Rescue Ready Boating in Alaska: Pre-Departure Planning


Rick: “We were gonna go into Prince William Sound sea duck hunting, it was late October and we had rented a cabin and we had gone through pretty extensive planning and preparation, we had a lot of great gear, we were prepared for cold weather, we had life jackets, we all have experience being on the water, in the water.” Angela: “A safe boater is an aware boater, so making sure that you have the proper equipment that your vessel is made for the weather.” Kelli: “Understanding the characteristics of your situation based on weather, water, the tides your situation based on weather, water, the tides your situation based on weather, water, the tides. So, a situational assesment also would mean people’s comfortability and being able to ask ‘What is your level, 1 through 5?’ 5 being ‘I’m very comfortable with this plan,’ 1 being ‘I’m not very comfortable at all with this plan.’ Whether you’re in a powerboat or a paddle craft, Whether you’re in a powerboat or a paddle craft, check in with everyone to ensure that everybody’s comfortable with your plan.” Rick: “I felt very confident that it was going to be a very safe and fun trip. Rick: “I felt very confident that it was going to be a very safe and fun trip. We took the water taxi out to this location and had been planning on being there for 3 or 4 days duck hunting. and had been planning on being there for 3 or 4 days duck hunting. On the final full day we were out there, my nephew who was out there with us shot a duck, and just like I’ve done a million times before, jumped in the canoe, didn’t put our life jackets on, and in the process of reaching for the duck with our canoe paddle, flipped our canoe. So began the sort of terrifying cold water immersion event that transpired over the next 3 or 4 hours.” Jacques: “So prior to your departure, you need to file a float plan, and a float plan really is just where you’re going, how long you think you’re gonna be gone, who’s on the vessel with you, and if you have any deviations in your plan, what might that be. And you need to leave that with somebody that will actually care if you don’t come back.” Trooper Libbing: “If you don’t do something like that, no one knows when to look for you. Without a float plan, we wouldn’t really have a good place to start looking for a person.” Rick: “I created a float plan for myself, and gave it to both my wife and my sister. They both knew where we were in case of an emergency and all of the details that I felt were pertinent to an emergency situation. Had we not given my wife that float plan, there’s a pretty good chance nobody would have known exactly where we were.” Kelli: “There are a number of pre-departure checklists available. If you go onto the website pledgetolive.org, you’ll find a tab called ‘pre-departure checklist,’ you’ll find a tab called ‘pre-departure checklist,’ and it’s just a general checklist for all types of boating.” Trooper Libbing: “That’s something you’re gonna want to do before you even leave your driveway, and then even once you get the boat in the water and you’re still in the harbor, you’re gonna want to go through and make sure that you’ve got everything working correctly.” Jacques: “It’s very important before you go on your trip that you do a walk through on your vessel to make sure that you have all your proper safety equipment on board and anything else that you might need for that trip. Not only is it important that you have all the safety equipment on board, but it also needs to be in good working order.” Kelli: “So as the operator of a vessel, empower your passengers to understand where certain things are to be able to assist in an effective rescue.” Rick: “When we got to our camp, I told both of them that, you know, this is, I brought this sat-phone, and I showed them how to use it. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the call that my nephew made. You think ‘oh it’ll never happen to me.’ The thing I really want to convey to people is that I felt the same way. Without a float plan and some kind of communication device, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s just that simple.”

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