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Old 10-11-2011, 10:13   #1
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Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared ?

As many of you guys actively cruise off-shore and have taken the Safety at Sea seminar (and/or other like training programs), I'm interested to know what you guys think about the breadth of that training, specifically regarding the most dangerous part of any rescue...the transfer from vessel to vessel (see videos below). I'm currently in an email conversation with Ron Trossbach (US Editor, ISAF Offshore Special Regulations with US SAILING Prescriptions) about this issue in relation to safety training (for both sailors and AMVER participants) - and he seems very open to input from those in the know. Hence this post as I think it applies to most all off-shore sailors.

Here's some background...

I've been in on a pretty interesting thread over at SN about Doug Sabbag's, and wife's, recent rescue from the S/V Triumph in the middle of the Atlantic by an AMVER participant ship, the Kim Jacob. You can find that thread here (with the audio from the actual rescue below):

S/V Triumph lost in the atlantic



Doug had the stones to come on over there and relate the details of his less-than-smooth rescue...in fact it almost killed him. You've got to respect a dude that will lay it on the line in public like that. And, as seems to always happen on every forum, a pretty good crapsling broke out about virtually everything that happened (his mistakes, their mistakes, etc.). It was a Monday Morning Quarterback's dream.

But, one of the most critical, and potentially positive, aspects of the debate surrounded the process of rescue. Without doubt, it is a very dangerous and messy affair as you can see by the following eye-opening videos:



















The debate on this matter centered around the question of how to improve this transfer process. Do you push for uniform, industry-wide procedures, equipment and training for all AMVER participants? In other words, do you force the entire maritime industry to conform to "better protocols"? If so, what's the reality of that under an extremely complex quilt of political, financial, jurisdictional, logistical, linguistic and many other considerations? That approach sounded iffy to say the least.

Then, a dude named Sailingfool came up with a brilliant "why-didn't-we-think-about-that" point (edited a bit to stay on point):

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingfool View Post
...Perhaps your effort should focus on having the USCG develop "How to cooperate in your own rescue" training for US vessels heading offshore. Naturally you can make this training mandatory, and expensive while you are at it. (Maybe throw in some training on how to prerpare for going offshore...opps, lets not go there...)

After you have trained US sailors on being competent rescuees, then you can entertain training for the mariners of the world on being competent rescuers...good luck on that.
Freakin' brilliant!! To me, this is a far, far more realistic approach than trying to change the entire maritime industry. We simply train ourselves.

So the question becomes, this:

How prepared are we sailors to be rescued at sea? And how do we get better prepared?

As you can see above, there are many different techniques of rescue: helo/baskets, rescue boats coming along side from a cruise ship, being pulled from your boat alongside a massive tanker, being plucked from a dinghy or liferaft, being pulled directly out of the water, etc. And ALL of them have their very real dangers and need for specific consideration and preparation. How do you prepare for these options? How do you choose from them and coordinate them with the ship's skipper?

The guys over at SN who have taken the Safety At Sea course have said that this kind of training (e.g. - transfer options and the realities of each) is not currently part of the curriculum. If that's true, and if you guys see value in adding something like this, we currently have the ear of Ron Trossbach. Maybe we could get something done.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-11-2011, 19:31   #2
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

Wow - I'm surprised there are no comments on this. I've posted this on all the major sailing forums and gotten some really good feedback.

Don't cruisers take safety training too?
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Old 10-11-2011, 19:45   #3
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

would rather eat poison than be "rescued" from my home. if she goes down so do i..
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Old 10-11-2011, 20:16   #4
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

We "practiced" our evacuation from our boat with the Mexican Navy, about 28 hours ago, off Tijuana. Everything went well, but not interested in doing it, again, for "real" or "practice". Major kudos to the young fellow who had the stones to jump from the ship to our deck & back, several times, with no harness or PFD. Feel free to dig deeper but after 60 minutes sleep in 40+ hours, it'll be a few hours before I respond.
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Old 10-11-2011, 20:42   #5
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

Part of my background was being the boarding officer for VBSS (Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure) ops in the Arabian Sea. I know firsthand the difficulty of boarding a massive container ship from a rib, sometimes with large swells, even at night, sometimes over the horizon from our "mother ship", and even when the vessel didn't necessarily want to be boarded...

