Sunday, August 21, 2005

Three tales from the sea

Here are three tales from today's news. Need I reiterate the importance of safe boating?

First, from my old stomping grounds in the midwest & Lake Michigan; this one comes from the AP wire:

A ferry rescued a man clinging to a seat cushion in Lake Michigan nearly two hours after his boat capsized almost 20 miles from shore Sunday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thomas Drewek, 44, wasn't wearing a life preserver when the Lake Express ferry spotted him on its way from Milwaukee to Muskegon, Mich., according to the Coast Guard.

"Just by chance, the Lake Express saw him," Petty Officer Robert Napp said.

A wave caused his powerboat to capsize, and he wasn't able to radio for help, Napp said. He was the only one on board.

Drewek spent nearly two hours in the 65- to 70-degree water, Napp said. In those conditions, he could have survived for about 36 hours, according to the Coast Guard.

The ferry got him on board around 6:30 a.m. and headed back to Milwaukee, where he was hospitalized. Drewek wanted to walk off the ferry by himself, but paramedics would not let him, Napp said.
Let me say that Mr. Drewek is damn lucky. Again, always where your PFD when underway.

Here's one a little closer to home. Had I been at the Sector Hampton Roads Command Center today, I'd have been involved in the search planning for this case:
Rescue crews searched the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay Sunday for a missing boater.

Crews with the Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Norfolk Police Department are searching by boat and air for 41-year-old Benjamin Phillips of Smithfield.

The Coast Guard says Phillips was last seen around 8:30 Saturday night when he left for a fishing trip.

Someone called the Coast Guard at 7:30 Sunday morning after finding Phillips' boat drifting three miles north of Little Creek with the keys in the ignition and the running lights on.
If Mr. Phillips is wearing a PFD, he stands a pretty good chance of being found alive. With today's conditions, he could easily survive 36 or more hours. The lower bay is well traveled, and his chances would be pretty good. I'd lay dollars to donuts, however, that Mr. Phillips wasn't wearing a life jacket. Reminds me of the medical doctor from Richmond who used to come down to Rudee Inlet and take his boat out to fish offshore. He never wore a life jacket; and he was a smart man. Until the day he got knocked overboard and the boat kept on going.

And, lastly, from down under, a tale from the west coast. This one comes to us from The Courier-Mail, Australia's "second highest selling broadsheet."
Olivia Newton-John's boyfriend has vanished during a boat trip off the Californian coast.

The Australian singer is devastated at the disappearance of Patrick Kim McDermott, her boyfriend of nine years.

McDermott, a photographer, left on an overnight fishing trip but never returned, sparking fears he has died or may even have faked his own death.

Yesterday US Coast Guard Commander Danny Phee told The Courier-Mail McDermott's ex-wife telephoned to report him missing.

"They found a backpack on board," Commander McPhee said.

"We referred the matter to our Coast Guard Investigative Services and they have done interviews with several people, including the ship's captain."

The chief investigator, Coast Guard detective Dennis Nebrich, has refused to reveal whether it is a murder, suicide or accident that is being investigated.

"We have taken statements from everyone but I can't comment on what they have said," Detective Nebrich said.

A source close to Newton-John said the 56-year-old singer was "obviously experiencing a lot of grief right now".

"Everyone is shocked and devastated by Patrick's disappearance and totally baffled by it," the source said.

"There is nothing in his character to suggest that he would deliberately take off. He would never leave his child. And therefore we all fear the worst."

McDermott is the father of a 15-year-old son from a previous relationship and met Newton-John while filming a commercial in 1996 in Los Angeles.
I'll bet he wasn't wearing a PFD.


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