January 27, 2008
This letter is directed toward all the small boaters that come to Prince William Sound via Whittier.
Please remember that using the sound all year round can be dangerous but especially so from October through April. There are no commercial towing people available so you are on your own if something goes wrong. Do not expect that the Coast Guard will come rescue you. If they were to respond immediately it still takes them 3 hours to get to Whittier waters. THEY CAN NOT RESPOND IMMEDIATELY!
You are risking your life in the sound if you think your river boats, open skiffs and Zodiacs are ocean going craft. Every winter foolish people risk their lives for the sake of hunting. If you do have a need to hunt make sure you go out in an ocean worthy vessel. Never use more than one third of your fuel to go out because it may take more fuel to get back when the winds are blowing from the West. The wind predominately blows from the West. Always take an extra week worth of food because the weather may keep you held up even longer than a week. Never go out on the water if the wind is blowing more knots than your vessel is feet long. A life jacket is not adequate protection in the winter. If you can not afford a survival suit you can not afford to hunt.
This past week we had 3 young men come down with kayaks thinking they would just paddle out to Shotgun Cove. Stupidity runs rampant when you are young and strong. One of them almost lost his life when he went in the water (over 30 min.) before we could get to him. And the other 2 had to be rescued as well. It was gusting to 40knots. The young men did not even have skirts on the kayaks. Two staff members from The Whittier Small Boat Harbor and other Whittier residents risked their lives to save 3 very foolish young men.
Hunters come every winter with their boats (not an ocean vessel) over loaded with gear and to many people on the boat. If they were to actually have a successful hunt there is no where to put the deer. A lot of times they bring their children into this dangerous situation as well. It is one thing to risk your own life as an adult it not alright to risk your children’s lives. We here in the Whittier do our best to help everyone but we should not have to risk our lives for just plain stupidity. If you just want to get away from home for a few days Prince William Sound is not the place to come. The water can be deadly.
Resident 23 years
To the rescuer!!
These young and strong idiots are friends of my girlfriends brother. I had talked to him before this and told him that if he needed gear he could contact me and I would let him borrow drysuits/jackets/baselayers if he needed them. I told him that the water here was dangerous. I hope this education sticks and am glad the cost of it wasn't a life. Cudos to the rescuer, I know it was a risk to to your well being.