulled toward the mouth of Netarts Bay with the outgoing tide.

The group was part of the Lumpy Waters paddling symposium, and they sent out a distress call after several kayaking students had capsized their boats and were rapidly pulled to the rough mouth of the bay.

"It was too many people in the water at the same time with an ebbing tide," said instructor Sean Morley, who asked one of his assistants to call for Coast Guard help.

Two Coast Guard boats and a helicopter, Tillamook County Sheriff's Office deputies, Tillamook Fire and Netarts-Oceanside Fire and Rescue responded.

Many of the kayakers made it to shore on their own. A few, who had tipped their boats, were brought in with the assistance of two rescue jet skis.

The kayakers, of varying skill levels, had come from across the West Coast for the Lumpy Waters Symposium.

"This was a long boat surfing session, and basically there were four instructors training students in how to surf long boats," Morley said. "Unfortunately, lots of people capsized all at once, which ended up with them being... out way further than they should have."

Morley checked off names from his roster of participants to assure that all 16 kayakers had made it to shore.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:52 am 
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Interesting. Although it was a big group, it seems it was at a 3:1 ratio

16 people, 4 coaches
16-4=12
12/4 = 3

At the very least, good to see the coaches were competant enough to call for help prior to things getting out of hand.

The question becomes was there enough work before hand to try and avoide this.

Thanks for posting.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:54 am 
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Yup, saw that a while ago via Twitter. Here is the link that was "re-tweeted": http://blog.redalderranch.com/?p=89

The link takes you to the story from one of the instructors. It's pretty interesting.

I thought of posting a link here on WCP but for some reason never quite got around to it and I figured if I knew about it then probably everybody else already knew.

Cheers,
Bryan

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:15 am 
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Since the first time I read the account that I gave the link for there have been a ton of comments from other paddlers as well as from two of the other instructors involved (there was only one comment when I read the article the first time). I'm only part way through reading the comments but thus far everything is all very supportive. Very interesting stuff in the comments too.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:47 am 
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Great link! Thanks for posting Brian, you're right - very informative.

One of the best ways to learn is through the experience of others (so you can avoid those experiences!) So while mistakes were made, fantastic that no one was seriously hurt and they've all owned up to their mistakes and posted them so we can all learn.

Here's food for thought. To rescue someone is surf is brutally hard (take a look at the link below which has a little surf rescue at the beginning). So... on a surf course should the ratio actually be 1:1 or even 2 instructors to 1 student? Now this obviously this doesn't make sense economically, but I am throwing that idea out there. Or... should there be a jet ski on site for surf courses?


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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:23 pm 
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The comments at the instructor's account are sure a lot more helpful and insightful than those at the newspaper article.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:50 pm 
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Pawistik wrote:
The comments at the instructor's account are sure a lot more helpful and insightful than those at the newspaper article.

To play devils advocate; you say the comments on the blog are supportive, but the author states he is moderating comments and not allowing brash feedback. Just because a comment isn't helpful or supportive doesn't mean it isn't true (not taking sides, just saying).

The author (who was one of the coaches) said "To my dismay, I realized that we would be starting our class just after the tide had turned and was starting to ebb." Let's be honest here, it's pretty crappy planning for an instructor to not check out the tides ahead of time. That said, everyone makes mistakes. Glad everyone made it home safely. I'd rather learn my lessons reading a successful rescue story than from a kayaker death story.


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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:41 pm 
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The author mentions at least 4 points that made him uncomfortable before he even got to the beach. Under the juggling lemons rule, my kayak would have stayed on the car, and I would have appeared to get smaller and smaller, as I drove further away... But then it might have been a story about 15 kayakers lost at sea.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:28 am 
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scott_f wrote:
To play devils advocate; you say the comments on the blog are supportive, but the author states he is moderating comments and not allowing brash feedback. Just because a comment isn't helpful or supportive doesn't mean it isn't true (not taking sides, just saying).


That's right, and it's something I remembered after I posted my above comment. The less insightful critiques (something like "you guys are all idiots") probably is just not getting through.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:52 am 
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So, what are the exact recipe for this condition ( the wave condition)? Anyone know that? Seriously. We all want to know.
Anyone should know that exact recipe, specially the people who thinks these kayakers are just idiots.
Thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:52 am 
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Sushiy

There is no exact recipe, but from my reading of all of the reports it is clear that the ebb at that particular spot was well-known to be treacherous.

