Surfski Emergencies

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7 years 10 months ago #22653 by Wiid
Replied by Wiid on topic Surfski Emergencies
VHF range is terrain and atmospheric conditions dependant. A friend of mine and long time hamnet member recently did some low power (5W) vhf tests from Robben Island to metro control in Goodwood. Early in the morning he could happily chat to Metro with signal 5/5 from everywhere on the island in foggy conditions. But by lunch the fog had lifted and the EM atmospheric conditions changed too. He could no longer reach them. Distance is a 25km.

There is no silver bullet, but by using a couple of devices mentioned on this thread could potentially save your ass.

Know your limits and don't get yourself into trouble in the first place.

O and Greg, ch16/marine0 is a simplex frequency. There are no repeaters on simplex frequencies other than a parrot.

Johan

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7 years 10 months ago #22654 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
I just saw this on the PE to EL notice of race:

Each paddler will wear a PFD (Personal Floatation Device) as approved by Canoeing South Africa, have a leash attaching the paddler to the surfski, a pencil flare kit, a compulsory cell phone and a tracking device provided, and managed by the race organisers.

Each paddler is required to pass a fitness test. Paddlers who do not complete a leg in the winning time plus 25% may be withdrawn from the event by the organisers, at their discretion (based on safety considerations).

The race will commence on 4 December 2014, and takes place over 4 days with one “spare” day which may be used at the discretion of the race organisers.

I am in discussion with the supplier of the tracking device to find out more and in particular, pricing.

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22657 by jocuba
Replied by jocuba on topic Surfski Emergencies
A small point that I think is not promoted at all & easily overlooked is, what I refer to as, the 'Ease of remounting' factor across ski makes, models & categories & the vast differences in any given condition.

I think we all agree that one of the most critical aspects contributing to or facilitating safety (specifically avoiding death) is being able to remount easily should you take a swim for whatever reason. Preferably first time... i.e self-rescue (or promoting self-rescue).

The point is its 99% being in the water that kills you - hypothermia... you want to know that you can get back on your ski easily & immediately (bombproof), & in what conditions. Furthermore, I'd suggest, know pretty much when it will be an issue... i.e. combinations of water temp, air temp, wind intensity & direction, swell dynamics etc etc. The onus of this obviously rests with the individual to focus on this aspect as part & parcel of training. I mean... why would you not do that?? It costs fuck all - just a bit of time! And yet I would say that vast majority of ski paddlers are astoundingly ignorant of this awareness.

Furthermore - I think this concept could be applied on 'race-day' by organisers from the perspective of how the conditions on the day would apply to the average paddler. i.e. If someone (average) 'swims' during the race - given the conditions, & importantly the weather predictions, what is the 'self-rescue' factor or risk likely to be? This could then be associated with the overall decision i.e Go/No Go. Or increasing the number support craft on the water relative to perceived riskier conditions. I mean 1 craft per paddler is safety nirvana... & the Molokai does that. Obviously not possible to emulate for almost any other race but why not get creative &, as an example, include & integrate the jetski crowd into races. I'm sure they would love it, give them a more noble meaning to exist & who knows - they could even lose their 'Boega Miena!!' tag. :)

I'm a standard mid-pack recreational ski paddler - albeit 50 years old with 20 odd years ski experience (on & off) together with an assortment of other focused paddling disciplines as well as actively pursuing other water/sea activities at various times spanning maybe 40 years. The result is I'm pretty comfortable with the sea, solid on a ski & can't actually remember when I last 'swam' accidently. I've seen & been with guys who've had bad swims, some lost at sea (& eventually found) & some died, also on the rivers. I've been fortunate to own 3 different brands of skis & taken my opportunities to paddle several others & across the models. If at all possible I make it a point to have a 'swim' to see what its like remounting in the conditons on the day with the ski, if its new to me.

