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Rufus, Oregon, Tuesday, High Winds, Big Swell, Fast Flo
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MasPedos

Since 05 May 2017
19 Posts
Hood Liver
 



PostWed Jun 14, 17 4:36 am    Rufus, Oregon, Tuesday, High Winds, Big Swell, Fast Flo Reply with quote

At Rufus yesterday in 35mph with gusts to 50 and big swell and super fast current. Super fun day. Buddy launched me and I was up and running.
The current makes staying in one spot easy. I noticed that with the speed of the current and a small kite it's easy to lose track of your kite when jumping and doing top of the wave turns. Could be I just need to practice, but I felt like I was getting to far under my kite. The swell was super fun.
During my session I noticed my friend had gone down. I saw his kite in the water and took notice. He had launched me and I noticed his brand new kite. He was excited to try it out.
Right before I notice his kite down I had tried to exit, but someone was launching and I headed back out. As I noticed his kite I thought I better go see if he's ok. Kited up wind and he was working on wrapping his lines. He did not indicate any distress to me so I decided to get his board to the beach. I noticed his board and thought I better go get the board and take it to the beach so he can self rescue without the hassle of the board. It was a twin tip.
It was tough to carry the board as I was tired and my hands were cold. I tried a few times to carry it above the bar and with one hand but could not pull it off. Normally I have an extra leash on my harness and I just drag boards behind me, but I took it off.
At this point I'm struggling and decided to just lay my board out and his board and and board body drag back to the beach. Made it to red marker 43 and stashed the board high on the beach and headed back to check on my friend.
He was nowhere that I could see him. I was scared.
I saw the kite and headed back towards the kite. He was not there and the kite bar and lines were about half way wrapped, but No Kiter was attached. I was very concerned at this point.
I kited back and forth looking for him but did not see him in the water. I was very alarmed and concerned as he had been in the water for at least 40 minutes or more. It's cold and I assumed that he was in distress.
At this point I'm thinking 911, but I also know I need to look for him. Luckily a fishing boat was cruising by and I went over and told them that there was a man in the water. I told them that I had been looking but that I was concerned and needed them to help find him. The fishermen immediately started to assist.
At this point I'm not going to take any chances and I head back to the beach and call 911.

My friend was found by the boat and dropped off at Maryhill boat ramp. He was checked out be EMS and released. He was in shock, vomiting and his energy was spent.

From the time we called 911 it took 15 mins. for the Sheriff's to respond. This was super quick. They were also in the process of getting the boat ready to put in the water. We are very lucky to have such courageous first-responders to call. The ambulance folks awesome as well. We are very lucky to have the services that we have in the gorge, very lucky.

Here are the facts:
1. The conditions did not allow me to see him.
2. He was not wearing a PFD, aka life vest.
3. Hypothermia happens quicker when you are in distress.

Looking back on my decisions here is what I would do differently.

1. Drag the kiter to the beach first.
2. Go get the board.
3. Go get the kite.


Here's what I recommend for anyone kiting in high wind, big swell, and fast flowing water.

1. Wear a PFD, Life vest. It keeps you up and you will not struggle as much to self rescue. Doesn't matter how good of a swimmer you are, or that you think you don't need it. Shit gets real when you are in the water a while.
2. Wear booties to keep your feet warm.
3. Don't kite alone.


All is well that ends well.

_________________
"Clear a space for some serious miracles."

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D

Since 18 Apr 2015
47 Posts
Hood River
 

CGKA Member


PostWed Jun 14, 17 6:27 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the time to write this up. I will take your thoughts of getting the person out of the water prior to board/kite rescue if I ever find myself in the same predicament.

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mamann

Since 16 Jul 2007
37 Posts
Goldendale
 



PostWed Jun 14, 17 9:39 am     Reply with quote

I also want to add some very important info.
I drove around to the north side of the river looking for him, hoping to find him just needing a ride back.
I talked to a few windsurfers and a fisherman and asked them if they had seen anyone floating down the river. Most had not noticed anything.

Turns out he was spotted by at least 2 people, but... NO ONE RECONIZED HIM AS A PERSON in the water.

A fisherman on the east side of the wall, said some other people with him saw something floating down the river, couldn't tell what it was, but concerned enough, borrowed his binoculars and still couldn't make it out and thought it might be a "log", but these people were concerned enough and took off to investigate.

I also talked to a windsurfer that had seen "something" while sailing on the water near the green channel marker on the west side of The Wall, and thought he may have seen a errant "buoy or something" floating down the river.
Keep in mind the swell was huge, tight, breaking and random, all kinds of random debris floating down the river, and very fast current, so very difficult to identify things floating in the water, and most don't go checking out random things in the water.

Point being, there were multiple people that could have done something rescue him, but, no one on or off the water realized there was anyone to rescue, because they either could not see him at all or they could not recognize him as a person because there was nothing making him stand out.