I don't think that there is any criticism of the kayakers who were taking the course (I believe that you were one of them), but I think there IS justified criticism of the course leaders. It appears that either no preparation, or inadequate preparation, took place between the group leaders. The reason for this is fairly clear from the reports - a high-profile kayaker (to put it mildly) as one leader and a second leader who was intimidated by this. It seems there was no chartwork done prior, no real attempt to gather local intelligence, no reading of Pilots, no pre-launch meeting of the group to check that everyone was comfortable and that they knew the plan including the "actions on" should there be mishap.

Whilst the outcome was a happy one, and lots of lessons were learned ("good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from poor judgements") I come away from reading the reports quite concerned that these two leaders, and the Symposium organisers, do not appear to have prepared adequately.

IMHO.


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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:04 pm 
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Sushiy

So, if there IS a recipe it is:

1. Leaders to communicate before a course/group about all relevant issues (aim of the group, possible launch sites, parameters for go/no-go, leaders' strengths and weaknesses/experience, etc)
2. Chart work by the leaders
3. Gathering of local intelligence from (a) local kayakers (b) pilots/sailing directions
4. Listening to the marine forecast
5. Pre-launch meeting of all involved

This isn't what you are asking for, of course, but there is no set recipe for knowing whether the ebb is worse than the flood, or whether a SE wind is worse than a NW (although off-shore winds are always to be feared more than on-shore)

I would also emphasize that I have no experience whatsoever of leading groups or running courses so await others' explanations of why I am wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:39 pm 
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I like your list, Comoxpaddler. I'd add one more... nobody, whether leader or participant, afraid to speak up on an issue that might be bothering them. After all, that's why participants take courses... to learn and sometimes learning involves asking questions and seeking answers.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:42 am 
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Quote:
With that, we got on the water, and as I got in my kayak, I had a very clear, bad feeling about this place, and reminded myself that I would have to be VERY careful to keep everyone as tight to the end of the spit as possible, and to keep very close tabs on the group. (from inicident report)


Given the facts offered it seems pretty clear this group should never have gotten off the beach. I wonder how much of this avoidance of proper decision making is driven by economics. If there is no paddling in the surf 16 customers would have needed to be recompensed.

Another point that seems to be missing is the instructor/leader's familiarity with a place where they are taking 16 paying customers who must be assumed to not have experience. Does it not make sense for the instructors to have tried it out first? Time spent doing reconnaissance is never wasted.

That bad feeling would have gotten worse had anyone suffered injury worse than hypothermia.

I recognize that it is too easy for me criticize even if I wasn't there.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:06 am 
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Ken wrote:
"Time spent doing reconnaisance is never wasted".

Or, as it is put pungently in the British Army:
"The 6Ps - Proper planning prevents piss poor performance"


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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:34 am 
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Comoxpaddler wrote:
Or, as it is put pungently in the British Army:
"The 6Ps - Proper planning prevents piss poor performance"


Now that is a mnemonic for every paddler! :big_thumb


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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:03 pm 
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sushiy wrote:
So, what are the exact recipe for this condition ( the wave condition)? Anyone know that? Seriously. We all want to know.
Anyone should know that exact recipe, specially the people who thinks these kayakers are just idiots.
Thanks.


Sushiy,

Most paddlers who frequent this section of the coast realize there are implications for both ebb and flood conditions with estuarine and bay watershed areas as well as other alongshore currents that set up depending upon wind and swell directions. It can be difficult (and deceiving) running a surf course; I've done so and know it's easy to loose paddlers (well, temporarily my goodness), boats, and have shoulder dislocations. Keeping a group together and safe HAS to be done with conditions and factors in mind as well as the experience level of the class in general. In less than ideal conditions instructors are advised to take out small groups at a time with support of surf-rescue savvy paddlers for backup, or just get more paid/volunteer help, or relocate to a less-impacted bay or surf zone. There are good spots on that coast. The area being paddled would be ideal for teaching leaning and edging sea kayaks and surf rescues if the group were much more advanced as a whole. Anyway, sea condition recognition, an application of a meaningful rating system, and seamanship skills/respect trump all other considerations in sea kayaking as far as I'm concerned. Easy to sit her as say that; harder to apply sometimes.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Doug_Lloyd wrote:
In less than ideal conditions instructors are advised to take out small groups at a time with support of surf-rescue savvy paddlers for backup, or just get more paid/volunteer help, or relocate to a less-impacted bay or surf zone.


