App leads rescuers to paddle-less kayacker


A WESTERN Port kayaker was being blown out to sea towards the Nobbies when rescued by Volunteer Marine Rescue, Sunday afternoon, 22 May.

The man’s worried wife, watching from The Pines beach, Shoreham, alerted emergency services that he was in trouble in the strong northerly winds.

The 49-year-old, of Balnarring, was picked up by the rescue crews in what they described as “atrocious” conditions and taken back to Flinders pier for an emotional reunion.

The rescue service’s Graeme McGillivray said the kayaker had left Balnarring beach and paddled to meet his wife and child at Shoreham.

He started paddling back but the tide had turned and was running at six knots towards the heads and winds had picked up to 20 knots.

The man had lost his paddle, which was not tethered to the kayak, and was “running very scared straight out to sea”, Mr McGillivray said.

“His wife dialled the [mobile phone] app Find-My-iPhone which tracked his distance and direction as being one-fifth of the way out to The Nobbies [off Phillip Island]. She was brilliant.

“I went to my phone and we plotted the course and the Air Wing did the same.

“When we arrived they were hovering overhead and the Water Police were following.

“He was a very lucky man; he did the right thing and stayed with his kayak and had his mobile phone in a waterproof bag, but he should have had his paddle tethered.

“If he had had his paddled he would not have been in danger.

“We took him on board and kept him warm and dropped him at Flinders pier where he was met by his wife and daughter.

“It was a very emotional time and his wife didn’t say anything to us but her face said thank you in a very special way.”

Acting Sergeant Ben Penrose, of the Water Police, said the man was wearing a life jacket.

First published in the Western Port News – 24 May 2016


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