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  I had a good view of this rescue...
  Posted by: old_user on Jan-23-13 10:36 PM (EST)

...since I was the paddler that retrieved the swimmer and created the video. I saw a link to this discussion on Facebook and read through the comments/opinions. A few comments/thoughts:

1. Location - This rescue took place on Lake Superior at the mouth of the Michipicoten River. This is the location for the outfitter Naturally Superior Adventures and their lodge - Rock Island Lodge is directly behind the folks taking the video. The capsize/swim took place in the outgoing flow of the river and as several people have noted in this discussion, the shore we landed on (eventually) is a point and creates an eddy. Contact with both the boat and swimmer happened in the eddy although Nick and I paddled with the current (really the only way to progress against the on-shore winds) to reach the boat/swimmer.

2. Conditions - Wind direction was mostly on-shore but also long- shore (blowing away from the camera). Winds were a steady 35-40 knots with 45 knot gusts. The rescue happened entirely within the lee of the reef break - which was another 100 yards further out to sea from where I made contact with Sam. On the outside, waves measured 3-4 meters but it was measurably smaller where we were operating.

3. Paddlers - Nick (white Xcite) is a BCU Coach L5 Sea based on Anglesey, Wales and operates Kayak Essentials. Sam (swimmer who graciously encouraged posting this so other's could learn) has successfully solo circumnavigated a small island known as Ireland.

4. Decisions
- All paddlers and most coaches at the Gales Storm Gathering decided to sit out this surf session. That includes some of the West Coast coaches mentioned in this thread. The three of us went out together in what was as controlled of a environment as these conditions allowed.

- The rescue happened as we were finishing up the hour-long session surfing the reef break and waves you see in the distance.

- I made the decision to not bring the boat to the paddler for an assisted re-entry as I didn't want to introduce a rope into the equation and didn't have my contact tow with me.

- I chose a toggle-tow and reverse paddling so I could keep my eye on both the swimmer and any incoming waves. Keeping one eye to the see was the reason I chose for not putting Sam on the back deck and paddling towards shore although it would have been a bit faster. In all, the rescue took about 2min.

5. The boat and paddler would have eventually made it to shore on their own - it was cold and towing the swimmer to shore lessened exposure.

6. The shore break gave a little excitement - we both could have used a little more caution. That said, a bit of bracing and leaning into the wave kept boats and paddlers upright. A bit adventure, but no "maytags" or windowshade.

Thanks for all the discussion. If there's any questions..I'll check this thread or message me. Best - Ryan

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