Take away: If you want to have a higher chance of someone spotting or helping you when it all goes wrong, you want to be seen, and easily identified as a person, within a couple of seconds, otherwise your hidden amongst the swell and whitecaps.

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Jimbo

Since 16 Jul 2009
47 Posts
Seattle
 



PostWed Jun 14, 17 9:45 am     Reply with quote

Glad your buddy is ok. It always surprises me how few people wear a PFD or something bright so they are easily spotted. That current it no joke right now.

Shocked

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daveS

Since 23 Jul 2007
70 Posts

 



PostFri Jun 16, 17 9:42 am     Reply with quote

Would be nice to hear a first hand account of what happened here. How or why did your friend get separated from his kite? Was he dressed to swim? Is he 110%confident with his self-rescue skills.
Either way this is a huge reminder that people need to have the gear and skills to be out at Rufus and many other spots in the river right now.

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bigjohn

Since 13 Mar 2012
293 Posts

Obsessed

CGKA Member


PostFri Jun 16, 17 1:00 pm     Reply with quote

daveS wrote:
Would be nice to hear a first hand account of what happened here. How or why did your friend get separated from his kite? Was he dressed to swim? Is he 110%confident with his self-rescue skills.
Either way this is a huge reminder that people need to have the gear and skills to be out at Rufus and many other spots in the river right now.


kiter is a very capable kiter who has been kiting for well over a decade. He experienced an equipment malfunction.

I think he probably could have dressed better for the swim.

It is easy to get lax when you rarely fall in the water. Lesson for all of us to pay attention to.

_________________
mowing the river like Jack Nicklaus was comin to town.

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Singlemalt

Since 21 Jun 2015
87 Posts
White Salmon
 



PostFri Jun 16, 17 2:10 pm     Reply with quote

I think I'm going to add a whistle to my helmet. It's hard to hear out there in the wind.
Just getting someone's attention could save a long swim.

_________________
Pull the cork.

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SpaceRacer

Since 04 Nov 2007
407 Posts

Obsessed



PostSun Jun 18, 17 12:22 pm     Reply with quote

Wow! That is f$&king scary! He is VERY LUCKY to be alive right now. Sounds like under the circumstances you guys did the best you could. This is for my own edification as for you and anyone else who cares to chime in:

1) Conditions like these: Do not kite alone.
2) Do not kite alone.
3) Dont make assumptions. Take care of the person before the gear.
4) I wear a PDF at all times and keep a marine flare in my shorts at all times. I hope I never blow my donkey dick off with it but it is always there.
5) Dress for the self rescue and not the camera.
6) Thanks to you for your quick decision making and for posting this.

I'm at home reading this and my palms got sweaty. I think he is lucky to be alive.

SR

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knotwindy

Since 25 Sep 2011
325 Posts

Obsessed



PostSun Jun 18, 17 9:04 pm     Reply with quote

OK, horses mouth, long story longer
I'm that guy

First, I'd like to thank everybody involved. People keeping track, grabbing gear and being aware and helpful. It's good to know that folks are keeping an eye on each other and doing what they can to help. This is a great community and great kiting community.

