Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
After the tragic sinking of the Lady Mary off the New Jersey coast Tuesday morning, the NTSB has announced the agency will be investigating the incident along with the Coast Guard.
Of seven crew members on the scallop boat, only Jose Arias survived. According to the Press of Atlantic City, Arias slept next to his survival suit and put it on as soon as he awoke at 5 a.m. with the feeling that something was wrong on the boat.
The last time he saw the four missing crew members, they were holding their suits as they struggled to right the boat. When Arias entered the water, he got on his back and did his best to float and prevent the chilly Atlantic water from seeping in.
The Coast Guard is reporting that the EPIRB on the Lady Mary was not entered in a federal database, which they say slowed their response time and may have prevented the nearby F/V Kathryn Marie from receiving the vessel's name and location after it heard a mayday at 5 a.m.
We can "what if" until we're blue in the face when accidents happen. But survivors and fellow fishermen first have to ask themselves what they can do to avoid the same tragedy. Sadly, it means you have to take a little of the cowboy — the element that keeps so many of our highliners on the water — out of the industry by making safety a priority.
However, though training and preparedness can bring you home, how can anyone train to know when to let go of the controls? The skipper of the Lady Mary was most likely doing his best to bring his crew home safely. His efforts were no doubt valiant and honorable, and they may have contributed to Arias' survival.
One thing you can do is register your EPIRB online. Consider sleeping next to your survival suit. Put it on at the first sign of trouble. Attend a safety training course, run drills, get a stability check if you can afford one, and most importantly, keep on fishing.
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