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What started out as a simple day fishing on the gulf with my wife, son, daughter, father in law, my wife's 74 year old uncle, his 71 year old wife, and their daughter, turned into one of the most intense experiences of my life. We were about 15 miles off shore, the radar was clear and it was a very smooth 1-2 foot swell. Boy did that change quickly. Within 10 min the temperature dropped about 20 degrees and Neptune made his power known. We were 14 miles from shore and the winds picked up to 50 to 60 knots. The sea began to roll and boil with 10 to 16 foot waves. The wind was so fierce the tops of the waves were being blown off directly into our faces. We were enveloped. We were at the mercy of the sea. I struggled to keep the bow into the waves being blinded by the salt spray and howling wind. Then if it couldn't get worse, my wife's uncle was thrown by a cross wave and injured his chest. Now 8 of us are in this storm, one severely injured, and two children.
Meanwhile, the seas continued to build. We began to take water over the bow plowing into each wave. At one point we were standing in 10" of water on the deck of the boat. Both bilge pumps were howling pumping 4000 gallons per hour of water trying to empty the hull. At this point her uncle was having chest pains and trouble breathing. At that point we put out the distress call. Due to the wind, rain and storm, the emergency responders could not hear the coordinates clearly. At that point we pulled the cord of the EPIRB. Finally the Coast Guard zeroed in on our location. It took them about 2 hours to fight the storm to get to us to help her uncle John.
Two Coast Guard rescuers actually boarded us in 6 foot seas. About a half hour later the paramedic boat arrived. They also boarded in 4 foot seas. (A whole experience in itself). Working together they stabilized John. The medics stayed on our vessel until we made it to a local ramp and met up with the ambulance. They took John to the emergency room, warmed up and dropped off the remainder of the family and I drove the boat back home. The hospital confirmed that John had several broken ribs, one of which that punctured his lung. Without our ACR Epirb, we would have had to wait several more hours in pounding seas before the first responders could have stabilized him.
Thank you ACR!
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