Through my dive mask I see the woman climb over the aft rail and down onto the swim platform. Her husband hands her their 4-month old baby and then looks down into the water at me. He looks like he can’t believe what’s happening. Turning, he yells something to his 13-year old daughter behind him. The 70-knot wind is so loud in my ears that I can’t hear anything; I can’t hear what he is saying, I can’t hear the helicopter, I can’t even hear my own voice shouting over the waves, “Now! Jump now!”
The boat rises and falls and I’m waving the woman into the water but she doesn’t jump. She just leans over, looks toward me, and lets go of the rail. Falling into the ocean with her baby, a breaking wave washes them just out of reach and takes them under. “They’re wearing life jackets, they’ll resurface,” I think. Later I would learn that at that very moment, pilot Dave Gunderson was asking his co-pilot, “How is he going to keep that baby alive in the water like that?” If he knew I was worried about the same thing, he never would have sent me out the door – 400 miles from anywhere – into the storm-torn Atlantic.
Renowned photographer Onne van der Wal is giving on-the-water photo workshops.
Sea Sense instructors will be in the Pacific Northwest, New England this summer.
They go by a few names: survival suits, quick-donning immersion suits or gumby suits. You need them on board, and Mario Vittone explains why.