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#216553 - 02/06/11 10:01 PM Went in the drink yesterday
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Long story short: After a long, tiring, awkward, and minor-pain-turning-to-cramps few hours of unexpected equipment-related problems, I told my buddy I needed to head back the half-mile plus to our shore launch spot. I began.

I dumped my sit-on-top kayak when cramping and, later put together that an involuntary sudden head movement also triggered my positional vertigo. My PFD, belted chest waders, flats boots, strapped-on sturdy fishing hat, insulated gloves, and technical top did their jobs and I only slowly was getting cold. My hands, arms, shoulders, etcetera were not up to self-rescue [I tried] but the kayak was a temporary floating safe haven. It was nice to notice a small Lido 14 sailboat swiftly closing on my position; I could hear my buddy getting close, as well.

The sailboat guys towed me and my kayak into shallow water, where I waded onto a gravel spit and promply fell down. I was in Tomales Bay which is linked to Bodega Bay and then the Pacific Ocean; I was in a part of the bay that is part of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Northern California.

Almost uncontrollable shivering; cramping hands, arms, shoulders, abdomen and stomach. Tried to re-group to get back on the water and to shore. Put on a dry top; barely able to drink a hot cup of tea two-handed due to shaking. Tried with my buddy to come up with a plan; failed. After a few minutes, feeling like a jerk, I told my buddy to call 911 and that he was in charge because I did not seem to be thinking straight.

I was hoping for a quiet, discrete boat ride to shore. Nope. Coast Guard, someone's circling spotter plane, Highway Patrol, National Park Rescue boat, local [sheriff?] helicopter landing on the spit, local fire department, and local paramedics on shore. Checked out by three separate sets of para-medic/EMTs: one from the helicopter, one on the boat, and a team on shore. Released by each with comment my blood pressure was a little high.

Very tired and a little slow today, a bit emotional, grateful [sp
?], feeling old and a bit foolish.

Let the games begin!

Edited by dweste (02/06/11 10:02 PM)

#216554 - 02/06/11 10:17 PM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2792
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Being a live fool isn't so bad when you consider the alternative.

Sounds like the emergency response crowd was having a slow day.

What do you think was the root cause? Hypothermia creeping up? Overexertion? Dehydration? Bad chow?

#216555 - 02/06/11 10:17 PM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
i'm glad you're ok dweste! it sounds like a harrowing, and cold ordeal.

i'd love to hear more of the story, when you're feeling better and hindsight kicks in. two questions come immediately to mind: what happened to the guy in the boat? what made you push through when you first start feeling "off"?

EDIT: Since we're probably going to analyze this anyway, what equipment did you have with you?

Edited by bacpacjac (02/06/11 10:41 PM)
Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#216556 - 02/06/11 10:21 PM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
GarlyDog Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/05/07
Posts: 776
Loc: The People's Republic of IL
It's a good thing to live to tell the tale. Embarrassment is temporary. The alternative on the other hand....

#216558 - 02/06/11 10:50 PM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
I started the day with a rudder failure and returned to shore to fix that successfully. Seat was not right but I could not see the problem or figure out a fix. Constant discomfort and attempts to adjust; lots of unusual muscular effort.

I was introducing my buddy to the area and promised him crab, kelp, and maybe some mussels and clams if time permitted.
Self-induced pressure to perform regardless of discomfort.

I called a halt before we got to the prime crabbing area due to my problems. Buddy brought home only 1 legal red rock crab and about 5 pounds of bull kelp [wet weight], released several undersized crabs. Self-induced guilt for compromising buddy's trip.

I did not want to abort and go back on my promises. Self-induced sense of obligation over-riding other factors.

We were a bit late. Self-induced time pressure.

All the pressures were distracting. I do not recall eating or drinking on the water at all. Self-induced low energy and some level of dehydration probable.

It was a bright sunny day. No hypothermia until in the water.

Today it looks like a circus of errors; yesterday it seemed like the right thing to do.

#216559 - 02/06/11 11:21 PM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
Originally Posted By: dweste
Today it looks like a circus of errors; yesterday it seemed like the right thing to do.

"Complex systems fail in complex ways".

You'll find that in the history of accidents, you'll usually find on the "monday morning quarterbacking" that there were numerous times to stop the flow of events. I think for aircraft accidents, it's about 7 things. For people, it could be just 2 or 3.

