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Old 02-10-2017, 12:14 PM   #1
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Staying With The Boat And Other Safety Myths

This short article in the current Soundings, by a former USCG rescue swimmer, offers some clear-eyed advice:

Staying with the boat and other safety myths | Soundings Online
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Old 02-10-2017, 12:35 PM   #2
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Key words: UNTIL RESCUE ARRIVES!
I would take a burning boat pulpit over swimming anyday UNTIL RESCUE ARRIVES.
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Old 02-11-2017, 11:04 AM   #3
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This advice is in the same category as "always wear your lifejacket."

The Coast Guard and other boating safety authorities are charged with reducing fatalities on the water. The overwhelming number of those are from small, open boats close to shore in relatively decent weather.

So, advice like "always stay with the boat" is sound... for the intended audience.
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Old 02-11-2017, 11:42 AM   #4
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One point...staying with the boat does not necessarily mean till it goes down if there are better options.

That saying which I will bet has been altered enough by hack instructors really means, stay in the immediate area of the boat first and foremost. It is more likely to be seen in many cases, it might be what others are reporting as the incident scene and the search starts there, and ultimately it may be the best lifeboat/life support system you have.

Survival can be a complex situation broken down into bite sized pieces. Each one isn't the right answer, but the combination and proper order of those pieces are what help you survive.
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Old 02-11-2017, 12:18 PM   #5
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What I took from the article was that, in a crisis situation the boater may become so fixated on solving problems within the boat that he's slow to weigh options, like evacuating in an orderly way. I can imagine myself trying to stabilize a bad situation by devoting every bit of mental and physical energy to keeping the water out of the boat, while communicating with passengers / crew and with potential help. As long as there's a slender chance of saving the boat, it would feel defeatist to refocus on stepping off.

Two offshore sinking scenarios in recent news depict vessels that sank out from beneath their crews, who found themselves suddenly in the water and endangered by rigging or cargo. The first is the Bounty, the second the El Faro. Survivors of the Bounty sinking told of the masts, spars and rigging making it hazardous to swim away from the wreck.

No one survived the El Faro sinking, sadly, but what we know from the Voyage Data Recorder ( https://dms.ntsb.gov/public/58000-58...116/598645.pdf ) indicates that, by the time the crew tried to abandon ship, she was listing heavily and cargo containers were spilling off the deck into the churning seas around the sinking ship. Maybe there would never have been a good moment to evacuate, but that sure wasn't it.

On the other hand, some boaters have no choice as to when to go overboard, say following an explosion or fire. And some are indeed rescued after remaining tenaciously with the derelict vessel. A prime example is the case of a 21-foot Everglades open-fisherman that suddenly capsized seventy-some miles west of Clearwater, FL. Four football players were abruptly in 62-degree water. The one survivor was found after two nights, clinging to the overturned hull of the boat.

( Nick Schuyler, lone survivor of NFL players' doomed fishing trip, tells all in book | Tampa Bay Times ).
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Old 02-11-2017, 12:36 PM   #6
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In my opinion the answer is simple, You "step up into a liferaft"

It's a well known fact that once you enter a liferaft your chance of survival has diminished incredibly. Not only that your placing rescue services lives at risk

Unfortunately in my earlier years I've experienced 2 fires at sea and 2 severe leaks (Cabin Sole awash in the night). In the all the cases we struggled and fought to solve the problem rather than take to a raft where our chances of survival would be minimal.

Perhaps some of the forum would find the various books on the Fastnet disaster of interest. A number of people lost there lives boarding rafts and leaving the yachts, while the yachts survived and were recovered days later.
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Old 02-11-2017, 12:42 PM   #7
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Good point about being fixated.

That is the problem with small vessels where the captain is the most experienced seaman and probably the best engineer and damage control man onboard.

In a perfect world, the captain should assign a trustworthy and solid individual to organize the abandon ship situation long before it is needed, then execute it with the captain only participating at the very last moment.

There are plenty of better scenarios to learn from as a small vessel captain than the Bounty and El Faro. They were both large commercial vessels lost in Hurricanes. One possibly because the captain was too self assured and the other maybe not assured enough.

