Last Updated on January 5, 2021
Regular followers will know that I still sail on a regular basis off the California Coast, and pretty much everywhere I go where this is an option. While the Crazy Empire of California, my native state, is now one state west of me, I make the trip often to see old friends and spend time on the amazing ocean, truly one of nature’s eternal “wild places” even within sight of a shoreline. After all, it is still legal to have a cocktail in ones hand while you are at the helm of a “personal pleasure craft”, adding that human error to the equation.
The title of this post is old-school thinking that still applies what someone gets in trouble in the water, any body of water. Aside from spotting the person in trouble in the water and keeping them in sight it is the most important “to do” in a situation where someone has gone overboard or is, again, in distress in any body of water. The point here was that something you throw will eventually float and provide a life-line and time to get a more serious rescue accomplished. When seconds count the first point is to get the person in peril something to hang onto. Beer coolers are a GREAT idea, sans the beer and ice of course, and even casting a fishing line is acceptable. Rocks, anchors, paperback novels, and beach towels on the other hand, well, do I really need to go there? Common sense is required in all things.
And understanding the actual process for someone overboard on a boat is more complicated than most people realize. These usually happen when the boat is moving, and the boat does not stop moving when someone falls off so there are procedures that need to be done to effect a rescue. First, someone has to see you fall or hear your screams. Second someone has to spot you in the water. THIS is the most important step of all and the procedure taught is that whoever does this yells “Spotted” and points and that becomes that person’s singular job. To move anywhere on the boat and keep pointing at the person overboard and keep yelling “Spotted” no matter what the boat does.
Boats do not stop on a dime, especially sailboats. They do not turn on a dime either. One of the things that were presented in the original tours of the Queen Mary when it was placed as an exhibit at Long Beach Harbor was that it took 7 miles to stop that ship. That means that whenever she went into port they started the “stopping procedure” outside of the countries territorial waters. Modern cruise ships do better, but not much, and a fall from those decks will most likely kill you due to the height and the fact that, if you are conscious, you can not judge when you will hit the water and the surface cohesion is unbroken. Water is a harder surface to penetrate at higher speeds than most people realize, ask any high diver. Paratrooper training of military personnel teaches that water landings are more dangerous than land for a multitude of reasons. In any high diving competition, you will note water being sprayed on the impact area. This is done to give the human eye textural perception of the distance to the water and to break the surface cohesion of the water molecules actually making for a softer entry.
On a boat you have the standard life preservers that work well as long as the person overboard can see them, as long as the person can reach them and as long as the person is still conscious and has the physical strength to grab and hold them securely. And the reality is even an Olympic Shot Putter or first string NFL quarterback can throw one from a moving boat 25 feet, maybe, depending on winds and the tidal/wave/wake movement of the water. A few years ago people started to really rethink this as there is so much technology that can improve this process.
One of the things that were introduced was a self-propelled lifesaver buoy that has a motor and a remote controller that could be operated by a trained lifeguard or trained ships crew member to motor out to the victim. A GIANT step forward. Well today there is another more affordable step forward in the OneUp, one that has practical applications for many activities and situations preppers may find themselves in. This is a compact, affordable configuration that could not only work for boaters (both sailors and stinkpots) but for swimmers, kayakers, fisherman, river rafters, and for anyone caught in a fast-moving current, a rip tide, rising waters or a flood.
Reusable and more manageable than a life preserver as a “first employed” item to get the person some dependable support as you take the necessary steps to turn the boat around and bring it to a stop as close to possible to the victim to get a line and preserver safely to them to bring them back on-board. Or to swim out to someone who is less likely to be in “panic” mode because they are stable and afloat and thus not putting the rescuer in more danger than needs be. True also for any river or lake or flood situation. This looks like one more tool to consider being in your preparedness supplies and EDC for when you are on or near water.