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Home arrow Dive Reports arrow 28th December 2004 - River Wey, searching for a lost Kayak
Saturday, 21 September 2019
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28th December 2004 - River Wey, searching for a lost Kayak Print

The last dive of the season and my first with the club.

It started with a working party at the boatshed. We were nearly finished when a stranger arrived and asked if we might be able to assist in a search for her brother's Kayak which he'd lost over Christmas. It was a sunny day, the season of goodwill…

So we regrouped, about an hour later and drove in convoy (almost) to somewhere near where the kayak was lost, kitted up and trudged to the river. The kayaks owner identified an impressive tangle of trees and branches and suggested that that's where he'd got stuck and lost his boat. He was pretty certain that the kayak was still there - just under the surface. The current would have trapped it.  Nevertheless, after taking a brief look around the area, we suggested that, whilst we got ready, perhaps someone should take a good look further downstream - just in case.

Angus wasn't convinced he'd find scalllops or lobsters in the kayak
Angus was not convinced that he'd
find a dinner of lobster and
scallops on this search.

Westy marshalled the group.  After a brief discussion, a dive plan was agreed. We would have only one diver in the water at any time. The active diver would be attached to an anchorperson on the end of a substantial rope. A third person would handle the rope to minimise snagging. Westy would direct activities. At all times we had a standby pair of diver, rope and anchorperson. This simple search was starting to be quite an involved exercise. Rope signals were agreed, practiced and then we dived.

Angus was first in. It soon became apparent that those seemingly still waters were actually quite deep and moving at a fair rate! The best approach was to ditch the fins, take on extra lead and go negatively buoyant, hauling oneself through the current rather than swimming. After a thorough search of the ‘thicket' from all angles Angus reported that all he could be found were ‘twigs and rotting fishing hooks'.

Blimey it's deeper than I thought

Our second (James) and third (Paul) divers followed, this time searching the banks. Visibility was a mighty impressive six inches so it took a long time to find not a lot. During my dive I found there was quite an undercut so I ended up repeatedly crawling from the riverbed up to the undercut and then dropping back under whilst drifting a bit further downstream. With the visibility so low, and current so turbulent it was sometimes difficult to tell which way was up. The glow of the surface was only noticeable when within a few feet. Occasionally the rope would snag, requiring you to haul yourself to whatever branch or root it had caught on (you really couldn't see) and then feel your way to freeing it.

You won't be needing these
A bit more weight should stop you floating
I think we've caught something big
Standing by

It was five or six minutes into our third dive when someone announced that the kayak had been found some quarter of a mile further downstream.

At this point the legendary diving faf became apparent. Their kayak was recovered and in the car park before we were.

For the record

Dive MarshalWesty (John West)
1st DiverAngus Wylie
2nd DiverJames Linehan
3rd DiverPaul Kingston
Anchor woman and Photographer Hannah Pettifer
Temperature was 4C.
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