Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Paddling Safety - A Tragic Reminder

Greg Feeter

On Monday, January 31st, the following tragic event made headlines:A search for a missing kayaker on Falls Lake has turned into a recovery effort. Authorities say 40-year old Greg Feeter has been missing since launching from the Barton’s Creek Boat Ramp off Six Forks Road on Sunday. Several witnesses reported hearing someone screaming for help on the lake Sunday. "Last night around 7 p.m., we received a call that they were hearing someone cry for help," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. Feeter's wife said when he did not return home, the Wake County Sheriff’s Department launched an intense search with boats, helicopters and dogs. Feeter’s empty kayak, a backpack and several other things have been found, but Feeter has not. Firefighters from several departments have been out searching all day Monday. The sheriff says the cold weather and water temperature pose challenges for searchers, so does the area itself. Feeter was last seen wearing an YMCA shirt and shorts." - WTVD-TV (Raleigh-Durham, NC)

Feeter's put in area at Barton's Creek was just a few miles south of some of my favorite paddling "haunts" - Beaver Dam Lake and Sandling Beach - both on Falls Lake.

Fellow yakers and canoeists... please exercise caution and err on the side of safety when it comes to paddling - especially in cold weather!

Some Basic Paddling Safety Tips

Don't paddle alone

Always wear a PFD

Dress for cold water immersion (Dry suit) - Water temperatures at Falls Lake (January / February) are in the upper 30 degrees F. In these conditions, hypothermia will quickly set in followed by death for an unprotected individual who falls into these waters.

Check out my Cold Water Survival information and my list of essential gear.

This tragic event has left me a little shaken and sad for a fellow yaker. My thoughts and prayers are with the Feeter family.

Greg Feeter's kayak

Post Update (2/3/2011)
Greg Feeter's body was found shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday [2/2/2011] near the Upper Barton Creek Boat Ramp. Feeter leaves behind a wife and 5 year old daughter.

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  1. Sorry to hear the sad news Mike.

    The 15-30 minutes to exhaustion sounds like a short time - an often quoted number, but it is very misleading.

    If you fall into water with a temp in the 30s, unprotected, you will lose dexterity in LESS than 3 minutes. The first of those three minutes the person will be gasping uncontrollable for air while the flailing limbs quickly start going numb.

    In reality, if you aren't wearing a life jacket and a dry/wet suit while paddling in waters between 32-40 degrees and you fall in, you have less than 2 minutes to get back in your kayak or your trip will turn into a body recovery event.

  2. Thank you for the clarification Rob. I updated my post. Ironically, in previous comments, there were a couple readers who were citing reasons for NOT wearing PFDs. I will never understand that kind of mentality - especially from fellow paddlers. My thoughts and prayers are with the Feeter family.

  3. Very tragic. We will keep the Feeter family in our prayers. There was an incident here on the Kiski River yesterday. It could have could have ended just as tragically, but thank God it didn't. I'll be posting about it on "Rambling On" very soon. Some people just don't realize how dangerous it can be to paddle at this time of year.

  4. Hi Mark. Good to see you posting and blogging again! Yes, George Feeter's death was tragic, but the risk could have been greatly minimized if he had taken proper safety precautions. Review reader's comments on my "Shame on VisitFlorida.com - No PFDs!" for some shocking responses on why kayakers should NOT wear PFDs! Good grief!

  5. Thank you for reporting this Mike and for sharing this story on my post about the importance of gearing up and testing your gear before heading out in cold water.

    Sad news. I hope we can help prevent other tragedies such as this. I hear a new story every year.


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