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Some first hand advice

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Some first hand advice

Postby kiteguy98 » Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:30 pm

This is very unfortunate, and my sympathy goes out to his family and his friends. I did not know him but I am saddened as the incident hits home for me. I would like to share a few thoughts on winter kiting with you.

My name is Mike Alpert, and if you don't know the story already, it was 3 years ago that I was lost at sea under similar circumstances. Kiting at the last few hours of the day in Dec. with a Nor'Easter due in the evening. Long story short, it was a broken line that dissabled the kite and my ability to get back to shore, strong currents thwarted any attempt to drag in behind my buddies. With dusk quickly approaching, I told them to get back to shore and call for a coast guard rescue. Well, with it now being completely dark, no moon, 50 kt winds, it was not expected to be found, especially when you're dressed like a ninja. I spent 6 1/2 hours in the ocean before I made it back to shore myself, and another 5 hours walking along desolate shoreline before reaching a phone.

So, as a survivor of similar circumstances, I offer this advice:

1. In the winter, stick to the harbor if you can.

2. THE COAST GUARD WILL EXHAUST ALL RESOURCES AND ENERGY TO FIND YOU, but for god's sake do something to make it easier for them. Put reflective tape on your suit., you can go down their and they will give you reflective tape for your suit. A blinking light, a mini lipstick size flair, MOB watch, something is better than nothing. AT ONE POINT THE HELLICOPTER FLEW RIGHT OVER ME AND I THOUGHT I WAS FOUND, IN FACT, I WAS RIGHT IN THEIR LIGHT, BUT THEY DIDN'T SEE ME.

3. Ditch the kite and swim in, If your too far from shore to swim in, do your best to hang on to the kite. Asside from floatation advantages, it's big and easier to see. I let go of mine, and my board, and sure enough, those things they found, me they didn't.

4. Finally, and this is my own personal feeling, having worn both, I believe that a 5mil wetsuit will keep you alive longer than a drysuit. The wetsuit uses the elements in your favor, the drysuit just fights it off. You can urinate in your wetsuit and that will help you stay warm, the drysuit does not offer this advantage. Like I said, my opinion from personal experience.

After every unfortunate incident and kitemare, there are the shoulda, coulda, woulda, statements, the tips and advice that may have prevented the unfortunate incident, but the undeniable fact is that all these situations have a common difference, the person. We all handle things differently when faced with such a situation and what could be our demise. So with that, I offer this (again, from personal experience):

***We as humans don't know a %^ing thing about the future, anthing is possible regardless of how convinced we are otherwise, which means take everything you know and are absolutely sure about, and accept the fact that you can be completely 100% wrong.

***Give yourself credit for being stronger than you think you are

***Don't give in, live as long as you can despite what you think the outcome will be.

I was certain I was going to die out there, 100%. and I was ready to close my eyes and sleep and have it be a peaceful ending. But then I thought, this is all I got and if this is the end of my life then I'm going to see it through to the end and not deny myself any of the precious few minutes that I have left. That meant being concious for the end. Yet with everything I "knew" here I am.

I don't wish this experience on anyone, but if if anyone does find themselves in such a predicament, I hope reading this helps in some way.


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Postby murdoc » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:35 pm

glad to hear you made it, too. i had an experience like that in sub zero conditions a couple of years back.
kite dropped, would not relaunch (it was a foil and the bridle tangled), i was approx 400m from shore, wind and current slightly offshore.
i made it back by ditching the kite (never got it back) and using my board (luckily, this happed to me in a time where a 5'9 directional was considered a small board). i survived 50mins in 2°C water.

the rules i learned from that incident are:
-in temperatures that won't let you survive for several hours, only go out in shallow waters (ESPECIALLY if you wear a drysuit) so you can walk back if something breaks.
-only go out if the wind and current get you somewhere dry soon if you drop your kite and can't relaunch (if a line breaks or something) ... onshore or side on . . .
-discipline. if the winddirection/weather/tide changes against your favour, get back to shore directly.
-stick to the shore.
-have someone who'll keep an eye out for you - wether a fellow kiter/windsurfer or someone on the beach with a mobile who'll be able to get help fast if needed.

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Postby kite_n_rnd » Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:10 pm

kiteguy98 and murdoc,

Thanks for sharing your stories with us. I'm
glad you both made it back to tell us about it.

Good sailing!!

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