As I'm sure you'd appreciate - there is a vast difference across makes & models in terms of 'ease of remounting' in any given condition relating to points like overall stability, depth & shape of cockpit etc etc (& then which technique to use when on which ski in which conditions). I strongly recommend that, when buying a ski, paddlers should give this aspect massive consideration. I now paddle a lower-end elite carbon ski that is piss-easy to remount. Its my prime criteria. Why - because when that day comes & I swim in serious conditions I've given myself the very best opportunity to self-rescue (& I always paddle with 3 small flares apart from leash/s & pfd - its not an issue). Now is probably not the time to get into a slag-fest about this factor across the makes/models. But I do think it would be excellent to have an unbiased index compiled soon covering ski makes & models so that paddlers can be more informed on this crucial aspect when buying or hiring. I mean, it could assist a paddler on a particular tricky-condition race day to perhaps opt for (swop, borrow or hire) a different ski to what they'd use in tamer conditions. Or even make him/her realise they're under/over gunned for the event/day. Crucially - I'd strongly urge every paddler to always consider whether they are able to remount their ski with absolute certainty within the prevailing & forecasted conditions. Otherwise, in my opinion, you're into a game of russian roulette... you are playing with your life & depending on rescuers - rightly or wrongly.

Forgive me for the ramble - said far more than I intended... I could go on as well. Please always think of those close to you. But anyway... Be Safe & Keep Paddling! ... just saying...
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by jocuba. Reason: corrections
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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22658 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic Surfski Emergencies
Thank you Wiid for pointing out that Channel 16 is simplex (no repeater) I was not aware of this or had forgotten. Its up to each paddler (VHF operator) to be familiar with the channels used in your area (and these you learn when you pass your VHF operators license).

To clarify, channel 16 is your first channel to attempt contact, it is the international distress, safety and calling frequency. Most VHF operators monitor channel 16 and its your best chance of reaching another vessel in the area who can either provide assistance or relay your mayday to the appropriate authorities. You maybe instructed to move to another channel.

In addition, you should be aware of the duplex channels (repeater) for your area. As per earlier for my area its is either channel 80 or 82 for Coastguard Radio, also we have Maritime Radio on either channel 16 or 71 (repeater for 71).

Channels are different for different areas, so when paddling in a different area you need to be aware of the duplex channels available, but in the first instance every VHF operator knows to use and monitor channel 16, for international distress, safety and calling, and then to move to another channel if instructed to do so.

Its easy to confirm if a channel is simplex or duplex, simply press the talk button and release, an audible screech/squelch will be relayed back to your unit if duplex.
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by Kayaker Greg.

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7 years 10 months ago #22659 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic Surfski Emergencies
Jocuba, something that was pointed out to me last week was that some of the best paddlers in my club have trouble getting back onto their skis, because they hardly ever fall out where as the lesser experienced more prone to falling out have had plenty of practice. So when the better paddlers do fall out, they are often in more difficult conditions, so yes, we should all practice our remounts more often.
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7 years 10 months ago #22660 by Spacehopper
Replied by Spacehopper on topic Surfski Emergencies
Jocuba, I think you've hit on the most fundamental issue. Being able to get back on reliably and stay on is the first line of defence.

Given the very positive feedback that boats like the V8 get for their rough water ability and fun factor, even from paddlers coming from much tippier skis, promoting boats in this ballpark as a racing division in their own right (it probably happens in some places already?) would be good for safety and for expanding the sport.

At present there's a tension between peoples abilities and the skinny boats they aspire to race as there id no other focus other than on the very fastest skis.

Most of us aren't good at being realistic about our skills and amount of practice we put in - just as many sea kayakers aren't realistic about their rolling skills (as a recent 'eventful' club trip proved...).

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7 years 10 months ago #22665 by fb_645481967
Replied by fb_645481967 on topic Surfski Emergencies
Hi
It's terribly sad such events happens.
This is the reason brought us to add an emergency feature dedicate especially for kayaks on Motionize Paddle.
Part of improving is knowing that you have someone with you, giving you instructions and can reach you a hand if you need.
Motionize Paddle will recognize that the kayak is not in its natural position and will send an SMS to a pre-set contact with details of stress and location.
Check out our website for more information:
motionize-inc.com/

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7 years 10 months ago #22669 by Punches
Replied by Punches on topic Surfski Emergencies
I'd like to echo Rob and Durbansurfski's comments re magic bullets and tracking apps on smart phones.

