Experience no substitute for PFDs
Experience provides no protection against boating accidents. In some cases, familiarity may provide a false sense of security that sets the stage for tragedy.
Brock Callen of Chilmark is an experienced blue water sailor and treasurer of Sail MV, a nonprofit organization that promotes sailing on the Island. Mr. Callen says anyone on the water should wear a PFD (personal floatation device).
In the case of a solo sailor, at a minimum he or she should wear a PFD, but better is a harness and PFD, he said. He said the story of Mr. Samuelson is terrifyingly all too familiar. "It's a boat wake or it's a gust of breeze, something, and all of a sudden a person is in the water," he said. "This guy was extraordinarily fortunate."
Mr. Callen is tragically familiar with the risks even experienced professional sailors can face when they choose not to wear a PFD. He and his wife Hope, Sail MV director, started the "Put It On!" campaign after the tragic loss of Jamie Boeckel, a shipmate of their son's in the 2002 Block Island Race. The young man, who was not wearing a PFD when he fell of the racing boat, lost his life despite the efforts of Brock Callen, Jr., who jumped overboard also not wearing a PFD, to save his friend.
Sail MV has adopted the PFD campaign. "It is to not encourage, but to demand that people wear personal floatation devices when they recreate or work on or about the water," Mr. Callen said. "It just makes sense. Nobody that works at Sail MV, nobody that sails here, child or adult, gets anywhere near the water without a PFD on."
Mr. Callen said that Mr. Samuelson made a fundamental error when he boarded his boat. "Even if there had been 20 people on the boat he still should have had a PFD," he said. "The fact that he was alone and did not have one on was tempting fate, should we say."
For more information on the Put It On! Campaign go to www.Sailmv.com.