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Rescuing Others


Surfski Assist. Photo from Emma Levemyr Video

Protect Yourself

As with any form of rescue, you need to maintain your own safety. If you do not, you will simply add yourself to whatever list of victims results. Approach all potential rescue situations carefully, maintain a safe distance and start with conversation with anyone appearing to need rescue who is able to speak. Fatigued, scared, and/or desperate rescue candidates will not be able to communicate calmly and clearly. And they will most likely be uncooperative or not able to follow your instructions well enough to help themselves or avoid endangering you. If dealing with someone like this, unless you know for a fact that they are too weak to cause any trouble (that may be hard to know unless they are unconscious), maintain a safe distance and call for help (you have a radio and/or a phone, right? - it is worth remembering that one of the reasons to take such devices on all paddles and not just ones where you expect any personal risk is to be able to call for help for others who may be less prepared than you or experiencing unusual difficulties).

Helping Swimmer Back into Surfski

This Video Demonstrates Techiques for Assisting Paddler Remount ( And Ways to Carry a Paddler on Your Surfski, and a Way to Retrieve A Surfski)


Surfskier Needing Assistance And They Are In Their Boat

Broken or lost paddle; Broken or lost rudder; or Boater is tired (losing stability, strength, confidence) - possibly has fallen in and remounted but subsequent fall outs and remounts will become increasingly fatiguing and will compound difficulty of rescue.

1) Attach your tow rope (see in safety gear section) and paddle them to safety if they have sufficient stability (keep their legs in the water?) Longer description of using tow ropes 2018

Towing (in Swedish) - you can see what they are doing. You can use footstraps as attachment points if there are no handles.

2) 2 Surfski Rafts:

2 Surfski Raft Technique 1 Boater who needs assistance can hold onto the rescuers surfski behind their cockpit and rescuer can paddle across both surfskis. This is assisted by a strap connected to both surfski footstraps. Following video shows this (in Swedish but pictures are worth 1000 words) Notice also that there is a small strap around foot straps which allows clipping with a carabiner while clipping directly to a thick footstrap will be difficult or impossible:

2 Surfski Raft Technique 2 pull your boat up next to theirs and each paddler puts their inside foot in the other ski footwell. Each person paddles on their outside of the surfski raft formed by the two skis. Split 1 paddle in half if needed. Or the person being rescued can hold onto other surfski and the rescuer can paddle on both sides. Watch following video (in Swedish but you should get the idea):

3) 3 Surfski Raft: Similar to the last 2 person raft, but done with 3 surfskis, the rescued surfski will be in the middle and simply helps hold the outside skis close (if they are able to do that) while the outside rescuers, each with a foot inside the middle surfski, paddle on the outside of their surfskis

Lost Ski and In Water

  • When another surfskier loses their ski, if you are skilled, have practiced the techniques, the water is not too rough, and your boat is not too unstable, you might be able to paddle them to shore on the back deck of your ski (the front end deck is also sometimes used - which is better may depend on specific surfski in question). Rescue/transport with a surfski in rough water is difficult if not impossible for most paddlers. The only way to have an accurate sense of your capability to do this is to practice it in increasingly rough water.
    • Rescuing Swimmers - Watch Deep Cove/Bob Putnam Rescue Video But it cannot be overemphasized that you need to be very cautious with swimmers who are panicked or in distress. As in all kinds of swim lifesaving, a swimmer in distress can pose a serious risk to a would be surfski rescuer, may not cooperate and can easily cause harm to others attempting to help. See recognizing a drowning person
      • Bow Carry - demonstrated by Bob in video - probably the most stable position to carry a swimmer with a surfski. But there is a lot of in water resistance so can be limited in how far you will be able to do this particularly if you have wind and/or current against you. Also, the swimmer will be staying in the water. They still need to remain warm enough to hold on and stay calm. It is easier to communicate in this position in comparison to having a swimmer on or at the rear of your ski.
    • Outrigger canoes

Outriggers can fail too: video (starts with failing ama coming into frame from the right)


Broken Ama - right before complete break in middle and huli


Cold Water Rescue

If a paddler is in the water and can't fully remount, get them half out of the water so they are either lying across your boat or theirs. This can add valuable minutes (of slower heat loss) while you wait for help.


Emergency Signals

When you need more help or want backup in case your efforts will not be enough - If in any doubt, call for help.

rescuing_others.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/23 18:02 by preavley