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Old 17-03-2016, 07:33   #1
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Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Amazing story:
Kalamazoo man swims 7-hours to safety after falling off sailboat in Atlantic Ocean | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | WWMT

Kalamazoo man swims 7-hours to safety after falling off sailboat in Atlantic Ocean

By AP Danica Coto







David Thompson felt the smack of a wave and found himself hanging by a tether off the back of his sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean, the northern coast of Puerto Rico off in the distance. David Thompson; Photo provided by Donna Thompson via AP




AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico (AP) - David Thompson felt the smack of a wave and found himself hanging by a tether off the back of his sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean, the northern coast of Puerto Rico off in the distance.

No problem, Thompson thought. He was still tied to his boat, wearing his life jacket. All he had to do was hoist himself back onto his boat.
But conditions were rough, 20-knot winds and 10-foot swells. As he climbed back on board, another wave tossed him off. Then the surging water stripped away his life jacket, which had linked him to the boat, and he watched as the boat moved farther away by the second.
"My arms were so tired, I couldn't grab ahold of anything anymore," the 68-year-old said Wednesday from a hospital in Puerto Rico, where he is recovering from his ordeal. "So I was watching my boat sail away. I was thinking that was it."
Yet he kept himself going. He swam and floated on his back and swam on and on for seven hours, crawling onto a Puerto Rico beach half naked and exhausted.
Thompson, a retired engineer from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who was sailing solo when he went overboard, is being treated for dehydration and expects to be hospitalized for at least four days.
In an interview with The Associated Press from the hospital, Thompson said he had been with his wife, Donna, in St. Maarten. She flew home and he was taking their 49-foot boat, the Enthalpy II, to South Florida. It was about 1 p.m. Sunday when he was knocked overboard.

He recalled that the wave that took his life jacket also stripped off his clothes except for his shirt, leaving him almost naked as he floated in the water and considered his options.
Thompson made his way toward land, about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) away. He alternated between floating and swimming, thinking about his 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter to keep himself going.
"I wanted to see her and hug her again. And I have a wife and a nice life. I didn't want to die."
Thompson kept swimming. A sharp reef cut into his legs as he scrambled onto land. Aware that he was naked, Thompson took off his shirt, stepped into the arm holes to fashioned makeshift shorts before looking for help. He knocked on the door of several homes and called out for help, but none came.
"When they saw me, I was walking like I was drunk because I didn't have any strength left in my legs," which were bleeding. "I didn't look like someone you wanted to invite to dinner."

Finally, he arrived at Villas del Mar Hau, a seaside hotel in the north coastal town of Isabela. He stumbled into the restaurant and asked waiters for help. They gave him food, water and clothes that a previous guest had left behind.
"That man ate so much rice and beans that it seemed like he had not eaten for three days," said Sandra Villanueva, the hotel owner's assistant. "I truly admire him. He was so beat up. He had lost all his clothes. His heads, his hands, his feet were all beat up."
The hotel called police and the U.S. Coast Guard, and Thompson was taken to the nearby hospital in Aguadilla. Officials at the private hospital would not allow an AP journalist inside, but Thompson said by phone that he was awaiting dialysis to get rid of the tremendous amount of protein built up in his body. He was too weak to hold a cup of coffee.
His wife said in a phone interview from Michigan that she was not surprised her husband survived.
"He is stubborn. He is determined. He is like one of the strongest people I've ever known. Once he sets his mind to something, you are not going to change him, which can be aggravating from a wife's point of view," she said with a laugh.

The Thompsons had planned to vacation in the Florida Keys or possibly the Bahamas next year in their sailboat, which the U.S. Coast Guard recovered, but those plans are on hold.
"Knowing that your husband is on a boat by himself, and getting a call from the Coast Guard is the worst call you can get," she said, choking up. "The fact that the boat came through and that he was able to come through, it's a miracle".
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Old 17-03-2016, 08:06   #2
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

lucky man. not so many with extra long tethers are so lucky. make sure your tether does not reach over the rails.
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Old 17-03-2016, 08:10   #3
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

I wonder if he had a PLB. . . . If it was clipped to his life vest, it would've been lost, too.

Not sure what the lesson would be then. Duct tape PLB to self?
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Old 17-03-2016, 08:57   #4
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Bit non related but reminded me of a story. I did a 3 day liveaboards dive trip on the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago and one of the instructors told us about a retired 70 year old Royal Marine that was left behind and threaded water for 3 days before being found. Just did a Google search and could find nothing about it. Anybody know of there is any truth to the story?

