Monday, March 21, 2011

Cape Point trip report

A confident looking bunch of paddlers!
Well that turned into a bit of an adventure, didn't it. In order to learn from our experiences today I'll write up my account and hopefully many of the group will add their impressions here by commenting or emailing me so I can add it. Feel free to be as critical as you like, I promise it will not be held against you!

The forecast was for for a mild westerly at 12 to 14 knots and as we launched it seemed slightly less than that, indicated by the fact that there were no whitecaps on the water. As can be seen by the wind graphs alongside, the wind picked up very quickly after we left. The group seemed to be handling the conditions downwind pretty well and we headed towards the cave where we stopped to have a look at it and assess, as it offered a bit of wind shelter. Some of  the less strong paddlers decided to turn back at this point but the rest of the group wanted to proceed a little further. Less than a kilometre further on it continued to get worse so the rest of the group turned back. I was estimating around 20 knots, gusting to 25 around now.

Look how perfect our launch timing was - NOT
We turned upwind and headed back toward the cave staying quite close to the cliffs. At this point I needed to stay with the paddlers at the back and make sure they were okay and therefore the group will not be aware of what happened with us but I have heard about the incidents up ahead. I had a double and a single with me and because the double was quite a slow heavy boat with one of it's paddlers being,well, no longer in the full flower of youth, I pulled us into the cave to get out of the wind and waves.

Relaxing outside the cave. Wind? What wind?
At this point I called in by cellphone and requested a VHF radio call for any of the numerous fishing boats in the area to look out for the paddlers heading back to the launch site. As a precaution the NSRI were launched in case any paddlers were in trouble. I reckoned it was best for the two kayaks in the cave with me to wait for the wind to drop or the rescue boat, whichever came first. About 30 minutes later I spotted a fishing ski boat moving nearby and madly paddled out to them and asked them to follow the coastline back to our launch site and look out for any kayaks in trouble. They kindly did so and returned to report back that they saw seven kayaks who said they were fine. I assume at this point the first group had landed safely. We waited and when the rescue a boat arrived the paddlers with me decided to take the safe option and got a lift back to the launch site. I left them to it and paddled back.

I learned later that there had been a couple of capsizes in the groups and  those people were safely rescued. The groups stayed together as they should and got home safely. Please let us have your stories of the incidents.

Now those paddlers on this trip need to consider the events. Were you confident in your rescue techniques? Can everyone competently do a T rescue? Did you buddy up properly? If you were alone and capsized could you cope? What would you do? Did you make the correct decision in leaving early or not waiting for the trip leader?

Interesting note - do you remember the two fishing kayaks that were launching the same time as we were? They were badly caught out and blown well offshore when the wind picked up. Apparently one of them fell in and could not get back onto the ski but fortunately they were spotted by a fishing boat and picked up.

And whoever lost their white new balance cap, I picked it up. Collect it at the shop.

Monday looks glorious, anyone for Cape Point?


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