Paul Castronovo Musings: Disaster At Sea Avoided...Barely

If you didn’t hear our interview with my friend Chris Conway of Boca, the man who while on his boat with his Son and a few friends on Sunday afternoon, ended up being rescued, it brought chills to myself and many other South Florida weekend boaters. [Listen to the full interview HERE.]

Chris is an experienced boater and even so, things turned to shi& quickly. That storm that ripped through South Florida on Sunday on land, was even worse 20 miles off shore.

His group saw the sky getting dark near shore and decided it was time to pull in the fishing gear and head in, they even talked to some of the other boats in the area and they all headed in. Then it got real.

The temperature dropped 20 degrees and the front brought winds up to 50 mph and the waves went from flat calm to 12 Ft. They began taking waves over the bow in minutes and shortly after that, the boat filled with water, the electronics died and the engines were under, after that she was sinking within minutes.

Chris had the presence of mind to grab his hand held radio and get a mayday call out, put on their life jackets and as the boat sunk, they had no choice but to ditch into the water.

Thankfully, Chris gave out his GPS coordinates over the radio and within 20 minutes of being in the water, they were rescued. Disaster avoided, but it got me thinking: What is my rescue plan if things turn to crap?

  • Type 1 life vests, make sure they are in good shape. The good ones have a neck support in case you are passed out, it will float your head so you don’t drown.
  • Hand held VHS radio. Is it on the boat? Are the batteries charged? When was the last time you tested it?
  • Satellite phone. Your cell phone doesn’t work once you get a certain distance offshore. You could be adrift with no power and the Sat phone could be your life line.
  • Flares (that are up to date and working): you may need to signal a fellow boater
  • Fire extinguisher (see above): You don’t want a fire at sea
  • Life raft ( and this is the most important, yet very few of us have one): Don’t cheap out on safety. I have a 4 person life raft, and it cost me $350 a year to get it serviced. I complained about that cost to Captain Bouncer and he said, “How much is your kids life worth?” Good answer.
  • Float plan: Make sure you let someone know where you’re going to be and when you’re supposed to be home and if you aren’t back, they should call the Coast Guard.

Now, let's go fishing!

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