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Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

Couple rescued after kayak capsizes near Julian Rocks

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A man and a woman in their 30s who went on an early morning kayak trip to Julian Rocks on Sunday are counting their lucky stars after spending 90 minutes in the water without lifejackets when it capsized.

The event could have ended in disaster had it not been for the intervention of surf lifesavers who carried out a dramatic rescue effort.

The couple were part of a group of kayakers departing from The Pass for the short paddle early Sunday.

When the kayak capsized after taking on water, a second nearby kayak went to their aid but despite multiple attempts the group were unable to right it due to the huge volume of water inside.

The second group then paddled to shore to raise the alarm initially with Marine Rescue NSW at around 10:45am.

Lifesavers from Byron Bay SLSC and the Far North Coast Support Operations jet ski sighted the stranded man and woman about four kilometres from shore.

Both plucked from the water while their kayak, which was almost submerged by this point, was towed back to Main Beach.

Despite being in water for about 90 minutes, drifting with their kayak and suffering fatigue, the couple were none the worse for their ideal.

Neither of the kayakers were wearing lifejackets at the time.

NSW State Duty Officer Jimmy Keogh said the incident was a timely reminder about the importance of wearing lifejackets.

‘I would like to acknowledge the quick response from the IRB crew at Byron Bay who were able to get on-scene within ten minutes of the report coming it.

‘The two kayakers were extremely fortunate as this incident could easily have escalated had the conditions worsened.

‘It reinforces just how crucial lifejackets are regardless of the type of water activity you’re participating it,’ Mr Keogh said.

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  1. This story sounds very strange!

    A group of paddlers heading out to sea with a couple of them, at least not having basic safety equipment and no life jackets. Then when they get into trouble, leaving the two paddlers without life jackets with a submerged kayak out at sea, while the others raise the alarm….
    Paddling out in the open ocean in a kayak without a spray skirt does seem a tad foolish, or maybe the kayak had a leak??
    Apart from the obvious boo-boo of not having some basic safety gear that could have resolved the situation here are a couple of other options that may have been a bit safer:

    Assuming no one had a mobile phone to call emergency services……
    Tow the kayakers back to shore and abandon submerged kayak. (come and get it later)
    Give the kayakers without life jackets life jackets from paddlers in the seaworthy boats while the sea worthy boats paddle back to shore for help. Maybe no one in the group had life jackets??!! Also have to evaluate current conditions, you don’t want to risk more lives….
    One kayak stays with the paddlers and submerged boat while the others go back to shore. (the article doesn’t say how many boats involved).

    Be interested to hear more of how this situation came to be and played out…..

  2. A lot of questions raised here by the Rohan. Of course being wise after the event is not replacement for taking ALL safety precautions before going on the paddle. If the paddle was one of those organised tours then the tour operators need to be sorted pronto.


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