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View Full Version : PWC - a Sensible Alternative for Beach Rescue?



Oyvind Snibsoer
10-26-2005, 10:02 AM
OK guys & gals, I'm going to raise a highly controversial issue here.

As some of you may know, I've just returned from a Red Cross mission in Thailand where I've helped to run a water rescue & safety course.

We used Zodiac rubber dinghies during the course, and witnessed some problems related to their use in a "Bay Watch" setting.

1. A subber dinghy with motor is fairly heavy. It takes at least 6 people to carry the dinghy with motor. The tide in the Phuket province varies by ~12'.

2. Launching a dinghy from the beach requires at least 3 people in any amount of breaking surf, although 2 people may be able to do it if they're very well trained, big and strong. Thais are not very big...

3. A dinghy with only one person on board is susceptible to the bow being caught in the wind and capsizing in a strong headwind and big waves.

I hate to admit it, but I can see that a PWC may make more sense for this kind of service, as it is easily launched by a single man. Because of its speed and agility, a trained operator can negotiate a fairly big surf. OTOH, the PWC is an unstable platform and the distressed person cannot be injured, and must be able to assist in getting aboard the PWC. However, the rescuer may still get to the distressed swimmer and keep the person afloat until heavier vessels can come to the assistance.

As we are pretty unfamiliar with beach rescue here in Norway, and PWC are thankfully banned for all practical purposes, I'd appreciate your (sensible) thoughts on this issue. I know y'all hate PWCs, but they may actually prove useful here, no?

Donn
10-26-2005, 10:10 AM
I've spent a fair amount of time in the surf, and I don't see a single man easily launching a PWC in heavy surf. If you want a craft that is easily launched by one, in heavy surf, and providing enough flotation to aid in rescue, I'd look at a surf board.

Beyond that, I'd say that hundreds of years of life-guarding along the sea, in many nations, has pretty well proven the efficiency of the humble oar-driven surfboat.

Billy Bones
10-26-2005, 10:15 AM
I seem to recall seeing a rescue pwc trailing a body-board for just such a situation.

ssor
10-26-2005, 10:25 AM
Originally posted by Billy Bones:
I seem to recall seeing a rescue pwc trailing a body-board for just such a situation.This has been on the TV news of late. Seems to me the quickest way to get to people in a wreck situation.

Chris Stewart
10-26-2005, 10:27 AM
PWC are used in Hawaii for ocean rescue. Ever see programs on monster wave surfing?

http://www.aloha.com/~lifeguards/jski2.jpg

http://www.aloha.com/~lifeguards/wrunner.html

Ian McColgin
10-26-2005, 10:38 AM
The jerkski industry made a huge effort - giving machines to fire departments and rescue units all over the place - and did find a niche where it's true, the skidumb is about the best thing going - in big warm weather surf for the rescue of athletes by other athletes. These are fast assists more than rescues.

In cold water, something more like a real boat - the RBI's are wonderful in breaking water near shore, while the new 44'ers are perfect for open water - with a crew sufficient to both maintain station and recover a casualty in violent water is the way to go from the surface.

Helocopters with good crew and rescue swimmers are often faster and safer.

Sea Frog
10-26-2005, 10:42 AM
My advice is to confine them to rescue-only duty, though even so they'd be used for rescuing the wrecks they'd thsmselves have occasioned. As a kayaker they spoil my day and I dread them. Spot us to late, then veer off too slow cause they're too fast.
All a zodiac needs is a simple catway or a beach mooring.

Thad Van Gilder
10-26-2005, 11:21 AM
My brother is the leutenent for the Upper Township Beach Patrol In Strathmere, New Jersey. They ONLY use PWC for beach rescues anymore. It was as rescent as 10 years ago when they ONLY used rowed lifeboats that looked like seabright skiffs. They do still use the life boats, but the PWC are so versetle and fast that He doesn't see any reason to not use them.

-Thad

Mike Vogdes
10-26-2005, 03:49 PM
I think PWC's are definetly the way to go for rough conditions. In the hands of a experienced operator they are very effective. Not everybody hates jet skies, its not the machines fault they have a bad reputation, we all know its the no nothing first time operators that cause all the problems. In reality they are great fun and safe is used properly.

Hans Friedel
10-26-2005, 03:51 PM
You can get this one from Sweden (Big Brother:)

http://www.fid.se/

Hans

dmede
10-26-2005, 05:02 PM
Originally posted by Donn:
I've spent a fair amount of time in the surf, and I don't see a single man easily launching a PWC in heavy surf. If you want a craft that is easily launched by one, in heavy surf, and providing enough flotation to aid in rescue, I'd look at a surf board.

Beyond that, I'd say that hundreds of years of life-guarding along the sea, in many nations, has pretty well proven the efficiency of the humble oar-driven surfboat.Nonsense. They do it on Oahu's north shore all the time. It's the only way to get to some of those guys. An oar-driven surf boat is not fast enough to pull a surfer out of the inner break before the next wave hits and it would never survive that impact.

With a special soft pad (like a body board) attached to the back they make excellent water retrival vehicles. They have a guy on Kauai now who patrols the entire length of the Na Pali shore on one of these. He can zip back and forth and cover a huge area in very little time, try that all day long pulling oars.

edited to add: who's going to row out to save this guy?
http://www.surfersvillage.com/img/st/FleaFreefall26103.jpg

[ 10-26-2005, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: dmede ]

Mike Vogdes
10-26-2005, 05:05 PM
Hans, great site... Those machines are awesome.

