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My first long swim

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My first long swim

Postby TomW » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:32 pm

Yesterday I was seriously humbled. It was blowing steadily and prognosis was solid wind. Pumped up the 9m and went out first. There was 3-4 guys getting ready to go out too. It was a bright sunny day.
Immediately i noticed wind had died off and after only one run out and in, i decided to go out once and come back in....on the turn back in towards the shore the wind completely died and i dropped the kite in the water. I think i was 500-700m (?) out in the sound. A current running with the wind side on about 10 degrees.

I started swimming with the kite floating, hoping wind would pick up. After 10 minutes i tried sitting on my board, but it would not float me. So i wound up lines on bar, poorly, and reached the kite.
Now I´m swimming with kite under one arm, my board under the other. Water is 3-4C, air is 10c . I have a lot of rubber on and im not cold- so i´m not too worried.
There are 3 kiters out, one drops kite. One looks like it is trying to get out to me.
I´m not making much progress after about 20 min and i notice that ive tangled the lines in my legs- I have 3-4 wraps around one ankle and other is free- I keep swimming. Then i get lines around other leg. Now i´m not paniking, but i´m a bit worried.
I try to get the lines off my ankles- its not going to happen. ( i had actually bought a kite knife 2 weeks ago, but took it off át this session because it was so poorly attached to its pocket i kept falling out. - so no kite knife).
During the attempt to de-tangle the lines from my ankles my board drifts off. OK- bye bye. Concentrate on keeping the kite.

I keep swimming- my legs are still not too tangled- worse case i will drift in, but it will take a long time because wind is light and only slightly side on. I swim and rest , swim and rest...

Now i´m starting to get really tired after 30-40 min- I´m still way out: but kiter with foil gets out to me and by laying on his board and swimming and flying kite ( just barely) he starts dragging me to shore. He inadvertently releases his CL and has to leave to fix it- almost drops his kite too. He recovers it and continues to swim and drag me in.
After total of about an hour we reach the shore. I can barely stand up I´m so tired in my legs.
That kiter has major karma points for probably saving my life or at least a bigger rescue event happening. I thanked him profusely.

I´ve thought a lot about what i could had done better. Should have been more careful rolling up the lines. Need to get that line knife set up on my upper arm ready to go.
I´m probably going to buy one of those rescue radio devices.
I´m an older guy- 58 yrs- but in pretty good shape- i ride my bike and go to the gym in the winter. Got to keep that up even more.
I´m going to stay even closer to shore, even though i am pretty careful about not being too far off- especially in sideshore.

My board drifted off and frankly at that point i was OK losing it forever if it meant i would make it back. Finally back and changed i was pretty sad I may have lost my foil and board. Had to take a look for it, so I borrowed a binoculars and with some tips i headed 5km km up the coast to the last point before the north sea, in my car and worked my way back, looking for the board. Eventually found it only 1km upwind sitting 75m off shore on a sandbank in 1m of water.

Ive been kiting since 2002 and this was first time i had this kind of situation. I´m happy i was not alone and that i worked out in the end.
I think i escaped with a big lesson.

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Re: My first long swim

Postby FLandOBX » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:53 pm

Glad you're safe, TomW. In the big picture, every day is a good day (even when everything goes wrong!).

Your buddy is a prince. Let's all hope someone like him is there when our time comes and we need a helping hand. Also, glad you found your board.

Your next session will be the best ever! You've paid your dues for a while. :thumb:

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Re: My first long swim

Postby hongchew » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:59 pm

A detachable board leash would've kept the board from drifting away, no?

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Re: My first long swim

Postby jumptheshark » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:04 pm

Glad your good.

Around here, spring is by far the sketchiest season to kite. In my first season foiling, I had imagined a million spring and fall sessions. It took another season or so to realize its not quite how I imagined it.

Cold water does weird things to the wind here and normal patterns don't stabilize until the water warm up a bit. It can shut off quick and against forecast. Once did a cold swim with very little on under a baggy dry suit. Never again. That was before foiling and only about 500m out.

Caution new foilers who are super stoked and more likely to put themselves way out there.

Cold water is deadly. REGARDLESS of what your wearing.

Rule of thumb. Can I swim this shit to shore in 30 min max?

Followed by, am I fine on my own and how far back to the car?

I drop light wind foiling for spring. I'll push it in fall, but am cautious in spring. Usually only tempted by surfboard wind when the water gets cold. If things go sideways, you have a decent board to paddle home.

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Re: My first long swim

Postby Foil » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:17 pm

So glad it all worked out ok, sounds like you were very near to being rescued by whoever your local rescue service is, good for you that another kiter came to your rescue, he gets a big cheer from all of us.
My marine knife arrives this week and will be out with me every session, I only ordered it a few days ago due to a line wrap around me and all my foil kit and board.
Twice I had to be rescued whilst at flag beach a few weeks ago, both due to going far too far out with a small kite(I rigged for the lulls)my 6mtr and then a few days later on my 8mtr, the wind died so much my kites dropped out of the sky and then would not relaunch when a tiny breeze came through, but lesson learned and I now rig for the Lulls not the gusts.
But we all learn something when sharing these experiences, I did look at the rescue type of radio as well, if they did a very small device with the same distress call button then I would be more interested.
Last edited by Foil on Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: My first long swim

Postby edt » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:34 pm

Did you climb on top of your kite? It's the best position to try to untangle your lines from your feet because you have flotation and can spend all your energy getting loose. Sucks when your feet get tangled in the lines. Best thing you did was not to panic. Glad it worked out.

