If you have yet to read or hear about this incredible story of a rapid sinking you can see it here
I’ve often thought about writing a book entitled “My Life: Seconds from Disaster”. As a helicopter pilot this phrase used to come to mind now and then, but the more I thought about it the more it became applicable to other occasions, too. Towing our 33′ boat all up and down the East Coast provided plenty of fodder for stories that begin with “So there I was…” It’s even applicable to something as mundane as driving a car. Flying, towing, driving, or boating all have something in common, namely “bad things can happen quickly”.
This is not to say I spend my time nervously staring around, eyes bulging from my head, as a cold sweat breaks out waiting for something bad to happen. The point is, nobody who was ever in an accident planned for it to happen. We just have to accept the fact that, no matter what we do to stay safe, there’s always the ‘other guy’. 9 times out of 10 we’ll have enough time to take action that prevents an unfortunate occurrence. (constant bearing, decreasing range, anyone?) And there’s always the specter of a ‘submerged object’. Let’s take the 120 Seconds example. Think about it from your perspective when you are out for a day on the water. If you struck a submerged object and found yourself sinking, what would you do? Your first reaction would likely be to get PFD’s on everybody. This is a good thought, but where are they? In a perfect world, everybody would already be wearing them, but as they are likely not, how fast can you get to them? Are they in a nice form fit zippered bag just as you picked them up from the store shelf? Hope the zipper works. Are they located down in the cuddy, under the berth, or under the various water toys and bags? They need to be accessible in seconds.
Most recreational boaters don’t have life rafts, but if you do, how quickly can it be deployed? Whether you do or don’t, do you have an emergency “go bag” that you can grab on your way into the raft or water? Now would be a good time to make sure you’ve got a fully charged waterproof VHF handheld in that bag. Without an EPIRB, the radio will be key to getting help sooner than later.
We don’t need to be nervous, we just need to be aware. And ready.