Passagemaker had one of their Trawlerfest events near our home last week. My wife and I attended a few sessions. I focused on safety. The first presentation was by a doctor that is part of DAN boater network. This one was so-so. It wasn't tailored to cruisers, it was a wide ranging dive into things that happen all over the world, much of it having to do with diving. But as always, I walked away with a few nuggets.
The second session was MUCH better. The first half was conducted by Thomas Bliss of www.northwestresponse.com. This was all about first aid. Super informative, and entertaining too ("there's only two kinds of people I'll give mouth-to-mouth to: my family, and people that owe me money!"). I have pages of notes and will definitely be taking several first aid classes in the very near future.
I have been in quite a few "scrapes" in my life. Some truly bad car accidents, including this one that happened when I lived in Germany. Nine of us in the hospital. I pulled five people out of that car (it's the one that crashed into our car throwing both cars off a cliff). It was leaking gas the entire time.
I have broken both wrist bones (radius/ulna) in my right arm and experienced severe shock.
I did a lot of backpacking as a teenager. I had my own near drowning experience in a snow melt lake at 8,000+ feet. Me and a friend had to build a stretcher from a small tree we cut down with knives, and sweatshirts, and carry an injured companion for two entire days to help. Caught in a surprise massive snowstorm and had to walk out several miles in 6' of snow.
So I have a lot of appreciation for making good decisions regarding safety, and being prepared.
Recently in some of the boating forums, an article called "Drowning doesn't look like drowning" has gone viral. I was very pleased to find out the author, Mario Vittone, would be the other speaker at this session. He's a former USCG rescue swimmer (2,000+ helicopter hours). He has truly seen it all, and a lot of what he has seen is heartbreaking.
After moving on from rescue swimming at age 45 he became a marine accident investigator. Mario feels that virtually every accident at sea can be traced back to decisions that were made or not made before the vessel left the dock. And he has example after example to back this up.
His demonstration of his own usage of his life vest and the equipment he carries was a real eye opener. You have probably read my prior post about our swim ladder saga. I think until this session I felt that if I fell overboard with my inflatable PFD on I would survive.
Mario's session and the links he provided us has me rethinking that. And especially about tender operations where the chance of going over is much more than on Mahalo.
Mario has a way of rephrasing questions. For example, he asked "How many arrived here on a boat?" Many hands go up. "Where are you going when you leave?" "Seattle." "Anacortes." "Wrong," Mario replies, "you are leaving the safety of land and going into a liquid that has every capability of killing you very quickly."
Now I realize Mario has seen the worst boating has to offer. Just living has a risk. Those of us that drove to his workshop undertook a statistical risk too. During a break one of the other attendees remarked to me "I feel like I can't leave the dock without a doctor, survival suits and a coast guard expert on board!"
Safety wise, us boaters will be somewhere on a spectrum from "totally lame" on the left and "USCG rescue swimmer approved" on the right. We have to make our choices and compromises. Our choice is to be ready to respond to incidents on our boat. Practice!
I could write for days about the knowledge Mario imparted, but fortunately there are a couple of websites with his work.
The most important one is: www.soundingsonline.com/voices/lifelines-safety-and-rescue-at-sea. Excellent articles and videos there my Mario, including the one I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. The one with the dry suits that have come from the kite-boarding world are worthy consideration for kayakers in cold water.
Here are more videos from Mario on Vimeo: vimeo.com/mariovittone .
The next important site is: www.coldwatersafety.org . If you are like me, despite boating and being around water for years or decades, you simply do not know nearly enough about cold water. I'm putting my money where my mouth is and just made a donation to this 501(3)c.
Lastly here is Mario's site: mariovittone.com/ . At the present time he is not building up content there, more sharing on other sites.
If you get a chance to attend one of Mario's sessions I believe you will gather some life saving information. Here's to boating as safely as we all can.
At the end of the session Mario gave away some of the gear he demonstrated and I was fortunate enough to receive this lifting harness. Thanks Mario!