Friday, April 25, 2014

Rescue of kayaker swept out to sea termed a miracle

Rescue of kayaker termed a miracle
Originally appeared on GrindTV Outdoor

A German kayaker is lucky to be alive after he was swept out to sea by a strong current off the east coast of New Zealand on Sunday night, though the 19-year-old downplayed the idea he was in danger. 

However, those participating in the rescue—officials who know a thing or two about surviving such conditions—disagree. A Westpac rescue helicopter spokesman called it “a miracle” that rescuers were able to spot Philipp Cartier in the dark of night and in rough seas, especially since Cartier had dropped his only source of light into the water.
Rescue of kayaker termed a miracle 

But as he approached Motunau, the current began pushing him 2-1/2 miles offshore. Cartier paddled for more than three hours against the current but failed to gain ground. 
According to the New Zealand Herald and Fairfax Media, Cartier departed Gore Bay at 10 a.m. Sunday heading south toward the harbor at Motunau, typically about a seven-hour journey.
“It was a bit scary,” Cartier told the New Zealand Herald. “It was dark, I couldn’t see anything. I was tired and cold.”
So at 6:30 p.m., Cartier set off his emergency locator beacon to summon help.
The Westpac helicopter rescue team began searching for Cartier and spent hours without success.
“I saw the helicopter a lot,” Cartier told the Herald. “I have a small red light for emergencies like that, but my fingers were so cold I didn’t have any feelings in them and I dropped it in the water. I had nothing to show them where I was.”
Rescue of kayaker termed a miracle
The helicopter was down to its last 30 minutes of fuel before it would have to turn back and refuel when something caught the eyes of the rescue team.
“It was just a miracle,” Westpac rescue helicopter spokesman Rick Knight told Fairfax Media, via TV New Zealand. “We just saw this one little flick [of light], and must just have been the angle he was on at the time. We got closer and closer, and that’s when we pinpointed the oblong shape of the kayak itself.”
That flick of light, Cartier explained in an email to GrindTV Outdoor, was the small, blinking LED of his GPS beacon.
“It definitely was a good portion of luck that they still found me that fast in the darkness, but calling it a miracle sounds a bit exaggerated,” Cartier told GrindTV Outdoor.
Rescue of kayaker termed a miracle
Knight would argue differently, saying Cartier would have had no chance at making it back to shore on his own and that spending a night adrift would have been extremely dangerous.“I did think about [what might have happened had they] not found me, and realized it would be a very cold and unforgettable night, but I never saw myself in a lethal situation,” Cartier continued.
“If by chance he had rolled [the kayak],” Knight told Fairfax Media, “I wouldn’t like to say what the outcome would have been.
“The commercial fishermen [who helped] said it was probably some of the roughest conditions they had crossing the [sand] bar to get out there, especially at nighttime.”
Geoff Basher, a captain of a fishing boat based in Motunau who was asked to help, ultimately plucked Cartier out of the water and returned him to Motunau, where he housed the kayaker and fed him a hot meal at 10 p.m. Cartier had refused going to the hospital.
“I was just relieved to get out of the water,” he told the Herald. “I was cold and afraid, so when Geoff invited me in, I was very thankful.”
He was also extremely lucky, thanks to that small flick of light.

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