Prepared Crew on Charter Boat Stardust Rescues Dumb Kayakers

I guess if you are going to be stupid, it is also good to be lucky. A few days ago, two kayakers, a man and a woman, paddled out several miles into the Pacific ocean off Goleta, CA, 15 miles west of Santa Barbara. They ended up in the water after their kayak swamped and capsized. Neither was wearing a personal flotation devices (PFD), which are called life-savers for a reason. Fortunately for the hapless paddlers, they were spotted by Stardust, a charter sports-fishing boat. Unlike the kayakers, the crew on Stardust knew what they were doing and rescued the kayakers from the water.  

In a phone interview with a local TV station, Jason Diamond, one of the owners of the Stardust, credited his crew, Larry Spurlock, Christian Geisler as well as Cory Scott and Lewis Turner, for making the heroic ocean rescue roughly three miles out from Devereaux and Isla Vista — not far from Platform Holly. “They were out there,” Diamond said, referring to the kayakers. “No lifejackets.”

“We do these drills all the time,” Diamond said. “That was just a good textbook save. Those guys did a great job.” 

Congratulations to the owner’s captain and crew of the Stardust for their preparation and skill.  And to all of us who go out on the water, we should not need to be reminded that over 80% of all drowning victims were not wearing life-jackets. As a longtime sea-kayaker, I know that kayaking can be a wonderful and safe sport, but anyone who kayaks without a pfd is a fool. 

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7 Responses to Prepared Crew on Charter Boat Stardust Rescues Dumb Kayakers

  1. Pat Byrnes says:

    Let me go out on a limb and take a few wild guesses:
    The kayakers didn’t have paddle floats and weren’t wearing wetsuits, either, and didn’t have a waterproof bag with a VHF radio or other emergency gear…

  2. Rick Spilman says:

    Good guess, from all I can see. It is hard to judge too much as the video only shows a brief glimpse of a capsized reed kayak. It doesn’t look like a sit on top. My guess is that they didn’t have a spray skirt either. The woman did have sunglasses, however.

  3. Bob says:

    A pdf would not have helped much, I think they would have been better off with a pfd.

  4. Meanwhile, back on Lake Ronkonkoma

    these kids were very lucky too.

  5. R says:

    Deep Trouble and More Deep Trouble are two anthologies of kayaking trips gone bad, mostly in the Northwest. Might make good gifts if you know people with kayaks and lacking common sense.

  6. Willy says:

    Not the first time people have made poor decisions nor the last. A snide comment would be “they wanted a free ride on the power boat”.

    Here in Maine on Frenchman’s Bay there are too many tourists that think that because our bay is only two miles wide and the coves seem placid and calm they dont need PFD’s either. 3 people died last year alone. A tragedy that not enough people are aware of the dangers.

  7. I think we should try to be less antagonistic in our assessments of these incidents and refrain from calling people “dumb” or “stupid” or “darwin award nominees” – whatever. Every sea kayaker I know started at the bottom, knowing nothing, and we’ve all made our share of mistakes – some large, some small. This young couple was definitely uninformed, and at age 19 or thereabouts, trust me, I could easily have made the same mistake. The larger questions that interest me in the wake of such incidents are where they got the kayak (was it a rental, for example?), how they failed to get the memo on things like PFD’s, the high risk of paddling solo, the difficulty of a solo recovery from swamping or capsizing, the importance of kayak floatation, water temperature (avg. 58F) etc., etc. – things that are fundamental to kayak safety. One thing is clear to me from constantly reviewing close calls and fatalities in paddlesports: the safety message lags far behind sales.
    Moulton Avery, National Center for Cold Water Safety (;