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Old 23-07-2012, 11:12   #1
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Caught swimming in a strong current

I feel pretty stupid for not respecting the sea.

I was anchored about 80 yards from George's Island in Boston Harbor when I decided to swim to shore. Even worse, I encouraged my 15 year old son to do the same. Swimming to the island was easy for my son and moderately difficult for me. I had to slow down and catch my breath as I was approaching the beach. However, on the way back to the boat after having lunch and touring the island with friends and family, it was a different story. The current, which can hit 2 knots in the channel, was in full flow. After noticing that my brother-in-law was having trouble rowing the one man inflatable out to the boat, I told my son to account for the current by aiming well upstream of the boat. He scoffed at the suggestion and jumped in. He ended up about 15 yards behind the boat swimming directly into the current. He had to really work to get to the boat, but he's on the swim team and trains almost every day, so he made it without too much trouble. When it was my turn, I took my own advice and ended up relatively close to the boat, but as I approached the current got stronger, and I was a little winded. When I stopped making progress...panic set in. I thought about swimming back, but that was a long swim and I was very tired. I decided to give it one more try and if I couldn't make it, I would float/swim back to the island. So I changed to the back stroke and gave a few good kicks. (I had been doing my version of the doggy paddle.) That made the difference and I was able to grab the dinghy. I was really shaken up for having lost control of the situation.

What we did right.

1. We took turns going out to the boat. My son and I watched my brother-in-law dinghy out to the boat (he had a life jacket on), so that we could provide assistance or direct assistance to him if he got caught in the current. And when my son swam out we had a person on shore and a person on the boat to do the same.

2. We recognized that the current had picked up, and we attempted to adjust accordingly.

3. None of us had been drinking.

4. Before we began the swim out, we made note of several jet skiers hanging around next to the beach and we were ready to call them for assistance if necessary.

What we did wrong.

1. I was ignorant of how strong the current was in that area.

2. When I did become aware of the current, I did not respect it.

3. I was not wearing or trailing any kind of flotation device, nor did I require my son to have one!!!

4. I panicked when it became clear I was no longer making progress. If I was clear minded, I would have stopped swimming into the current to conserve energy, and asked for assistance. I did not even think of the life sling which could have been easily thrown to me.

5. My brother in law and son were watching and ready to throw me a flotation device, but as is often the case they did not recognize I was struggling.

Under these circumstances I think it rather unlikely that I would have drowned, but had some other event occurred to compound my error, (a cramp, a large wake, a distracted observer), it could have turned out much worse.

Lesson learned.
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Old 23-07-2012, 11:41   #2
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

I can truly relate!
I swim like a brick. Was lazing on the surface watching the bottom in Christmas Cove not aware of how fast and far the current was taking me from the boat. I came Really Close to Drowning that day.
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Old 23-07-2012, 13:14   #3
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

Excellent post! As a lifelong surfer, rips/currents are given much respect, even with flotation. If swimming across a current back to the boat, another ploy is to trail a warp on a buoy off the boat to increase target size. Basic things can avert a rescue, or worse.
Scuba divers have been caught in currents & separated from boats. An aware boatman and appropriate planning for the site is essential.
Also ones fitness varies.(Usually diminishes!) It is easy to relate back to what you used to be able to do.
It can be difficult ascertaining what is too much current.
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Old 23-07-2012, 13:29   #4
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

I'm so glad it worked out. I had a complete freak-out one time when snorkeling in the Bahamas at one of the many spots where a small cut connects the ocean to the banks. One moment I was exploring a coral garden on the banks side, then in a flash I was literally sucked out into the ocean. I was very lucky not to have been raked over the jagged coral or limestone.
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Old 23-07-2012, 13:45   #5
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

Everyone should take notice of this post !! Connie and I have learned we can no longer just jump in for a swim as we did in past years!! Heck I was UDT team member in the navy in the 1950s, and Connie swam in competition in high school. and for years we swam almost anywhere we wished ! BUT as time has progressed we have come finaly to the relaization that we are no longer the Youngsters we were ONCE !! LOL Now we take the time to be sure the water we are about to jump into is not running to hard to make things extra dangerous!! I still dive to ck my anchor but I make sure first that the current is safe!! we even wear our sospenders in the dink till we get to shore!! There have been times we have helped to retrive bodys of folks who swam when conditions were bad or they were a Little to drunk ect and drowned!! it's no fun ! So folks be careful the water can be a killer !! just our 2 cents
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Old 23-07-2012, 13:55   #6
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

NEO!!! I know that water, I once kept a sailboat at Wessagusett Yacht Club. That water is dangerous although one would presume it is sooooooooo #$% COLD nobody would want to swim in it.