Bad things happen when making decisions under pressure (just some of the bigger examples):
- Challenger - "Go Fever"
- Columbia - Management quashing low-level engineers using friends in other agencies to get hi-res photos that may have helped.

The problem you have is:
- How do you know when your total judgement has become impaired?
- When do you "call it"?

As for you, I'm glad you're alive! Good re-inforcement for all of us, and I don't see anything I would have done differently.

As for the first responders, management of all types likes "metrics", so you were a ripe opportunity to gather them. Doesn't matter if 16 agencies treat you as a patient, they all get a patient contact credit. smile Plus, probably some interest in seeing if it is someone they know so they can rib them!

#216567 - 02/07/11 01:01 AM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dougwalkabout]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7153
Loc: southern Cal
Sounds like the emergency response crowd was having a slow day.

At Channel Islands NP, we always abruptly terminated our operations on the water to respond to distress situations. Our skippers made it clear that this is the appropriate response for any vessel. Makes perfect sense to me.

Would you prefer a lackadaisical, half-hearted, response?
Geezer in Chief

#216569 - 02/07/11 01:15 AM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
LED Offline

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: dweste
I told my buddy to call 911 and that he was in charge because I did not seem to be thinking straight.

Glad you're okay. That was a very smart and egoless thing you did, acknowledging your limits and letting someone else take over. Bravo. Now we can flame you for all the other stuff. wink

#216570 - 02/07/11 01:18 AM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
Richlacal Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/11/10
Posts: 778
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Let the Games Begin Huh?OK,Now What the H+$$ were you.....Hey Man,I'm Glad you survived to Tell the Story! Like Forrest Gump said"It Happens!":)

#216571 - 02/07/11 02:20 AM Re: Went in the drink yesterday [Re: dweste]
Art_in_FL Offline

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Sounds like there was more going on than just hypothermia. You may have come down with a flu or some other disease. I've sen it quite a few times and been through it myself once or twice. I'm feeling strong and them ...whammo ... it is like someone pulled the plug. Fortunately it never happened in the backwoods.

I once had a friend suffer such an onset during a trip. His was pretty clearly the flu that was going around. About sunset he lost power. He couldn't eat, had chills, a high fever, and generalized weakness. He could barely stand. Fortunately we were close enough in that it wasn't a big thing to get him to a road and get us picked up. This was before cell phones so I hiked out the few miles to call a friend.

Doctors said that physical exertion, heat of the day, and possible borderline dehydration made it worse. As it was he was good to go after a few days sleeping in and mothering by his girlfriend.

I'm no doctor, and I'm not going to second guess your judgment. Sounds like there was more than just hypothermia. Uncontrollable shivering is common but serious cramping seems out of place.

I suspect that you exerted yourself far more than you thought. That you were close to exhaustion but perhaps fooled by cooled temperatures, sunshine, into thinking you were less tired than you really were. I've seen this during early season trips when people mistake the signs of exhaustion for 'being a little rusty'. If you fell in while near exhaustion the effect could be profound. In effect all systems would be demanding energy you don't have. Throw in a little dehydration and not eating enough and you are looking at the mother of all Bonks.

It also should be noted that this is the beginning of the cold and flu season. Add a virus to the above and it gets bad, Very bad. What happens if you hadn't got out of the water? Body recovery is a bummer for everyone involved.

Calling for help is okay. Doing it before you are absolutely sure it is clearly a life and death situation is okay. That is why those guys are there. Why they make the big money and get to play with the shiny toys. You had good reason to think it was potentially life threatening and acted accordingly.

Rule Number One: Don't let what anyone else might think keep you from doing what you have to do. You have to make your own call. Embarrassment and shame pass. Death and serious disability ... not so much.

From your previous posts you seem to have your duckies in a row. It isn't like you stubbed your toe and had the National Guard fly to Timbuktu to give you a taxi ride out for convenience sake.

And yes, the Coast Guard seems to have only two settings, all out and off. They seem to figure that it is better to go big and back off if reasonable than go small and find out they don't have enough resources. I bet you most of the crews were sitting around bored. A bit of pre-season warm up probably did them some good.

Glad it worked out.

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