Earlier today, on the waters off of Suva Point, we sailors lost one of our own. I don’t know his name, or how long he had been sailing, but none of that matters… he was a young boy of 13, and yet he was as important as any one of us – he was human.
The Hobie 16 he was sailing on capsized in confused seas (as Hobies, and all manner of little sport sailing craft are wont to do), and the young man, caught in the lines under the trampoline, tragically drowned before he could be freed, though many tried valiantly to save him.
I never know when something like what I’m about to write is right to say, but I’ll do it anyway – a knife is a critical part of any sailing kit and should be securely and permanently mounted on your PFD in such a location that you can reach it with either hand, whether or not you can see it. I far prefer a fixed blade, semi-serrated “river shorty” kind of knife, in a scabbard with detention style retention, so that no latches or snaps need be loosened before the blade is released. We would have lost someone in the 2013 Everglades Challenge had he not been wearing his knife… and he’ll be the first one to admit that, before the event, he complained about having to wear it, and some of the other safety gear, ad nauseum.
Would a knife have saved this young man? We will never know – but please think for a moment before you leave shore and be sure you are prepared for something as seemingly innocent as a small boat capsize, as very rarely, something can go wrong.
My most sincere thoughts go out to this young man’s parents, family, and friends, and do I hope that they can find some solace in the fact that he departed doing something he enjoyed. Take care and be safe, everyone.