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.