Rescue in the Southern Ocean

A French sailor survived three days in his life raft after dismasting in the Southern Ocean south-west of Tasmania. Full details have not yet been published but local news has an interesting video interview with the Captain of the rescue ship. He could only see the life raft for 1/2 mile and without outside assistance from aircraft would have had extreme difficulty in finding the raft.

We do not know yet why a dismasting forced the sailor in to his life raft nor how he contacted search and rescue, if by SSB or EPIRB. What this rescue does show is that the system works even if you are in the far reaches of the globe.

Thanks Crowley- training pays off!

Over the years I have thanked Crowley Maritime for their business but now we have another reason to thank them. On January 15, 2013 one of their crews rescued a man out of the water in Tampa Bay. Their web site has the full story which shows how important training is. Many in the marine safety industry feel that training is more important than equipment and my experience supports that feeling.

The problem is often where to get trained. You can pay to attend classes or safety at sea seminars which is the easiest solution. The Red Cross and local fire departments often provide first aid courses and sometimes provide the opportunity to train with fire extinguishers. Yacht Clubs have seminars as do boat shows. Finally if you own a life raft ask if your service facility provides training, especially hands on with your own raft.

Here at Westpac we do offer training for those who are having their life rafts serviced. We start by sinking your boat (mentally at least), go through deploying the raft, boarding, life on board and finally rescue. This normally takes around two (2) hours and customers leave with a thorough understanding of how their life raft works. Sometimes we wander into the subjects of EPIRB’s, crew overboard recovery, fire extinguishers or ditch kits. The breadth is controlled by our customer and the amount of time they wish to spend.

IMO Guide for Cold Water Survival

IMO Logo

The International Maritime Organization, IMO, has just released a revised guide to cold water survival. You can download MSC.1/Circ.1185Rev.1 which is intended to be used by “seafarers” providing “information which will help you if you are unlucky enough to fall into cold water”. Put in plain English, this is something all of us should read and understand. I particularly like Section 9 which deals with the “apparently dead” although in a serious note this is the first time I have seen this subject handled in a succinct way.

The document is a 14 page PDF about 200kb in size.

Switlik’s U-Zip-It suit goes rock climbing


I am not one to go rock climbing, actually not liking heights I have never tried, but I can imagine that ease of motion and flexibility are essential. Switlik sent over these photos of their U-Zip-It anti-exposure dry suit being put through its paces on some indoor rock climbing wall.


If you need one of these advanced anti-exposure dry suits for either rock climbing or more traditional uses give us a call, (800) 343-5826.

Pirates beware!

Horn of Africa

It seems that the pirates off of the Somali coast will have a new navy to contend with. A British company, Typhon, is setting up a private navy to protect shipping off of the Horn of Africa.  One must hope that this action will help. Piracy is the scourge of the sea affecting not only commercial shipping but also pleasure boats. Two of our customers were murdered by Somali pirates in 2011 (see the map above courtesy of the NY Times). When I was in high school one of the owners of the company I worked for was also murdered by pirates, although this time in was on the east side of Panama.

Good luck to Typhon, I hope they are both successful and their employees stay safe.