Monday, June 27, 2011

real world rescue

This is an excerpt from Kayak World Traveler who is currently on a solo trip from Tallahassee FL around the Gulf & Caribbean. He was rescued by the Coast Guard in May after a capsize and equipment failure in rough conditions. It's useful to see how equipment can be a hazard as well as a help. Also, this story amply illustrates the utility of the VHF radio.

You can read more about his adventures here

"Now Sunday.........shouldn't have left the island. Winds were too strong,seas too rough.Needed to go 5 miles southwest to a small swampy island that was not visible.(Possibly gone during last hurricane,not sure on that) Forecast had high winds until at least Tuesday so when it calmed a bit I went for it at about 1 PM.

Hit some crazy waves & winds. Kayak handled very well. Only real worry I had was my left arm was a bit sore & I was a bit tired overall from the intense exercise I had been getting. GPS was all over the place.Pointing in wrong direction then correcting. The one I have is so hard to see I couldn't put it in something waterproof & had it on deck. 3 miles from the island (9 from land) I hit some intense Atlantic ocean storm kind of waves. Big & goin' in all directions. Had to fully concentrated on them so looking at the GPS was difficult.

1 mile from the swamp island & I still could see no land! If it doesn't exist I got another 3 miles from here to the next one.

What happen next is hard to explain. I'm not really sure what happened. As rough & windy as it was,was nothing like what I hit next. The waves suddenly tripled in size (I'd say 10-12 ft) & the wind quadrupled. Maybe a waterspout or an isolated squall???? don't know. All I do know is it literally lifted me clean out of the water & back down upside down in about 2 seconds. I must of known it was coming because I had just put my GPS in my water-backpack moments before.

I didn't panic. I released my spray skirt,held on to the kayak & paddle and exited.Had paddle leash on so wouldn't have lost that anyway. GPS now no good as it is only water resistant.

Attached paddle float for reentry but kayak would not turn upright. (I realized later that the big bag on deck was more of a problem then I thought.It filled with water which was why I couldn't get upright.)

Bilge pump useless due to more water coming in then going out.

I had 1 option left. My VHF "emergency" radio was in my backpack right behind my head.I purposely had the antenna sticking out so I could reach it easily. This was in a waterproof bag.Luckily for me it was one of the only waterproof bags that actually kept water out!

Wave hit me so hard it I dropped it & it got about 15 feet away before I was able to swim it down. I knew I'd be screwed without it.

Made it back to the kayak.Problem now was the only was to use it was to take it out of the bag!!!

I braced the paddle between my legs,climbed up on the side of the kayak with arms wrapped thru decking rope and hesitantly opened the bag.

The second "Mayday" got a response from Coast Guard station out of New Orleans. (Told you I should have left May 1st) With no GPS I could only give my general location (but pretty darn close to exact). Seems LA,MS & AL ALL have a Cat Island!

Did most of my conversations with a fisherman who could here me clearly. I could here the Coast Guard clearly but they couldn't here me well at all so we "relayed" info.
Coast Guard was rescuing 12 people in a sinking boat so I had to wait a bit. They sent a helicopter out of New Orleans as well.Was getting a bit cold by the time the helicopter showed up. Flew directly over me but did not see me!

As I called out on the VHF that they went RIGHT over me & to turn around the coast guard boat was approaching,heard this & knew right were to go. 3 boats & the helicopter converged on me at the same time.

Had it not been for the VHF I probably would not have made it.It is suppose to get down in to the 40's tomorrow night if I would have lasted that long.

I'm sure I would have cut everything off the deck eventually as I had a handy knife in my PDF.At that point I should have been able to reenter.

Coast Guard is number 1! Everyone one I met at the Gulfport MS station were as nice,helpful and friendly as the ones who rescued me.They are going to get a whole chapter for sure & some autographed copies of my book."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sea Trials

This is a pretty cool video (if you can take the soundtrack) of an Interceptor 55 undergoing sea trials in some pretty good "conditions." I particularly like it around the two minute mark when she runs with the waves.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Most Important Stroke In Sea Kayaking "The Forward Stroke."

Here's a link to the very informative guide to the forward stroke, writen by Nigel Dennis, The Most Important Stroke In Sea Kayaking "The Forward Stroke." for Lendal Paddles.

Nigel was the first to circumnavigate Scotland, Wales & England in 1980, and is the founder of Nigel Dennis Kayaks and Sea Kayaking UK and the man behind some of MIKco's favorite boats.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Japanese Sendai Tsunami 2011

The recent Japanese Sendai earthquake was massive at 9.0 which means it is approximately 10 times as strong as an 8.0. Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare, the Sendai being one of the strongest recorded. This tsunami apparently had some extremely tall wave heights; I’ve read some reports of 112’, a local event due to the ocean’s bottom topography. Though I’ve not been able to determine the ‘thickness’ of the wave, I have read reports that it was moving around 600 mph which would be a period of 200 seconds. So it would have been a very thick wave, probably greater than 1 kilomater! I offer the following small collection of videos for your education; the power of the tsunami over the ground is largely due to the crest’s thickness.

Wave's Height Over Houses Seen From Ground Level

Wave Flowing Through Housing

Flowing Far Inland

Before and After Photos

Tom Bergh MIKCo Ocean School Peaks Island, ME

Sunday, July 18, 2010

RWS 2010 Thank you!