Secondly, I am going to have a slightly different perspective on the whole scene, of course, as I was in a different scenario from the others. Back story. Big day, brand new kite and new board as I broke my favorite directional the day before(FireWire 4'10" Vader, a thing of beauty, alas no more). Been on a directional for 5 or 6 years and since I had no backup I took out a borrowed 140 Ocean Rodeo Mako "twin tip". So, new to me gear, blowing nicely, drift launch, out for an hour or so, having a blast. Small to mid jumps as my timing was off a bit with the odd board, swell hunting which was easy as they were everywhere and the current made it silly fun. Land a jump, go to turn upwind and
The bar gets ripped out of my hands. Interesting but has happened before with gear failure. Kite is flagged so I pull the single line in to the bar, look it over, seems ok, go to hook in and no chicken loop. Busted and gone. So, one hand on the "loop" QR and one hand on the bar I figure I can get in. Wind thinks differently. Gusty, overpowered and the loop gets ripped from my hand, kite fully powers up(again) and bar gets ripped from my hand. Damn. OK, reel the bar back in, figure I'll just drag in with no depower throw on the bar. Go to relaunch gently but the kite flips in a gust, sort of hot launches, pulls me about 6 or 7 feet up, bars gets ripped out of my hand again (and leaves a blister this time!) and goes back over my head and falls through the lines and tangles. Damn again. OK, got to self rescue now. Reel in the single line again, wrap it on the bar. Start to wrap the other lines which I have done too many times before and as I get closer to kite it starts to kick like a mule. Not sure if I missed a line or the tangle was the issue or if the kite tore(it was torn when I got it back, thank you to whoever retrieved it, must have been something in those conditions) or exactly what the problem was but I was not going to get to the kite those last 20-25 feet. It was all over the place and pulling hard. At this point I thought I had spent just about enough time in the water fighting it when the bar ripped out of my hand again. Next step, release the whole thing and get to shore. Pulled the secondary release which worked perfectly and since I was pretty much in the middle of the river decided to swim to the WA side as that is my stronger sidestroke. As a side note anyone who tells you you can swim on your back in 35-40 knots and head high swell hasn't done it, all you do is take water on the head, in your face and choke. Gotta sidestroke to breathe, imo. Now based on experience! So, I'm swimming along, not to fast to burn out, not to slow to get hypothermic and drifting downriver in a pretty good current. No panic, I'm a good swimmer and in a wetsuit so it's just keep pulling, shore is getting closer. This is the point where I assume the other people were very concerned as they had no idea where I was or what had happened. I was about 85-90% in when a boat came up and dragged my sorry ass out of the river. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. They threw me a life ring, grabbed it and they helped pull me in. Yes, my fingers were still working and although I just stayed flat I was talking with them and trying not to hurl. The boat ride was rough as you can imagine in those conditions and when we got to the dock I sat up and did indeed throw up partially from taking in water and partially from the boat ride. The two paramedics showed up immediately and we talked and they walked me to the ambalamp(old nwkite joke, sorry). Put me in, I took off the top of my wetsuit and they gave me hotpads. I was cold, BP was elevated, heart rate was elevated but they both came down quickly. Had a nice talk with the two paramedics who were properly concerned initially and then we sat and told jokes and stories until they were satisfied I could decline a ride to the hospital to see an MD. Signed some papers, which I assume said I am probably ok and certainly an idiot, got a ride back over to Rufus with MasPedos(nice name by the way), again, thanks for all the help and concern. Got the kite back later from Big John(thank you) went back the next day and SUPed across the gap to get the board and Alex's kite.
I hope these details help someone learn from this, although I am not exactly sure what. Dress warm, check your gear, wrap your lines more carefully, don't panic, think about what you are doing and why and when you decide, do it no hesitation. Again, thank you to everyone involved. Sorry I caused so much concern but it ended just fine this time.
Told you, long story longer.
And although I am not a trained professional and this was not a closed course, kids, don't try this at home.

Last edited by knotwindy on Mon Jun 19, 17 12:11 am; edited 1 time in total

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SpaceRacer

Since 04 Nov 2007
407 Posts

Obsessed



PostSun Jun 18, 17 9:52 pm     Reply with quote

Sounds like you handled it the best way possible. Glad you're ok and thanks for posting Thumb's Up

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bigjohn

Since 13 Mar 2012
293 Posts

Obsessed

CGKA Member


PostMon Jun 19, 17 6:45 am     Reply with quote

Knotwindy,

Thanks for posting.

Since thanks were being passed around I think it was mamann who got your kite to me. Sometimes it's kinda fun figuring out nwkite names to real people. Turns out that most of the folks we kick around with online are the same folks we kick around with at the beach...


I think we need a whole new post on recovering from equipment failures.

Regarding your broken chicken loop:

* I know some people who carry an extra D-Ring for just this very situation.

* Could you have somehow re-purposed your safety leash to hold your kite, perhaps wrapping it around your harness hook and then clipping to your center lines?

* Could you have hooked your harness hook between the lines just above the chicken loop mechanism (this could be dangerous as there is no releasing this solution under tension)(my least favorite idea)?

* If you have a below the bar de-power rope could you have looped your de-power line around your harness hook such that you could hold your kite?

****All the above are just ideas. They are not suggestions or proven solutions until somebody has actually tried them and proven them to work. I have not attempted any of the above.****

_________________
mowing the river like Jack Nicklaus was comin to town.

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SpaceRacer

Since 04 Nov 2007
407 Posts

Obsessed



PostMon Jun 19, 17 7:37 am     Reply with quote

I agree that ditching your kite is your last option. At the same time, as I read all of these posts about self rescues, there is an underlying current of "be prepared to swim". If you agree with this then this really indicates to me that even though we all agree that we should never kite alone that there is this sense that you are alone. I am always surprised that no one ever implemented a true buddy system into kiting like they do for diving, backcountry skiing or rock climbing. I have been guilty of kiting alone. That aside, how many times do we all race out onto the water only to lose some or all of our friends along the way? In crowds, isn't there that ever present danger that "someone else is helping the downed kiter"? I have always felt like a buddy system should be implemented into kiting. Like You're standing on the beach with your 3 friends, everyone stands in a circle and looks to their right and that is who they are responsible for. Everyone looks to their left and that is who is responsible for them. I agree with Matt V that you are a swimmer first but if we are kiting safely then you should be a drink buyer first because when the shit hits the fan you should be getting a nice tow in by your buddy and ownig him a drink then swimming for 45 minutes in the mighty Columbia. IMHO I think a thread should be started on this and that this should be implemented into all SOPs for kiting.

