A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:50 pm

I would have hoped my first post on this particular forum could have been something a little more palatable from a days Tope fishing from a kayak in Donegal Bay with good friend Sean Ivory however, that wasnt to be. Kayak angling has become incredibly popular in recent times and it was to be my first time trying it. As a seasoned small boat angler, I didn’t think too much about the dangers. My inexperience and unsuitable clothing, I had opted for Salopettes, wellies and a standard automatic life jacket as attire, led to an almost disastrous experience. A mile or so offshore on what was promising to be an exciting day out in lovely weather, calamity struck. With Sean 500 yards or so away, I had replaced my rod in the holder and reached forward for my paddle. This coincided with a small wave and with my balance compromised, in a split second the Kayak, an Ocean Prowler 4.5m, a highly regarded craft, had overturned dropping me into the sea.

Now, we all wonder how we would react in a situation such as this but the reality is, until you are thrown in the water unexpectedly, you have no idea. Such was the initial shock of the experience and the cold water, swallowing a gallon of sea water etc the thought of pulling the toggle to inflate my life jacket never even entered my head. I was fortunate as I wallowed and coughed and spluttered that the automatic mechanism kicked in and inflated my jacket. Dressed in a Tshirt, I hadn’t tightened the straps sufficiently and with this particular model having no crotch strap, it immediately rose up around my face, plunging my mouth and nose etc back into the water. A quick adjustment had it pushed down and tightened up sufficiently for it to do its job properly and I was able to relax slightly, holding on to my overturned boat and wait for Sean to return to offer assistance.

Foregoing the correct dry suit and buoyancy aid meant there was absolutely no hope whatsoever of climbing back aboard the boat, physically impossible with the sheer weight of clothing and the greatly reduced mobility in the life jacket. Over a mile offshore, fishing in an area of strong currents, the situation whilst not immediately threatening was grave enough and I was thankful I had someone of Seans calibre on hand. Sean attached the empty kayak onto the back of his own and I had to swim to and grab onto the back of that. Even swimming just a few metres, given the clothing drag etc was a huge effort but I managed to grab on. Sean then had to paddle us all, against the breeze and currents, over a mile back to shore. A super human feat it has to be said and one which very few if any of my other angling buddies would be physically equipped to achieve. Having been in the water for well over an hour, the humour swiftly left the situation with the cold water numbing limbs and mind and uncontrollable shivering taking hold. It’s fair to say I was never as glad to feel the shore under my feet when we eventually made land, well over a mile uptide from where the incident had taken place.

The expensive Canon DSLR and Nokia phone were destroyed but it was a small price to pay. Sean Ivorys actions on the day were nothing short of heroic. He handled the situation in a calm humorous manner that removed any notions of panic and I shudder to think what may have happened had he not been on hand. Whilst it’s embarrassing to a point, I think it’s a story that needed to be told. Before you even think of setting foot on one of these craft, please take heed. Dry Suits, Buoyancy aids etc are a must. Standard small boat wear is useless to the point of being dangerous. Never, ever kayak alone. Practise how you would right your craft and reboard should an incident take place and familiarise yourself with how it handles and what its capabilities are before you do anything serious with it. It’s not overstating things to say that only for Seans swift actions on the day, I may not have lived to tell the tale. A fun day out that could have so easily ended in tragedy. Thank you again Sean.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:13 pm

Jesus, I'm glad you are all right.....


Are you mad!!

Going out over a mile in the wrong clothes with the wrong gear!!!
For your first time you should not have gone deeper than 1.5m and no further than 20m from the shore, with several access / entry points along the way?
Did you practice what it was like to be thrown into the water from the yak? and did you get any training on how to reenter the yak?

Its amazing you are still here... and whilst that may be in part to your buddy, I can also safely say that he would not be my buddy if (as I presume an experienced yak fisherman) he took me a mile offshore for tope on my first trip!!!

Your fist trip should have been without a rod, your second for some bass or small pollock, your third maybe some big pollock....10/12 trips later maybe a tope.... if you got thrown by bad balance how do you think wrestling a tope would do ya?


Did you even get your free water safety dvd on kayaking from the RNLI??

Automatic lifejacket on a kayak.....

I also have a fair bit of boating experience and I bought the prowler 13 a few months back... but I started slow, forced a capsize in a few feet of water, practiced getting in and out etc...


Glad your safe and wiser for it, and thanks for posting... its important for first timers to read even if you had to swallow a portion of humble pie while writing...hats off :)

Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:51 pm

Donny, no offence intended here but..... I didn't put this up for it in any way to reflect badly on Sean. Its clear from what's written above that a lot of things were not done as they should have been but at the end of the day, responsibility for my safety is my own. Choices made were my own, no-one else's. Its not posted so someone can come along and have a rant at my own stupidity on the day in question, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that perfectly clearly myself. Its posted as a warning to other anglers who, like myself, may take the opportunity at some stage to dip their toe so to speak. I have seen umpteen occasions of people in the wrong gear taking to the water, this little tale illustrates just how important it is to get, at the very least, this area right. I wont hold anyone responsible for what happened on the day in question other than myself, its very easy to point fingers and the like at others but that's nonsense. The boating buddy is not responsible for my safety, I knew myself what I should have been wearing, the correct gear was available and I didn't bother. Its only when you have been in a sticky situation sometimes that it brings home as to how important these things actually are.