2010 NE Intermediate Rough Water Symposium July 1st , 2010

We had a great group of paddlers join us this year - excited, interested, friendly and fun. Overall the skill level was higher, and the commitment to try new things made it more fun for the coaches. The coach/paddler ratios were solid and the smaller numbers allowed us to adjust each days’ most appropriate venues and courses in our morning meetings. We saw the advantage of Camp Fuller with all coaches and paddlers living together in a peaceful place, re-living each day over great meals on beautiful evenings while watching pictures from the day….and Saturday nite - what a lightning storm!

So the RWS photos team has pics available for you all:

See Carl Tjerandsen’s site:

and Ron Gautreau’s site:

Note that you can choose the size of the image to view.

I’d suggest you keep your eye on Lendal NA in the future as it returns to the front of the wave with new materials, fresh designs and state-of-the-art construction methods. Nigel Dennis has brought Lendal back to the UK and its tradition of powerful, expedition paddling. His crew is re-vamping the old website over the next month or so. The link will remain I am confident in saying that “Lendal Will Be Back” as one of the leading paddle manufacturers by this Fall.

So here’s the list of our great team that offered their time for our paddlers development in 2010.

Fishers Race Team
Rick Stoehrer, Greg Paquin, Paula Riegel, Nick Schade, Carl Tjerandsen, Ciro de la Vega

Coaches and Guides
Jen Kleck, Peter Casson, Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson, Fiona Whitehead, Phil Eccles, Peter Jones, Phil Clegg, Simon Osborne, Harry Whelan, Jeff Brent, Jim Rasmus, Jon Tobiassen, and the Fishers Race Team

Photo Team
Carl Tjerandsen, Ron Gautreau, Nick Schade

Bill Hinderer, the One and Only

RWS 2010 Presenters
Nigel Dennis on his purchase of Lendal Paddles and slides on Expeditioning
Pete Jones and Phil Clegg on East Greenland
Simon Osborne and Phil Clegg on Madagascar
Jake Stachouak and Glenn Charles on their East Coast of US expeditions.
Jake is exiting the Erie Canal and heading across the Great Lakes.
Glenn Charles paddled off Peaks Island two days ago on his way Northeast.

Maine Island Kayak Co
Nigel Dennis Kayaks
Lendal NA

Finally, please know that the coveted Annual Denzo Tape Award is currently held by Harry Whelan of London UK… but that’s a story on its own.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Irena McEntee lost off Peaks

Paddlers and Friends
Monday, May 17, 2010

This morning we awoke to the sad story of lost kayakers off of Peaks. Irena McEntee was a fierce, sweet, strong young lady, and am sure her friend must have been the same. Its hard to get my head around this loss as I knew her personally, and loved to see those flashing bright eyes.

Meanwhile I began receiving phone calls while out on Jewell studying in the punch bowl tide pool - about these girls supposedly being on my trip with St Joseph’s college. As most of you know, MIKCo doesn’t rent kayaks, we take out paddlers only with our guides and instructors. In fact yesterday we moved our group out to Jewell by power boat because of the wind and the group’s abilities. So some uninformed reporter gets ahold of a story, and without calling ANY OF US to verify, published last night his form of journalism concerning these girls paddling with my college group to Jewell – which was patently untrue.

So this morning we had our St Joseph’s college paddlers call their parents, several of whom were extremely agitated because of the Portland Press Heralds form of journalism. Our students our fine, their parents are now relieved, meanwhile the McEntee’s move into their horrible loss.

We choose to participate in a risky sport, yes. But its too bad that professional journalists don’t verify facts before harming others unrelated to this tragedy. Facts are often hard enough.

Tom Bergh
Maine Island Kayak Co
Peaks Island, ME 04108

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What do the following coaches and paddlers all have in common?

Nigel Dennis, Jen Kleck, Fiona Whitehead, Phil Eccles, Phil Clegg, Simon Osborne, Billy Stark, Peter Casson, Cheri & Turner, Harry Whelan, Greg Paquin, Rick Stoehrer, Paula Riegel, Ciro de la Vega, Carl Tjerandsen, Nick Schade, and Tom Bergh?

We are all meeting at the NE Intermediate Rough Water Symposium in Pt Judith, RI on Thurs, June 10th for 3 days of on-water workshops & instruction in tidal streams, rock gardens and surfing with a bit of new BCU 4 and 5 Star. See NE Intermediate Rough Water Symposium 2010

So come get a paddle wet with us. Three days of intermediate, bumpy & lumpy water coaching, catered meals together in the dining hall, tenting and cabins next to group showers, quiet walks along relaxing fields, evening gatherings around a beach fire on the warm shores of Camp Fuller in RI, awards ceremony and product drawings, paddling shows. Come learn with these pros, help build our paddling community, Share Tall Tales.

We are seeking to help put friendly, supportive, encouraging, positive into our paddling community, which is why we ask for a 3 day commitment from you all. This is not some foolish, cowboy, testosterone-poisoned event for the Big Dogs, they should go follow these coaches through Penryn Mahr on Springs. Instead the RWS is for the committed paddler, looking to get better with a solid group of first rate coaches and guides.

Until then…
Tom & June Bergh, Maine Island Kayak Co, Nigel Dennis Kayaks, and the Fishers Race Team, 207-766-2373 office.