Kayaking Accidents

There have been a series of awful kayaking accidents in Scotland this week. There have been two deaths on rivers and a sea kayaker is missing off Shetland, feared dead. It's giving us all pause for thought. Here are some news reports for those who want to know more.

BBC on Grandtully accident. Press & Journal on Glencoe accident. The Scotsman on Shetland missing kayaker.


Silbs said...

My condolences to the mates and families of those lost. Having lost a member of our local paddling community, we here know how these events take a toll on us all.

Anonymous said...

I would like to give my condolences too to the friends and relatives of the paddlers who died.
It is worth mentioning though that the Grandtully incident is the first of its kind. It's the first canoeist death at Grandtully, and it is the first slalom paddler death in Scotland as far as I know.
It is a devastating and tragic accident.
Hundreds of slalom paddlers have crossed that exact point for the last 50 years without incident.
Grandtully is a National Centre for Wildwater canoeing. It is a safe place to train and compete. The water was in spate, but it was not in high flood.
It is not, as the Scotsman reported "A notorious rapid".
It is a completely different accident from the descent of a narrow, wild stream with waterfalls like the River Coe.
In the Grandtully incident, the boat appears to have become wrapped on a submerged rock. This is a most unusual event. In years gone by, slalom boats had to have a sacrificial deck made of glass fibre. This would break open in the case of a wrap, freeing the occupant. However, modern slalom boats are made of manmade fibre, not glass fibre alone.
In many of these cases, a wave can form over the paddler's head, leaving an air pocket. What needs to be considered at that point on the river is some kind of mobile hinged-plate coffer-dam that could be deployed upstream of the trapped paddler.
This would, when released into the water, anchor itself with the water pressure, but break the pressure that is causing the wrap.
Other ideas could be car-type explosive airbags in the boat.
However, any system must be intrinsically safe and not increase the risk in itself.

occupational accidents said...
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Silbs said...

And now (June, 2010) we have a missing 9 yo girl who went out in a kayak in an offshore breeze, cold water, wearing no pfd.