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Something Serious - Cold Water Boating

May 28, 2017

  Every spring and fall we hear about the potential dangers of cold water boating.  This week a potentially tragic accident occurred in Norwalk that needs to be reviewed..... Here's what happened:  It's time to get the boat off the dock and onto the mooring, so you tow it out with the large dingy.  Your friend asks if you need help, but you've done this dozens of times before and say no.  Trying to get the mooring line up onto the boat is tough as you stand in the dingy.  In seconds you are in the water with the boat going one direction and the dingy the other. To make things worse, it's getting dark, the water is about 40 degrees and you don't have a life jacket (PFD) on.  Obviously you're in a disastrous situation. Luckily the friend was still nearby, looked out, saw the boats floating apart and races in to get help at the marina.  You were lucky to be near the day marker rock pile and could climb out of the water (being out of the water likely saved your life).  The Norwalk fire boat quickly responds and finds you shivering on the rocks. Next, you’re off to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia and bruises.  Thirty minutes in the 40 degree water – a miracle.  By the next day you feel better, but still shaken. Meanwhile SeaTow is chasing down your boats, the larger having drifted all the way out the channel in the current, and has beached itself on Long Beach island by the Manresa power plant. So we learn:

  • Have someone else in the boat with you
  • Go boating when there are others on the water
  • Wear a life jacket (PDF) (or better yet an inflatable PFD)
  • Put a flashlight and whistle in the PFD
  • Get OUT of the water if possible - water conducts your body heat away faster than air does
  • Know the signs and how to treat hypothermia
  • Have the local fire and police phone numbers programmed in your phone:  Norwalk 911 is (203) 854-3000  (remember 911 on a cell phone doesn’t always get you to the nearest 911 dispatcher)   Norwalk Fire Dept is (203) 854-0233.   Channel 16 on VHF radio
  • See the Hypothermia Chart below and understand how fast the clock ticks

Read more about Hypothermia, wind chill and cold water boating here…….. /?page_id=1623 /?p=1604 hypothermia-rates Note that you still can get hypothermia in 60 degree water ! By Captain Rick Delfosse  203-216-7800  rick@rdelfosse.com Rick is a Coast Guard captain, National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience.   .   .

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