A few weeks ago, two old friends set out from Port St. Lucie to the Virgin Islands on a sail boat. The two gentlemen are 86 and 71 years old. They had invited another friend who turned them down and warned them that the currents and winds would make the trip too difficult if not dangerous. The friend proved to be right. The sailboat lost power and the two men drifted at sea for seven days before being rescued. Thankfully, they will be alright.
After the rescue, it was learned that the vessel was woefully under supplied and provisioned. It did not have hand held VHF radios, e-perbs or even flares. Apparently, the owner was too cheap to purchase these items. Any of these items alone may have been enough to speed up a rescue.
Each and every boater must take an inventory of their vessel and account for safety equipment. The Coast Guard sets for the standard minimum requirements but the boater should go beyond these minimums when venturing into a trip of this magnitude.
Any overseas trip dictates the presence of back up radios, e-perbs, flares and other provisions to account for every perceived incident. A seasoned boater should know better and novice has a duty to himself and his passengers to find out how to safely equip the vessel. Every captain has a legal duty to use reasonable care under the circumstances to protect the passengers and crew. This duty cannot be breached or delegated.
These two fellows had no business being on the ocean for a trip of that nature and especially being completely unprepared for such an event. They got lucky this time.