Donn
10-26-2005, 05:14 PM
"Nonsense. They do it on Oahu's north shore all the time." If they single-handedly launch PWC's through breaking surf "all the time," it shouldn't be too hard for you to find us a picture of it taking place, eh?

Alan D. Hyde
10-26-2005, 05:27 PM
Good photo, dmede---

http://www.surfersvillage.com/img/st/FleaFreefall20%26103.jpg

Now, if I could just shrink it a little so that it doesn't blow up the page.

:D

Alan

[ 10-26-2005, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

George Roberts
10-26-2005, 05:30 PM
It is foolish to rely on muscle power in a rescu situation.

If a small rescue boat is desired, it should have a small motor.

dmede
10-26-2005, 05:38 PM
Originally posted by Donn:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />"Nonsense. They do it on Oahu's north shore all the time." If they single-handedly launch PWC's through breaking surf "all the time," it shouldn't be too hard for you to find us a picture of it taking place, eh?</font>[/QUOTE]Donn I'm not your secretary, fetch your own pics... Iíve been on the beach and watched them do it, that's all I need.

If you've spent "a fair amount of time in the surf" then you should have some idea how far out the break is in really big conditions. You should be aware that channels allow you to get out more or less unmolested and that the break often forms in peaks and not in a long line across the entire beach, allowing rescuers to hang out just outside the break and sweep in as needed. But you knew all that right? Big Kahuna.

Mike Vogdes
10-26-2005, 05:39 PM
Donn,

Have a look at this.

http://www.jetskistunts.com/contents.htm

Donn
10-26-2005, 05:47 PM
Thanks, Mike. I've seen them riding in the surf right here, although not 65' surf. I've never, however seen one launched through breaking heavy surf.

dmede...first let me remind you that this is not the bilge.

Second, the time in the surf that I speak of is at the beach, and I fish in it. The rescues that Oyvind spoke of involved launching through breaking surf, at the beach. That's not out at a break, that's breaking at the shore.

dmede
10-26-2005, 05:49 PM
Oyvind, here's a good essay on the developmment of these systems. It contains some info on comparisons between surf board asssists, small craft assists and the PWC assists.

http://www.efpmagazine.com/Equipment/Equip0205a.asp

[ 10-26-2005, 05:51 PM: Message edited by: dmede ]

dmede
10-26-2005, 05:57 PM
Well, you haven't seen it and I have. Thats about all it amounts to for now. It is possible, albiet hard to concicve, I admit.

They use special dollys with very large soft rubber tires to get into the water. One man can do it but usually you have two pushing the dolly down the beach. The PWC floats on the first bit of incoming water that hits it (very little water needed). The operator jumps on is away before the water pulls back down the shore. Once he's going he can quickly weave out and over the inner rough stuff until he's at the break line where he's in line with the really big surf, but not infront of it.

On most heavy days they do not wait until someone is down to launch they go out in patrols and stay in the water near the action.

Your right Donn this is not the bilge, and I apologize to other contributors. That has never stopped you of course.

[ 10-26-2005, 05:58 PM: Message edited by: dmede ]

Alan D. Hyde
10-26-2005, 06:03 PM
http://www.jetskistunts.com/gal/bigcurl.jpg

***

Alan

dmede
10-26-2005, 06:07 PM
Alan, if you've ever seen footage of big surf contests you've probably seen those guys disappear under the foam explosion just as the lip hits the surface. It's amazing to see them engulphed by it and then zip out again as the wave slows.

Oyvind Snibsoer
10-27-2005, 08:38 AM
Thanks guys, we'll have to look more into the PWC/rescue sled combo. The Swedish craft looked very interesting, but at >300kg it may be a bit heavy for the intended use.

The project is really very much in its initial stage. We had a 3-day seminar in Bangkok with reps from the Thai RC Society, Navy, Marine Police, Dept of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Nat'l Parks Service and the Marine Authorities. We then ran a 4-day course at Patong Beach in Phuket. The course was an adjusted version of the course we run here in Norway. I'll probably travel to Thailand just before X-mas to do a new seminar with reps from the above mentioned agencies. We'll then try to define and create a national Thai water rescue and safety education plan.

It's funny, though. The Thais don't really need our help. Although they didn't have any significant focus on water rescue at all before the Tsunami, Dec. 26th certainly changed that. But the wish to build up a water rescue capacity is much more aimed at making the tourists feel secure, than any real concern about their own citizens. The Thai Navy has already run one course in water rescue and safety, and from what we've seen it would seem to be as good or better than anything we've got.

The real problem is that, due to the hierarchical and bureaucratic nature of Thai society, the different agencies do not communicate with easch other. Each agency will prefer to develop its own resources, and it is unthinkable for, e.g. the Marine Police, to send candidates to then Navy for training. The only organization that seems to be able to take the middle ground and enable communication betwen the agencies seems to be the Thai Red Cross Society.

Further challenges are to develop a voluneer SAR organization within the Thai RCS, and to streamline the national Thai SAR organization. Thailand is boun by the IMO to have a national sea SAR service, but there is no similar organization for land based disasters. AAlso, there is not even a single, national emergency telephone number to call AFAIK. We will work together with the Thai RC to move the different agencies towards a more cooperative model.

For a brief intro of how the Norwegian SAR service is organized, see http://www.odin.dep.no/jd/norsk/aktuelt/pressesenter/videoarkiv/bn.html# , a brochure can be downloaded from http://odin.dep.no/filarkiv/183865/Infohefte_engelsk.pdf