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post #39 of Old 01-23-2012 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post

Just to clarify, I wasn't trying to say that everyone wants to talk to you for their entertainment. I believe everyone wants to talk to you because you can answer questions that relate to their deep seeded fears.

As for my ER doctor acquaintance, I should have been more precise with my language. Indeed it was a liferaft that he swam from, not a lifeboat.. I'll relate the short version of his story here:

He was crossing the pacific single-handed to Hawaii on a well found steel sailboat (can't recall the rig or specifics). During the night he felt a sudden thump and rushed on deck. He couldn't see anything despite good lighting but he figured he had hit something. Quickly he realised he was taking on water fast. He had "several" bilge pumps and an engine driven pump but quickly was loosing ground with the water. It was about 2hours of searching for the leak (which he underscores is very hard to do once there is water IN the bilge) when he realized that he was going to have to abandon ship.

He was about 2-3 days sail from Hawaii and he readied his gear and raft, activated his epirb and continued trying to find/fix the leak. He truely did step up to his life raft when the decks were awash.

After a couple hours a C-130 came overhead and he radioed them by VHF. They told him that a ship was being re-directed to him and should be there soon. He waited in the raft for about 18hrs and the ship arrived. It had a hell of a time finding him in 6-8ft seas but the C-130 returned and was able to relay radio messages. For some reason he wasn't able to radio the ship directly, but he could radio the Coast Guard C-130 and they could relay.

The plan was to have the ship maneuver to hit his raft. The plan was to hit him forward of amidships of the freighter and a jacob's ladder was at or just aft of amidships. This is the part when he got scared as he realized that if the ship ran him over, he was toast, and if he contacted after the ladder, he would be in the prop and would be shark-kibble.

As the ship drew near, since he was unable to maneuver the inflatable raft, he took a gamble that he had to get to the jacob's ladder and swam from his raft to the ship, aiming to contact the hull about 1/3 from the bow, which he did. He slid along it until the ladder reached him, and climbed up. He said he wasn't scared during the sinking, or in the raft, but when he had to leave the raft and swim to the ship, he wasn't sure he would make it.

He did make it, and is still sailing. Never figured out what hit him, but it just goes to show that sometimes even the best preps (steel boat and engine-driven pump) can't stave off disaster. Sounds like his handheld VHF and Epirbs were lifesavers.


PS I wonder how much better off he would be with a maneuverable life-boat like the Portland Pudgy. Seems like you could intercept a nearly stationary ship under your own power, and multiple attempts could be made.

I wasn't referring to you when I inidicated many people are entertained by the stories of people in harms' way. It is a generic / human characteristic well documented, for instance by the spectators at car races, and many likewise dangerous sports.

And thank you for the story of your friend! I can really associate with his trepidation / anxiety at leaving the raft to swim to the ladder of the rescue boat. At least they had a ladder hanging down. The Kim Jacob did not.

But, I sure would be scared sh_tless swimming right up to the freighter, knowing that overshooting the target ladder, would be quite disasterous.

Swimming around these freighters / tankers is not a comfortable activity, but is only inspired when all else has failed.

As much as I agree that ideally his raft would have had its' own power, but the other alternative would have been if the freighter would deploy a lifeboat to pick him up. Which I might assume they had at least one of.

I have been wondering if perhaps some AMVER participant training of how to use their lifeboats, and how to bring them to their own stern and tow them if there is an issue with retrieving them using the deployment cables.
Coupled with the establishment of a Sea Rescue Reward Fund, wherein sailors / civilians contribute, much like to AAA or SeaTow, to a central fund which pays any merchant marines who conduct a lifeboat deployment and retrieve any sailors, a substantial, i.e., $5000.? reward.

Between the training and the reward, I would think a lot of their hesitation to deploy what would clearly greatly improve the rescue / transfer process: their lifeboat(s), would be resolved.

Just a thought.......
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