Anyone who sails or power boats should know about the “Man Over Board” (MOB) drill. Some have practiced it. The premise is a series of actions taken when someone goes overboard – throwing a life ring, assigning someone to try to keep sight of the victim, and marking the location with your GPS MOB button. At the FHYC March General Meeting information was presented to members telling them what to do while in the water until rescued.
But what happens when the boat you fell off of sinks in a matter of seconds? The four experienced sailors, Mark Hallquist, Doug Longhini, John Jackson, and Russ Robinson, on a 22-foot Ensign, experienced this scenario recently. They had no time to discuss procedures before they all found themselves in the 51-degree Neuse River with no other boats in sight. What they did do before all this happened was put their life jackets on when they got on the boat. All had cell phones but in one case the phone was in an inside jacket pocket. When the life jacket inflated it pinned the cell phone in the jacket, making it inaccessible.
The four sailors also stayed very calm, not expending any more energy than they had to. Their rescue included Buzzy Morris on shore who just happened to see the boat go down and called 911 and Tidewater Marine who launched a boat with Jeremy Sumrell and Gordon Stansberry on board, who were the first to arrive on the scene. Jerry Rezab was out in his boat and came over, and the New Bern Fire and Rescue was on the scene. Also assisting were Bill and Jan Green in the mark boat for the upcoming race who stayed with the sunken Ensign. Kirk Hathaway happened to be doing some diving work in the area and came over to help raise the boat and remove the sails which were still up. Bill Jarvis on Piccolo, the race committee boat for the upcoming race, was available to tow the boat to the dock.
Once the four crew members were safely on shore, the EMTs from Bridgeton EMS and Tri-County EMS had them strip out of their wet clothes and then wrapped them in blankets. The very cold and water-logged survivors were then transported to CarolinaEast Emergency Room. Upon arrival they were put into special heating blankets and given warmed saline solution intravenously to help raise their core temperatures. Coast Guard, NC Wildlife, and Cherry Point rescue personnel also responded.
The boat that sank was a sailboat but it could have been a power boat. Having the four crew members doing what they were supposed to do – wearing their life jackets – saved their lives. It could save your life too. Wear your life jacket when on the water, whether on a power or a sailboat! You never expect a marine emergency until it happens.