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Kayakers lifted out of La Jolla Cove

2.5 million more paddlers means more rescues

"We only take our most experienced paddlers out into the ocean."
"We only take our most experienced paddlers out into the ocean."

On September 24, before 2 pm, Erica was eating lunch at Eddie Vs on Prospect Street in La Jolla; she noticed a fire truck crane extended over La Jolla Cove across the street. So she pulled out her phone camera and started filming. "Two kayakers seemed to have gotten stuck and had to be lifted out," she said to me on September 26.

In her video (reposted by sdfirebrigade on Instagram), the two kayakers and the kayak were hoisted together via a cable out of the cove. Then by happenstance, about 30 feet away from the dangling kayakers, a man is seen kneeling in front of another person standing by a decorated arbor overlooking the ocean. "At the same time, the [marriage] proposal is happening in the background," Erica continued. "Everyone was okay, though. And she said, "Yes."

A fire truck crane extended over La Jolla Cove across the street.

On August 27, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department lifeguards at La Jolla Cove saw a distressed kayaker close by the notorious Emerald Cave. The lifeguards called for backup, and several lifeguards in a rescue boat and a rescue watercraft responded. "Fourteen kayakers were rescued and, fortunately, did not suffer any injuries," reads a fire and rescue social media post. "One kayaker reported an injury which resulted in a response by Rescue 44, the lifeguard cliff rescue vehicle. The injured patient was taken to the hospital."

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In 2020, the pandemic brought out an estimated 2.5 million new paddlers, including folks who are now kayaking, kayak fishing, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding to the U.S. waters — according to Outdoor Foundation, per the Water Sports Foundation (WSF) site.

"However, it increased accidents to 331 and fatalities to a record high 202 – accounting for more than 26 percent of all boating fatalities that same year." Jim Emmons, executive director of the WSF, assures that boating, in general, is one of the safest recreational activities, and the paddlesports deaths transpired because of a lack of experience and safety training.

The one consistent thing is the unpredictability of the water conditions.

"We know from analyzing U.S. Coast Guard data that in 2020, nearly three-quarters (74.6 percent) of people who died in paddling accidents had less than 100 hours experience in the activity," Emmons continued, "And over one-third (38.8 percent) had less than 10 hours experience."

And while it's not clear if the recently rescued kayakers in the La Jolla waters were beginners in the sport or younger paddlers, the one consistent thing is the unpredictability of the water conditions, even for seasoned paddle-sports enthusiasts.

Coach Chris Barlow and his team, many former lifeguards — of the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team — teach boating safety and train their junior racing team and older folks in the members-only club.

"Most of our on-the-water activities take place on Mission Bay," he told me in a September 26 email. "The boats we paddle are different from the recreational sit-on-top kayaks used at La Jolla Cove, and the shores, and we only take our most experienced paddlers out into the ocean."

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"We only take our most experienced paddlers out into the ocean."
"We only take our most experienced paddlers out into the ocean."

On September 24, before 2 pm, Erica was eating lunch at Eddie Vs on Prospect Street in La Jolla; she noticed a fire truck crane extended over La Jolla Cove across the street. So she pulled out her phone camera and started filming. "Two kayakers seemed to have gotten stuck and had to be lifted out," she said to me on September 26.

In her video (reposted by sdfirebrigade on Instagram), the two kayakers and the kayak were hoisted together via a cable out of the cove. Then by happenstance, about 30 feet away from the dangling kayakers, a man is seen kneeling in front of another person standing by a decorated arbor overlooking the ocean. "At the same time, the [marriage] proposal is happening in the background," Erica continued. "Everyone was okay, though. And she said, "Yes."

A fire truck crane extended over La Jolla Cove across the street.

On August 27, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department lifeguards at La Jolla Cove saw a distressed kayaker close by the notorious Emerald Cave. The lifeguards called for backup, and several lifeguards in a rescue boat and a rescue watercraft responded. "Fourteen kayakers were rescued and, fortunately, did not suffer any injuries," reads a fire and rescue social media post. "One kayaker reported an injury which resulted in a response by Rescue 44, the lifeguard cliff rescue vehicle. The injured patient was taken to the hospital."

Sponsored
Sponsored

In 2020, the pandemic brought out an estimated 2.5 million new paddlers, including folks who are now kayaking, kayak fishing, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding to the U.S. waters — according to Outdoor Foundation, per the Water Sports Foundation (WSF) site.

"However, it increased accidents to 331 and fatalities to a record high 202 – accounting for more than 26 percent of all boating fatalities that same year." Jim Emmons, executive director of the WSF, assures that boating, in general, is one of the safest recreational activities, and the paddlesports deaths transpired because of a lack of experience and safety training.

The one consistent thing is the unpredictability of the water conditions.

"We know from analyzing U.S. Coast Guard data that in 2020, nearly three-quarters (74.6 percent) of people who died in paddling accidents had less than 100 hours experience in the activity," Emmons continued, "And over one-third (38.8 percent) had less than 10 hours experience."

And while it's not clear if the recently rescued kayakers in the La Jolla waters were beginners in the sport or younger paddlers, the one consistent thing is the unpredictability of the water conditions, even for seasoned paddle-sports enthusiasts.

Coach Chris Barlow and his team, many former lifeguards — of the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team — teach boating safety and train their junior racing team and older folks in the members-only club.

"Most of our on-the-water activities take place on Mission Bay," he told me in a September 26 email. "The boats we paddle are different from the recreational sit-on-top kayaks used at La Jolla Cove, and the shores, and we only take our most experienced paddlers out into the ocean."

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