Safety is not just a word, it’s an action. People in our profession sometimes get too comfortable in their routines and forget that disaster can happen in a split second. It probably won’t, but what if it does? After all, it has happened before. Tragedy can happen and unfortunately, sometimes it does.
If you’re a traveling boat, I think it’s necessary for two crew members to be on the bridge at all times when underway. You can keep an eye on one another that way. If there is only one guy on the bridge and he slips, bumps his head and falls overboard, who’s going to know? We’re all guilty, but that doesn’t make it right.
We lost a fellow fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico not too long ago. He was running at night and was on the bridge by himself. When a crew member came up on the bridge to relieve him, he was gone. The last time he had been seen by anyone was a few hours earlier.
Nobody will ever know for sure, but they think he left the bridge to use the head and fell overboard in a choppy sea. Not only was he gone, but the unmanned boat could have hit another boat and killed who knows how many people. If someone else was on the bridge that night, things might have happened differently.
In another instance in the Gulf of Mexico, the captain left the bridge at cruise speed with the helm unattended to do something with a fish in the cockpit. The boat plowed into a shrimp boat almost killing everyone on both boats. If the captain just would have used common sense and stopped his boat when he left the helm, he wouldn’t have risked everyone’s life. Common sense goes a long way when it comes to safety.
Entering and returning into rough inlets, day or night, with two people on the bridge can make all the difference in the world in preventing accidents. On long crossings, just the company of another person on the bridge can keep you more alert and awake—in foul weather it’s a no brainer. We all know this, many of us even talk about how important it is, but for the most part we just don’t do it.
Also stay out of the tower unless it’s absolutely necessary. With today’s superfast boats, accidents seem to be more and more frequent. Thirty-five knots and five- to eight-foot seas can be pretty violent. Just hanging on is a chore! So, slow the heck down! You’re just tearing things up and greatly increasing the chances of something bad happening.
We’ve all lost several buddies in recent years in ways I believe could have been completely preventable, so keep an eye on one another. Try to use some common sense and chances of a tragic accident will go way down. Make sure all your safety gear is up to date—lights, flares, fire systems, etc. After all, you never know when you might need them! Even with the warning to keep them up to date and in proper function, I hope you never need them!
—That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz
SPRINGFIELD, Va., Dec. 31, 2018 – A sign of the times, the U.S. Coast Guard reports that it’s common for recreational boaters today to use cellphones to call during a boating emergency. While Boat Owners Association of The United States urges every vessel to have a working VHF radio with DSC (digital selective calling), the nation’s recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group also recognizes that cellphones are firmly embedded in boaters’ lives. But what happens when a boater tries to call 911 for emergency or routine on water assistance? Will the call go to the closest, most relevant rescue agency for a swift response?
Unfortunately that’s not always the case. But a provision in the recently passed Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization of Act of 2018 aims to improve reliability of the 911 system when recreational boaters need emergency help. In an effort to ensure timely dispatch of the closest potential rescue asset or on-water assistance provider, the Act requires the U.S. Coast Guard to review its policies and procedures to “formulate a national maritime Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) policy.” There are more than 6,000 PSAPs in the U.S. – local 24/7 call centers with trained dispatchers that receive 911 emergency telephone calls and route them to the proper emergency service.
“This effort will help minimize the possibility of maritime calls being improperly routed and to assure the U.S. Coast Guard is able to effectively carry out its maritime search-and-rescue mission,” said Tina Cardone, executive director of the Conference of Professional Operators for Response Towing (C-PORT). C-PORT members, made up of on-water towing industry companies from across the country, contributed to the legislative effort. This included TowBoatUS Mystic owner Capt. Jeff Dziedzic.
“This was a grass-roots effort by many and took years of working with U.S. Coast Guard and elected officials,” said Capt. Dziedzic. “We care about this because of our occasional role in responding to life-threating events as good Samaritans, as well as answering calls for more routine requests for assistance.”
In a video recently captured from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Capt. Dziedzic’s local congressman, thanked the captain for bringing the issue to his attention.
BoatUS also thanks the leadership of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) and Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.).
Additional TowBoatUS C-PORT members joining the effort included Capt. Chad Noetzel, TowBoatUS Port Huron, Michigan; Capt. Terry Hill, TowBoatUS Potomac, Virginia, Capt. Richard Paul, TowBoatUS Cape Coral, Florida; and Capt. Chris Shaffner, TowBoatUS Palm Beach, Florida.
On Friday May 30th, 2014 we departed Stuart, Florida at 0700 for a long awaited month long fishing trip to Cape Eleuthera on our 55′ Hatteras, Hope, with overnight stops in Bimini and Nassau. Following my retirement last year and after Margaret’s successful battle over breast cancer we both felt it was time for an extended fishing trip. We have been planning this trip for months and had 6 weeks of stores and supplies on board. Below is the Incident Report I filed with our insurance company and also below some lessons learned that I thought you all might benefit from. Because as you will read, this could happen to any of us.
1. Date and time of incident-May 30, 2014 at 0810
2. Location-3 miles offshore and just North of the Jupiter Inlet
3. Destination-Bimini, four souls (Myself, Margaret, her Sister Lou Smith and my mate Mike Powell) on board [Read more…]