I haven't commented to this point, as I'm (a) not an instructor and (b) not familiar with the course, so I am far from qualified to tell the organizers what they should have done. Had I been an instructor on that day, I can see the decision-making challenge they faced; did they fully appreciate the level of experience of the students? Were the students 100% honest with their judgement of their own skills? Would I, as a student, have been annoyed if they cancelled a class I had travelled "X" kms to take (even if in my head I knew it would have been for safety reasons). Maybe the instructors under-appreciated the conditions or skill levels. Maybe the students would have been resistant to cancelling, since it was a "lumpy waters" symposium, after all. I don't know, but I'm not about to pass judgement.

But I like Doug's point quoted above; perhaps there could have been a possibility to take smaller groups out at a time, thereby increasing the instructor:student ratio? Pass it off as giving those on the beach a chance to rest and watch others and learn from their techniques/mistakes? The students might not have even known they were missing out on instruction time. Or, explain the reason for the reduced group size, thereby giving students who may have been nervous about the conditions the opportunity to stay on the beach or get more instruction. I think I could appreciate that as a student. In fact, when I was taking my PC Level 1 course, the instructors cancelled one session due to conditions; they had a dry-land session as a back up.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:48 pm 
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Jurfie wrote:
Doug_Lloyd wrote:
In less than ideal conditions instructors are advised to take out small groups at a time with support of surf-rescue savvy paddlers for backup, or just get more paid/volunteer help, or relocate to a less-impacted bay or surf zone.


I haven't commented to this point, as I'm (a) not an instructor and (b) not familiar with the course, so I am far from qualified to tell the organizers what they should have done. Had I been an instructor on that day, I can see the decision-making challenge they faced; did they fully appreciate the level of experience of the students? Were the students 100% honest with their judgement of their own skills? Would I, as a student, have been annoyed if they cancelled a class I had travelled "X" kms to take (even if in my head I knew it would have been for safety reasons). Maybe the instructors under-appreciated the conditions or skill levels. Maybe the students would have been resistant to cancelling, since it was a "lumpy waters" symposium, after all. I don't know, but I'm not about to pass judgement.

But I like Doug's point quoted above; perhaps there could have been a possibility to take smaller groups out at a time, thereby increasing the instructor:student ratio? Pass it off as giving those on the beach a chance to rest and watch others and learn from their techniques/mistakes? The students might not have even known they were missing out on instruction time. Or, explain the reason for the reduced group size, thereby giving students who may have been nervous about the conditions the opportunity to stay on the beach or get more instruction. I think I could appreciate that as a student. In fact, when I was taking my PC Level 1 course, the instructors cancelled one session due to conditions; they had a dry-land session as a back up.


I certainly don't want to pass judgement on these blokes so good on you Jurfie for that proviso too; any critical eye that I might bear is only in support of leaning and being open to how to do things better, though the seamanship aspect CAN'T be ignored because it is integral to all we do on the water. While I doubt an instructor like Rob Avery (just a very cautious guy himself) would have allowed an incident like this to unfold, I was positively bouyed to hear Sean rush to admit his mistakes (omisions, whatever) and further analysis is forthcoming I'm sure. I also think it is incumbent on the local organizer to ensure venues are well vetted for the level of skill. I also, if I may, add that those features that made for unfavourable conditions (net movement offshore) are not exclusive to that coast and should be part of any competent sea paddler's lexicon of dangers and cautions. Classes like these almost always see swimmers in the water as soon as there are steep breakers so instructors always, always should be playing the what if game and change that "if" to a "will" as even good paddlers go for swims. Other mishaps occur, including entrapments, frontal nose injuries, severe cramping, etc., and things can go south really quickly.

