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#109386 - 10/21/07 05:36 PM Stranded at sea-my story, ideas.
DLR Offline

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 30
Loc: Phoeniz, AZ

Recently, I had the (dis)pleasure of being stuck on a boat for 5 days. I thought I'd write my experiences, ideas and other ramblings so that maybe someone could learn from them.

First off, I wasn't in any extreme danger, at least not at that time. I was, however, stranded on a boat for 5 days, due to the weather.

Everything started out great. We boarded the boat with all the dive gear, food and other provisions. The boat was over 50' long, large diesel engine and water tanks. Standard stuff really.

After we made it to our destination overnight, we woke up to some fantastic diving. We had several great dives. We stayed at the location overnight, with the intention to move to a different place during the night, which we attempted, but were turned back due to high winds and 10-12 foot seas. We sheltered on the leeward side of the island all that night. No worries, we weren't expected back for 4 more days anyway, so we'd stay at the location until the weather improved. Good plan.

We dove all that day and attempted the journey to the other place the following day as well, but still no luck. We repeated this process for the next several days.

By day 4, things were getting tense. We were supposed to be back on dry land that day however, we were still stuck at the island. Most of the passengers were worried now about informing families and work about the delay. But most cell phones either didn't work or were dead. We managed to get ONE phone to work intermittently and got a few messages out. So we were ok for the time being. It shocked the hell out of me that a phone would even get a signal, let alone work. we were over 30nm from mainland.

The crew then informed me that the food was running low. Maybe another day or so. Hmm. Water was a big question now, in my mind.

On day 5, we managed to push through and get home. After traveling from early morning, to late night, we were finally home, safe.

A lot of things happened on the trip. A lot of questions were unanswered before we left. A good experience all around, for me. I discovered a lot of things about me and the people I was with.

Here are some thoughts;

Bring cell phones AND chargers. Better yet, a SAT phone would be a great idea, and fairly cheap to rent. Cheap insurance.

Have plenty of items for exposure protection. Skin, lips, etc.

Make a COMPLETE plan and leave it with someone back home. Play "What if" a lot before you go and plan for the worst.

Know the area you're going to. CHECK THE WEATHER! Better yet, a weather radio would have been great.

I now have a new found respect for the barometer. I have on on my EDC watch amd it was invaluable. Nice to have.

Plan on not having communications.

Think ahead of language issues with passengers/crew. A small dictionary would have been nice.

A deck of playing cards would have been worth millions.

A few days worth of personal food would have been a great idea. Instead of snack stuff, bring a few MRE's

Survival may not always involve just yourself. Think ahead about controlling fear, panic and other emotions of the others around you. They usually aren't as prepared as you are, therefore more prone to fear and panic. Although I knew I was prepared, not everyone around me was. Most would have done just fine, we were a hardy group, however, some may not have been.

Locate for yourself all items for safety and rescue. Beacons, rafts, lifejackets, radios, etc.

Speaking of radios, learn to use a marine radio if you might have to use it. As well as GPS's on the boat and other items you may need to be safe.

I know most of these things are items we always preach to be better prepared, but a situation like this reinforces the ideas even more.

I'm not looking for "you should have done ___". If you have constructive ideas, please let me know.

Thanks for letting me ramble on. It helps me remember things and better prepare next time.



#109389 - 10/21/07 06:13 PM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: DLR]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2818
Loc: La-USA
I think you have benefitted from a great adventure/experience. One never knows how a voyage will end or what will happen along the way.

Just today, we've narrowly avoided a collision and grounding (due to 20+ kt winds coupled with 9900+ sq ft of sail area). I decided it was a great day to take out the Galveston Causeway bridges!!! So here I sit, in Pelican Cut, waiting for the wind to die down!!!! Then I'll go through the bridges!
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#109408 - 10/21/07 08:39 PM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: DLR]
billym Offline

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 616
Loc: Oakland, California
Where was this?
Where was the vessels radio equipment?
It sounds like one of those exotic locals which adds lots of risk.
My friend went surfing in a remote part of Fiji about 15 years ago and almost got killed when the guide boat wrecked in the surf off of a coral reef. Many almost drowned. The further one goes from the modern world the more you need to rely on yourself especially if you are used to having your "guides" take care of you.

#109421 - 10/21/07 11:16 PM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: DLR]
Stu Offline
I am not a P.P.o.W.
Old Hand

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1058
Loc: Finger Lakes of NY State
A PLB might come in handy with the SAT phone.
A few MRE's or meals that don't require water for prep. Whenever we go out on any boat, we always have a small fishing kit with at least a couple of good hand-lines if we don't have poles.
My boat bag has a couple of thick books, a writing tablet, pens, and a deck of playing cards in it, inside 2 zip lock bags.
I always bring my cell charger in my travel bag, which goes with me everywhere. Be aware of what voltage and plug in's are available. I've a charger that works off a AA battery for my cell for emergency use.
Sunscreen, lip balm, Aloe, bug juice, a floppy hat and extra sun glasses are a part of my bag.

