Operating for many years in the Territory of The U. S. Virgin Islands
we quickly learned that Coast Guard was over one hundred miles away so most emergencies were handled by local boaters , charter
skippers , ferry
operators and dive operators .
My dive boat was the command or control boat many , many times each year . My VHF radio
had one of the best signals in the area , plus my business monitored several radio channels 24/7 .
Me and my 15 year old first mate were primary in swimming rescues , body recovery , fires on boats , boats that had drug away from anchorages
, pulling people off wings of floating aircraft , you name it we did it .
We had an airplane , at night floating in the West Gregory Channel , a 65 foot steel ketch
in West End , Tortola , on fire with 7 souls aboard . Me and Josh recovered the bodies of three nine year old boys who had drowned off the east end STT.
This was all in the mid-70s to 1990 . What you learned was who in your crew to depend on . Most times the people that you were trying to help were hampering your rescue attempts . An example , we were called by Coast guard San Juan
Comm center to respond to a fire in West End , Tortola . We saw the fire , charged our fire hose , rigged lines to tie up beside the Italian yacht . We pulled up , Josh handed a bow line and a stern line to their crew and then Josh stepped aboard with the fire hose . Both of their crew dropped the bow and stern lines and attempted to take the hose from Josh . Of course my boat started drifting off and their crew were trying to hold my boat with the fire hose , gonna tear it out of the bilge
. I am on fly bridge , I throw the switch cutting current
to pump clutch
, shutting off the water
. Josh jumps back aboard and recovers all lines . We do a circle , supervise a proper tie up , and then put out the fire . Turns out no one aboard spoke English
or American .
Once four miles off Cane Garden Bay we spied an overturned Sunfish with a 50 year or so lady hanging on , we pulled up and she kept saying ," go get my daughter ,my little girl is out there ".She fought us but we finally got her aboard and went looking for her ' little girl ', we found her , she was 25 Y.O, and weighed 250 , took all of us to get her aboard .
When doing a rescue always assume that your subject will be of little or no help .