Personally speaking, the ability to stay esconsed in one's cockpit through thick and thin is a skill, I feel strongly, that is highly underrated and should be part of anyone's lumpy water prerequsite as much as possible.

Still, as the mess unfolded out there, I'm sure at that point, everything that could have been done was in the rush of the momment. With the ocean however, that is sometimes too late. Too much, too soon is always a better maxim - at least where students are concerned. And yes, small pods of paddlers has merit-based logical appeal and practicality. Instant ratio increase.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:22 pm 
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Doug_Lloyd wrote:
And yes, small pods of paddlers has merit-based logical appeal and practicality. Instant ratio increase.

Of course, I am impressed with the level of engagement and hindsight that is being offered to all through forums and blogs. Here was my two cents on the issue:

Although, I can only speak to this incident as a student (not in this course), I do have something to say. On the other hand, I certainly do not have the skills to teach anything in the surf zone.

I have done a few surf courses with different instructors. In my experience the most safety orientated instructors have a 4:1 ratio or less WITH A TWIST! You have a beach buddy at all times. So one person is on the beach watching their buddy surf. This halves the amount of people on the water at one time. This system works great, and if you think about it, you can only surf for so long, especially when you are getting dumped. This way, when you do bail someone is one the beach to help you out and make sure you are really OK (adrenaline is a great mask for injuries – I have paddled with a separated shoulder out of the surf zone before knowing something was wrong). If someone gets caught in a rip current, the beach buddy can summons help too via voice, whistle or radio.

To me a course is just that – an opportunity to try something new, or push personal boundaries in a safer environment. I don’t mind if a course leaves me wanting more, or wishing I had more time; that is a positive expereince in my opinion. Once my skills build, I can surf with another in my zone of confidence for as long as I want to.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:10 pm 
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sushiy wrote:
So, what are the exact recipe for this condition ( the wave condition)? Anyone know that? Seriously. We all want to know.
Anyone should know that exact recipe, specially the people who thinks these kayakers are just idiots.
Thanks.


I ask this question, because it just dose not make sense to me that all those coaches at this event who are all capable of teaching coastal paddling missed the point of " mouth of a bay with sand bar is one of the most dangerous place to be in a kayak or any boat.". One of our coaches thought it is a good place to do this class has been this place many times and still missed that point. Ebb happens 2 times a day, spring tide happens 2 times a month, 6-10feet swell happens on the coast all the time. And no one predicted this condition?
If anyone thought there could be dangerous like this, someone would have mentioned it, (well, as it turned out John Walpole did it but not firmly.).
I believe everyone including this author who had bad feeling about this place thought " it can be messy hard job to do, but they will work it out and will be fine at the end." And the condition became a lot bigger than everyone imagined.

So what made this waves so big? What are we missing? I took a look at a boater's guide about this place the other day, and it basically says "entrance of this bay has shallow bar which is more suitable for surf board and kayaks."
It looks like the sleepy dragon suddenly woke up.
I have been talking with my practice group about this, and one of the helpful comments is that the shape and location of the sand bar changes quite rapidly and it might have contributed the fact."

Also, all the suggestion about group management, risk assessment, coach's duties are spot on even from my student's eyes. Hope all the instructors have chance read about this.
This is a great learning opportunity. If I did not have this incident, someday, I might have taken somebody there on casual session. In fact I really wanted to go back to this place after spending fun time here 2 years ago in similar forecast ( big tide exchange, 6 feet swell day), or I might have thought it is a good landing spot for my imaginary coastal trip.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:44 pm 
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sushiy wrote:
sushiy wrote:
So, what are the exact recipe for this condition ( the wave condition)? Anyone know that? Seriously. We all want to know.
Anyone should know that exact recipe, specially the people who thinks these kayakers are just idiots.
Thanks.


I ask this question, because it just dose not make sense to me that all those coaches at this event who are all capable of teaching coastal paddling missed the point of " mouth of a bay with sand bar is one of the most dangerous place to be in a kayak or any boat.". One of our coaches thought it is a good place to do this class has been this place many times and still missed that point. Ebb happens 2 times a day, spring tide happens 2 times a month, 6-10feet swell happens on the coast all the time. And no one predicted this condition?
If anyone thought there could be dangerous like this, someone would have mentioned it, (well, as it turned out John Walpole did it but not firmly.).
I believe everyone including this author who had bad feeling about this place thought " it can be messy hard job to do, but they will work it out and will be fine at the end." And the condition became a lot bigger than everyone imagined.

