Where do we start? This fisherman was lucky to survive a situation for which he was not prepared—his kayak sinking 3 miles off the Alabama coast. He and his friend owe a big thank you to the Coast Guard and other rescue personnel who stepped up to save their bacon. After all that, who cares about a little parking ticket?
A Sinking Kayak Means You Messed Up
The fishing trip begins normally enough, with a drag down the beach and scenic launch into the waters off Alabama’s Gulf State Park. The host and his friend plan to fish at a local reef for triggerfish and snapper. All goes well until 3:50, when the footage cuts to a scene of wreckage—one kayak has flipped and spilled our host and his gear into the drink.
“It’s filled with styrofoam, it should still float.
I might try to get up on it just to get out of the water.”
In the comments, uploader FishinAll50 explains that his boat was disabled by a crack in the hull, which prevented him from righting and re-boarding it. A complicating factor, sure, but if he had properly checked his kayak for wear and tear prior to launching this fatal flaw might have been detected in advance.
Nonetheless, he has smartly added extra flotation to his sit-on-top fishing kayak, making it harder to sink and easier to re-board in the event of a damaged hull. “It’s filled with styrofoam, it should still float. I might try to get up on it just to get out of the water,” he says. Great idea—even with a disabled boat—but he is unable to pull off the self-rescue maneuver. His friend is focused on talking to 911 rather than providing assistance.
Keep Your Cool and Don’t Get Distracted
Situations like this are a great reminder how important it is to properly train and equip each member of your group. In a crisis, you must be prepared to assist your fellow paddlers and be responsive to their survival needs first.
Always stay aware of your surroundings, including changing weather conditions, water currents, marine traffic and other obstacles. Wear the right apparel for immersion in cold ocean water and don’t skimp on rescue equipment like a waterproof VHF radio, GPS device, bilge pump, sharp rescue knife and most importantly a proper PFD. If you’re wearing an inflatable PFD, check it in advance.
Nothing Beats Proper Rescue Training
Above all, invest in adequate safety and rescue training from an accredited kayak instructor before you paddle, and take the time to practice these maneuvers in advance. Thankfully this story has a happy ending, but when you’re swimming in the swells beside a sinking kayak it’s a little too late to brush up.
Warning: This video contains language that some viewers may find offensive.