Sailing survivor calls for new boat safety rules

A frightening experience on the high seas has prompted a California boater to call for equipping watercrafts with more safety equipment.

According to Reuters*, Bryan Chona of Tiburon, California narrowly survived a perilous yachting accident when a series of waves crashed into his yacht, sending him and his fellow crewmembers overboard.

Though he and two others escaped without any serious injuries, five of his crewmates died.

Today, Chona is convinced that if they had all been wearing safety harnesses, their lives could have been spared.

Because of this belief, Chona sent a letter to the website Sailing Anarchy, calling on safety officials to make certain safety equipment standard in boats, such as tethers and safety harnesses.

“Hopefully, this incident will spur a wider discussion on sailboat safety,” wrote Chona, according to Reuters.

Force of waves limited ability to respond

Reuters reports that while the U.S. Sailing Association recommends safety harnesses, not everyone agrees that tethering and safety harnesses are necessary. Chong himself wasn’t much of an adherent to tethering either, writing in his letter that he figured he could just clip himself in “when something bad [was] about to happen.” However, Chong did not have time to react when the waves hit, describing them as “massive … unlike anything I’ve ever seen outside of big-wave surf videos.”

Chona went on to recount his ordeal, noting how his attempts to swim to shore were all in vain, as the force of the water was such that he felt as if he was in “a washing machine filled with boulders.”

It was not until the Coast Guard and Air National Guard came to his and several of his friends’ rescue that they were able to get their bearings. His friend, Nick Vos, and the yacht’s owner, James Bradford, were the two others who survived.

It is Chona’s contention that everyone would have made pulled through had they all been tethered.

“It’s obvious to me now that I should have been clipped into the boat at every possible opportunity,” the letter indicated, according to Reuters. “Those 15 minutes in the water were the absolute scariest in my life. The boat was the place to be—inside or out.”

*according to Reuters on April 25, 2012
via Peter Montanez

Leave a Reply