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Old 17-03-2016, 09:11   #5
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
I wonder if he had a PLB. . . . If it was clipped to his life vest, it would've been lost, too.

Not sure what the lesson would be then. Duct tape PLB to self?
Crotch straps would likely have prevented the loss of the jacket/harness over his head. Then again, from the description don't know if that would have been better or worse.

Lucky guy.
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Old 17-03-2016, 10:24   #6
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

How'd they find the boat?
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Old 17-03-2016, 10:40   #7
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

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How'd they find the boat?
4 miles from shore, you could probably see it from the beach!
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Old 17-03-2016, 10:58   #8
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Wow, what a story and incredible luck!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
David Thompson felt the smack of a wave and found himself hanging by a tether off the back of his sailboat


Either your tether is short enough it actually prevents you from falling overboard - which is the whole point of using one - or don't use a tether at all, so you don't get dragged ...

A too long tether is more dangerous then no tether, imho.
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Old 17-03-2016, 11:09   #9
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
I wonder if he had a PLB. . . . If it was clipped to his life vest, it would've been lost, too.

Not sure what the lesson would be then. Duct tape PLB to self?
No, use crotch straps to stay in the life jacket. Useless without. We knew that already after the 1979 Fastnet disaster after a number sailors died by falling out of their lifejackets, yet you can still buy lifejackets without them
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Old 17-03-2016, 11:12   #10
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizzy Belle View Post
Wow, what a story and incredible luck!





Either your tether is short enough it actually prevents you from falling overboard - which is the whole point of using one - or don't use a tether at all, so you don't get dragged ...

A too long tether is more dangerous then no tether, imho.
There's really almost no such thing as a tether short enough to prevent you from falling overboard. Unless you have a centerline jackstay. Even on my boat, with 16 foot beam and wide side decks.
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Old 17-03-2016, 11:18   #11
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
Amazing story:
Kalamazoo man swims 7-hours to safety after falling off sailboat in Atlantic Ocean | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | WWMT

Kalamazoo man swims 7-hours to safety after falling off sailboat in Atlantic Ocean

By AP Danica Coto







David Thompson felt the smack of a wave and found himself hanging by a tether off the back of his sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean, the northern coast of Puerto Rico off in the distance. David Thompson; Photo provided by Donna Thompson via AP




AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico (AP) - David Thompson felt the smack of a wave and found himself hanging by a tether off the back of his sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean, the northern coast of Puerto Rico off in the distance.

No problem, Thompson thought. He was still tied to his boat, wearing his life jacket. All he had to do was hoist himself back onto his boat.
But conditions were rough, 20-knot winds and 10-foot swells. As he climbed back on board, another wave tossed him off. Then the surging water stripped away his life jacket, which had linked him to the boat, and he watched as the boat moved farther away by the second.
"My arms were so tired, I couldn't grab ahold of anything anymore," the 68-year-old said Wednesday from a hospital in Puerto Rico, where he is recovering from his ordeal. "So I was watching my boat sail away. I was thinking that was it."
Yet he kept himself going. He swam and floated on his back and swam on and on for seven hours, crawling onto a Puerto Rico beach half naked and exhausted.
Thompson, a retired engineer from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who was sailing solo when he went overboard, is being treated for dehydration and expects to be hospitalized for at least four days.
In an interview with The Associated Press from the hospital, Thompson said he had been with his wife, Donna, in St. Maarten. She flew home and he was taking their 49-foot boat, the Enthalpy II, to South Florida. It was about 1 p.m. Sunday when he was knocked overboard.

He recalled that the wave that took his life jacket also stripped off his clothes except for his shirt, leaving him almost naked as he floated in the water and considered his options.
Thompson made his way toward land, about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) away. He alternated between floating and swimming, thinking about his 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter to keep himself going.
"I wanted to see her and hug her again. And I have a wife and a nice life. I didn't want to die."
Thompson kept swimming. A sharp reef cut into his legs as he scrambled onto land. Aware that he was naked, Thompson took off his shirt, stepped into the arm holes to fashioned makeshift shorts before looking for help. He knocked on the door of several homes and called out for help, but none came.
"When they saw me, I was walking like I was drunk because I didn't have any strength left in my legs," which were bleeding. "I didn't look like someone you wanted to invite to dinner."

