Sunday, June 12, 2011


Old geezer sailing on the Sakonnet river in small sailboat.

Mast broken.

Boat capsized.

Old geezer (who is wearing a life jacket) clinging to his upturned hull.

This probably sounds like a familiar scenario to regular readers of this blog. Been there, done that. But wait, there's a happy ending...

Fire departments from Portsmouth and Tiverton launch their rescue boats in atrocious weather conditions to rescue the old geezer.

That was the essence of the story reported by several local newspapers and websites, such as this story at and this one at

But it wasn't me. Not this time. The incident happened on Thursday evening during one of the most violent thunderstorms we have ever seen around here. I wasn't out sailing that day. I do check the weather forecasts and radar maps before I go sailing. I suppose I should add that to some of my regular articles about safety precautions for boating.

It's good to know that our local firefighters are trained in water rescues and are willing to go out in the worst of weathers to rescue some old geezer who gets himself in trouble on our local bays and rivers. The risks that our firefighters face are very real. Three years ago a Tiverton firefighter, Gerald Leduc, lost his life during an attempted rescue on a local pond. I hope everyone remembers that the next time some union-hating politician is spouting off about cutting pay or benefits or pensions or staffing for your local fire department.


Baydog said...

Especially after the San Francisco Bay fiasco where the firemen were not allowed to do a water rescue, and a man drowned himself, an apparent suicide. I'm shocked that at least one of them didn't just say, f... this, I'm going in.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I'm still looking for go-to authority which is competent to tell old geezers when they are too old to sail.

Tillerman said...

I don't know Doc.

But Paul Elvstrøm was sailing in the Olympics when he was two years older than the geezer in this incident. So I don't think age was a much of a factor in causing the problem.

bonnie said...

Good grief. That was the day I posted a picture of the radar map because the front that was coming in was SO dramatic.

Tillerman said...

Exactly Bonnie! One glance at the radar map (or even the sky) would have been enough to deter me from sailing that afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the union thing, I'm fine with the emergency services people getting similar pension benefits as do the military, because we don't want 70 yr olds being sent out on rescues. What really annoys me are the other county/town employees trying for similar benefits despite their relatively stress free jobs.

Steve in Baltimore

Anonymous said...

back to boating:

Lately, in the Patapsco R. (Baltimore Harbor), we've had a couple boating accidents that are only weather related if you consider darkness to be weather.

A few weeks ago, a boater hit red '2' at the entrance to Rock Creek, hitting hard enough to injure his female passenger and sink his boat. He made it to the shoal at the next green. I was around to see about 8 pieces of Anne Arundel County equipment respond.

Last Friday, a 50 ft boat hit a mark near Ft McHenry and capsized. The 5 people aboard were rescued.

I suspect in both cases, these were GPS assisted collisions, with high speed after dark combined with setting NAV markers as waypoints.

Steve in Baltimore

Bursledon Blogger said...

Blondie Hasler is famously credited with saying that he would rather do the right thing and drown than put other at risk through his actions. Not suggesting we let people drown, but if more people took that attitude then then they would perhaps be more circumspect about where and when they sail, get prepared, equipped etc and our emergency services would be needed for real emergency not putting them selves at risk because of others thoughtlessness.

oops got a bit carried away there!

Carol Anne said...

I agree with Steve that the incidents he cites appear to be GPS-assisted. It seems that so many people trust their technology to operate perfectly rather than using common sense.

Gerald's in the Grand Canyon this weekend, but he's relying on his own preparedness and his friends' preparedness, not his Droid.

Tillerman said...

Bursledon Blogger, I share your philosophy. I am grateful for the brave men and women in our rescue services and it gives me some measure of comfort to know that they are there if I ever need them. But I also feel that I should do everything in my power to ensure that I never do need to call on them.

As someone once said, "Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers, won’t drown."

Pat said...

Arthur Ransome's father character said it in Swallows and Amazons, of course.

Not many people seem to know how to program an offset to a GPS coordinate in their GPS. Too bad!

As Jethro Tull would have said about Laser sailors violating RRS 42, "you're never too old to rock and roll".

PeconicPuffin said...


Not too far south of you we had gusts to 55mph in that storm.

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