Missing Florida teens: Rumors abound, but search is still on | www.palmbeachpost.com
First off, I want to say how heart breaking this story is. It's actually a common scenario that happens more than most may think. My heart goes out to the family
and friends of these two young fishermen.
As someone who constantly looks at these stories, I see a lot of the same factors in each of these cases. Call them trend analysis if you wish. Here are three common trends that I find.
1. Sudden Onset Survival
- As boaters, we try to prepare for the worst scenario. We go out and buy life vests, EPIRBs, life rafts, and required CG equipment
. That's fine, but the truth of the matter is that about eighty percent of these cases are rapid-onset capsizes during a storm.
If you are not wearing a life vest with attached signaling devices (PLB, signal mirror, whistle, etc. when your boat
capsizes, you will most likely become a statistic (There are over 500 capsizes in the U.S. each year).
If the seas are raging enough to flip a boat
, then the chances are, you will not be able to retrieve gear
after you are in the water
. Many survivors describe the seas as if being in a washing
machine. You have no control and will be dragged or pushed in whatever direction that the waves and swells send you. Once you are in the water
, there are no time outs or do-overs. It's too late. Your only recourse is to climb onto the hull
of your over turned boat or anything else floating near by if you can find it.
Other rapid on-set scenarios may include, falling overboard
unnoticed, fire, grounding, or being rammed by another vessel. There are so many events
that can turn your world around in just a matter of seconds.
Life vests are designed to be worn on the boat. If a foam vest is too bulky and dorky looking for you, try wearing an inflatable
vest. There's even a small pouch inflatable
(belt pack) that you can put on and rotate it to your backside. Yes, you will have to rotate it around to use it, but it is ON YOU, and that is what really matters. (BTW, the strap on this life vest can be used to attach signaling gear).
2. Do not assume that you will be quickly located if you go in. Even in a high traffic area!
Many believe that because the Gulf Of Mexico
and the Pacific areas outside of Florida
are "warm water" and crowded with other boaters they can go without floatation. Their belief is that if they go in, they can tread water in hopes that someone will locate them quickly.
I think this case speaks for itself. They have been searching for these two young men
for seven days now and have covered well over 40,000 miles of search area.
Looking back at the NFL players who succumbed to hypothermia a few miles off of Clearwater FL a few years back, again, it was a storm, sudden on-set flip-over, and no signaling gear
. It took several days to find their capsized boat with one remaining survivor (Nick Schuyler) clinging to the engine
shaft. (Read "Not Without Hope")
I have spent a good part of my life searching for PIWs and I can tell you that without some kind of signal, (distracting colors or anything that will catch a scanner's eye), the chances of being found are very slim. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Even a bright colored life vest or life raft can be difficult to see in a sea with whitecaps.
3. Don't think for a minute that you are fully prepared for every survival situation.
Everyone reacts differently to a survival event. I don't care how salty and experienced you are, you cannot predict your outcome once you are in the arms of the sea. Survival and Murphy's Law go hand in hand and can defeat even those who believe they are ready for anything.
Don't take safety
for granted and don't rely on the Government
to mandate what you carry and wear when on the water. You should be the one who does this! It's your life and just because the CG does not require you to wear a life vest does not mean that it is not important. They left that interpretation up to you. In 2013 there were 337 boaters in the U.S. who decided that wearing a PFD
was not necessary. It was the worst decision of their lives.
Here's quote from my friend Steady Hand that I am going to steal for this post:
This is not disrespect for the man, it is about respect for the sea.