Mar 18, 2009, 12:15 PM
Post #1 of 2
From Ed Crouch-- Marblehead, MA:
Boating accident in Clearwater, FL
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This is not a sailing story per se, but it seems to me worth noting as we prepare for another North American season. Today the AP reported on a 28 page US Coast Guard report about the incident in Clearwater, FLwhere three NFL players were lost at sea in a boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico. These were very fit, very disciplined, extremely athletic young men. You may recall this from a few weeks back. The report's synopsis is: they were 62nm off the Florida coast in a 21 foot outboard, open cockpit boat; the weather turned foul and the seas kicked up to 14 feet; while they were fishing the anchor may have become fouled on a coral reef and they could not free nor recover it; the boat swamped and capsized [my speculation -- the bow was submerged in a wave that the boat could not ride over because of the fouled anchor line, and/ or four 200+ pound guys on the bow pulling on the line...?]; all four guys ended up in the 63 degree water, but all were able to get life vests on; no emergency calls were made from the boat; two guys may have shed their life vests and given up; after two days in the water, one thought he saw land and tried to swim to it, also shedding his life vest because it was too tight to swim in; three guys are dead; the one who stayed with the boat and had his life vest on is alive after four days in the water on an overturned boat. How tragic.
There are so many seemingly obvious lessons to learn from this. I don't presume to preach here, or for this to be an exhaustive list, but rather I share my thoughts for your consideration: Don't overestimate your, or your boat's abilities. Be prepared for adverse weather. Don't venture beyond your reasonable limits. Let people know where you plan to go -- and tell someone if your plans change. Bring proper gear even for an afternoon or day-long outing -- not only for the air temperature but for the water temperature too. Wear life vests because when bad things happen on boats, those bad things tend to happen a whole lot faster than you think they will. Stay with the boat until it sinks or you are rescued. Don't give up hope. At Fort Schuyler (SUNY Maritime College) they taught us: "The sea is selective, slow in the recognition of skill and aptitude yet quick in sinking the unfit." Sadly, it's true.