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The 1998 31 foot Jupiter was loaded down and ready to be taken to the Treasure Cay in the Bahamas. Roughly a 170 mile trip that I had completed successfully 100 or more times in the past. I pushed off my dock in North Palm Beach a little after 2:00 PM while the seas were still 2 foot or less. However, there were some storms approaching from the west. I initially out ran the storms and was on my way to my destination. About 75 percent of the way to the Bahama bank, the boat's engines and electronics started to act in a peculiar manner. I pulled back on the throttles and tried to figure out a solution to the problem at hand. At this time, both motors died and all the electronics on the boat shut off. I could hear an unfamiliar sound coming from the outriggers. A sort of humming sound. My Initial thought was that the boat had been or was about to be struck by lightning and I was correct in that assumption. Out of shear bad luck I had crossed through an area that was prepping itself to be struck by lightning. The increased static electricity in the air had adversely effected just about everything on the boat.
I scrambled to resolve the situation before it was too late. I was eventually able to get the port motor started and then I immediately adjusted my course to head for west end. The combination of a heavily loaded down boat and only one working motor restricted me to a grueling 7 knot pace into a 4 knot current. I was making little to no ground for about an hour. Around this time the storms from Florida had now caught up to me and pushed me further from west end but closer towards my original intended route. I readjusted my course and prepared myself for what would end up being the longest night of my life. The wind and the waves steadily increased as darkness set in. Left with outdated and lagging electronics, I desperately tried to hold my course for Great Sale Cay, the closest place that would offer me any relief from the storm.
The bank quickly turned to 6 - 8 ft chop and the wind began to kick upwards of 30 mph gusts. I was literally at the mercy of the sea. Every other wave was coming over the bow making it increasingly difficult for the boat to continue to self bail while putting the bilge pumps through their paces. Shivering cold rain followed by earth shattering thunder and lightning set in for the next several hours. By 2 am the initial storm had past. The seas were still at least 6 feet but the wind had somewhat subsided. I traveled another two hours and actually approached Great Sale Cay when engine troubles set in again. Tired and worn down, I reluctantly threw the anchor and tried to get some sleep. I laid down between the rocket launcher (seating) and the center console to try to get some sleep.
Ten minutes into my attempt to sleep, the weather was shifting in a way that would alarm any mariner. The wind died down for a moment which I found odd. I got up from the deck and looked up at the clouds. What I saw was the start of a waterspout. I grabbed the EPIRB and sought shelter inside the half full center console. It ripped around and a cross the boat for what felt like an eternity but realistically was probably only about fifteen minutes. I stayed in the center console for the remainder of dark and emerged at day break. Now that it was light out, I began to try to find ways to fix my situation. I had no such luck. I tried using the VHF to have another boat relay a mayday to the coast guard. No one ever responded. I tried to use my cell phone but I was out of cell range even on Bahamian towers. I knew the weather forecast wasn't going to improve for two days or more and that left me with little or no chance of seeing another boat.
Beat up and out of options, I resorted to using the EPIRB I had borrowed from my good friend RJ Alvarez. Within 40 minutes of setting it off, the coast guard had arrived and my crazy 20 hour ordeal was finally over with the best possible outcome. Regardless of how everything panned out, I truly believe that having EPRIB is what saved my life. You really can't put a price on your life. Thank you ACR for making such a reliable product. And thank you to the United States Coast Guard for everything that you guys and girls do!
Regardless of how everything panned out, I truly believe that having EPRIB is what saved my life. You really can't put a price on your life. Thank you ACR for making such a reliable product. And thank you to the United States Coast Guard for everything that you guys and girls do!
Thank you ACR.
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