Sailing Rescue: Every Boater MUST Be Prepared Before Going to Sea
Earlier this year, two old friends set out from Port St. Lucie, FL to the Virgin Islands on a sail boat. The two gentlemen are 86 and 71 years old. They had invited another friend who turned them down and warned them that the currents and winds would make the trip too difficult if not dangerous. The friend proved to be right. The sailboat lost power, and the two men drifted at sea for seven days before being rescued. Thankfully, they were alright.
After the rescue, it was learned that the vessel was woefully under-supplied and provisioned. It did not have handheld VHF radios, emergency personal beacons (EPERBs) to give off radio signals, or even flares. Apparently, the owner was too cheap to purchase these items. Any of these items alone may have been enough to speed up a rescue.
Every boater must take an inventory of their vessel and account for safety equipment before going out on the water. The US Coast Guard sets for the standard minimum requirements, but boaters should always go beyond these minimums when venturing into a trip of this magnitude. Any overseas trip dictates the presence of back-up radios, EPERBs, flares and other provisions to account for every perceived incident. A seasoned boater should know better, and a novice has a duty to himself/herself and any passengers to find out how to safely equip the vessel. Every captain has a legal duty to use reasonable care under the circumstances to protect the passengers and crew. This duty cannot be breached or delegated.
These two fellows had no business being on the ocean for a trip of that nature and especially being completely unprepared for such an event. They got lucky this time.