This photo of yesterday’s incident is from Barbara Browning; in the foreground are the bows of her kayak and mine. Just right of Weymouth Lifeboat is the kayak angler whom they extracted (by crane) and evacuated to Weymouth.
Apparently the paddler had strained himself trying to paddle back to shore, opening up an old injury; hence his inability to paddle.
More info/ discussion here.
Pan-Pan – In radiotelephone communications, a call of pan-pan (pronounced /ˈpæn ˈpæn/) is used to signify that there is an urgency on board a boat, ship, aircraft or other vehicle but that, for the time being at least, there is no immediate danger to anyone’s life or to the vessel itself. This is referred to as a state of urgency. This is distinct from a Mayday call, which means that there is imminent danger to life or to the continued viability of the vessel itself. Thus “pan-pan” informs potential rescuers (including emergency services and other craft in the area) that a safety problem exists whereas “Mayday” will call upon them to drop all other activities and immediately initiate a rescue attempt. Source – Wikipedia.
We headed out of icy Ringstead Bay for a paddle today; however, as soon as we arrived beneath the cliffs of White Nothe, we were blasted by unforecasted Force 6 gusts in our faces. It was obvious that making headway was going to be a pain. We turned back early (not before I nearly capsized when my paddle was blown out of my hands whilst trying to adjust my pogies) and headed back to the beach.
A large group of kayak anglers were also at Ringstead having some kind of informal meet, to fish around the reef located a short distance offshore. As soon as we landed, the VHF crackled into life and a ‘Pan Pan’ message was issued by one of these anglers. He was drifting offshore in the strong offshore winds with a friend who couldn’t paddle back against the wind. Portland Coastguard replied and asked for nearby vessels to assist, so (after a quick discussion with the CG) we launched again and paddled out to the two paddlers, located about 500 metres offshore and drifting quickly.
The situation was that one of the paddlers – for reasons unclear – couldn’t move one of his arms to paddle, and hence they were being blown into rougher water. His friend was attempting to tow him, but not making much headway. It would have been quite simple for our group to tow/ guide them both back to the beach, but the Coastguard advised us that the Weymouth Lifeboat (already in the vicinity on exercises) would come to investigate the casualty’s medical situation, and that a SAR helicopter was on standby. I let off a flare to mark our position (a night flare – duh – but it did the job) and the lifeboat soon found us.
The lifeboat crew dragged the casualty onboard – a big chap – and decided to take him to hospital. His huge kayak (he was paddling a double alone) was a bit of a mess – multiple rods and a huge sail trailing in the water – so to save us the hassle of towing this, the lifeboat took that onboard as well. We paddled back to the beach, escorting the other paddler with us.
As you’ll no doubt be aware, X-Life is Hong Kong’s leading extreme sports magazine. I’m pleased to say that a shortly forthcoming issue will feature an article and photos by myself about our splendid trip to Nepal’s Thuli Bheri River, last Easter.
Both Heather and I have published material in this Asian magazine before. Although most of our writing and photos wind up in UK paddlesport publications, it’s pleasant and indeed refreshing to be occasionally reminded of just how small and well connected our world is, simply on account of this keyboard in my lap…
n. Abbr. Pen.
A piece of land that projects into a body of water and is connected with the mainland by an isthmus.
[from Latin, literally: almost an island, from paene pene- + insula island]
A few photos from the glorious Lleyn Peninsula in north Wales, where we spent a glorious day over the New Year Holiday. I wanted to return to the Lleyn as I had been particularly impressed by the coast there, whilst paddling all around Wales a few years back. I recalled how several mountains literally plunge straight into the sea, displaying tiered scars from past quarrying.
My memory was accurate, all good.
News is coming through of another major sea kayak incident in the south west – two paddlers have been airlifted to hospital from the south Cornish coast, near Falmouth. Our hope is that they are unharmed and will make a swift recovery.
I will collate news reports on the SWSK Facebook group as they come in… www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=139419152740954
The report below is from the BBC…
Rescued Falmouth kayakers airlifted to hospital
An RNAS Culdrose helicopter airlifted the kayakers to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro
Two kayakers have been rescued after their boats capsized in stormy conditions in Cornwall.
The men had left Maenporth, near Falmouth, en route to the Helford River when they became separated.
Falmouth Coastguard said the alarm was raised at 1410 GMT when a flare set off by one of the kayakers was spotted by the public.
The pair, who were suffering from suspected hypothermia, were flown to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
Their condition is not known.
RNLI lifeboats from Falmouth and a tanker were also involved in the rescue.
Experienced kayakers The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the rescue was carried out in heavy seas with poor visibility and with the support of the tanker Cape Daly which was anchored in Falmouth Bay.
The Falmouth inshore lifeboat found one kayaker who had capsized and was in the sea.
Minutes later the second man, whose kayak had also capsized, was found by a search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.