You are totally correct however in what you are saying re getting used to the yak, practising re-entry etc etc and a combination of that and the correct gear I suppose is what I'm trying to highlight. It was a nasty experience but the only person to blame was myself. Extremely thankful to Sean for his efforts and I wont accept anyone pointing any finger of blame at anyone other than myself. He is an angler like me, not an instructor. Thanks however for your comments, some good stuff in there. As regards the embarassment, its no big deal, if one person reads this tale and makes a mental note to themselves as to never find themselves in a similar situation it will have been more than worth it.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:04 pm

Fair enough Pete I know he is not your nanny and I wont go on about it....

Well worth it for a freebie...
http://www.rnli.org.uk/how_to_support_u ... vd-request

Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:51 pm

Well done Pete it would have been a whole lot easier to keep news of this among your close friends and save :oops: but you did the braver thing and posted to help others not to make the same mistake --- RESPECT
And Sean is a true friend who helped to calm you in a serious situation.

Hope this helps a lot of people in boats and kayaks none of us are too old or too experienced not to learn from this, so thanks again Pete. :D


Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:56 pm

Glad you made it home safely pete, and thanks for sharing your experiance with us :wink:
Hats off to you sean great job, very well done 8)

Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:10 pm

Good post Pete and a timely one to read seeing as I, like many people I presume, have been nosing around the shops lately looking at yaks.

Donny... don't like to criticise anyone's contributions but there's a time and a place. The OP is obviously a salutory tale reminding of the importance of being prepared, don't think it needed any high-horsing. With respect, etc.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:57 pm

firstly pete,, thank god your safe and well now man :shock: :shock: . that could have ended up so differently if not for seans quick thinking and calm attitude to an otherwise dire situation. a few pints owed there alright. secondly fair play to you man for having the swingers to man up and tell us all about the inherent dangers of yack fishing and how quickly it can all go wrong. many bigger men would have just kept quiet and tucked their tail between their legs and said nothing to save their blushes. you took a very large slice of humble pie there by informing us all about the incident :oops: . if it even makes a single newbie think twice about heading out on a yak for a days fishing without the suitable equiptment, i'd say that could potentially be a life saved.
fair play to you man.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:01 pm

Great post Pete, very informative and thought evoking.
Fair play to Sean for getting you back in to post it !

Safe fishing lads.


Re: A sobering little tale....

Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:50 pm

good to hear your ok pete. your a lucky man. thank you for the report and well done to sean for saving the day and your self.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:13 am

Sobering Indeed. I have a bit of ambition when it comes to getting a tope from a Kayak... Fair play for putting this post up. I can honestly say I would of made some of these same mistakes had I not read this post. A warning to all!

Good work out of Sean for saving the day!

Re: A sobering little tale....

Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:59 am

Top man for putting the post up pete and very glad your safe and sound to tell the tale I know from my own experience two years back in dungarvin bay that when the unexpected happens in the sea it turns into a nightmare it would be very easy to be a keyboard warrior and be critical I had quite a few of them when I posted my expierence but the bottom line is we all make mistakes,, some of us live to tell them,,, my congrats to sean for pulling you back to shore...I hope you get over the shock and get back to your fishing..

rdgs John

Re: A sobering little tale....

Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:10 pm

Good to see you made it. On the subject of wrong gear on Monday I saw, yet again, a big lad boarding a motor boat at Bullock Harbour fully rigged out in a pair of lidl chestwaders. I'd like to see him trying to get back on board. :roll:

Re: A sobering little tale....

Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:57 pm

Just to reflect what the other lads are saying.. glad you made it safe and sound to the shore and thank god for Sean's speedy response.. hope it doesnt put you off the kayak. fair play to ya for posting it,

Re: A sobering little tale....

Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:32 pm

just to echo whats said already - glad your okay and well done sean - this thread might save another :idea:

Re: A sobering little tale....

Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:03 pm

Glad you're OK to tell the tale man and fair play for your honesty on posting this.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:02 pm

Thanks for all the comments lads, appreciated. Sometimes I suppose you have to learn things the hard way. There is no harm in owning up to it, especially if someone has a read and thinks twice which was the whole purpose of the post in the first place. Thanks again.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:28 pm

well done sean they will be calling you popeye with the muscles you will have after that paddle back :lol: pete would it not have been easier to strip off in the water and then climb in to the kayak? lighten the load you can replace kit but u only get one life.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Sat Aug 06, 2011 6:02 pm

I would also have had to remove the life jacket Twinkle and that certainly wasnt an option as far as I was concerned. Did think about that alright but in the conditions, currents and not being a strong swimmer, the absolute last thing I was doing was taking off that jacket.

Re: A sobering little tale....

Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:48 pm

believe yer post will make others think hard before venturing, which in turn saves lives!...great post and good to here all ended well thanks to your brave mate.