Survivor Club

Rescue Map

Kayaker Activates PLB

Name Paul Gaastra
Product Name ResQLink™+ PLB
Date of Rescue 03/21/2018
Saved By Northland Rescue Helicopters
Beacon Purchased From Canoe and Kayak
Lives Saved 1

I was landing for the day in my pedal powered kayak on Ripiro Beach south of Baylys Beach, Northland, New Zealand. My canoe has outriggers and I expected to be overturned in the waves as I land. The idea then was hold on to the canoe and get swept ashore. I retracted the pedal unit and attempted to get as close to shore as possible. One of the breakers further out flipped me and I was in the water. One outrigger was bent right round. The weight of the pedal unit means the canoe naturally sits in the water upside down. Now to wait to washed ashore. To prevent getting too cold I clambered on the canoe. All the time waves were washing over me and tumbling the canoe. One hour went by and I was getting cold. The waves were not washing me ashore! I was unsure whether to abandon the canoe and swim to shore. All the advice I had heard was that a person should stay with their vessel. I decided to stay. It got the point where I thought I could die of hypothermia so I activated my PLB (ACR ResQLink+). I concentrated on holding the beacon out of the water with the antenna facing up. I think I was holding the beacon correctly but in retrospect, reading the instructions there were diagrams showing that you don't cover the area with the GPS antenna. I should have been better prepared. Then there was the long wait, all the time getting colder and colder and getting dumped by the waves. There was an amazing yellow sunset. It got dark. Finally I could touch the bottom with my feet and I thought I was progressing to shore. I was pretty cold but I still had the strength to grip the ropes around the canoe. At least one hour, maybe two, after activating the beacon a helicopter was hovering over me. They dropped three torches into the water which shone directly upwards.

It was like something from a sci-fi movie wth the lights from above and from the torches and the down draught of the helicopter . A guy was winched down to me. He told me to put something round me. I couldn't see what it was but I finally got it on and was winched aboard the helicopter. The next thing I remember is them asking if I could support myself to get on the gurney at the hospital. I was taken to A&E and they a warm air thingy to raise my temperature. I was down to 34 degrees celcius. IV glucose and some kind of thing to stop me vomiting. What a relief to finally stop shivering......

 

Epilogue

I can't thank the ACR engineers enough.  When you're getting tossed around in the sea and getting hypothermia it takes a lot of faith to believe the beacon has work but sure enough everything worked.

I can't thank the ACR engineers enough. When you're getting tossed around in the sea and getting hypothermia it takes a lot of faith to believe the beacon has work but sure enough everything worked.