Another rescue, but why?

Another rescue but why was it necessary? A US man was rescued after his tow line snapped. he had drifted for eight days on a disabled yacht off of Vietnam.

A couple of questions come to mind. What happened to the vessel that was towing him and how much sooner would he have been rescued if he had an EPIRB? Still this is a good example of why staying with a disabled boat is a better option than getting in to a life raft.

Life rafts on pushpits- followup

Back on October 30th I wrote about why mounting your life raft on the pushpit is not something I endorse. On December 17th the blog of the S/V Nereida talks more about this issue. In the article she states “I noticed the supports seemed to be rather loose” so while in the Southern Ocean tools needed to be brought out to fix the problem.

If you read Jeanne’s blog you will learn that this raft needed to be mounted by herself while at anchor is Sausalito, CA so it was a very difficult job. Still I have not heard of deck mounted cradles that are through bolted with backing plates coming loose.

Along with following Jeanne’s adventure I have also been keeping up with the Vendée Globe race. There is amazing video of these extremely powerful sailboats who are now in the Southern Ocean south of Australia. Every once in a while you get to see how they mount their life rafts and the pounding that they take from waves. It gives you a better understanding about the forces involved and why through bolting and back plates are necessary.

AMVER comes to the rescue

The Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, AMVER, came to the aid of another sailor on December 15, 2012. Quoting the AMVER web site: “Amver, sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.”

This is a great asset many are not aware of. AMVER helps when you are away from helicopter rescue since there always seem to be merchant vessels somewhere around. On December 4, 2012 the combination of an EPIRB and AMVER rescued another sailor in the Pacific.

At a time when many things seem to be going wrong, it is nice to find something that is working and saving lives.

Sorry to say, we are getting heavier

It used to be that life raft capacity was figured on 165 pounds per occupant. The new number is 185 pounds. All approved life rafts must now use this figure but I have yet to see any non-approved rafts designed for recreational use make this switch. This is something to consider if you are looking to purchase a life raft. Rather than asking how many individuals a raft is rated for, find out what the rated load is in pounds (or kilograms if you deal better in the metric system) and make your decision based on that. It is always better to have more raft than you need!

This change in “average weight” affects more than just life rafts. Vessel capacity calculations use this number and the 20 pound increase can have cause some dramatic changes in carrying capacity. The American Spirit went from being able to carry 304 people down to 250.

Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus News


Congress has just passed the 2012 Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act and it includes one major change regarding the required transition from life floats to inflatable buoyant apparatus (IBA’s). Prior to this act all US Flag vessels that were required to carry life floats would have had to change to carrying IBA’s by January 1, 2015. This date has now been put on hold pending further data collection.

If you want to read the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act of 2012 the link will take you to the Library of Congress download. The section regarding IBA’s is on page 24.

I still feel that life floats are not an adequate piece of life saving equipment since they do not get victims out of the water. Hypothermia sets in rapidly and the consumption of alcohol worsens your chances (since many life floats are used on “party boats”, alcohol consumption is prevalent) of survival. The main reason life floats are so common is their cost. They are less expensive to purchase and do not require annual servicing like an IBA.

Seattle Boat Show 2013 Report #2

This year the show organizers (the Northwest Marine Trades Association) are trying to spice up evenings at the Seattle Boat Show. The blog Three Sheets Northwest has written a great piece covering the evening events (wine, beer and shows over the boats).

It has been difficult to encourage customers to come in the evenings, Seattle seems to be an early to bed, early to rise city. The events and return to hand craved meat sandwiches which we used to have in the old days at the King Dome will hopefully bring more people in after work.

If you want great attention from exhibitors, evenings along with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are your best bets. Tickets are all ready on sale and I notice that free parking is once again an option (but you need to purchase 4 or more adult tickets online).

More on the tour boat Ethan Allen

In 2005 the tour boat Ethan Allen overturned on Lake George in New York causing  20 people to lose their lives. This tragedy spurred the government into a new regulation mandating life saving equipment that keeps the victims out of the water.

As of January 1, 2015 life floats like the one shown will no longer be allowed. [12/14/2012: the 1/1/15 deadline has been postponed, read our post from December 14th]


There are still lawsuits pending and it seems that one claiming damages against government inspectors has just been ruled on. Reading the comment from the National Transportation Safety Board it makes one realize that the government is not actively out there ensuring that vessels are safe for their passengers and crew. Budgets are strained and people’s lives have suffered.