VIDEO: Close to Dead

10:13 p.m. on March 10, 2012 (EST)
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I had an overnight that turned deadly.  I am very lucky to be alive..... and a lot smarter.

10:47 p.m. on March 10, 2012 (EST)
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WOW! Arson! I am so glad that you are OK. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us that things can happen even when you are as prepared as you tend to always be. I know this video must have been difficult to do. So RAW. Again, thank you for this. And though I know this won't help, don't let this make you think you are not a good guy with only good intentions.  I know some of your plans would be different ....I know mine will as a result of you having shared this.

11:04 p.m. on March 10, 2012 (EST)
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Arson, as I was watching this my stomach was knotting up... Thank goodness things ended up the way they did. 

First and foremost I am extremely glad that you and your friend are ok. So many things went through my head as I was watching, and listening.

Risk assessment is something that is very often over-looked by people. I am somewhat like you. I am always looking at the potential for different adverse scenarios when I plan for my trips. Especially solo in the winter. 

Your suggestion for a plan B, C, D, etc is spot on. 

This brought back a scenario that I was in back in 1995 that almost killed me and it was due to a lack of preparation although at times I feel deep down that it was due to a lack of common sense. I suppose that is why I am so much of a stickler when it comes to trip planning and preparation today.

It took me a quite awhile to get over that incident.  

Man this brought back so much. I'm kinda at a loss for words here.

All I can say is thank god you guys are ok.  

Thanks for sharing-Rick

1:23 a.m. on March 11, 2012 (EST)
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Arson.

My chest hurts for what you went through and the responsibility you feel for taking your friend with you. I am so, so glad you are both ok, and thank God that it did not go any worse. 

Thank you for sharing this. That you are willing and able to reveals a deep and commendable character. 

Peace and blessings to you, your friend, and your families. 

4:10 a.m. on March 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I don’t do motor and water sports because the tolerance for error is quite unforgiving.   The thrill seeker in me is likely to push the boundaries, making a bad situation too probable.  That said your situation could have been avoided, but that is part of the realization process you are going through now.  Something tells me you will not let this happen again.

Hypothermia…  It is a game changer.  You do not mention how long you were in the water, but I was impressed both of you were able to stand up and fend for yourselves after such an emersion.  Were you still shivering or past that point?  I could totally identify with it taking ten minutes to unwrap a power bar.  All of this to raise a point:  Any contingency plan that addresses situations involving severe exposure or hypothermia should consider you have almost no dexterity or strength in your fingers.  Dexterity is about as deft as a hand full of thumbs, and one’s grip strength about as effective as pinching the second knuckles of your left hand pinky and ring fingers together.

It was fortunate you did not stop moving around, lacking any external heat source.  You core temperature could have dropped further, and plunge you into cold induced apathy.  Once that happens, you get stupid, and no longer fend for your life.  Remaining physically active is a significant reason you survived, your continued activity generated enough body heat to remain above that threshold.

As you Monday quarterback your actions several learning opportunities arise.  Obviously the big one is questioning the wisdom of open kayaking frigid waters.  Even if the water was calm, no one can guarantee it would remain so.  ‘Nuff said.  You also ponder what more could be done regarding preparation for an emersion episode.  A survival kit that is carried on your person is a good idea.  There are several threads on this forum addressing kit contents.  Just make sure all devices can be operated by weak thumbs, because as previously mentioned, that is what your fingers will feel like.  I would also be temped to include a change of warm clothes in a water tight container that will not go down with the boat or drift away in a current. 

I think it would have been a bad move to carry out any plan that separated the two of you, and especially a bad plan to go back out on the water, given what happened to put you in this mess in the first place.  If I had the means to start a fire, it would be very difficult for me to decide if a five hour evacuation was wiser than staying put and getting a fire going.  I can imagine you were very exhausted at the end of the ordeal, and surprised you had the energy to drive home.  One thing for sure; the wind would be bad no matter which option was chosen.  EPRBs and other safety devices may have been of use, but if this were a late afternoon event, it could well be dark before SAR could mount a rescue, then you would end up waiting on them until the next day.  But since you lacked any such illusion that safety was only a call away, you were forced to actively address maters, so perhaps lacking these devices was a good thing after all.

