Rough Seas

by Steve on March 3, 2009


MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Feb. 28, 2009) The guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) crashes through heavy seas in the Mediterranean. Vella Gulf is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky/Released)

Looks worse than it is – she can handle it but getting caught offshore in a 21′ boat when the wind kicks up is a different beast.

live_rescue.jpg USCG photo by Fireman Adam Campbell

Nick Schuyler was the lucky one. He managed to stay with the boat. Rule number one in the event of a capsize at sea: Never leave the boat as long as it’s afloat. Never. Sadly his three friends were separated from the boat and presumed lost at sea.

A boat, even partially submerged, can be seen for miles. A man in the water is extremely difficult to spot even at short distances. I’ve been involved in searches before – it’s not fun racing the clock knowing that every hour in the water reduces the chance for survival. Watched the sun dip below the horizon two days later knowing that the search was over and our shipmate was forever lost at sea. It hurts still.

Sixty-four degrees sounds balmy until you’re swimming in it and you realize it’s roughly thirty degrees cooler than your core body temp.


Kath March 4, 2009 at 2:39

When I saw that announcement yesterday that at sundown they would be calling off the search — all I could think about was the families.

How do you accept that, go with that, deal with that? How awful — for everyone, including the searchers.

Many, many prayers for all of them.

Steve March 4, 2009 at 9:19

It’s tough without the closure of a recovery. What really got my goat was some of the comments being posted on the USCG site. Most were insensitive at best, almost all showed a complete lack of understanding of the CG’s mission. Some even blamed the CG for the missing men! Demanded that they search at night!! Morons.

If the 4 men went offshore in a 21′ boat with a forecast for small craft advisory (can’t confirm that) then that was bad headwork on their part. Once capsized, had they tethered themselves to the boat the outcome might have been better but 3 days in the water would have killed them regardless. In/on the boat or a raft where they could conserve body heat they probably would have survived but not physically in the water.

Sad story indeed.

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