Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Raw Video Footage From TowBoatUS Rescue of Texas Kayakers Has Lessons For All Boaters

The first kayaker Capt. Michael Windham came upon last week on the open waters of Galveston Bay.
Capsizing on open water can mean life or death to a boater suddenly finding themselves bobbing in the sea. As a wall of thunderstorms approached Galveston Bay late one day last week, two kayakers suddenly found themselves in the water, unable to re-board their swamped craft – and made two near fatal mistakes, captured on video

The incident is a reminder to all boaters that if they ever find themselves aboard a vessel that’s sinking or capsizing, always stay with the stricken craft. It may also help boaters, who are now preparing for the new boating season, understand why life jackets are so important.

While TowBoatUS is not an emergency rescue service, Captain Michael Windham of TowBoatUS Clear Lake TX, overheard on his VHF radio USCG Sector Houston hailing “pan-pan” asking mariners to provide urgent aid to two persons reported in the open bay about 1,000 yards offshore a few miles south of the Kemah Channel. Leaving Clear Lake and with USCG permission, Capt. Windham raced through the empty channel’s no wake zone and was on scene in less than five minutes, initially finding one kayaker hanging on to two semi-sunk kayaks, but in good shape. Windham asked the kayaker for the location of her friend, and headed in the direction the woman pointed, proceeding cautiously.

While conditions were calm, skies were threatening with lightning coming from a not-so-distant wall of dark, ominous clouds. Knowing how difficult it is to see a single person in the water and concerned that he may run over the swimmer, Capt. Windham proceeded slowly until he saw the woman’s head barely above the water. She made a feeble attempt to raise one arm – it was clear she was exhausted. Capt. Windham safely brought her aboard and within minutes both kayakers were safely ashore – including the kayaks.

Visit for more information on how to stay safe on the water, and download the Paddle Ready app (free for iPhone and Android users) for easy access to safety information and ACA certified instructors near you. 

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