IMHO, the primary means to increase your odds of a successful boarding is to be in very good physical shape. You're gonna have to be ready to climb a long ways up, and you're going to probably be very tired already from what you've had to undergo on your boat prior to rescue. Conditions will likely be really crappy, and dynamics like sea state, rescue ship deck officer ability, type/condition of ladder/boarding apparatus, rain, and day or night rescue really prevent OJT other than knowing it will be difficult, being of sound mind to be ready to deal with the situation, and being physically fit enough to save yourself.

Certainly boarding a large ship in benign conditions would give someone an appreciation for how hard it could be when exhausted in rough seas.

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Old 10-11-2011, 20:44   #6
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

It has been my experience that very few few cruisers have any idea what is involved in boarding a container ship, LCC or a VLCC from a small vessel. Fortunately, I've done it a few times but not with a heavy sea running. Even in relatively calm water, less than 8 foot swell, it can be a daunting and intimidating task. On deck one moment then hanging on a ladder 10 feet off the water on the the side of a steel ship with 40 feet to climb. Cargo nets are even harder to go up. Whoever the OP is, he has done a real service poting these videos... it should give all cruisers pause and they should reflect on what is expected of them during an at sea rescue. Well done! Capt Phil
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Old 10-11-2011, 21:39   #7
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

I want everyone that sails with me to know how dangerous mid ocean transfers are and that we haven't practiced them - now keep pumping that handle!
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Old 11-11-2011, 02:37   #8
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
But, one of the most critical, and potentially positive, aspects of the debate surrounded the process of rescue. Without doubt, it is a very dangerous and messy affair as you can see by the following eye-opening videos:
You mean that boarding a Ship from a small craft (or a liferaft) is dangerous?

I would have thought that was patently obvious........but within the world of Disney Sailing* probably ain't

Apart from making that point clear, given the squillion variables in any situation I don't see any great value with hands on training. What would be an eye opener (and fun!) is to take the water ballast pockets off a liferaft and tow it behind a RIB, inlcuding bouncing a few wakes .


*by simply paying money I am entitled to only a happy experiance".
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Old 11-11-2011, 03:35   #9
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

How many people exactly have died while being rescued?
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Old 11-11-2011, 04:13   #10
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I agree with Capt Phil and others. Real life simulation would be difficult if not impractical. Plus not many will get trained in the larger scheme of things. The "best" awareness and likely to hit the largest number would be videos of real life rescues. Show these in courses and distribute widely thru the Internet.
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Old 11-11-2011, 04:17   #11
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

ask the USCG how many rescue swimmers have died trying to save lives. They are trained for the worst
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:19   #12
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While I agree real life simulation is impractical and even developing a drill is no assurance that it will be done, just watching the videos provides good insight. And supports the argument for a standardized training, even if it is only a placard that is stuck somewhere by the bailout bag.

As others have noted, the common problem is getting onto the rescue vessel. If the victim has their deck harness on or exposure gear with a hard-point, rescue crews could drop a separate line to the victim for him/her to attach. This would allow the winching up of an unconscious (assuming a shipmate attaches them) or an injured victim and prevent a capable victim from falling.

For my $0.02, it would seem logical to develop some type of standards for victims and rescuers.

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Old 11-11-2011, 05:34   #13
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

When I see that Atlantic catamaran bobbing around upside down, I cant help wonder whether it would be worth a try to use the rescuing ship to attempt to right her. Perhaps take an extended halyard to one of her winches? Maybe try to right her from the bows so that she flips over her sterns?

When I look at all the other vessels, I can't help think that they look like they would be also worth saving...
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:41   #14
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pirate Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzk View Post
When I see that Atlantic catamaran bobbing around upside down, I cant help wonder whether it would be worth a try to use the rescuing ship to attempt to right her. Perhaps take an extended halyard to one of her winches? Maybe try to right her from the bows so that she flips over her sterns?

When I look at all the other vessels, I can't help think that they look like they would be also worth saving...
Quite likely they were worth saving....
80% of cruisers will break long before the boat does...
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:10   #15
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Re: Rescued at Sea - Are You Prepared?

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainKJ View Post
ask the USCG how many rescue swimmers have died trying to save lives. They are trained for the worst
As of June, 2004: “... Since 1985, Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmers have saved more than 5,700 lives. No rescue swimmer has been lost during a rescue, although two have died as a result of aircraft crashes. This outstanding safety record can be attributed to high standards, quality training and the team concept within Coast Guard aircrews ...”

More here ➥
http://www.hf.faa.gov/hfmaint/Portal...20aviation.pdf
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