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Thread: open canoe fatality on the salt

  1. #1
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    Default open canoe fatality on the salt

    Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
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    Canoeist dies in firth incident

    The man had been canoeing close to Portmahomack

    A 20-year-old canoeist has drowned in the Dornoch Firth, the emergency services have confirmed.
    Police said Bobby Stewart and a 34-year-old friend, both from Aberdeen, were canoeing off the beach at Portnahomack, Easter Ross.
    Mr Stewart got in difficulty just after 2300 BST on Monday and a rescue operation was launched.
    He was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness but was pronounced dead on arrival.
    Upturned canoe
    The incident at Portmahomack involved coastguard, police and the Rescue 137 helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth.
    Mr Stewart and his friend had taken to the water in a Canadian-style canoe, but police said they got into difficulty.
    The other man managed to swim back to shore and raised the alarm.
    The local harbour master spotted Mr Stewart near an upturned canoe in the water about 500m from shore.
    Attempts were made to revive him at the scene before he was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital.
    Mr Stewart is the latest drowning tragedy in Scotland this year.
    Sean Chatham, 18, from North Lanarkshire, died after a swimming accident at Morton Castle Loch in Dumfries on Sunday. On the same day, fishermen Michael McCreadie and Gerald Dalglish, both 44 from Barrhead, Glasgow, died after getting into difficulty in the sea off the Isle of Whithorn.



    Just picked up the above from a sea kayak forum. Food for thought.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

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    A sobering thought.
    Leone_blanco

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    Indeed.

    Do we know anything else about the accident. 11pm seems late to be going for a paddle but it might have been to suit tides I suppose. Also no mention of PFDs but it is also only at the end it mentions that he drowned.

    I do not want to seem as morbidly curious, I just want to know if what lessons can be learnt if any.

    My thoughts also go out to the family and friends of Mr Stewart

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    Portmahomack is over the Firth from me I can see it from the top of the Lane.

    This is from the Press and Journal

    >> http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk...=sidebarsearch

    MickT
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

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    Sad waste of life. A timely reminder that booze and water don't mix.

    Bushcraft Survival and First Aid Training.

  6. #6

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    People often under-estimate the power of the sea.

    Be careful all - and respect the sea - it is by far the more powerful.

    H - x

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    Police sources said the pair had been drinking and took the Canadian-style canoe from the beach before going out to sea.

    It was understood the men were spotted rocking the canoe from side to side before the tragedy happened.

    The sea can be dangerous at any time but at night time...
    It is strangely ironic that this weekend I was canoeing in the ocean as well with five girls from a youth group I am involved with. We did capsize drills, water confidence, and other general boat rocking rowdiness for a few hours. We even flipped the canoe completely over and went into the airspace underneath to show how to stay with the canoe in waves. We even had two real capsizes (the same girl). I got some nasty sunburn but we didn't have a single fatality? But then; none of us were tanked up on wobbly pop, and we all had PFD's.

    The last guy that died in my area was fishing illegally in the town water supply at 3AM. Drunk and trying to line and wade the aluminum boat back to the truck one guy fell into the water and his buddy didnít notice he was missing. The RCMP found his corpse the next day. Lucky too, I hate that dead fishermen taste you get in the water if they donít turn up for a while.

    Call me an insensitive jerk but I think this Dornoch Firth story is worthy of a Darwin Award nomination. There are some things you just don't do in a canoe and this story has most of them included; another bad statistic and bad reputation builder for the world of canoeing from drunken people that do not really represent the pastime or its participants at all. It happens over here once or twice a year too.

    I guess I am a bit of an insensitive jerk, probably from working part time in the funeral business?
    Lloyd

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...


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    I tend to agree actually. In my time with the RNLI I have attended too many fatality situations wher booze or dope was a major contributing factor, second only to ignorance/arrogance.

    The classic was a case of a boozed up bozo deciding to stand up in a canoe [the old rob-roy type] to take a leak. Not only was that not wise he did it in a 3' swell whilst wearing an army greatcoat. According to winesses he went over the side and straight down. When we arrived we could clearly see him about 3 metres down, and kedged him up with the boat hook.

    Although I do have feelings for the bereaved, I'm afraid that when sheer stupidity, ignorance or arrogance causes the death of those involved, all I can do is shake my head and file it away for reference.