Peter Bullard, MCA watch manager at Falmouth, said the men were lucky to be rescued.
“We understand they are experienced kayakers and were well equipped but they’re still lucky that in such poor weather their distress flare was seen,” he said.
“We always advise anyone venturing onto the sea in such challenging conditions to be realistic about their abilities.”
The ‘nodding donkey’ oil pump in Kimmeridge Bay has been working since the ‘50s and is still yielding about 65 barrels a day. It looks out over the Kimmeridge Ledges, five miles of coast where bedrock extends at least half a mile out to sea under the waves.
With Atlantic groundswell, the Ledges form steep, slow waves with clean shoulders; this is the best surf spot on the south coast.
I have cynically used the word ‘cliffs’ in the title here, as this Google search engine keyword brings more people here than any other, by some distance. So, if you came here looking for your GCSE Geography homework, bad luck, you’ve been conned - but you can at least copy and paste the two pictures into your work and impress your teacher by titling them, ‘The cliffs of Noss, Isles of Shetland’.
Anyway, the latest Canoe Kayak UK magazine, available from 11th Jan, includes an article from my wife Heather about why the Shetland Isles are The Best Sea Kayak Destination in the UK. Hope it’s of interest!
Video from Weymouth Lifeboat
Unfortunately, a huge sea kayak group from a local canoe club got into major difficulties in the Portland Race yesterday. This is the strongest and most extensive tidal race in the south west, forming off the headland of Portland Bill. The tidal race is particularly awkward as it generates massive back eddies running down the sides of the headland, which can make escape from The Race difficult if you do not time your passage precisely.
Multiple helicopters and lifeboats were summoned to assist the sixteen paddlers from Upper Hamble Canoe Club. Thankfully, reports seem to indicate that all were safely rescued and are unharmed.
I have collated news reports on the SWSK Facebook group… www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=139419152740954
The report below is from the Dorset Echo…
SIXTEEN kayak instructors are lucky to be alive after being plucked to safety in a dramatic rescue operation off Portland.
The experienced group were swept into the notorious Portland Race as they attempted to paddle around the Bill as darkness fell yesterday evening.
The Race is a fierce area of sea caused by a combination of tides and shelving seabed.
But a disaster was averted thanks to a slick rescue involving Weymouth’s two lifeboats, two rescue helicopters, coastguard teams and the HM Customs patrol boat Valiant.
All 16 kayakers were safely picked up unharmed by lifeboat crews. A man and a woman were later airlifted to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester suffering from shock and seasickness.
The lifeboats also managed to retrieve every kayak from the water.
The kayakers, coaches and instructors attached to the Upper Hamble Canoe Club in Southampton, did not want to comment as they were brought ashore and checked over by paramedics at Portland Marina last night.
They had set off from Portland Castle earlier in the day and made their way around the island to Chesil Cove before making the return journey in the afternoon. The group were equipped with radios and lifejackets and had notified coastguards of their trip.
Portland Coastguard received a mayday call just before 4pm as members of the group started getting into difficulty and become separated from each other.
Members ‘rafted’ their kayaks together in different groups and waited for help. All stayed afloat despite the violent seas.
Lifeboats arrived to find the sea lit up by searchlights from the Portland and Solent coastguard helicopters and from Valiant, making the recovery operation easier.
Philip Chappell of Portland Coastguard said: “The first mayday call we got was from a woman who was hysterical.
“It was only on the second mayday call that we were able to confirm a position and get resources out there.”
He added: “Happily, all 16 were taken from the water safely but it so easily could have gone the other way.
“We could have had a horrendous situation here last night.
“They got into trouble in an area which is the fiercest tidal race on the south coast.
“We’ve had big powerboats come to grief in the Race so you can imagine what it would do to a kayak.
“A combination of tides and geography create a one-sided whirlpool.
“Questions need to be asked about expedition planning and timings.”
Coxswain of Weymouth Lifeboat Andy Sargent said that the operation had been very successful and that he was proud of his crew.
He said: “It was a trip that went wrong.
“There was a mayday put out to request a launch, saying that there were 16 kayaks in difficulty. A rescue helicopter was on scene first and saw that no one was in the water, they were rafted up in their kayaks.
“The inshore lifeboat went to rescue three kayaks that had become separated.
“Once we had recovered everyone to the all weather lifeboat we set about recovering the kayaks.
“I’m very pleased with the job, we got everyone back and the kayaks too.”
He added: “One of the kayakers was in shock and so after ten minutes she was airlifted by the rescue helicopter to Dorset County Hospital. Another kayaker was suffering from seasickness so he was also airlifted.”
South West Ambulance set up a medical check point at Portland Marina and the lifeboat brought the kayakers into the harbour at 6.30pm.
They were checked over by the ambulance service and given tea and coffee by nearby restaurant, The Boat That Rocks, before they went home.