Due to a breakdown, 4 of us spent a unplanned full day and overnight on a very small island in Bahamas back when I was in college. We were out of water, bug repellent and sunscreen. I had a sandals, a tee shirt and shorts, as did my buddy, the 2 women were in bikini's with just towels for sun protection. Not the right things to have when on a open cockpit boat, with no way to get out of the sun. To put it simply, sun poisoning is not fun. We had not left a detailed plan, and our friends didn't bother to start the SAR when we did not return, as we often spent extra days island camping.
Our most important survival tool is our brain, and for many, that tool is way underused! SBRaider
Head Cat Herder

#109422 - 10/21/07 11:16 PM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: billym]
DLR Offline

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 30
Loc: Phoeniz, AZ
We were in the Sea of Cortez. We had a marine radio that operated and we were able to communicate with passing ships, etc, just not back to where we came from. The boat crew was fantastic. They kept us informed and helped every way they could, despite the language barrier. I spoke the most spanish on the boat so therefore I was the interpreter. They spoke some english so we were able to communicate ok, just not as good as I would have liked. The boat is a solid boat and is one of the reasons we were in good spirits. Not really intended for multi-day trips, but more than enough. Actually, it has berths for at least 10, but the weather was so nice, other than the wind, we slept above on the deck.

When we left, I, and the crew, had a current 10-day weather forcast. Which, was wrong. Imagine that.

The crew also made many sound jugement calls on the sea conditions, which I have no question was the right decision. You have to be patient with the weather and don't push it. Ride it out. You'll get where you want to go. But it's on mother natures' schedule, not yours.

Thanks for the feedback.


Edit to add: There was an operating (functional) EPIRB on the boat, so there was no worries about that. I even checked the battery myself.

Edited by DLR (10/22/07 02:04 AM)

#109423 - 10/21/07 11:23 PM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: DLR]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5247
That's a good point. Once weather shifts you need to make decisions and be prepared to change plans. Sounds like the crew knew better than to stick to a schedule and adjusted their plans to match the weather conditions. Sounds like a good trip.
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

#109424 - 10/21/07 11:30 PM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: Stu]
DLR Offline

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 30
Loc: Phoeniz, AZ
Originally Posted By: SBRaider
I've a charger that works off a AA battery for my cell for emergency use.

Yes! A great idea. Even better, I'm looking into one of the solar-powered jobs. Might take a long time to charge, but it's better than nothing.

I wonder if someone makes a universal battery adapter..? something where I can plug in any battery, even cell phone batteries, and output to a adaptable plug in to any cell phone. Kind of like a AA battery charger for phones, but you can use any battery, to any cell. Tall order, I know.

We had several phone that were charged, but no signal. Would have been nice to be able to plug a different battery into a different phone.

Also, know how to use your cell in other countries, as well if it will even work.


#109429 - 10/22/07 12:13 AM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: DLR]
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
My cutter fought a storm that soon had most of the crew sick in their bunks.For some perverse reason ( large quantities of SOS and coffee) I fared ok and stood a double helm watch. I'm standing there gulping coffee when possible and the skipper is next to me gulping his as we played cat and mouse with the heavy seas. I started humming unconsciously and the Old Man says " Kav, what the hell is that? It sounds familiar. Oh, sorry skipper, just a dumb song. Well, lets hear it! Maybe it'll cheer things up." I sang the entire lyrics to The Sloop John B by the Beach Boys. Captain says," no, I'm not cheered up. Lousy Beach Boys got me interested in the ocean." Always take a sense of humour with you, fits in any Altoids can. " So hoist up the John B's sail-See how the mainsail sets- Call for the Captain ashore----- "

Edited by Chris Kavanaugh (10/22/07 01:51 AM)

#109512 - 10/22/07 05:20 PM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: Chris Kavanaugh]
el_diabl0 Offline

Registered: 12/31/06
Posts: 301
Loc: NE Ohio
No radio on a commercial boat like that?
Improvise, adapt, and overcome

#110646 - 10/30/07 02:17 AM Re: Stranded at sea-my story, ideas. [Re: el_diabl0]
DLR Offline

Registered: 01/01/07
Posts: 30
Loc: Phoeniz, AZ
Yes, there was a radio. XM to be exact. Pretty nice, and the comedy channels were great, but got repetative. We mostly played "Name that tune" and talked about the band history, what singer is with what band now, etc.

All in all, a good trip. I learned a bunch. That's what I take from it.

In fact, I'm going back this weekend. We'll see how it goes.


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