I know that the recent advancements in small electronics
at sea use (e.g. PLB) have become more popular among some sailors. I want one on me when I next go far offshore
. ￼ But in addition to a PLB, I will also have a light on my PFD
I will always have a light with me on my PFD
A light on your PFD may save your life!
I was once in an overnight offshore race
going down the California
coast when a big trimaran
flipped in the strong winds and high seas at night off the rugged coast. The crew of that trimaran
were rescued (luckily) by a USCG helicopter that flew right over the boat
I was on (it was night), shining its search lights looking for the sailors in the water
. The thought of being in those seas, in a PFD, at night, was cause for me to be prepared in the future and part of the reason I am posting
The following is an excerpt from an account where a rescue
of a 45 foot sailboat in heavy weather
(high winds and seas) somewhere around Bermuda
, involved the rescue
(by USCG helicopter) of several crew members of a foundering (taking on water) sailboat.
But, while those crew members were rescued by the helicopter, two others were missing from the sailboat.
Now imagine being overboard (in the water in a PFD) in seas of 20+ feet with 40 knot winds at night, alone in the ocean!
Synopsis: one of the missing crew had a light on his PFD and that allowed searchers on a tanker (578 feet long) ship to find him in those poor conditions, hours later! The little light saved his life!
Here is a link to the story (from 2005).
Sealift -- Seay crew shines in rescue operation
"Sealift -- Seay crew shines in rescue operation
That US Navy
ship (Seay) that participated in the rescue is about 900 feet long! The other ship that later picked up two crew members was 578 feet long. I will post a photo
of a sister ship of Seay and the other ship (a tanker) and a photo
taken from the deck
of Seay looking down at the 45 foot sailboat lying next to the ship (the ship provided some protection for the sailboat on the lee side of the ship).
Here is a big excerpt from the story:
"The 45-foot sailboat, Almeisan, was traveling from Connecticut to Bermuda
when she began taking on water from 20-foot seas. A distress
call went out from Almeisan as the crew prepared to abandon their foundering boat
. While readying the lifeboat, the captain
and another crew member
"The conditions were horrible," recalls Capt. Thomas Madden, Seay's master. "We were facing heavy rain and gale force winds with gusts up to 55 knots. Winds were sustained at 40-45 knots. We had 20 to 25-foot seas, easy."
The helicopter rescued all three remaining crew members from the flailing boat in less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the aircraft had to return to shore for fuel
and was unable to search for the remaining two crew members lost
Seay - the only U.S.-flagged vessel in the area - took over as the on-scene commander when the Coast Guard left the scene. While maintaining communication with the Coast Guard, Seay directed a team of rescue craft including the Panamanian-flagged tanker Sakura Express, two other foreign-flagged container ships and two rescue aircraft. The rescuers scoured a 12-square-mile search area looking for the two missing crew members.
"At about 2 a.m., we directed Sakura Express to a specific location," said Capt Madden. "She looked around and didn't find anything, but we felt confident that she was in the right area and that something would be found.
"We asked them to tighten up the grid a little bit and conduct another search pattern. Sure enough, they saw a light."
The light they found was an illumination device attached to one of the crew member's life vest.
Seay immediately relayed the man's location to the Coast Guard. A Coast Guard C-150 plane arrived around 2:30 a.m. and spotted the two men
, one in a life jacket and one in a rain slicker. The plane dropped a beacon, but lost
sight of the crew members in the rough seas.
The aircraft returned to shore for fuel
while the four ships continued to search in the driving wind
Finally, at 3:40 a.m., Sakura Express spotted one survivor and brought him aboard.
The body of the other crew member
, who did not survive, was recovered by Sakura Express a few hours later.