Finally, he arrived at Villas del Mar Hau, a seaside hotel in the north coastal town of Isabela. He stumbled into the restaurant and asked waiters for help. They gave him food, water and clothes that a previous guest had left behind.
"That man ate so much rice and beans that it seemed like he had not eaten for three days," said Sandra Villanueva, the hotel owner's assistant. "I truly admire him. He was so beat up. He had lost all his clothes. His heads, his hands, his feet were all beat up."
The hotel called police and the U.S. Coast Guard, and Thompson was taken to the nearby hospital in Aguadilla. Officials at the private hospital would not allow an AP journalist inside, but Thompson said by phone that he was awaiting dialysis to get rid of the tremendous amount of protein built up in his body. He was too weak to hold a cup of coffee.
His wife said in a phone interview from Michigan that she was not surprised her husband survived.
"He is stubborn. He is determined. He is like one of the strongest people I've ever known. Once he sets his mind to something, you are not going to change him, which can be aggravating from a wife's point of view," she said with a laugh.

The Thompsons had planned to vacation in the Florida Keys or possibly the Bahamas next year in their sailboat, which the U.S. Coast Guard recovered, but those plans are on hold.
"Knowing that your husband is on a boat by himself, and getting a call from the Coast Guard is the worst call you can get," she said, choking up. "The fact that the boat came through and that he was able to come through, it's a miracle".
Awesome result. Sounds like the vessel was recovered ok too.

These freakin crap pfds we all use are a real problem. Without crotch straps they're next to useless. The inflatable only are also problematic.

While lifelines are considered safe they are also useless unless they keep you on the boat.

Hopefully we can hear this guys story outside of the traditional media bs.

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Old 17-03-2016, 11:25   #12
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
There's really almost no such thing as a tether short enough to prevent you from falling overboard.
I don't know all the correct English terms for all the bits and pieces
On my boat it's set up something like this (little different but this is the best pic I could find):



The cockpit has its own attachment points. The guy in the image can fall overboard with that setup.

It's annoying to use, to be honest, but when I adjust the tether etc. I can walk around and not have enough length to fall overboard. The fact that is so annoying is probably why people use a longer tether.

But I accept it to avoid this:

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Old 17-03-2016, 11:25   #13
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
Crotch straps would likely have prevented the loss of the jacket/harness over his head. Then again, from the description don't know if that would have been better or worse.

Lucky guy.
Would have also prevented him from losing his pants.
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Old 17-03-2016, 11:38   #14
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizzy Belle View Post
I don't know all the correct English terms for all the bits and pieces
On my boat it's set up something like this (little different but this is the best pic I could find):



The cockpit has its own attachment points. The guy in the image can fall overboard with that setup.

It's annoying to use, to be honest, but when I adjust the tether etc. I can walk around and not have enough length to fall overboard. The fact that is so annoying is probably why people use a longer tether.

But I accept it to avoid this:

"Jackstay" is the line running fore and aft, you clip your tether onto.

Your jackstays are exactly like mine. Unless you are lying on deck with the tether adjusted to 30cm, you can fall overboard. Unless I misunderstand something about your drawings. Even if the tether is adjusted so that you can barely stand up, you will still be able to go over or through the lifelines.

The geometry -- if your waist is higher than the lifelines, and the jackstay is closer than 45 degrees or so to vertical, you will go over if knocked. And you will go through the lifelines in any case -- as long as the lifeline is longer than the distance from the jackstay WHEN THE JACKSTAY IS UNDER TENSION AND FULLY DEFLECTED -- MINUS the distance between the tether clip in your harness WHEN THE HARNESS IS UNDER TENSION AND FULLY DEFLECTED and the center of gravity of your body. To see this graphically, do this:

1. Pull the jackstay towards the rail as hard as you can, and measure the distance from the fully deflected jackstay to the edge of the boat.

2. Pull your harness as hard as you can and estimate the distance between the fully extended tether clip-on point and the center of your body.

3. Subtract 2 from 1 -- if it's negative then even a 0 length tether won't help you. If it's positive, is it more than the length of your tether?



I can't fall overboard from my cockpit while clipped in, because I have padeyes in the cockpit floor I clip to, and I have a center cockpit no part of which is closer than 1.5 meters (probably) from the rail.

But on the side decks -- you're screwed if you're on the leeward side and get knocked by a big wave.

Netting on the lifelines would make a huge difference and might make sense for long distance single-handing.
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Old 17-03-2016, 11:51   #15
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Re: Man Overboard off Puerto Rico -- 7-Hour Swim to Shore

I don't have pics of how it's set up on my boat, but since I want to change it a little I'll open a topic about it here when I do have pics.
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