    It's 25 years since the Penlee lifeboat disaster. I watched the documentary last night and remembered how traumatised the whole service was after it happened, so it's not really surprising that I have little sympathy for drunken idiots this morning.
    Obscured by Clouds

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    Indeed.

    Do we know anything else about the accident. 11pm seems late to be going for a paddle but it might have been to suit tides I suppose. Also no mention of PFDs but it is also only at the end it mentions that he drowned.
    I'm sure the time had little to do with this. I have just paddled over night on the Forth estuary (almost the sea!), covering 25km in the dark, or semi dark as it was towards the end.
    I chose the weather and tide, wasn't drunk and didn't stray more than 3km (!) from the shore. I don't think this was irresponsible, even though I was solo and out for 2 days/nights.

    Circumstances and experience and preparation are what counts. Even if I'd come a cropper (say on old fishing net etc) then it would still have ben reasonable for me to be there. By the sound of the press reports, which could be very inaccurate, those involved lacked 2 of the above, and the circumstances proved fatal.

    Mind you, it is worth bearing in mind that none of us were experienced at some stage, and we all had to push the boat out in the early years. And, also, remember that even the most experienced paddler or climber etc can get unlucky or make a mistake. In fact, those with lots of experience and ability are more likely to find themselves in challenging situations. I know I have been very lucky to survive so far with my climbing, with a lot of near misses early on.


    I have also just read Bothyman's link: it appears that the canoe was in effect stolen from the beach?? I will refrain from making any comment.

    Paddle safe, but push your boundaries now and again.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

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    I agree that most of us have pushed ourselves sometimes a little beyond our experience level and have been lucky. There is a big difference between planning a trip to reduce risks to a manageable level and reckless stupidity. I live on the coast near the solent. I have had to help idiots taking to the sea using a AA road map to nav.

    Bushcraft Survival and First Aid Training.

  11. #11

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    TenBoats...exactly!

    I remember an interview with Ken Bradshaw who surfed an 80' wave at Jaws on Maui. It was put to him that he was an irresponsible risk taker, given that if he messed up the wave he would probably die. Calmly he told the interviwer that, No he was'nt a risk taker, but a risk manager. He weighed up what he had to do, what the consequences would be if he cocked up and prepared accordingly, based on his knowledge and experience first, fitness second and equipment third and backup [the jetski] last. the emergency services were not considered as their role would only be the recovery of his body if everything else failed.

    As a philosophy I found I could'nt argue against it in any way.

    On any large body of water [any water actually] you have to be able to actuate a self -help process [especially soloing], and have opt outs for each stage firmly lodged in your noggin.

    The best advice I ever got from my Dad [RNLI coxwain] was to remember that fatal accidents are invariably the accumulation of little things. The knack is to spot these little problems early and always have a fall back.

    As he used to say: 'When you're at sea, you cannot park up and walk home when things go wrong'
    Obscured by Clouds

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    Wink Stats. on Drowning

    The RLSS say from their records that most people who drown are male and aged between 17 and 21 and have been drinking. This takes place in the warmest months of the year. None swimmers seem to drown less than swimmers. A common none water based activity that results in drowning is cycling however a drowning person was once save by a bystander throwing them a childs bike with large tires as a bouyant aid to help them stay afloat. So watch out on these bikes!

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    Sobering indeed.

    This happened Sunday (last weekend). The sea was calm, with a bit of an offshore wind - the day was warm and sunny.

    A french lad drowned off Paignton Sands, which is about the safest beach I know of. There are no alarming tides (ok, there can be, but there wouldn't have been more than a mumur on Sunday), it's clean with a decent firm sandy bottom, and slopes away into deeper water very very slowly and gently, indeed there is absolutely nothing about this beach that would have suggested that this lad was going to drown there. There were loads of people on the beach over the weekend too, so help would have been pretty swift in getting there.

    This is the next beach along to my local beach, and where I launch for my trips out into the 'bay.


  14. #14

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    Like other I don't have too much sympathy if the canoe was stolen, although we don't know that for certain. On the other hand they were drunk and may well have 'borrowed' the boat from the beach for a laugh rather than having any intention of stealing it. Most of us have probably at some time in the past done things when under the influence, which with hindsight we wouldn't have done.

    What concerns me is whether the owners of the boat could be considered liable, for having left the boat beside the water as a temptation rather than leaving it securely locked up. I hope not. If we have to leave our boat unattended near the water we always remove or hide the paddles as a deterent to opportunist thieves, but I'm not sure that would stop a couple of drunks.

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