Another surf fisher drowned here on the coast

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Jim Wallace, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. on Sunday morning. I heard the sirens. She was from Renton. I don't know the details of how she went down. No one does. She had an 8-yr old daughter with her, and it seems like her car was parked too low on the beach, since the waves were lapping at the tires when they found the daughter inside after the decedent's body was found rolling in the surf.

    This kind of tragedy doesn't have to happen. Even when the surf is small, it is difficult to wade back in once you fall down. I actually prefer to wear a wetsuit when I'm surf fishing. Although we have experienced some brief periods of warmer water this summer, the temp can plummet 5 degees overnight. Assume that its about 51 F. So if someone tell you that the water is warm, don't believe them. Assume that its going to be very cold. It always seems really dangerous to me when I'm wearing waders while casting in the surf. I don't go out beyond knee deep, since a sneaker wave can rear up and knock you down at any moment.
    Sometimes the bottom mushes or caves away under your feet at just the moment when you really need some good traction.
    Most of the time, there is a current running parallel to the beach (running from N to S if the wind is from the N or NW, for example). This can pull you sideways and out if you can't get your footing, or are a weak swimmer. I'm a good swimmer and I have difficulty swimming with waders on that are full of water.
    I might start wearing my Chinook fishing pfd when surf fishing from now on.
    I am a life-long surfer, an excellent swimmer, well aware of the hazards of wading in the surf, have been surfing regularly all summer, and am in pretty decent shape for a nearly 63 yr old, and still it makes me nervous to wade and fish in the surf here. In my younger days, I used to bodysurf at the Pipeline and all of the other good bodysurfing spots on Oahu, and I still consider myself to be an expert swimmer. Yet I haven't lost any respect for a seemingly benign ocean beach. Shit happens.

    I'm going surfing today, in a couple of hours, after I digest my lunch. Wish me luck!
    Tony James, dryflylarry and Kcahill like this.
  2. Great post Jim. Thank you
  3. There's been a number of similar tragedies in the WW kayaking world involving "dry pants" (typically worn in addition to/underneath dry tops) that have partially filled with water during a good solid trashing, mostly in recirculating hydraulics that are roughly akin to breaking waves on a beach. Those that survived have very harrowing stories to share, characterized by their struggles to stay on the surface and feeling helpless in the currents, and these are people who are wearing WW grade PFDs. A fellow who I paddled with a number of times and was an incredibly fit, accomplished, and experienced kayaker drowned in this very manner.

    I think ditching the waders in the surf and using a farmer-john style wetsuit and booties instead is a really, really good piece of advice. Depending on your age, fitness level, swimming capacity, and experience in the surf adding an inflatable PFD might also be a good option. For folks who insist on using waders in the surf, wearing a white-water drytop over your waders and adding on a wading belt over the top won't be as safe, but it'd dramatically reduce the time it takes to fill your waders. Couple a drytop with a farmer John wetsuit and you can up the comfort level in colder conditions.
    Tony James likes this.
  4. I am not sure why more people dont do this with how compact some of the PFDs have gotten, especially anytime the surf is up where it could knock you over.
  5. Thank you Jim. Much appreciated.
  6. I remember a family vacation to Ocean Shores in the 1960's, when we saw a dead woman dragged out of the surf right in front of her husband and children. She was swimming, got caught in the current that Jim described, and drowned. I was probably 10 years old at the time, and still remember how awful it was.

    I fell out of a kayak while wearing waders several years ago. The PFD kept me afloat, but once water seeped into the legs of my waders I was unable to climb back on the boat. Fortunately, I was close to shore, and some nice folks were there to help me. Ever since, I've worn a wet suit rather than waders when kayaking. I cut off some old leaky waders at the knees, and wear them under the wet suit. This allows me to get on and off the kayak without getting wet, and also wade out a bit when I pull up to a beach to fish from shore.

    Respect the water & be safe.

  7. The news reports I saw said she had told her daughter she was going fishing but is there evidence to prove that was the case?

    It just seems odd someone would leave an 8-year old unattended in the car while surf fishing.

    Although I think there's a little bit more to this story than we now know, it's still a tragedy and my prayers go out to all the family, especially the little girl.
  8. Tim, I heard that the daughter lost sight of her mom while playing on the beach, and then returned to the car.

    Water was cold today. Low 50's. Glad to be wearing my 5mm wetsuit, with hood, gloves, and booties. The fog rolled in thicker, and my surf buddy had to leave early, leaving me alone on the peak we were surfing. I paddled down the beach a couple hundred yards so as to be nearer and visible to some other surfers. I used to love surfing small waves alone in the fog.

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