Practical Boat Owner - - Learning From Experience -

Af­ter the event Gra­ham tried to iden­tify lessons to be learned. Here’s his ‘non-ex­haus­tive’ list:

Main­tain a good look­out Al­ways in­ves­ti­gate any­thing that looks ab­nor­mal: with­out the fish­er­man’s warn­ing I think Trina might have drowned. Alone and in a small row­ing boat he could have done lit­tle to help and could eas­ily have ended up in the wa­ter him­self had he al­lowed the fright­ened ca­su­alty to grab his gun­wale.

Know how to make the call Make sure ev­ery­one on board your boat can make a May­day call and use GPS to ac­cu­rately lo­cate your boat’s po­si­tion. I’d not done so ad­e­quately so my wife was un­able to per­form ei­ther of these tasks. I could have done both but only at the risk of los­ing con­tact with Trina. It was for­tu­nate some­one else was able to do it for me.

Safety gear Had Trina not been wear­ing a buoy­ancy jacket she would cer­tainly have drowned. Buoy­ancy aids, and bet­ter still life­jack­ets, should al­ways in­cor­po­rate a har­ness with a strong at­tach­ment point. Had Trina’s had one I could have looped a line through it and at­tached her more se­curely to my boat. Think be­fore­hand how you might get a ca­su­alty out of the wa­ter and into your boat. Re­mem­ber that ca­su­al­ties may not be able to help them­selves.

I thought that I’d done so and had a board­ing lad­der on board as well as per­ma­nent footholds bolted to my tran­som. In the event, nei­ther were of any help with a se­verely-in­jured ca­su­alty.

Hind­sight In ret­ro­spect I should have towed Trina very slowly back to the slipway and walked her ashore ex­actly as the lifeboat even­tu­ally did. Had I done so she could have been out of the wa­ter much more quickly. In the heat of the cri­sis this so­lu­tion did not oc­cur to me.

It was very for­tu­nate that the wa­ter was rel­a­tively warm and the sea was like a millpond. Had it been early or late in the sea­son or the sea even nor­mally choppy the out­come could have been tragic.

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