On a sunny Saturday morning in mid June I met up with some sea kayakers from Sheffield. I had not paddled with these guys before and the plan was to circumnavigate Reeds Island. Neil who I had spoke to on the phone was interested in demo-ing the Taran.
We met next to the Country Park, Hessle and proceeded to sort equipment. Launching at 9.30 am gave us a leisurely two hours to get to the top of Reeds Island and if we had time to spare we could even have a quick stop at the South Ferriby Pub, always a bonus.
We headed onto the water and took a ferry glide across the river pointing up into the incoming flood, facing under the bridge. As we headed out, the water become lumpy and small breaking waves were forming due to the effect of wind against tide, I was happy with the group though, we had discussed experiences prior to launching and knew we were all more than competent in this environment.
We had hardly got a short way across when right in front of us a large dark figure fell from the Bridge dropping 100 ft into the water with a huge splash - it took a split second to realise what had just happened. I called Humber Coastguard straight away on the VHF and reported someone falling from the bridge. We were closer to the shore than to the casualty and so I took the decision to turn around hastily and summon a small motorised inflatable rib that was just launching. Within seconds of informing the rib of what had just happened he was on the scene, closely followed by the Humber Rescue boat and the police helicopter - no one was found.
After much time of giving statements to the police and coastguard we made the group decision to go for a little paddle, we were informed a bicycle had been left on the bridge. I think we all agreed, as sea paddles, being out on the water was probably the best place for us to be. We could be together, yet if necessary, alone with our thoughts and feelings. We had missed the tide to circumnavigate Reeds Island so agreed on a short paddle along the north bank to Brough Haven and back.
A sad and humbling day, its taken me couple of weeks to write this blog post, the poor chap was eventually recovered a week or so later, further down the river.
I have always known that one day, while paddling these busy, industrial and urban waterways I may come across a body in the water and had given it thought of what I would do and how I would deal with it. What I hadn't prepared myself for was to see someone take their own life in front of me. It does change your own outlook and I hope I don't witness this kind of thing again. I will carry on paddling the Humber, and hopefully soon, its a complex, dark and foreboding river but its my home water.
Of course our heartfelt feelings go out to this poor persons family and friends, such a tragedy, rest in peace poor soul..