I recently used my smart phone with endomondo.com to very good effect in a rescue of my buddy here in Australia. My other shore based buddy was following my track on his PC and alerted the rest of our group that we were in obvious difficulty. I was also able to call a member of our group who had reached shore and ask for assistance. It's been said before but practicing this at sea is vital and not something you want to learn on the job. Importantly, if I had called the police or relied on a PLB to call for help I have no doubt my buddy would have been dead by the time they arrived at the scene. The physical environment is different for different locations and whilst I understand the OP was about improvements in South Africa, you still need to tailor your safety systems above the minimum to make them as effective as possible for your location and the expected conditions.

I'm sure many of us have been on downwind paddles in average wind speeds of 30kts plus, gusting to 45kts plus where the only thing your buddy can do is call for search and rescue if you don't turn up i.e. they aren't of much use to you on the water. This is why I think a shore buddy tracking you is such a good backup. My phone seems to last at least 3hrs running endomondo and I'm happy doing 25km downwind using it but I understand the tradeoff with battery life to make a call and a second phone seems like an ideal solution for some regions of the world.

Having said this I reckon dedicated tracker devices are the future for organised surfski races.

Here's an idea. Endomondo has an "Event" function for live tracking of participants but I haven't tested it, yet. According to the documentation it seems you should be able to create something like a daily Millers Run event and any group that signs on for the day can have their progress tracked live by anyone with a PC in a single window, I think. I can't see it being robust enough for a race but it could be a good option for group paddles in demanding conditions.

Finally, I'm a firm believer that whatever safety gear or tracker you carry has to be on you and not just in the footwell or somewhere else on the boat. In the commotion of the rescue previously mentioned my buddy's leg leash somehow unclipped. Leg leashes can fail, more often in wild conditions when you totally rely on them so don't put your safety gear at the wrong end of the line.

Currently own Fenn Elite S, Renegade Double
Previously owned Epic V8, Think Legend, Stellar SES

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22672 by TonyB
Replied by TonyB on topic Surfski Emergencies
I used the "GPS Real time Tracker" from Greenalp as recommended on this thread in the Fenn Coast Downwinder on the weekend to try it out. There were 2 problems.

1.I gave the tracking link to 2 people. One didn't turn it on (wife) and the other couldn't get it to work (Dicko-possible operater error!!)

2. I started it about 1/2 hr before the race. After paddling for 2 hours my phone battery was flat and not sure how quickly the battery died.


So I wouldn't recommend it as unless the person tracking it has it connected, it is of no use and had I needed to make an emergency call my battery was flat
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by TonyB.

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7 years 10 months ago #22674 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
I agree 100% that cellphone tracking is not the answer. There are amazing apps out there, but battery life is the problem.

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22675 by Davidw
Replied by Davidw on topic Surfski Emergencies
I will test the "Real time GPS tracker" some more. For me it has worked fine but note that the default update interval is 5 seconds. I have changed it to 2 minutes to conserve battery life. That means 30 updates an hour rather than 720!

You won't move more than 500m in 2 minutes so if in trouble it would still be a fairly small search area.

My wife has tracked me from her phone but then I made sure she could access my track before I set off.

At this point it is still a better option for me than no tracking.

You should still have flares, vhf, etc in wild conditions.
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by Davidw.

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7 years 10 months ago #22676 by Ric
Replied by Ric on topic Surfski Emergencies
Its tough to make blanket statements about cellphone tracking capabilities based on a few apps. They say more about the apps than the technology.

Also there are different platforms, some have better batteries than others.

I have written an emergency tracker for Android that sends locations at 1min intervals, and keeps running on a 4yr old phone for about 3-4hrs. Unfortunately it is proprietary, but the technology is here.

There are good trackers, and battery hungry ones. The free ones probably eat your battery more than some of the purpose built paid ones. Unfortunately development of a good tracker app is expensive.

My point is let's not get caught up thinking this is a dead end based on battery reports from a few older phones using free software. I believe there could be some very good trackers available and think it is well worth doing some.testing on various of the apps.
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7 years 10 months ago #22677 by Ric
Replied by Ric on topic Surfski Emergencies

Davidw wrote: note that the default update interval is 5 seconds.