On a serious note, happy the event had a positive out come.

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Old 23-07-2012, 14:18   #7
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

i lost a friend last week in similar conditions.
he was at anchor in the helford river,a tidal estuary,apparently his dinghy drifted off and he jumped in to retrive it.

dog walkers on the shore raised the alarm when they saw him struggling and shouting for help.
rescue services arrived too late to save him,but found the body the following day.

he was a very fit guy but it looks like the cold water, possably kelp and a strong current contributed to his death.

moral:look very carefully before you leap.

http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Fath...ail/story.html
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Old 23-07-2012, 14:23   #8
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

I found out about currents when scuba diving off Catalina. There is a nice little area next to the Casino, right in town, yet still sort of fun (at least for beginners). After about 20 minutes I realized I was going out pretty quickly, and we looked at each other and signaled to head back. After about 15 minutes, we were still in the same place. Eventually we had to stay on the very bottom and swim as hard as we could to just stay in place. And when that started to fail, we knew things were bad.

Fortunately, there is a rock jetty there, and we were still near that, so we swam to that and climbed out. Being already exhausted made it a challenge to carry all our equipment back across these huge rocks (it's a good distance, and the rocks are giant boulders, not easily crossed with equipment). But overall, we were lucky, it could've been far worse, as that is a busy harbor and we were being pushed out into the boat traffic. That was when I was young, I'd hate to think what would happen now.
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Old 23-07-2012, 18:52   #9
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

After years of vacationing in Maine I've become accustomed to cold water and I've made that swim several times in the past. I must have been lucky on those occasions that the tide wasn't running. I like the idea of running a warp, or as my son suggested because of the cold water, asking the jet skiers for a ride.
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Old 23-07-2012, 19:19   #10
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

I caught that current 1 night sailing in and suddenly noticed theat the lobster bouys were flying by.

The 1 side of George's Island is called The Narrows. Narrows to me equal current.

glad you made it.
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Old 23-07-2012, 20:37   #11
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

Yikes, glad you all made it OK! And thanks for the the reminder - Old(er) Age, Cold Water and strong current do not mix well for swimming.
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Old 30-07-2012, 18:40   #12
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
i lost a friend last week in similar conditions.
he was at anchor in the helford river,a tidal estuary,apparently his dinghy drifted off and he jumped in to retrive it.

dog walkers on the shore raised the alarm when they saw him struggling and shouting for help.
rescue services arrived too late to save him,but found the body the following day.

he was a very fit guy but it looks like the cold water, possably kelp and a strong current contributed to his death.

moral:look very carefully before you leap.

Father mourns 'lovely lad' who died in river | This is Cornwall
Oh, hell. So they never found him. We were in Falmouth that day and followed the massive rescue operation on VHF. We had actually intended to be in the Helford River but changed our mind and went into Falmouth. I'm very sorry you lost a friend like that - a very cruel story.
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Old 30-07-2012, 18:49   #13
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

Truly a great post and so nice to have someone 'take it on the chest' so to speak.

I did the same thing not too long ago ... dived off the back of the boat and before I could count to three, found my self a good distance away and travelling fast.

It really was a shock and I had to fight to get back ... a reminder that I am not as young as my mind keeps telling me!
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Old 30-07-2012, 18:56   #14
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Oh, hell. So they never found him. We were in Falmouth that day and followed the massive rescue operation on VHF. We had actually intended to be in the Helford River but changed our mind and went into Falmouth. I'm very sorry you lost a friend like that - a very cruel story.
i think they found his body on the sunday,after he went missing on thursday.
very sad .
the weather had been hot and sunny,and it would have been easy to think the water temp was similarly elevated,alas not, probably only 7 or 8 degrees.
that and the extensive kelp beds that he might have got caught up in.

pity i missed you,it would have been nice to have met up,send me a pm on your way back if you stop in falmouth.
cheers alex
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Old 30-07-2012, 19:03   #15
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Re: Caught swimming in a strong current

After snorkeling extensively for a couple of years in the caribe, I became too confident. We had family visiting in the Bahamas and visited a beach on the Atlantic side of an island. Trying to return to the beach while swimming I realized there was a pretty good Rip running, insttead of swimming with the current toward the beach (as I knew I should), I was so comfortable in the water that I just tried to "out muscle" the rip. I made it, but barely and thought I was having a heart attack when I reached shore.
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