Drowning can happen to anyone

21 October 2010

This first-hand account of a near drowning, submitted by On Deck reader Eben, demonstrates why personal flotation devices (PFDs) should always be worn when you’re out on the water.

“I recently did ‘almost’ drown. Only a lucky close passage by a boat and crew saved me,” Eben said.

“I am an elderly, widely-experienced solo Gulf sailor with 50 years of experience and thought, ‘this could not happen to me’.

“I was transferring (about the 1,000th time) to my dinghy, in calm conditions. I slipped and fell into the water. The dinghy floated away from the yacht and, on my grabbing the gunwale, spun under, revealing the keel, which I grabbed. This, too, spun under and the dinghy was full of water.

“I went under a number of times and was desperate when I called out to a passing vessel. My limbs lost all strength and were useless, so could not swim, and I thought, well, this is it.

“Two strong young men from the vessel pulled me out and took me ashore. My condition must have been worse than I realised, as they were extremely concerned.

“A healthy, strong for his age, experienced seaman became completely helpless in a flash. I now wear an inflatable PFD at all times. Everyone should.”