So what made this waves so big? What are we missing? I took a look at a boater's guide about this place the other day, and it basically says "entrance of this bay has shallow bar which is more suitable for surf board and kayaks."
It looks like the sleepy dragon suddenly woke up.
I have been talking with my practice group about this, and one of the helpful comments is that the shape and location of the sand bar changes quite rapidly and it might have contributed the fact."

Also, all the suggestion about group management, risk assessment, coach's duties are spot on even from my student's eyes. Hope all the instructors have chance read about this.
This is a great learning opportunity. If I did not have this incident, someday, I might have taken somebody there on casual session. In fact I really wanted to go back to this place after spending fun time here 2 years ago in similar forecast ( big tide exchange, 6 feet swell day), or I might have thought it is a good landing spot for my imaginary coastal trip.


That's the point: these areas exhibit a dynamic morphology, let alone the fact that the sea is a changeable environment with conditions demonstrably different given any one factor undergoing change. I'd say this was a great thing for the paddling community to bear witness to (if a little embarassing) and will hopefully reinforce the need to go back to basic seamanship considerations...but I don't want to sound like a blowhard. I've done my own soulsearching on some of these issues.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:00 pm 
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Interesting topic, and always happy to hear it had a positive outcome.

I have been thinking about the desire we have to be challanged, while maintaining safety.

Many of us will have attended events where there is a level of risk.

The Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC hosts Exchanges at Tidal Rapids (Skookumchuck, Surge Narrows, Gabriol Passage, etc), surf zones (Tofino, etc), and whitewater rivers.

Paddle Canada will host events (Storm Gathering), also specifically hoping for challenging conditions.

This Lumpy waters event obviously hopes for something similar.

I am sure many of us attend these types of events, hoping to challenge ourselves in dynamic conditions. I am sure most of us would not attend (or atleast not as often), if there was not some level of risk. We don't hear successful events called the "Flat calm, Placid Lake Symposium".

We all assume risk every time we do anything. Driving a car, walking across the street, going kayaking.

The question with this event is was the level of risk fully realized and acknowledged by all participants.

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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:27 pm 
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VanIslePaddler wrote:


The question with this event is was the level of risk fully realized and acknowledged by all participants.


The answer: it could not possibly have been as no assessment appears to have been done of the characteristics of the venue; the conditions on the day; the skill and comfort levels of the students; the skills and responsibilities of the leaders.

Whilst I am happy (and indeed eager) to accept some degree of risk when I go on a course I feel I am entitled to expect that I am not going to be exposed to inordinate levels of risk through the omissions of those I am paying to teach me


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 Post subject: Re: Rescue on kayaking course
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:34 pm 
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I'm the author of that incident report that I posted on my blog at redalderranch.com. I was directed to this thread by comoxpaddler who left a couple of comments on my report.

I don't really have much to say that hasn't already been said in the incident report and the comments that follow it, but I will add this, since the question came up here. Every comment that has been submitted to my blog in response to this incident report has been approved. I've not been cherry-picking just the supportive comments and not approving any that are critical. There is a lot to be critical about, and I'm not trying to hide from that. I've also received a ton of private email and FB messages, and to my surprise, it has largely been very supportive. I think most people recognize in themselves the capacity to fall into the same kinds of traps that I and the other coaches that day fell into.

What I was hoping to avoid, and would have denied if any had shown up was the kind of "what a bunch of idiots" comment that I saw on the Tillamook Herald article's webpage, obviously made by someone who wasn't there, knew nothing of the event other than what they read in the article, and probably was also not a paddler. That kind of thing would not have contributed anything useful to the discussion, and if anyone had submitted anything like that, I would not have approved it.

Anyone is welcome to submit comments to the blog. If I was trying to hide from criticism, I certainly would not have written a lengthy incident report and put it on the internet in plain view.

Regards,
Mark Whitaker
Skamokawa, WA


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