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Mark Cahill 08-15-2005 07:35 AM

Sinking and Survival - Our Story...
For probably the last decade, I have written at least 2-3 columns a year on boating safety in my Fishwire reports. Even with that, you truly never believe it will happen to you. Yesterday, it did.

I went out yesterday with Jacob Kasper on my boat in search of bluefin. We spent much of the morning looking, and went back into the harbor around 11 to refuel, having charged around most of the morning. Then we decided to head back out, to a spot fairly near the harbor to have a look. We found them.

We were working a pod, having moved off from another boat that was on a separate pod about a half hour before. As Jacob cast the the pod, I turned around to see a wave break into the back of the boat. The engine stalled, and immediately, I could tell the boat was going to roll. I yelled to Jacob that we were going down and he was able to open the life preserver cabinet and get one perserver our before the boat rolled over. I got off with only the floating cushion I was sitting on.

5 seconds. That's it.

We had 2 vhf radios, at least 6 hand held flares, and a flare gun with around 12 rounds, and couldn't get to any of them. The seas were probably 2-4, visibility was around a mile and we were very low in the water. There were no other boats in sight.

Jacob stayed calm and immediately suggested we think about what we could salvage. After a couple minutes, he said "my cellphone is in a dry box, and it's gotta be floating under the hull." He dove under and was able to grab it.

Climbing up on the bow of the boat, which was sticking up, he called 911 and was put over to the Coast Guard in about 20 seconds. They were able to get our exact latitude and longitude from the cell phone. He put the cell back in the box and we settled back to calmly float around until help arrived.

47 minutes after the cell phone call, Paul and Carla from the Perseverance, a 47 Searay out of Portsmouth cruised right up to us and fished us out. You cannot imagine just how beautiful a sight it was to see them pull up. A 47 Coast Guard cutter arrived shortly after, as well as TowUS and a CG Helo.

Were it not for Jacob's cell phone in his dry box, I fear they wouldn't even of started looking for us until this morning. Jacoib's quick thinking and cool demeanor were crucial.

Lesson's learned? The shear weight of what happened is just sinking in. I'll admit to being both embarassed and humiliated for having this happen, but it is important that people know what happened and understand the dangers. Because the situtation on the water can change that fast. Take a couple minutes and review your safety gear and know this: Jacob wouldn't have found a life preserver if I hadn't taken the time to give him a run down on the equipment and it's locations before we left the boat ramp.

I thank God we are both alive and unharmed.

averagejoe 08-15-2005 07:45 AM

More than happy to see you're okay. I'm sending this to my father. He takes safety too lightly on the 32 foot GW he has.

Telliedog 08-15-2005 07:50 AM

Wow! We all think "that'll never happen to me". So we can all learn more, can you share with us some of the facts such as size and type of boat and how much water was in the boat when it rolled? I am definitely making all my emergency gear more accessible on the boat. Thanks.

Todd Benedict 08-15-2005 07:52 AM


Glad all turned out as well as can be expected. Thank you for the post, a reminder to not take safety lightly is the message we can all benefit by.

No need to be embarassed about this. Anybody who spends time OTW can share experiences that are if not similar, equally dangerous. Just be thankful you are here to share the adventure and possibly help the next boater/fisherman.

Thanks for sharing.


Bob Parsons 08-15-2005 07:54 AM

That's scary stuff. glad your alright. not a good way to start your vacation. What happens with the boat? Did the tow boat get it in? Makes you think twice about where/how you store your safty gear. I keep my cell in a waterproof box but it is black which would make it hard to find. Think I'll change that. If my boat were turtle, gravity would open the access to ditch bag storage area which would be an easy reach from the stern corner.

Jim Miller 08-15-2005 07:55 AM

Glad to hear you both were OK. At least the water is warm this time of year. Were you able to get your motor out of the water ASAP....hopefully it will be salvagable. Good luck to you and your boat...

Mark Cahill 08-15-2005 07:57 AM

Thanks guys...
The boat is a total loss. The tow eye pulled out and there was no way for TowUS to get it. Apparently, Wellcraft may have forgotten the backer plate and nuts.

Uncle Matt 08-15-2005 08:02 AM

Mark -

I'm sorry to hear about your boat and experience. But more importantly, I'm glad you and Jacob kept your wits and are okay. After reading your story, I realize I probably should move some of my safety gear around. What I once considered "readily available" probably isn't at all in an emergency.

Thanks again for sharing this information.


Howie 08-15-2005 08:15 AM

I second some of the above. Good that you saw it coming at the last second, and most importantly you guys did what so many others don't. You stayed with the boat. About 13-14 yrs ago, there was a situation in Vineyard sound with some classmates of mine. They tried to swim for it. 2 of the 3 didn't make it.

So many folks try to "fix" that sort of situation by taking action. I think most will agree that you did the right thing, and stayed with the boat. It is just too hard to see a person swimming in those sort of conditions.

Glad to hear that you are both ok.

mendy 08-15-2005 08:19 AM

Wow! Very glad to hear everything turned out ok.

We were out in some rough stuff on Saturday with limited visibility. Had one wave break into the engine well while fighting a fish. What angle did the wave come into the boat? Were you beam to the seas?

Thanks for sharing. I think many of us will check and re-check our safety gear...


Linedancer 08-15-2005 08:24 AM

Sobering and helpful
Thanks for posting this -- It sure makes me plan to get right outside and walk through our emergency gear and make a new safety checklist for the boat. I wonder how many people would be reluctant to report this kind of an incident (even one likie this that certainly could happen to many of us)---thank you again-- so sorry about the boat damage.

constant_menace 08-15-2005 08:28 AM

Kudos to you!

Cool heads in situations like that ALWAYS prevail, and never, never leave the boat. Embarased/humiliated? **NO WAY** you walked home through the same door you left from. Monster win no matter what the price.

Excuse me while I run out right now to purchase a dry box.....

Slamdance 08-15-2005 08:32 AM

Mark: Glad to hear everyone is safe. I was a few miles out from you and could hear the CG report of an 18' with 2 in the water on the VHF. I wondered if it was someone from here or one of the other sites.

bobfishgerald 08-15-2005 08:35 AM

Cool heads
Very glad to hear everyone is safe.

Thank you for sharing this.

BobG 08-15-2005 08:35 AM

Hey, you guys made it! Thank God!

I also ask, why were you embarased? You had the presense of mind to keep your composure, and survived a harrowing experience! Lots of guys don't.
Glad you're both OK.

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