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Re: My first long swim

Postby Peter_Frank » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:07 pm

Good to hear you are ok Tom :thumb:

Yes, you should have been more careful winding your lines up, definitely.
Sit relaxed on your board (and practice this as you had difficulties doing it you wrote - but is easy) winding the lines up FULLY, while you think about the situation and what to do.

I have heard, that letting your board go, and resting on the inside of your kite with your upper body free just over the LE so you can swim with both arms, and got good flotation, is key to "survival", but havent needed it myself yet.
Oh, while writing, I can see edt has written the same.

We have had many really long swims around here too, also a couple of medium ones in the last few months where water is even colder 1-2 degrees (same water as yours just on the other side of Kattegat)

I also avoid riding far out when the water is like that, as anything can happen - but sometimes we still get "Caught" in something, like last week out in a perfect steady quite onshore breeze maybe 9-10 knots so lots of wind for 10 m2 and bigger kites.
Suddenly the wind backed off in a split second, my kite fell from the sky during a jibe, coming with normal speed in, losing power in the carve, and after that the kite simply backed down even when I pulled ONLY the frontlines (where you can fly a kite in 1-3 knots of wind).

I was close to shore maybe less than 100 m, but it took a looong time to get ashore as the wind was gone down to ZERO !

If there had been any wind at all left, a few knots or more, I would sit on my (extremely small but does not matter, it works have done it often) board, and point the board/mast towards shore, while pulling the inside rearline so the kite also turns towards shore (if not dead onshore marginal wind).

So close to shore I kept my bar in the loop (or the safety leash in suicide), put one arm around my board and swam with the other arm - sometimes turning around to use the other arm.
Takes foreeeever, especially because when no wind at all, your kite will drag after you, instead of in front of you like normally if a tad of wind, and be an anchor especially if strutless so you get almost nowhere.

I should of course just have turned my hook around on my back and paddled with both arms, me belly down on my small board - works awesome, but I was so close to shore.

Two other guys with foil kites got caught too, one got almost ashore and could reach the bottom before the kite dropped - the other had to pack his foilkite down, and swim for several hundred meters ashore with his kite on his board - used to it often but still quite cold water.
No issues here though.

Had an awesome day/session that ended suddenly with 3 swims and walking for the other guys, with really good "perfect" wind earlier, so it did not matter for us it ended like that :naughty:

The fastest way to get ashore, is to ditch the kite and swim on your board IMO, even if it is a thin small "plank" board - it still gives you flotation and you will swim faster :D
But you have to be sure you can get ashore, as now you have no "blimp" and can not be spotted easily nomore, so risky to ditch your major flotation device.
Can be used in a bit more closed bays when wind drops to zero, and you can retrieve your kite later somehow - easier when you are ashore and out of the cold water :rollgrin:

Some bring their mobile phone in an Aquapack thing inside the suit, so they can call for help if needed, as when out alone or if noone have spotted you, it is possible to call for help, or use it when ashore.
Has been used several times, also when one got ashore FAR far away when the wind died, and he could call when on land, for a pickup to get home to the launch spot.

But 7-800 meters is very far in cold water Tom, indeed.
If a bit warmer, you can sit on your board let the kite pull you slowly, and enjoy the other riders flying around you if some out with bigger kites, and maybe even wait for the wind to pick up again, or a gust, so you might get lucky and can relaunch.

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Re: My first long swim

Postby matth » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:15 pm

Glad to hear you are okay. I good knife is a must, having two, even better...EEZYCUTS are a great choice.

Talking to a friend who recently had a long swim in side off conditions I had a crazy idea. I said in offshore winds why not wear a backpack with some flippers you could use to get back much faster and with less effort? :roll:

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Re: My first long swim

Postby windrider1 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:42 pm

A sobering lesson but a good wake up call I had a bad experience and had to be picked up by a boat after having to release kite and losing board some distance out in some cold water .i always wear a lifevest but decided to check my safety gear the next day and unbelievable my kite knife was missing from my harness and the safety whistle I had on a carabiner attached to my lifevest was rusted shut and could not be detached so basically my 2 pieces of safety gear were useless . A lot of people go far out and don’t think wht if something broke right at that moment can i swim in ?. Is all my safety gear in working condition ?somehow 90% of the time the wind and sea gods take care of us but 10% is still bad odds.

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Re: My first long swim

Postby Laughingman » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:20 pm

matth wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:15 pm
Glad to hear you are okay. I good knife is a must, having two, even better...EEZYCUTS are a great choice.

Talking to a friend who recently had a long swim in side off conditions I had a crazy idea. I said in offshore winds why not wear a backpack with some flippers you could use to get back much faster and with less effort? :roll:
There was a thread where this was discussed long ago. Someone here has experience with it and had recommendations on which fins to use as they were small and light weight.

I had the similar situation but I was in LaVentana so water was not so cold and I wrapped my lines so well that if the wind was to pick up I could easily have drift launched. Its important to make the call to self rescue when you have the energy to take the time to wrap the lines carefully. I typically just swim up a center line taking care to move around the to the outside of the lines and then wrap them once I have put my leash on the kite. If you haven't deep water self rescued lately... maybe practice on a no wind day just to remind yourself how hard it can be...
I also pulled my board over my leading edge of the kite with the mast vertical in the water. This seemed like the best way to keep it with me without having to always hang onto it... no matter what its not gonna be fun. glad you made it in.

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