How stranded family survived remote beach
A FAMILY stranded in a cave after a kayaking misadventure huddled around a fire lit from seaweed and sticks to keep warm during a daring Australia Day rescue.
Strong winds and a dangerous swell trapped a mother, her eight-year-old son, two teenage daughters and a teenage friend in a cove on the beautiful but dangerous Second Valley coastline in South Australia as they attempted to kayak to their base at the Rapid Bay Campground on Saturday afternoon.
Campground manager Reena Wolston said a relative of the kayakers had raised concerns about the group, who she said had set off about 2pm along the picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula.
The Wirrina flotilla of the SA Sea Rescue Squadron was dispatched at 7.45pm and found the kayakers were being swept into the rocky entrance of a cave about 500m north of Rapid Bay.
SA Sea Rescue Squadron Commodore Matt Curnow said onshore wind and rising tide had prevented the inexperienced kayakers from leaving the cove, near cliffs where two men were winched to safety on January 1.
"When they went in there the tide was lower and the sea was calm and they handled it without any difficulty, but by the time it came for them to leave the tide had come in and the wind had picked up strength and they could not safely handle the kayaks into the water," he said. "The water and waves were getting higher and breaking and they couldn't climb around the cliffs."
He said a rocky reef prevented the squadron's 7.5m-long boat from getting within 50m of the distressed kayakers.
The crew told the kayakers to seek shelter in a cave on the cliff face until two volunteers returned to the scene on board a smaller rigid inflatable boat which they were able to take on to the beach.
But he said the conditions were too dangerous for the rescuers to leave with the kayakers on board and it was decided the crew remain, pending a helicopter rescue. He said his crew managed to get the group some jackets and made a fire using dried seaweed and twigs because of concerns the quartet, particularly the eight-year-old boy, were showing signs of hypothermia.
The MedStar helicopter winched the family to safety in a 30-minute operation and transported the group to an oval at Yankalilla at 10.30pm.
Mr Curnow said many people are not aware of the risks that exist around the coast.
"If you are entering into an activity with which you are not familiar, ask other people (for guidance)," he said.