At dusk on a mid-winter day with poor visibility, shouts for help were heard by staff in the harbour office. They went out onto the jetty to look. It was seen that there was an upturned tender near the other side of the main channel with someone clinging to it. A patrol boat was immediately manned and went to assist. A man was pulled from the water. Although conscious and talking he was asked to remain in a lying position and covered with a blanket. Two younger men were seen to be on their moored fishing boat to which they had swum back, and were being attended by a RIB that had launched from a nearby boatyard.
The office was called and asked to phone for an ambulance. The casualties were taken ashore to the harbour office. There they were provided with dry clothing and a warm drink, and examined by a paramedic. There was concern regarding hypothermia and possible delayed shock. Fortunately however, they soon recovered.
The three men were commercial fishermen who had been crossing the river in their small tender when it capsized. They had no lights and were not wearing lifejackets.
Lessons Learned: Wear a life jacket. Don’t overload. Have lights.
This report brings to mind a recent accident involving the loss of a small open boat, resulting in the death of its four occupants. It highlights the reason for the RNLI’s campaign, endorsed by the MCA and RYA – “A lifejacket buys you vital time – but only if you are wearing it“.
As a reader of Maritime Feedback and interested in promoting maritime safety, you would never embark in a small tender without wearing a lifejacket ….. would you?