EPIRB Aids in Rescue After Explosions to Vessel
Posted on November 10, 2022 by JAMES
Before Sailing Trip
A buddy and I got the 37-foot sailing vessel Rhapsody in shape and set sail from Houston for Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Equipped with the best technology, including an ACR EPIRB.
Halfway there, at 2AM, a heavy duty Li-ion battery pack exploded 4 times, setting the boat interior afire.
Chaos Aboard Ship
The cordless drill was nestled in a dry locker but suffered mechanical damage due to wave-on-hull impacts. Ignition was 30 min AFTER heaving-to for sleep.
We broadcast “Mayday” after the 2nd explosion, set off the EPIRB after the 3rd explosion, and expended both fire extinguishers. The US Coast Guard diverted an LPG tanker and launched 2 fixed wing planes to ascertain the situation. Seas were too rough to safely transfer onto the LPG tanker’s and dawn shown no better. The USCG launched a helicopter to rescue us. They were required to re-fueled en-route.
Coast Guard Rescue
We jumped into the sea and swam to a cage with the assistance of a diver before being winched aboard. Rhapsody and the EPIRB were abandoned 288 nm SE of Corpus Christi, and was last seen afloat pointed toward Mexico.
The kind folks on Anadarko’s platform loaned us dry clothes and fed us a hot meal while the chopper re-fueled. Our wives retrieved us at Ellington Field and have us on substantially shorter leashes.
Treat Li-ion batteries with kid gloves. Crew sustained only minor injuries. I could no longer guarantee the safety of the crew far offshore with depleted fire extinguishers, expended EPIRB, charred interior, and no PPE to decontaminate and to secure food and water supplies. No tow in range. All gear was lost.
*Now planning to sail Nauticat 43 Tango from Seattle to Boston across the Canadian Arctic through the Northwest Passage. ACR PLB on my life vest and EPIRB on my boat! I don’t sail without ACR!*
Words of wisdom
Never turn your back on a lithium ion battery.
Review and update your policy for Scheduled Personal Property in excess of the minimum. My policy covered only $1k electronics. Aboard were several computers and software, underwater camera, underwater metal detector, etc. The ship was family and priceless.
Thank you note
I’d like you to note the heroic efforts of the USCG helicopter crew. We were so far offshore that they had to refuel twice before we got to Ellington Field. And thanks to the hospitable crew on Anadarko’s production platform for loaning us dry clothes. We live in strange times but there are still people willing to help strangers. The tanker Sahara Gas deserves a shout out, too. They quickly diverted to render assistance but seas were too rough for a safe personnel transfer so they stood by to rescue us in case things went even further sideways. Last, but certainly not least, thank you American taxpayer for funding the USCG.
288 Miles Southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas
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