Waves and Lines 1

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What happened?

By "Wetstuff"

This past Wednesday afternoon I was attempting to squeeze something out of sub-10 knots conditions and a lousy holiday forecast with a 7-2 surfboard and a 16m North Vegas. There were waist-to-shoulder high sets in the ocean and I was sliding over the tops on slight downwind diagonals. There had been flooding rains in our region recently so there were few tourists and no other kiters. A few surfers and the tourists were upwind.

I did not have enough inertia to get over one wave and I got swept off the board. While I got rolled - the kite fell. Before I got totally clear of the lines; one line had a wrap on the middle finger of my right hand while the kite caught the next wave and started a Tug-of-War.

Luckily, I cannot remember it any longer, but there was a creepy sound of the line attempting to remove my finger.

After getting free of the lines, I let the kite wash in. The board was on its way and I had to swim in with one open hand and one fist. I trucked up the beach with my kit and had a couple of surfers help me out of my spring suit in the parking lot. The fist pressure limited the bleeding.

My wife is a nurse at a hospital about 40 minutes away and I drove to her ER. After two hours, 18 stitches done by a PA [physicians assistant] and a Tetanus shot - I got to relax and consider.

Wave finger 1.jpg

Wave finger 2.jpg

What can we learn?

I made a number of critical judgment errors that I would hope you would not repeat.

  • The wind was too light for my 90kgs. If any kite is hesitant to stay at zenith during the lulls - pack up.
  • The wind was too light for being in the ocean. On flat water the only problem would have been the kite relaunch.
  • I did not have leaders on my lines. In the old days there would have been thick leaders which would have been easier to dispense with.
  • I did not appreciate the danger I was in. Had I.. I would have gotten away from the lines a lot faster. [next time, eh?!] The knife in the back of my DaKine harness never moved either...also, not enough time.
  • I was alone. Had this line cut an artery in my leg or upper arm - I may not be typing this. [I am going to ignore this #5 - because I am pretty self-sufficient, but I would not recommend it to other people.]

There is a new kind of ER process for the lightly injured: Clean them up - stitch them up - "Call your doctor in two days." My wife is an insider, so she got me an appointment a day later with the only hand specialist in our area.

He basically said that I had macerated the tissue along with one nerve and an artery ..and came that close to him removing the finger because of the damage. The tendons were perhaps nicked [he was looking at a closed wound] but not cut. There's loss of feeling on one side. The artery on the other side seems to be compensating for the cut artery - at the moment. I do not really care, but he said that further repair of the finger would in fact be more difficult than a hip replacement. The only real stinker is that I cannot get it wet or do anything beyond flexing the tendons for three weeks.