Lastly don’t feel bad, feel lucky.  You manned up and realized the folly of your actions, and sound as if you intend to school up to minimize exposure to uncalculated risk in the future. Indiana may not the wooly north; nevertheless it gets plenty cold enough to kill under these circumstances.  Water sports in those conditions qualify as hard core IMO.  I know how this can shake you up; you may suffer a bout of depression.  Don’t be too hard on yourself; otherwise that depression can last some time.  Convince yourself you were naive, not stupid.  Live and learn.  Time to become an expert at your pastime.  Then paddle on.

Ed

6:30 a.m. on March 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for your honesty and a detailed accident report. I too have had a few close calls over the years but nothing anywhere near that close, and I don't like to talk about them. Maybe it's time for a close calls thread to air some of that laundry.

When I first started using a single kayak I started to think of kayaking as more of an in-water than on-water sport, meaning you go out assuming that you will get wet and prepare accordingly -- on most trips I work in some bracing, rolling, or rescue practice somewhere along the way and so get thoroughly soaked as a matter of routine. This means that for water temps under something like 60˚F I would wear a dry suit. I don't have one of those (I have a nice dry top -- useless for immersion, and I usually end up pretty wet after a few rolls), so I just don't go out in cold water anymore, and pretty much apply the same rule in our super stable double kayak and canoe. I've stretched that rule and the cutoff temperature for wearing my farmer john wet suit in various ways over the years, the toughest call being very warm spring days when the water is still cold. But 40˚ -- no way.

Your report is a potent reminder of how quickly things can go bad in cold water. I guess that after your accident you can appreciate all this as well or better than I can, but I think it's worth saying for anyone else who might be listening. When messing about in small boats, you have to always be prepared for total immersion, and in really cold water that means wearing a dry suit.

10:46 p.m. on March 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Well you made the correct choice. If you cannot effect a fire you should keep moving to keep your blood circulating. I was roofing when the wind hit hard last week. We had to quit when open bundles of shingles were blowing off the roof. I am happy things turned good for you guys.

11:03 a.m. on March 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks everyone for their positive comments. I've already started to research a new PFD that has lots of pockets, Spot messengers, VHF, and other survival products. I guess in my head I'm not quite done with the outdoors yet. Thanks again.

11:28 a.m. on March 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Wow, Arson. I'm sorry this happened, but so glad you and your friend survived.

As others have said above, it takes a strong character to share our most vulnerable moments, learn from them, and offer them up for others to learn from too. Thank you for sharing this very personal and humbling experience with us.

Having read and watched your posts and reviews here, I believe you're someone who plans and evaluates the details, and will make good use of this bad experience.

I like BigRed's suggestion of a close calls thread, not to judge others, but so we can share, learn, and reflect on risk in the outdoors. I'd wager that most of us have some "learning experiences" we could share.

10:37 p.m. on March 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing Arson. It's good to be reminded that you need to be prepared and that occasionally you're going to miss place a decimal when calculating how likely dangerous something is and that you need to be prepared for Murphy and his wife if they show up.   

I thank God I don't have any severe "learning experiences" to share and hope to never have any.   I've learned a lot around here and continue to learn.  I imagine Bill_S even learns something now and then. 

10:53 p.m. on March 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Arson said:

Thanks everyone for their positive comments. I've already started to research a new PFD that has lots of pockets, Spot messengers, VHF, and other survival products. I guess in my head I'm not quite done with the outdoors yet. Thanks again.

 I got the Spot Connect. Of course, you have to have your phone and spot with you in your new PFD but you can get actual messages out, not just HELP or OK. Thing to think about is the cold, unusable fingers with the phone component, but I am sure you will get what will work best for your typical situation.

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