Kayak incident

Valöträffen 2011 was really nice but this year, I am most happy that everyone came home alive. During the sunday a kayak incident occurred that could have ended very badly. Thanks to a very good initiative and resolute action, particularly from Jonas Forkander, it all ended well.

Johan reaches the man in right time to save him. About 1 km from Valö.

On Valö there was an older gentleman who we didn’t know that well  has been paddling for many years. He decided to paddle home alone on Sunday morning. The conditions were modest winds, estimated at about 8 m/s, and small waves. He had packed his kayak with the cargo on deck. His start was wobbly and it was with concern that we saw him paddle away. No one intervened or tried to stop him from paddling straight away which afterwards had been the best option. Instead, just after a few minutes, Johan Forkander jumped into his kayak and started to paddle after the man. Just when Johan reached the man,  about 1 km from Valö, the old man capsized. He could not evacuate from the kayak, probably due to stress but somehow he managed to got hold of the bow of Johan’s kayak.

Johan is coming back with some of the cargo that was carried on deck. The weight of this bag was about 10 kg.

Shortly afterwards, Johan got assistance from Jörgen and four other paddlers. Everything ended happily, and we helped the man to re-pack his kayak and he had a rest on land before heading home. After re-packing the kayak was much more stable and everything went much better.

Jörgen heading out to assist Johan in the rescue. Later on Anders, Margareta, Mona and AnnMarie helped them as well. Good job!

We discussed afterwards how the situation could have been avoided. It is difficult to take decisions against the free will of man. Not that many of us really knew the man. He wanted to paddle home and obviously he had managed to paddle to Valö in similar conditions. We got us a real eye-opener.  In retrospect, we should have stopped him and re-packed his kayak straight away.

6 thoughts on “Kayak incident”

  1. About the kayakincident at Valö: I was second to the incident after Jonas.

    When Jonas went out the concern was that the old mans rudder appered to have been stuck in upright position. We believed at first that was the reason for the wobbly ride, combined with the huge load ontop (the extent of that was revieled well after the incident and landning!). Johan was soon in the water, with less gear in his kayak and a fast decision from his part. There was a few seconds discussion if it was nessesary to launch more paddlers to help (att that point we didnt know how big the trouble really was). I got a bad feeling about the thing and got help to launch my heavy loaded kayak. Even if the old man was slow he still paddled away from us, and it took us i while to reach him. Johan told me afterwards that the capsize occured when Johan tried to free the stuck rudder. The old man got stuck a while in the kayak and my guess is the he got tangeld in gear that he had tied in ropes, secured in his seat… dangerous! I dont know for sure, but the arrangment looked terrible, with a mess of ropes in the seatcompartment. When I reached Johan and the capsized the kayak was upsidedown and all the toploaded gear was a soaked mess everywhere and was in the way of getting the kayak right again. Impossible to empty the kayak in one move rigtening the kayak, we had to righten and then scoop and pump out water. The old man didnt seem to know how to get in the kayak, I had to order him every move and what to do. Maybe because due to cold and stress, or perhaps he just didnt know. When we had gotten him the kayak the other 4 paddlers arrived and assisted taking care of all his gear and Anders did a god jobb towing him back to Valö.

    Back att Valö it was it turned out that the old mans kayak was nearly empty, with most of his gear ontop. The unprotected backpack was maybe the worst, but the other gear was just poorly wrapt in plasticbags… With every paddlestroke his gear got heavier and heavier and with a kayak othervise more or less empty, the hole thing became a more and more difficult balanceact.

    Afterwards I´ve been thinking about the incident. Thinking, what if the man had capsized earlier and not gotten out? …Or, the worst, we had not gotten concerned and went after him at all? It could have cost a mans live and it wouldnt have been nice to live with that for the rest of our lives.

    In my mind Johan probably saved a mans live that day. No way of really knowing that, but I think so.
    Be carefull./Jörgen

  2. Well done, Johan! You probably saved the man’s life.

    You did exactly what we all should do, when we see a situation developing in a possible dangerous direction: “Gör något!” (do something!)

    Best wishes

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