Ira Hubbard, the owner of the Marine Flower II, was certain he and his family would be safely tied up in Bermuda by now. But here he was, helping his wife and children into the open ocean and abandoning his boat forever. Fifteen minutes and four incredibly risky helicopter hoists later, they were safely in the back of our helicopter and we were all heading home. Little Ira Hubbard Jr. – the youngest victim ever rescued by helicopter from the open ocean – never so much as shed a tear.
With 15 years of experience between then and now, I’ve seen that look of disbelief way too often. Sure, most boaters have the necessary emergency equipment on board, but almost always seem unprepared to be using it. As a guy who’s been at the end of some very bad days, I’m here to remind you that your boat is heavier than water, and can sink. There are things you can do to be ready for that possibility, and increase your chances of surviving the sinking that no one ever expects.
Lieutenant Commander Dan Molthen, the co-pilot on that November 1994 rescue mentioned above, has two decades' worth of experience in maritime search and rescue. A veteran of literally hundreds of lifesaving missions, Dan knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to making it home when your boat can’t. Recently, we sat together and discussed the business of being a sailor’s last hope, and what really separates those who lived from the others.
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.