Learn­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence

A Sun­day cruise turned into a test of strength for Gra­ham Deavin as he strug­gled to lift an in­jured and wa­ter­logged MOB into his boat

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents -

A boater comes to the res­cue of a se­ri­ously in­jured jet skier in Ryde but he strug­gles to lift her aboard

Some­times emer­gen­cies oc­cur when you least ex­pect them! Some years ago my wife and I were pre­par­ing to en­ter Ryde Har­bour on the Isle of Wight on a warm, calm Sun­day af­ter­noon. My wife was plan­ning a short stop for a swim and ice cream be­fore re­turn­ing to Portsmouth in our 18ft mo­tor launch Dab­ble­lyn.

About a quar­ter of a mile off the hov­er­craft ter­mi­nal, and close to the buoyed har­bour en­trance chan­nel, I no­ticed a large per­sonal wa­ter­craft in­shore of me. Ev­ery­thing ap­peared to be nor­mal so I paid it no fur­ther at­ten­tion. Some mo­ments later I must have heard some­thing and when I looked again at the PWC it was slow­ing rapidly but its rider was fly­ing through the air only to fall awk­wardly into the sea.

I ex­pected the rider to swim back, re­cover the craft and zoom away but this did not hap­pen. As I waited, un­sure as to whether all was well, a fish­er­man in a row­ing boat an­chored close to the in­ci­dent shouted and waved at me mak­ing it clear I did in­deed need to be­come in­volved.

Se­ri­ous in­jury

As I ap­proached I saw that the per­son in the wa­ter was a woman and she was plead­ing for me to help her. She was wear­ing a buoy­ancy aid but seemed to be hav­ing dif­fi­culty keep­ing her head above

wa­ter. I came along­side of her and im­me­di­ately re­alised that she was se­ri­ously in­jured. One leg was clearly bro­ken in at least one place and her op­po­site knee badly swollen and prob­a­bly dis­lo­cated. She was scream­ing with pain and beg­ging me to help her!

With some as­sis­tance she was able to grab the gun­wale of my boat and I tried to sup­port her by hold­ing on to her other arm. Un­for­tu­nately I had pre­vi­ously just ap­plied sun­tan cream and when wet, my hands proved to be very slip­pery. It was ob­vi­ous that given her in­juries the ca­su­alty could not help her­self out of the wa­ter us­ing our board­ing lad­der.

My wife had her arm in plas­ter and it be­came ap­par­ent the pair of us would be quite in­ca­pable of lift­ing a soak­ing wet, in­jured adult aboard.

Sud­denly the two foot high gun­wale of our boat be­came a bar­rier we could not over­come and I could do lit­tle more than try to re­as­sure the lady that I’d not let go of her. The ca­su­alty ap­peared to be aged in her 40’s and was wear­ing a shortie wet­suit and a buoy­ancy aid that had seen bet­ter days.

Good Sa­mar­i­tan col­li­sion

At about this time an­other boat ap­peared, a small tri­maran equipped with an out­board mo­tor. The skip­per tried to bring his rather un­ma­noeu­vrable craft along­side Dab­ble­lyn but mis­judged his ap­proach and col­lided with us – not enough to do us any harm but the re­sul­tant move­ment caused the ca­su­alty to scream again in pain.

I was kneel­ing with my head and shoul­ders over the gun­wale hang­ing on to the lady I now knew was called Trina, so I asked the tri­maran skip­per to broad­cast a May­day. I was very re­lieved when he told me that he’d al­ready done so.

By this time I was be­com­ing very stiff, suf­fer­ing from cramp and in­creas­ingly wor­ried that I might not be able to hold on to the ca­su­alty for much longer so I tried to pass a rope un­der her arms and around her shoul­ders. Un­for­tu­nately I couldn’t reach far enough to do so prop­erly and had to com­pro­mise by pass­ing my line through the shoul­der strap of her buoy­ancy aid.

Mean­while my wife drew my at­ten­tion to the fact that we were drift­ing to­wards the sea­ward side of the har­bour wall.

As this would have wors­ened the sit­u­a­tion and not want­ing to start the engine with a ca­su­alty in the wa­ter I asked my wife to drop our an­chor. While this stopped our drift it also in­creased the rel­a­tive move­ment of wa­ter past our boat and caused Trina’s in­jured legs to move. Her screams grew worse but I was un­able to do much to help apart from talk­ing to her and en­sur­ing she did not in­gest more wa­ter.

‘One leg was clearly bro­ken. She was scream­ing, beg­ging me to help her’

Teenage cav­alry

De­spite my ef­forts and prob­a­bly be­cause Trina was also be­com­ing tired she seemed to be hav­ing more dif­fi­culty keep­ing her head above wa­ter. Hap­pily an­other row­ing boat had ap­peared and

the youth­ful oc­cu­pants started to re­cover the PWC. I shouted to them that the jet-ski was not a pri­or­ity and asked the larger of the two lads, who seemed to be aged about 14, to board Dab­ble­lyn and help me sup­port Trina’s head above the wa­ter.

As he did so I heard the very wel­come news that lifeboats from the in­de­pen­dent Ryde In­shore Res­cue ser­vice were ap­proach­ing so I was able to re­as­sure Trina that help was com­ing. When it did it was a large RIB ac­com­pa­nied by a smaller in­flat­able boat.

They closed up and asked my wife for an ap­praisal of the sit­u­a­tion. When they heard of Trina’s in­juries they quickly re­alised that this was no or­di­nary res­cue.

Ca­su­alty tow

One of the lifeboat men jumped into the wa­ter wear­ing a large life­jacket and was able to swim with Trina to the side of the smaller lifeboat. At this point our di­rect in­volve­ment in the res­cue ceased but we stayed at an­chor in case we could help fur­ther. The lifeboat crew de­cided to par­tially de­flate the smaller boat in or­der to make it eas­ier to pull Trina aboard. Un­for­tu­nately de­spite the rel­a­tively low lift now re­quired the lifeboat crew were un­able to re­cover Trina from the wa­ter.

By this time the coast­guard, the po­lice and an am­bu­lance had ar­rived at the top of Ryde Har­bour slipway. The crew of the larger lifeboat fer­ried out a para­medic but even­tu­ally it was de­cided not to at­tempt to lift the ca­su­alty out of the wa­ter so she was towed very slowly into shal­low wa­ter and even­tu­ally put onto a stretcher at the end of the slipway.

I would guess that she had been in the wa­ter for about 45 min­utes and was clearly suf­fer­ing from shock and cold as well as her more ob­vi­ous phys­i­cal in­juries. De­spite this the coast­guard later as­sured me dur­ing the de­brief­ing that she was no longer in any dan­ger.

The jet ski was quickly car­ried away by the tide but was even­tu­ally re­cov­ered onto Ryde beach.

Ryde In­shore Res­cue

The in­de­pen­dent lifeboat sta­tion, based on the Isle of Wight, sur­vives solely on pub­lic gen­eros­ity to fund an­nual run­ning costs of around £40,000.

*Send us your boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence story and if it’s pub­lished you’ll re­ceive the orig­i­nal Dick Everitt-signed wa­ter­colour which is printed with the ar­ti­cle. You’ll find PBO’s con­tact de­tails on page 5.

‘Had Trina not been wear­ing a buoy­ancy jacket she would have drowned’

Ryde Har­bour, Isle of Wight

The height of Dab­ble­lyn’s free­board made it dif­fi­cult for Gra­ham to lift the ca­su­alty

above Gra­ham Deavin’s 18ft mo­tor launch Dab­ble­lyn in Portsmouth LeFT Ryde In­shore Res­cue lifeboat crew

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