The hardest thing a small vessel captain can do is assign people on board tasks to maximize his resources. The focus becomes intense on fixing the problem and probably has not though through who is really best at doing certain tasks under pressure.
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Old 02-11-2017, 12:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin J View Post
In my opinion the answer is simple, You "step up into a liferaft"

It's a well known fact that once you enter a liferaft your chance of survival has diminished incredibly. Not only that your placing rescue services lives at risk

Unfortunately in my earlier years I've experienced 2 fires at sea and 2 severe leaks (Cabin Sole awash in the night). In the all the cases we struggled and fought to solve the problem rather than take to a raft where our chances of survival would be minimal.

Perhaps some of the forum would find the various books on the Fastnet disaster of interest. A number of people lost there lives boarding rafts and leaving the yachts, while the yachts survived and were recovered days later.
I am pretty sure the rescue swimmer disagrees with the step up to the life raft theory.

And who has that "we'll known fact" that entering the liferaft was diminishing your survival chances?

While it certainly does have some merits...the total rescue scenario may dictate otherwise.

I have to agree with him and strongly debated that topic every time it came up in safety at sea seminars.
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Old 02-11-2017, 03:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
I am pretty sure the rescue swimmer disagrees with the step up to the life raft theory.

And who has that "we'll known fact" that entering the liferaft was diminishing your survival chances?

While it certainly does have some merits...the total rescue scenario may dictate otherwise.

I have to agree with him and strongly debated that topic every time it came up in safety at sea seminars.
If you go back to the Fastnet race disaster you will find that "climbing up into the liferaft" would have saved lives. Every boat that was abandoned survived, many of the crew that went into liferafts did not. In a storm your liferaft is the worst place to be and should be a last resort not a first choice.
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:34 PM   #10
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My comments of "stepping up into the liferaft" certainly raised a few comments, but one must remember in the real world USCG resuce swimmers don't exist. Unfortunately in the U.S. a lot of "boaters "rely on them to get them out of trouble that they should never have been in sadly. I spent many years ocean racing where the only help we have is ourselves and preparation is everything. Our rules get tighter (correctly) every year with required medical certfication, navigation, seamanship, engineering etc requirements, man overboard drills, heavy weather drills, safty at sea seminars. We race beyond the reach of rescue services and are aware how we must rely on ourselves and look after our fellow crewmates we talk about flooding, fire, etc and go through our drills in case it happens. I'm curious now to know how many of the forum members have taken there guests and crew through the boat and talked of the "what if scenario's "
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:45 PM   #11
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On our boat any new visitors, guests and/or crew are given a safety briefing. Years of Captaining a USCG inspected vessels has drilled that into me. Same as our rule of no alcohol until the boat is parked for the day. I want to be the sober one if something happens. Unfortunately there are days when I think I am the only sober one on the water.
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Old 02-11-2017, 06:34 PM   #12
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The Fastnet race is but one tiny example of abandoning ship at sea....I lived a lot more rescues than I read and leaned from anything written about that one particular race. Reading a book about that race or living through it does not make you an expert on safety at sea.

Rescue Swimmers are pretty well trained....they have a clue of what it is like out there whether they are available or not....most of my friends that I deployed including my son probably have a better feel for some of this than most on here. I wouldn't just blow them off.

In fact, the whole concept of stepping up to the liferaft is based on certain criteria....and most of the time....they don't exist in abandoning ship.
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Old 02-11-2017, 07:47 PM   #13
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I have nothing but admiration for the USCG rescue services, They are incredibly well trained. But I believe you missed my context, there is a limit to the distance they travel and can cover. True ocean passage making requires a certain mental apptitude towards self reliance Sure if a problem arises and cannot be contained I'd be one of the first to pick up a radio and seek help as any mariner would.

As the saying "stepping up into the liferaft" is a saying for make sure you need to . If we had a problem on board. Or it was were even remotely needed to abnadon ship, believe me the abandon bag etc and liferaft would be fully prepared etc and awaiting that final decision to deploy long before the decision to deploy was taken.

