Kayakers survive the tsunami

December 12, 2006

Okay, I know I’m late (and thanks to the guys at seapaddler.co.uk) but here is the story of Bob Kadiko

IT WAS THE DAY AFTER Christmas, and Bob Kandiko ’76 [class of 76 at Cornell University] and his wife and niece were kayaking the calm, teal waters off the island of Rawi in Thailand. They had been looking for a place to have lunch when they came upon the perfect spot–a gorgeous cove with a white-sand beach. But one thing struck Kandiko as strange: the ocean had receded so far that it had exposed the jagged coral seafloor– at high tide.

Kandiko, a middle-school science teacher from Bellingham, Washington, knew that an empty bay at high tide meant that a massive force had displaced a large amount of water, and quickly. And he knew that meant a tsunami.

As the kayakers watched, a four-meter-high wave rushed in, parallel to the shore, and filled the entire bay and beach in fifteen seconds. “Half of a football field is what we were looking at,” Kandiko says. The wave circled back and collided with itself like water in a giant blender, creating a swell that lifted the eighteen-foot kayaks and shoved them away from shore. “Right after that happened,” says his niece, Camille Kandiko ’02 [class of 2002 at Cornell], “my uncle screamed at us to paddle out to the ocean–fast.”

Kandiko knew that they’d be safest in deep water, where the tsunami would be a massive but navigable ocean swell; it breaks into a wave only as it nears land, he says. “And my comment was, ‘If it’s a tsunami, there’s going to be more coming.’ ” Sure enough, fifteen minutes later another wave–twice as big as the first–surged along the coast and crashed into the jungle, ripping up trees and churning the clear water to dark brown. “That’s when we started to get creeped out,” Camille says, “because we realized that had we been in there, we never would have survived.”

They made it to shore several exhausting hours later, but it would be days before they reached the mainland and discovered that the tsunami had left hundreds of thousands missing or dead throughout Southeast Asia.

from here

Intersting stuff. First that they survived at all (though from a quick google search Bob appears to be an experienced kayaker) and second that the kayaks didn’t seem that disturbed by the big waves. Maybe I’ll be okay if a tsunami hits in Japan after all.

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