Saved by the jacket: John Pine

In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week 2012 we will be featuring first-person accounts of those who survived an accident on the water. Today’s story comes from a sailor who fell off his sailboat not once, but twice. We are sharing his story here at Compass in the hopes you will always “wear it!”

Heroes wear life jackets. Now it's your turn. Click on the above image to watch a video to find out how you can do your part to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Heroes wear life jackets. Now it's your turn. Click on the above image to watch a video on how you can do your part to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

This story originally appeared in National Safe Boating Council’sSaved by the Jacket” and was written by John Pine.

Here’s how it happened: I was 16 years old, vacationing with my family on the shores of the Penobscot River in Maine. We rented a cottage on top of a cliff with stairs cut into its side. This was the only way to reach the dock where our 15-foot sailboat was moored. In the river, huge ocean-going ships cruise inland from the sea to far-away places.

Inflatable life jackets are compact, lightweight and comfortable and in some instances have the best in-water performance.

Inflatable life jackets are compact, lightweight and comfortable and in some instances have the best in-water performance.

I fell asleep with the sound of the wind blowing through the pine trees. In the morning, the wind is still strong. My brothers and I decided to take out our boat. It was fast, with a lot of sail and a smooth flat hull, and I was full of anticipation as we raised the main and roller-reefed the jib. She immediately took off like a rocket. We sailed like the devil for over an hour. Finally, as the wind became stronger, my brothers agreed we should take
her in.

We reached the dock and my brothers got off. I stayed in the boat. The sails were whipping furiously as I pointed the bow into the wind. I could hardly hear them as they yelled at me to lower the mainsail. Instead, I cocked the tiller and the wind filled the sails with a jolt as I headed back out to what were by then near-gale force winds.

A strong gust keeled the boat so far over that one of the life jackets lying on the bottom began falling toward the water. I knew my father would let me have it if I lost a life jacket. I grabbed onto it and, having nowhere to stow it on board, quickly put it on and cinched it tight.

Do you wear your life jacket? Click on the picture above to be directed to our Facebook page where you can download this photo and show your pride in boating responsibly. U.S. Coast Guard illustration by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelly Parker.

Do you wear your life jacket? Click on the picture above to be directed to our Facebook page where you can download this photo and show your pride in boating responsibly. U.S. Coast Guard illustration by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelly Parker.

I was on a close haul by then, and I knew that to truly test her speed I’d have to ease her out on a far reach. I gently moved the tiller and she leveled out and then took off like a speedboat. The whole front of the hull was out of the water and she was humming – the boat vibrated like an instrument being played by the wind. And then the wind shifted. The next instant, the boom was catapulted my way with a terrific force…and I was in the water.

It was cold. I had no idea it was this cold as I struggled to swim back to the boat. I climbed on and, before I would get situated, the wind capsized the boat and I was in the water again. This time, I noticed something strange. My arms were becoming very heavy and my legs were slow and stiff. I thought, “I’m going to sink.”

And normally I would have, because as a young man who thought he could best any challenge, I never wore my life jacket. But I did that day. And it kept me afloat when my limbs had practically failed.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


  • Richard

    I am sure this Invention, our Futuristic Life Vest will be of great interest to you. Our Target is to save life in water sports for any age.

    I believe that everyone have seen a Life Jacket and some wear one in their water recreation activities but non like to wear one if given a choice. Have you seen the Latest Invention, our Futuristic Life Vest? Am ready to consider Licencing if offer is right.

    Hope you could take some of your time to have a look at my website :

    It may be of great interest to you and your Organization. I appreciate you could assist in giving your honest opinion about this New Invention in order to save life in Water Sports.

    I would definately hope with your honest opinion could improve better our Futuristic Life Vest if there are room for improvement to benefit all in Water Sports Activities.

    Could you also assist me in telling all your friend and associates with regards to our Futuristic Life Vest in order to promote it to the World of Water Sports. It would be great for anyone willing to add my Link.www.aqualifeglobal.com to your Linkedin Network or on your website to promote awareness of Safety in Water.

    Regards

    Richard