10/14/15 WAVE DAY SAFETY!!!

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10/14/15 WAVE DAY SAFETY!!!

Postby FSP » Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:05 pm

Hate to over dramatize the safety aspects of tomorrow and Sat, but feel this thread is important from this point on to layout safety precautions and actions should anyone get in trouble during the start of much more intense wave/wind days to come. Now that we have exceptionally warm water and its already mid October, we are going to get some really big, concentrated wave days that are much different than your localized early fall blows. If you have any tips or thoughts regarding this topic to add, I am sure myself or anyone else who is in the wrong place at the wrong time will greatly appreciate the help if needed.

The difference now is that, the air temps will cause the wind and wave power to be increasingly more dense hence more powerful. Beyond my expectations, I have twice been pitched halfway up my lines by big waves, while being towed in by a downed kite on such days. Here are some of my thoughts on what we can do to avoid a bad day or actions to take if they are having one. Pls add anything else should you see helpful.

1. Absolutely wear what you feel is the proper amount of flotation for your ability. Fact is, not one of us can out swim the kind of rips that happen on the bottom of the lake. You are only very lucky if you come in on a sandbar right away. Most likely you will spend time getting pummeled, and going back and forth in and out 100-200 yards 30 minutes later. Last guy that died along MC shores was a great swimmer who finally went under 300 yards out according to the CG officer I spoke to that day.

2. If down and on the inside realize that your flotation is not likely to drowned you in big pummeling surf and a better life line than being attached to your kite when there are such waves. Consider letting your kite tow you in so far then, detach to not get cycled into your lines. MC on a westerly/wnw can create a barreling wave on the inside that can move you a great distance quickly. You may get lucky getting towed in by your kite, however dont forget that there is another 50% chance you wont be able to stop getting pitched halfway up.

3. Consider dropping off a surfboard to a downed kiter for him to paddle in on if it is not windy enough to tow you both in. Dont risk 2 people getting sucked down and more chaos when he can body surf in. I would prolly leash up to it myself.

4. No one should wait long or hang out watching if things go down. You never know if someone has been flushed or has been hurt from a distance. Assess the situation quickly and decide what level of action is needed. If hes down and not coming up, a whole lot of bad things are lurking.

5. If a guy is down on the inside, in the break, not coming in and maybe his flotation is not enough, consider paddling a surfboard out to him. If you leash up and duckdive a bit, you too will get out quickly in that same rip, and potentially get to him rather quickly. Sometimes, I am blown away by how fast i get to the outside on my longboard during a good MC surfing day.

4. Remember that simple, quick actions are most likely to save you when things are happening complicated and fast. Rolling up lines. swimming up lines etc.. in late oct/nov wave days should be rethought. In fact, I will not wear a leash if it is like tomorrow myself. If getting rolled underwater and your kite is dragging you at the same time, I do not feel like I would be able to find the back of my harness.

Add to this if you wish, and by no means am I an expert or liable for any actions mentioned.
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Re: 10/14/15 WAVE DAY SAFETY!!!

Postby 4w7s » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:03 am

just wanted to add a few thoughts (these are personal opinions and many people may feel differently and believe in different strategies). These issues also speak to something mentioned above - knowing when to act and what act you choose to perform.

- I would caution anyone to attempt wrapping up lines in an area where the waves are breaking on, or towing, your kite with considerable force. There is a very good chance that you can lose some fingers, get the lines lassoed around a limb, etc. only to have the next wave exert thousands of pounds of tension on the lines. I've seen fingers sheared off this way, and legs cut to the bone through thick neoprene by tensioned lines.

