This is an interesting thread, because it shows how different sailors respond to a situation or scenario with very different responses.
Some want to avoid personal involvement or possible liability if something goes wrong and thy are blamed.
Some will "jump to" help and look at quick response as most important. It could save life or property.
Some will depend on "others" such as "the authorities" to be responsible for responding.
This form of "speculation" (careful thought of an issue) may be criticized by some, but I think it is useful because "what ifs" stimulate our thinking about how we would respond and from the comments we may learn something from the speculations of others.
My personal response would be (assuming I was anchored nearby in a sparsely populated achorage and not near a city) a quick one, but one with some forethought on what might solve the problems the quickest way with least effort and least risk.
1. Use the radio
and call to the boat. If no response, go to 2. But, before doing so, make sure there is no risk to my own boat if I leave it.
2. Take my handheld VHF
, a boat hook, my kedge anchor
(something like a lightweight Fortress
rode) and my air horn with me and take my dinghy
over to the drifting boat.
3. First sound the air horn several times near the boat, and shout to try to wake anyone aboard. If no response, move to 4.
4. Drop the kedge anchor
some distance from the boat (5:1 scope), pay out the rode
and before getting close to the drifting boat, set my kedge using my dinghy motor
, and then go to the drifting boat. Again sound the horn to try to wake any crew aboard the boat. If no response, go to 5.
5. Board the boat, tie my kedge anchor rode
to the Samson
post or suitable place on the foredeck. Do this to stop the drift ASAP. I consider this more probable to help, as it may be impossible or too time consuming to start their engine
and their anchor would likely take too long to retrieve or may not be available or usable at all (parted rode, fouled prop, etc.). My kedge anchor rode can be secured in seconds onto a forward cleat.
6. Shout below to again see if anyone is alive on the boat. If the boat is locked up, assume no one is aboard. If so, leave a note, and return to my boat. If there is evidence of foul play, do not enter, leave the boat and report to authorities.
7. Report to the Coast Guard what you have done via VHF
. IF you can reach them, ask for instructions on how to proceed. If you cannot reach an authority, base your next steps on what you feel most comfortable doing in the particular situation.
8. Only enter the boat if:
A: There is suggestion by the Coast Guard (if you are in a populated area close to the Coast Guard).
B. There is some response from any person aboard the boat who is requesting help or sounds in need of attention (they may be injured).
9. IF the boat is in a very remote
location and there is no way to contact the authorities and there is no other boat or other sailors nearby to assist, then I would enter the boat to see if the crew was incapacitated and needs assistance.
I don't see the possible loss of my kedge anchor as more valuable than a loss of care (loss of conscience) that someone on the boat may need assistance or that I could possibly save the boat from loss with some small but timely effort.
A clear conscience is more valuable than some risks.