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knotwindy

Since 25 Sep 2011
325 Posts

Obsessed



PostMon Jun 19, 17 7:44 am     Reply with quote

Thought about a few options since it happened. First, I don't know that I have ever heard of a chicken loop breaking before so although I try to plan for emergencies and 'what to do if' situations, I've never really thought about this before. My bad. Also my bad is that it happened at all. I was experimenting/prototyping with it and thought I would just try this new idea out. Worked great for a couple of sessions and I liked it so much I just stayed with it for about 25 sessions INSTEAD of pulling it and redoing it fully and properly so totally my fault. If you are going to modify gear and then be lazy, this is what can happen.
Thought about the carabiner idea but no release. Best idea I came up with in the last couple of days is to have a short extra rope easily available to tie onto the spreader bar and tie a quick release knot on the depower lines above the QR. The odds of me having this line is slim however because what are the he odds an original chicken loop will fail. Very small. Also, looking back I thought that I was too focused on flying the kite back. I think I could have just kept both hands mostly on the depower rope above the QR and put the kite at the edge of the window and just let it drag me in even overpowered and with the gusts. Only touching the bar occasionally to keep the kite at the edge of the window and out of tangles in the swell. I will have to try that next time out to see if it is workable.
Overall, I just messed up and got away with it this time. Not something I want to admit but there it is. This won't happen again but I'm sure I'll eventually find another way to screw up. Hope it works out as well with a lot fewer concerns by the other people who might be watching. Sorry I caused so much trouble but if you go out in big conditions often enough, sometimes the rent comes due and you have to pay for your fun. Will it happen to everyone, of course not. I will try to be smarter in the future but I am not 17 years old and hoping to outgrow this, at this point I am fairly sure this is not just a phase I am going through. I suppose I will try and manage the addiction as well as possible for now. Hope others are smarter and are comfortable making other choices.

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ldhr

Since 21 Jul 2009
866 Posts
Hood River
Opinionated



PostMon Jun 19, 17 8:19 am     Reply with quote

thanks for sharing!
Brand new kite and the chicken loop broke?
Any idea what caused the failure?
You mention some sort of experiment/prototype - but you don't explain what it was...... I'm curious now.

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knotwindy

Since 25 Sep 2011
325 Posts

Obsessed



PostMon Jun 19, 17 11:46 am     Reply with quote

The kite was new but not the bar and lines. I shortened the chicken loop quite a bit by cutting and splicing it and changed the material over the rope because of the new bend angle. All to shorten up the distance to the bar to increase the depower throw and change the pivot point without the hook. Worked as designed (until it didn't!) and the break did not happen near the splice or the center of the loop where it was against the bar. It broke off to one side, odd but that is the nature of experimenting. Should have pulled it sooner and examined it more thoroughly although I am not sure I could have seen beneath the sheath anyway. Live and learn?
Hope that makes sense and answers your question.

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ldhr

Since 21 Jul 2009
866 Posts
Hood River
Opinionated



PostMon Jun 19, 17 1:16 pm     Reply with quote

knotwindy wrote:
The kite was new but not the bar and lines. I shortened the chicken loop quite a bit by cutting and splicing it and changed the material over the rope because of the new bend angle. All to shorten up the distance to the bar to increase the depower throw and change the pivot point without the hook. Worked as designed (until it didn't!) and the break did not happen near the splice or the center of the loop where it was against the bar. It broke off to one side, odd but that is the nature of experimenting. Should have pulled it sooner and examined it more thoroughly although I am not sure I could have seen beneath the sheath anyway. Live and learn?
Hope that makes sense and answers your question.


Interesting.
The size of the chicken loop would not effect the amount of depower - just the relative location of the bar away from your body.

Some kites have knots where the back lines attach to the wing tips.
I think maybe you can accomplish the desired result by connecting to the bottom knot - in effect lengthening the back lines and bringing the bar closer to your body when fully depowered.

I have North Kites and bars. The position of the bar and depower lines are adjustable - you can make it closer for short arms or further away for longer arms.

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knotwindy

Since 25 Sep 2011
325 Posts

Obsessed



PostMon Jun 19, 17 4:24 pm     Reply with quote

Yea but we are talking about different things. If the chicken loop is shorter then when the kite is fully powered without changing any of the line attachments the bar will be closer to my body with the same power in the kite, right? Which means when I sheet out I can effectively push the bar farther away from me(farther up the depower line) for more depower(or trim actually) without touching the trim strap or attachments.
It moves the whole set-up closer to the body so you can have a longer throw when your arm is fully extended. As long as you don't overdo it and have to have your elbows against your hips when sheeted in, it is nice in the waves and swell to have that little extra reach to shut the kite off quickly.

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