It is much safer to wrap your lines on the bar and prepare for a self rescue well before you get to the surf zone or any other hazardous area. If your kite is down it's probably better to keep some tension in the lines rather than swim toward the kite (I can almost guarantee that you will get hog-tied if you do that). The other situation you want to avoid is getting your lines half-way wrapped up on the bar and then have a wave yank the lines off the bar unevenly - which might result in a kite-looping situation while you have lines wound helter-skelter around your bar (possibly making it impossible to QR/unhook, etc)

-- releasing a kite in any of these situations is a tough call, but there are times when it makes sense. If you have good body floatation you are certainly one step ahead of the problem. If a kite is dragging you underwater, whether because of kite-looping or wave dredging your kite, a very quick decision needs to be made. The possibility of releasing your kite (whether intentionally or accidentally) is another good reason to stay clear of surfers and swimmers.

-- rips: it has been popular advice for years to swim parallel to shore if caught in a rip. More recently there is evidence that this is NOT the thing to do. The chances of swimming in the wrong direction and into another rip is very high and it is rather a better idea to just "go with the flow" and float with the current until it dumps you on the outside. This way you are also saving vital energy that would otherwise be wasted swimming into another rip.

--wetsuit/drysuits - personally I am not a big fan of drysuits in waves for a variety of reasons (they are not great to swim in, if damaged you can take on water, not as much flotation in most cases)...so moving on to wetsuits: At this time of year, and especially with waves and rips, it's wise to over-dress rather than under-dress. If you get caught in a bad situation you could be spending a lot of time struggling in cold water (which actually can happen mid-summer here)- which brings us to the subject of drowning/hypothermia. Most people that die in cold water drown rather than suffer true hypothermia. The victim usually becomes too tired to swim, or the extremities lock up from cold, and then involuntary physiological responses take over (ironically shutting the conscious system down to preserve the vital organs)...Most people who drown in Lake MI are gone in a very short time, typically not enough time to reach critical (low) core temperature that causes actual hypothermia.

If you are cold while having fun riding your board and working your kite you will surely become much colder if you are trying to tread water for very long. If you don't have the proper suit (+ gloves, booties, hood if necessary) in order to keep you warm enough you might want to consider the possible consequences.

ride safe
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Re: 10/14/15 WAVE DAY SAFETY!!!

Postby West » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:23 am

The best post I have ever read on a forum.......

A MUST READ for anyone heading out in over head high waves on Lake Michigan. Please understand the gravity of this thread and do not belittle it's serious nature. Both Scotty G and Roberto have over 10 years experience in kiting the waves on Lake Michigan, and have first-hand knowledge of catastrophic situations.....some ending good, others not!!!!

Make sure you have a FIRM grasp of any advice or recommendations before you post..........thanks for reading!!!!!!!!!! You never know when this information may prove to be beyond valuable to you or your kiting buddies.......everything is accelerated in high winds and waves, you often have only a few seconds, if that, to make a decision that could alter your life-path!!!! Educate yourself and know your equipment, your abilities, and make wise choices...........
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Re: 10/14/15 WAVE DAY SAFETY!!!

Postby snowball » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:25 pm

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Re: 10/14/15 WAVE DAY SAFETY!!!

Postby Rorke » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:09 am

Great posts.

First,
Helmets are nice protection against a loose board. I can't think of any significant disadvantages to helmets.

Second,
When your kite is downed in the surf...
1. Try to swim/bodysurf off to one side or the other of your rig. This way if you do advance on it, you might clear your lines.
2. Try to tension the kite off one line, preferably a back line. If the kite has even tension, it might split in a wave, also it can take you for a pretty long ride that may or may not involve you being able to keep your head above water.

Third,
If it looks too big for your ability. Take the day off. Get some beer. Fire up the camping stove with some chowder. Be a pick up man for a downwinder (or three). Take some photos. Help launch/land. Etc.
When your skills improve, and a newer kiter shows up quickly realizing it's a bit much out there, you can say, "Hey, maybe you should take the day off. Get some beer. Fire up the camping stove with some chowder. Be a pick up man for a downwinder (or three). Take some photos. Help launch/land. Etc." :D
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Re: 10/14/15 WAVE DAY SAFETY!!!

Postby Misfit » Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:10 am

Outstanding post.


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