Tuesday, March 03, 2009

It's dangerous out there

Gulf of Mexico can quickly turn vicious - St. Petersburg Times In (almost) none of the stories about the missing boat and the missing football players, does the subject of safety come up. That's a problem - from 2 points of view.

That safety is rarely covered in the media. And boating safety itself is becoming a bigger issue.

Not to say that these guys did anything wrong. You can do everything right, and the sea can still kill you.

People who get into small boats and sail out of sight of land, have to be ready for what comes. Beyond 5 to 10 miles - depends on weather, and where you have the antenna mounted - you can't call back to land. No convenient 911 service to save your ass. (EPIRBS - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons - are a possible exception, but there are so many false alarms the Coast Guard can be overwhelmed.)

There are a lot of ways to die at sea. In the Gulf, hypothermia is a good bet.
Offshore, 20 or more miles from land, the water temperature is hovering in the mid to low 60s, the air temperature only slightly warmer. Even in a wetsuit, you will become chilled within an hour.
The author of this article talks about learning from (surviving) others' mistakes. I've lived a few of those things as well.

The sad truth is that if you go into the water offshore (that is, more than 20 miles out), it is probably the end for you. Though plenty of people die in close to shore as well.

Some will say that it is crazy to sail out of sight of land in a small boat. They probably haven't done it. But then it can be crazy to drive in rush hour traffic. Doesn't stop people from doing it.

That those men were lost in the Gulf is surely a tragedy for the families. Do you think this is only time something like this happens, or is it that you never here about it when the NFL isn't involved?

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