There have been many instances of people abandoning boats at sea ( not such much coastal) and the boat survives but they don't. The Fastnet was sadly where lots of undertrained people sailing in a race that they should not have been. And was used as an example that a liferaft is not always the best option if you do not need to abandon.

Thankfully over the deacdes since, the crew experience and training has been tightened up considerably for all major ocean and offshore races.

As by the sound of it you have considerable experience in maritime affairs. You yourself must have set your own criteria when the vessel becomes unsafe/uninhabitable, and safty/succor is best in the liferaft etc.

I know over the years I take my responsibility to the lives of my crew and guests live very seriously. Wether Cruising through the Caribbean or 350mls offshore on an ocean race.
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Old 02-11-2017, 07:55 PM   #14
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As we both have said...it depends and that is what the rescue swimmer was saying.

There are times where it is better to have maybe all but one in the liferaft while the last does damage control or firefighting.

The comment is best left unsaid and more appropriate terms used.

I can't count the number of people lost or almost lost because they hesitated in calling for help or waited too long to start abandon ship proceedures.

Survival and rescue are a process, not a snap decision as you pointed out also. So "stepping up to the life raft" can be accurate, but there is a whole lot more that goes with it.

That's all the rescue swimmer and I are pointing out.
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Old 02-11-2017, 08:12 PM   #15
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Old 02-11-2017, 10:36 PM   #16
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I think the article was only telling us to evaluate the situation and to decide on when the best chance of rescue would be. Waiting until 2 o'clock in the morning in the middle of a storm, when the boat was in trouble hours before, may not be the best chance to be calling May day. In other words it may be best to go ugly early.
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Old 02-25-2017, 04:19 PM   #17
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I would rather drown than burn to death but would much prefer to pass peacefully in my sleep.
I have only done two actual rescues at sea, but one stands out in my mind.

My girlfriend and I had just finished having dinner on the ICW, and returned to the boat. From habit, I turned on the VHF and almost immediately heard a mayday call. This guy was apparently offshore, but I decided to take a peek out the inlet to see if I could find him. He claimed his boat was on fire, but had no L/L to find him. The conditions were good, less than 1 meter seas, on a clear night. We saw the fire as soon as we cleared the inlet. Turned out to be about 10 miles away. Racing out there, it appeared we were going to be first on scene. USCG bombarded us with questions as I was manuvering very close to a 65-75 foot fishing boat, about 2/3 involved with heavy flames. There was one very scared, very naked guy on deck with keys in one hand and his pants in the other. He was too high off my deck to jump on my boat; he had already lauched a raft. He ended up jumping into the water, and my GF fished him out of the water. He only had one item to say, and it was lets get out of here, there's propane on deck. It was HOT. I really thought my paint was going to blister. It all had a happy ending, he was solo. USGC showed up maybe 40 minutes later in a 41 utility boat; before that, there was a helicopter telling me to "leave the area; its dangerous", a CBP boat, and a drift boat showed up. These things tend to be chaotic, so I don't know that standard rules apply, and it doesn't much matter, since without practiced behaviour, habits don't really work anyway in a crisis.
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Old 02-25-2017, 05:26 PM   #18
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...would much prefer to pass peacefully in my sleep.[/QUOTE]:

"...just like my Dad, and unlike the 75 screaming people in the back of his airplane."
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:14 AM   #19
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Sailboats are a different situation than powerboats. Without a hole in it, a sailboat is very hard to sink. It can even capsize, roll over 360 degrees and still be in pretty good shape. And, when they sink, they usually sink slowly. Powerboats are very different.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:40 AM   #20
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Diver Dave....usually things are chaotic till an on scene commander (OSC) is established....that was you till the helo showed up and most likely assumed OSC or had been appointed.

When things are chaotic they can be dangerous. Unfortunately, sometimes the good Samaritans actually have the best plan of attack but are waved off too soon.

Then again, most aren't experienced enough or have the right equipment, so it is a tough call.
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