For what it's worth, most Android hardware only provides proper GPS fixes at a rate of 30 seconds to a minute (talking here at a technical level, since the GPS hardware needs to provide the data to the app you are running).

Any faster update intervals are generally software generated (estimates based on interpolation between previous points and projecting that data), and so are not actual real locations anyway. These estimates make general use tracking seem much smoother, and give the impression of more accurate tracks. Remember this is to make the user feel that their run-tracker is giving them great accuracy - it is all about the marketing & impression management. It is not about providing emergency levels of accuracy.

So, yes, please set the update intervals to 30s rather than 5s.

Also ensure that your phone is set to provide High Accuracy location signals (i.e. GPS) rather than cell tower location. Especially around Fish Hoek, the cell tower locations can be very far off due to having so few towers around.

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7 years 10 months ago #22678 by TonyB
Replied by TonyB on topic Surfski Emergencies
Find My Phone (Phone Tracker) works well for tracking people linked in a group (eg a family group) and is a great way to see where people are. It uses no extra battery to transmit and doesn't need to be activated. As long as your phone is on it transmits. Usually updates every few minutes and works on towers rather than GPS and seems very accurate. It's on all the time and we can track where our teenage kids are. Can't see why that shouldn't work in the water as long as phone is in reception.
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7 years 10 months ago #22679 by Ric
Replied by Ric on topic Surfski Emergencies

TonyB wrote: works on towers rather than GPS and seems very accurate.


Cell tower triangulation can be fantastic but can also be subject to limitations.

The problem with cell tower location is that it relies on having multiple cell towers available to "read" off. It works very well in a city area, giving up to 50m accuracy in lots of cases. Unfortunately in the ocean, there are often not very many cell towers available to triangulate off.

e.g. where I live, with a wonderful view across the Millers Run, the cell tower accuracy can vary drastically. I am often "located" in Strandfontein, 10km up the road, or in Kalk Bay harbour, about 3km in the other direction.

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22686 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic Surfski Emergencies
Something being overlooked here.

Make sure the tracker or app has playback.

Even if the paddler is not being tracked by mates or family on a non event paddle, once overdue, the history would be very valuable. Even if the tracker / phone goes down the recorded data (speed, course, time)is very important.

For event trackers playback is essential.

Not sure if I'm out on a limb here but plain white skis aren't as invisible as is being made out IMO. An unbroken white silhouette can be seen. Possibly, branding and other decals could break up the sharp line that reveals an object in a confused sea. I've never thought red/yellow etc. tips make any difference.

I have a liferaft strobe light which I'm keen to test in full sunlight as I think it could help in daylight searches and of course it's fantastic at night.
Reported to be visible at up to 5km and easy to use wearing gloved or cold hands. Operate for 8 hours or so.
If strobes really can replace datime pyrotechnics as advertised (which are iffy by day) they could be the better choice. www.roughgear.com/signals.html

Reserve bouyancy is a big deal and needs to be addressed too.
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by Mako.

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7 years 10 months ago #22699 by Spacehopper
Replied by Spacehopper on topic Surfski Emergencies
Maybe, but in the sort of conditions that things are likely to go wrong a white ski drifting side on looks a lot like a white wave crest.

Certainly offshore sailing clothing has moved away from white to solid colours over the years (much easier to spot someone who has gone overboard).

You're probably right about the tips, the whole boat needs to stand out. Strange how builders of flatwater boats have no problem building and selling brightly coloured kayaks but in surfski there are a heap of claimed reasons why it isn't possible.

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7 years 10 months ago #22700 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic Surfski Emergencies
IMO, ski colours.......yellow probably works best while red fades away at dusk (and heavy overcast) when white prevails.

I think coloured tips are avoided by paddlers in shark territory.

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7 years 10 months ago #22704 by Hiro
Replied by Hiro on topic Surfski Emergencies
Reflective stickers anybody ?

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7 years 9 months ago #22706 by Nige
Replied by Nige on topic Surfski Emergencies
The material used on road signs is perfect for the job, incredibly reflective and made from an aluminised looking material which sticks like crazy. Not too easy to get hold of though, I had some on a previous ski and am trying to find some more of it. Red or yellow both work really well.

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