As you may already know, California commercial fisherman, Frank Gee, recently lost the F/V Ocean Gale, to a fire while off Pillar Point, south of San Francisco. He and his crew were rescued from their life raft by a good Samaritan vessel. You can read his account of the the incident here.
Whenever we hear of an incident involving a commercial fishing boat, we always check our records to see if the captain or crew have received AMSEA training. Frank completed a Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor workshop taught by AMSEA instructor, Beverly Noll, in 2011. Frank credits that training with his successful rescue and the rescue of his crew.
"[T]he training I received at Bev Noll’s class in 2011 was absolutely critical to the positive outcome we had that night. The practice mayday we did in class, getting the critical info out to the CG and then knowing that we could leave the wheelhouse because of smoke , the use of extinguishers, the awareness of what choking smoke could do, the actual handling and firing off of a parachute rocket flare, the taking the EPIRB with us, the verbal walk thru of throwing a raft off the boat and deploying, the donning of survival suits, all were critical, because we knew what to do, without having to think about what to do before doing it."
Going to sea will always involve a certain level of risk. But, we are convinced that hands-on marine safety training can help to reduce and manage those risks. Frank's story helps demonstrate that. Losing a boat is difficult financially and emotionally. We wish Frank and his crew the best of luck as they put their livelihoods back together. However difficult that may be, Frank can take pride in the preparation and training that made the rescue of him and his crew possible.