It was Superbowl Sunday about 20 years ago and we were moored in my boat at my favorite remote bay. The night before there was no wind and absolutely no waves with the ocean flat as a bathtub. Its never like that. I thought to myself, "This is strange. So calm. Very unusual."

Sure enough around 2 am the palm trees start to sway. By dawn the wind was blowing 60 plus. My anchor let loose and the boat headed for the rocks. Just before hitting the rocks, the anchor caught. I was trying to move the boat but the motor wasn't strong enough to fight the wind so I had to pull the anchors one by one to pull the boat away from the rocks.

I remember distinctly my surfboard flapping in the wind horizontally on its cord totally out of control. I could not look into the wind as the rain and wind stung my eyes. The sea was foaming. That day 7 boats went up on the rocks or sunk. Later that afternoon the storm abated, sun came out, and I made it back to harbor.

Pitt T. Maner II writes:

There is a belief in the health and safety field is that "all accidents are preventable". The key is to properly access the range of risks and the "worst thing that can happen" and have the plan in place to mitigate those risks.

It appears that a good portion of local sailing instruction these days is devoted to teaching youngsters proper health and safety.

Strangely the least experienced and most experienced people, however, are often the ones that have the majority of accidents. The young have no experience and do not realize the risks, and the older ones have the experience and knowledge but have become complacent or willing to cut corners since "nothing like that has happened before".

Often there is technology and knowledge available to prevent accidents and deaths. So for those to suggest that a "true sport" need be associated with risk of death and imply "acceptable number of deaths" doesn't seem quite right for modern times— definitely heresy for those in the health and safety field. An idea best left for Hemingway stories.

One would think that once the full facts about the tragedy are learned that new safety procedures will be considered and improvements made.

I had the chance to hear Gary Jobson speak here in S Fla at a leukemia charity benefit about 10 years ago and he is a very impressive individual.

For example,  

Safety tethers have been proven to have saved countless lives, and their use is absolutely the best accepted practice for sailing offshore, at night, or anytime that there is even the slightest chance of a crew member going overboard; PFDs, of course, should be worn at all times. These practices were exceeded by the WingNuts crew.

Is there any Health and Safety product made or which could be made to handle such extreme conditions? In cold water you have to fight hypothermia and drowning in rough seas.

Advanced survival suits?






Speak your mind


Resources & Links