Wind, waves catch kayakers off guard


A second kayak rescue in three days has lifeguards warning of the dangers of choppy seas and windy conditions.

Andy Lerum, San Diego Lifeguard spokesman, said that at about 8:30 a.m. Monday guards received a 911 call from two people on two kayaks off La Jolla Shores.

“When they got offshore, winds kicked up to the point where they were unable to make it back to shore,” he said. “Fortunately, they had a cell phone.”

Lerum said the kayak pair were about two miles off Scripps Pier when they called for help. Lifeguards on jet skis initially responded, but with wind gusts at the time between 20 and 30 knots and conditions worsening, a lifeguard rescue vessel was eventually sent for from Mission Bay.

The pair were identified as a 47-year-old Chula Vista man and his son.

“Both people got on board the boat which towed their two kayaks back to shore,” Lerum said. “Everybody was fine. There were no injuries.”

Their rescue followed one on Saturday when when two males in their own personal tandem kayak, a 12-year-old boy and his 22-year-old uncle, were navigating the water around Emerald Cove about 2:30 p.m. in a treacherous area known for its cobblestones, reefs and rocks.

San Diego Lifeguard Lt. John Greenhalgh said, “A wave hit them and rolled them onto the rocks and the reef,” he said.

Lifeguards were going to use personal watercraft for the rescue but called in a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department helicopter was dispatched for a cliff rescue when they boy complained of stomach pain. He was transported to Rady’s Children’s Hospital for treatment of stomach pains and injuries to his legs.

The 22-year-old, who suffered cuts and bruises and had complained of hypothermia, refused transport to a hospital after being checked over by a medic.

Such incidents could often be avoided if kayakers are more careful to check out wind and water conditions before exploring suspect areas.

“During the winter season you get a little bit of swell and you need to look and see what the waves and water is doing just prior to going in,” he said.

“A good rule of thumb is to sit outside (an area) about 20 minutes, seeing if there are set waves, how long they can stay in there,” he added. “People who just go in don’t do so safely, and the next thing they know there’s a wave breaking behind them that puts them onto the rocks and reefs.”