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Thread: Survival by statistics..

  1. #1
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    Default Survival by statistics..

    For many years now, I've reviewed every boating fatality in Alaska; 2011 will no doubt be very similar to previous years in terms of statistics; 9 out of every ten fatalities are adult males, 3 out of 4 are powerboats, 9 out of 10 are under 26', 1/2 are in salt water; 1/2 in fresh water and 5 out of 6 fatalities are falls overboard and/or capsizing. Within the past few days, the Coast Guard has responded to several skiffs in distress; taking on water/capsizing...luckily, no one lost their lives in these mishaps.

    It occurs to me that in those cases where lives were lost, there were only two 'avenues' that may have averted a fatality: 1) Self-rescue or 2) Assisted rescue.

    Self-rescue is that situation in which you actually have the skills, equipment and presence of mind to get out of the water...how many of you can reboard your boat without assistance? How many of you have actually done it? Is your boat equipped with a boarding ladder? Do you consistently use an engine shut-off lanyard? Do you consistently wear your life jacket?

    Assisted rescue is typically more likely to occur than self-rescue. Usually, most folks don't boat solo and often (in Alaska) boats might travel together, allowing rescue 'redundancy'. If you did fall overboard, are you able to get someone's attention? I remember one of my gulf crossings and I was on the back deck pumping fuel out of barrels into the fuel tank, it was pitch dark, snowing and seas were only about 4'-8'. My brother was at the helm and the other crewman was in the rack. I thought that if I slipped and fell overboard, there would be no way that I could alert my brother nor would he know I was gone until it was too late to turn around and find me. Sobering thought.

    Thinking about all this has led me to work on developing a small 'rescue kit'. This kit will be on my person at all times when underway, fastened to my life jacket. I don't make equipment 'brand recommendations' but I'll share with everyone the particulars about what my kit consists of:

    Mustang Survival MA6000 pouch designed to fasten to PFD
    Inside the pouch: ACR ResQLink PLB, Greatland Resuce Laser GLF031-01, Tri-Power Safety Whistle, Standard Horizon HX851 Floating 6W handheld VHF radio w/GPS and DSC, BlastMatch fire starter, Spyderco Assist C79BK knife and Orion OLI-925 orange distress flag. Total cost about $950

    Depending on the circumstances, I feel confident that this equipment, properly secured, will provide me the resources to facilitate assisted rescue....naturally, if I am able to self-rescue, I likely won't need any of it (and I hope I don't need it!). Expensive, yes. Worth it, (to me) yes.

    And, the best tip of all....

    Don't fall in.

    Boat Safe! Mike

  2. #2
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CG Boating Safety View Post
    And, the best tip of all....

    Don't fall in.

    Boat Safe! Mike
    That's definitely a Great Post Mike, the stats are well worth publishing again and again and again, til we "Get It"
    and great idea on the rescue gear

    I do have to quote you on the last line, as it is a Key, Well Beyond the simplicity that it appears to be,...

    As a Commercial Fishing Deckboss, and later Capt., the main rule I would state clearly to any new crewmember,
    then elaborate with sobering stories while everyone laughed at the concept, was this,

    The First Rule of Commercial Fishing, "Stay between the rails,....!!!! "

    There are a thousand thoughts, actions, cautions, etc. that can be exercised with this in mind,
    and the difficulty of returning a boat to an overboard crewman is much higher than most imagine
    Even to the most experienced operator on board, going back, even instantly, and working the boat to slide up to or drift down on a quickly freezing and potentially panicked guy in the water, Really you better have it totally together to pull it off right

    To those who are figuring their wife or oldest son
    (with much less experience than yourself, at the wheel, cause you do all the driving, right?)
    will actually be able to steer the boat back to you,..... in the type of seas that got you overboard somehow(?) considering the "Jamming to the top," heart rate they'll be experiencing for those few seconds while you treadwater at 30 something degrees, even with life jacket on, the boat operating part is often not considered enough

    It's not nearly as realistic as some might imagine

    Plan away for your rescue, but the KEY, is still,....

    "Think Carefully Before you go out on deck, and Be Constantly Aware, while out there,
    Don't Make That Mistake, Don't make that quick step on the wet rail,
    Don't misread the seas or roll of your boat, etc....

    it's Your Responsibility First, and Not An Option, to go overboard
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  3. #3
    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Great post! Something to be said about letting the Admiral at the wheel for some training.

    ALASKAN SEA-DUCTION
    1988 M/Y Camargue YachtFisher
    MMSI# 338131469
    Blog: http://alaskanseaduction.blogspot.com/

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by CG Boating Safety View Post
    Depending on the circumstances, I feel confident that this equipment, properly secured, will provide me the resources to facilitate assisted rescue
    Great post Mike! Since most of the equipment in your rescue kit is obviously designed to get someone's attention while you're overboard, I'm wondering how you can access just one piece of equipment, with cold fingers in rough seas in the dark, without losing other pieces out of your pouch?

    Mustang Survival MA6000 pouch designed to fasten to PFD
    http://www.mustangsurvival.com/recre...cessory-pocket
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

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    Good question! We use a light line to properly secure each piece of equipment to the inside of the pouch (there is a sewn in loop expressly for this purpose). The challenge is to call for help before you lose the manual dexterity necessary to operate a PLB or VHF radio...and, in cold water, it happens quickly! Basically, you have about a minute to get your breathing under control and about ten minutes of ability to operate equipment before the body shunts blood to your core (protecting vital organs) and you no longer have the manual dexterity to work buttons and switches. About an hour after that, you're in even more serious trouble as the symptoms of hypothermia will impair your ability to think..and survive. A great video by the State Office of Boating Safety called "Cold Water Boating" is available (free!) at http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/boating/publications.htm Mike

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by CG Boating Safety View Post
    We use a light line to properly secure each piece of equipment to the inside of the pouch (there is a sewn in loop expressly for this purpose).
    Thanks Mike. What's the benefit to using one pouch with multiple strings, as opposed to clipping or pinning each item to the life jacket, "kayaker style"?
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seraphina View Post
    Thanks Mike. What's the benefit to using one pouch with multiple strings, as opposed to clipping or pinning each item to the life jacket, "kayaker style"?
    The benefit to a single pouch with my survival equipment (to me) is because I have at least three different types of PFD's that I commonly wear; my float coat, inflatable PFD and my type III...that, and I'm often on different boats so I can easily keep my gear on my person rather than have to shift it between boats/pfds....if you wear one life jacket, it only makes sense to do exactly as you describe! Thanks! Mike

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Great post! I always wear my vest in the salt, but I have to admit that I have gone without it on (sitting on the seat in the boat) more than once. Ive always carried a ditch bag and luckily Ive never had to use it.

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