This is a harrowing story of a seasoned sailor, a massive change in conditions, and some serious luck. This is the story of Mark Wheeler aboard Meridian X in the Chicago to Mackinac Island Race who suddenly found himself in the water when the boat was hit by a micro-burst in open water. Spoiler alert – this story has a happy ending, but some really important lessons learned.
Gone In an Instant (as reposted on ASA Webiste)
Thanks to Ken Quant, Lakeland Boating Magazine, and ASA for the retelling of the story so we may all learn from it. Please take the time to read it but in the interest of safety, here are the lessons learned as posted in the link above:
Many lessons can be learned from Mark’s harrowing MOB incident, including:
For the boaters
- Always properly buckle your life vest when on deck.
- One hand should be gripping the boat at all times.
- Always leave your inflatable life vest on auto inflation.
- If in water, remain calm and preserve your energy.
- Always keep a whistle and working light attached to your life vest.
- A strobe light is much easier to see than a steady light.
- Do not count on personal AIS transmitters alone.
For the boat
- If sailing, reduce your sail area before an approaching squall hits.
- Immediately activate the DSC / Distress function on your VHF radio and designate someone to coordinate communication with the USCG and other nearby vessels.
- If you are going offshore, spend the money and get an AIS receiver. A life is worth the extra expense.
- Stop the motor from time to time to just listen and look in an MOB situation.
- Always monitor VHF 16 and make sure it can be heard by someone.
- If equipped with an AIS receiver, remember to monitor it if you hear a MOB call because the person in the water may have a transmitter.
- An official search protocol for assisting vessels should be established and promoted.
Sail MORE! But sail Safely!