Survivor Club

Rescue Map

Health risk at sea

Name Randy Rickard
Product Name ACR RapidFix
Date of Rescue 04/29/2008
Saved By US Army Task Force Bravo, Honduras
Beacon Purchased From West Marine
Lives Saved 1

A perfect weather window lay ahead for our 12-day passage as we left Bocas del Toro, Panama, for a … mile journey to Bradenton, FL. We are experienced sailors, with eight years of living aboard full time at that time, and we had exploring routes from Maine to the Bahamas, across the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Texas, and several years of sailing the western Caribbean. Our very first long passage on the New England 500 Rally at the beginning our sailing career in 2001, included intensive safety training and stringent safety equipment requirements, including the need for an EPIRB. Over the course of our career, we had never needed to deploy any of our safety equipment but maintained our investment pieces diligently, just in case. This journey was different in several ways: the weather was perfect and the seas provided us the best of sailing conditions; we were traveling for the first time without a buddy boat; and this was to be our last passage as we were putting our boat up for sale to begin another phase of our retirement from our land-based residence.

As we rounded the corner at Gracious a Dios, Honduras, and then sailed straight toward the western passage between Cuba and Isla Mujeres, Mexico, our confidence and spirits were high. We had sailed for 6 days non-stop, and had neither seen nor heard another vessel in that time. Maintaining regular daily contact with radio networks on SSB was a very important part of our safety procedures. We were traveling alone, but many friends knew exactly where we were and expected to hear about our progress twice daily. As the sun was setting and we finished up our supper, on day 6, y 65- year-old husband Randy reported some discomfort in his groin, saying the area was tender and felt bruised. We discussed how he might have strained a muscle or inflicted a bruise. Randy was in excellent health otherwise and we did not expect what was to follow over the course of the next 48 hour. After resting for several hours, however, the pain became worse, and eventually by midnight, was severe. At that time we were several hundred miles off the coast of Mexico, and at least 36 hours from nearest land, but proceeding on course toward Florida. At approximately 4 a.m., Randy told me the pain was intolerable in spite of the pain medications he had taken. We decided it was time to initiate a call for help. I began calling Mayday on our VHF, with no response, after repeated tries on multiple channels. By 4:30 a.m. I had sent an email to family members with details on our situation, and critical information for a medical evacuation: our latitude and longitude, our speed and direction, the specific channel on our single sideband radio where we could be reached immediately. Knowing this information would soon be in the hands of our family emergency contacts, we set off our EPIRB signal and began our wait for help.

In less than two minutes, the US Coast Guard in Honolulu, HI, picked up our distress signal and phoned the emergency contact listed on our EPIRB registration form. With the information I had provided via email to our family, they were able to put the US Coast Guard from Miami in voice contact with us on the SSB channel we had designated and we maintained constant voice contact until medical assistance was available for Randy. Randy received medical attention in Honduras, following the advice of the US Coast Guard. It turned out that he had a kidney stone, and had passed it by the time we reached Honduras. We will be forever grateful for the support and assistance that we received that night all because we had an EPIRB and knew how to use it, and had a plan in place for our family to follow if an emergency arose.

We'd like to thank all the Employees of ACR for the fine, well made, reliable Epirb that came to our rescue despite having been handled fairly roughly throughout it's life.

THANKS, people!