Here''s something that should remind everyone to remember basic safety rules.
A fisherman died last Sunday morning in Great South Bay, NY when a wave knocked him off his boat into 10 feet of 52 degree water about 2000 feet from shore. Wind was reportedly up to 28 mph. His friend on board was able to grab him but unable to get him onto the boat. They didn''t have life jackets. They did have a handheld VHF, and issued a distress call. The coast guard was 12 miles away and launched a rigid hulled inflatable within 2 minutes of the call and made it there in 22 minutes, but they were unable to save the man''s life.
An odd twist to this tale is that the local paper carried a front page story two days later criticizing the Suffolk Marine police for not responding faster. The Suffolk Marine base was just 4.6 miles away, but only one officer was on duty at the time of the call, 8am. They have 38-foot boats with an opening in the transom that makes it easy to bring people out of the water, but the boat ideally needs a crew of 3. When a second officer came in near 9, they went out anyway, but it took them 33 minutes to go the 4.6 miles to the scene.(The 1am-9am shift has more officers for the summer season, beginning 2 weeks before Memorial Day.)
I thought the newspaper''s slam against the marine police was odd because both fishermen were experienced boaters, and still chose to go out in stormy conditions without life jackets. Sometimes the result of foolish behavior is the ultimate penalty. It was just a few years ago that Eric Tabarly, a world famous sailor who never wore a lifejacket, was washed overboard and drowned.
With automatically inflating suspender style lifejackets, there''s no excuse for going without one. We have to be able to save ourselves on the water--even the fastest response by rescuers can be too late. And sometimes just the shock of falling into cold water can kill.
Let''s be careful out there! A harness and lifejacket are essential in rough conditions--which can also spring up just from a passing boat''s wake.