Join Date: Sep 2007
From the rubbery forum:
as am sure you would like details...here goes.
I arrived Neyland at 11 am just in time to see everyone leaving. I still had to fuel the boat and stow kit so was taking my time. No intention to catch people up, and was going to take my time crossing to conserve fuel.
Set off at 2 pm, after launching, parking car and trailer etc .
Out of the sound I hit the overfalls Paul Glaetzal describes.
Lumpy confused chop, not too dissimilar to conditions off Tynemouth in the North Sea, where I usually boat. It would smooth out, get lumpy again, smooth out etc etc.
I was transiting at around 14 to 28 knots depending on conditions.
We have all been in seas like it ...you have to look 3 crests ahead plot your route etc etc. Had hit a smoother section and got the boat back up to 24 knots from 17.
I had just checked the SOG on the plotter about 20 seconds before coming out of the boat. The crest that caught me out looked no different to those I had been crssing on the journey, except this had the mother of all holes on the other side.
The boat came down off the crest tipped to starboard and just fell, and I fell faster.
The jocky seat wrenched out of the floor with the force. It was held in with 6 stainless dome head M8's. The seat stayed in the boat. I hit shoulder first. Kill cord worked instantly. One of the first things I noticed in the water was it wrapped tightly round my leg, so I started looking for the boat. After the disorientation and initial water swallowing, I pulled the inflator on my jacket. One of the first things my hand touched was the back plate from my Entel Vhf which was not attched to the rest of the unit. The hand held was attached to the right shoulder of the lifejack in the velcro and webbing nest Baltic provide for it, aerial looped through a webbing pocket. It must have disintegrated when I hit the water as apart from that initial piece of plastic from the unit my hand touched I never saw any more bits or parts of it. My PLB - its a GME unit - was attached in to the webbing nest built into the harness of my jacket, I felt for it and it was there. First priority was firing it to let someone know what had happened. I looked at the RIB it seemd to be around 100 metres away from me in the water, but in reality I knew that distance would be further. I also was not going to be able to get to it with lifejacket inflated, just trying to get upright I was worried I would tip onto my face. My Gecko was still attached, I wore it throughout the rescue. Am sure it absorbed some of that initial contact with the water, and as time dragged on it kept my head warm. I firred up the PLB and lay back with it on my chest. It started beeping and flashing. Looked at my watch about 10 minutes after I had gone in, it was 3.45pm. I knew they take up to 30 mins to get a pass from a sat, but was concerned that the impact with the water had possibly damaged the unit. at 4.10pm the unit made a very short set of extended beeps, easy to miss with my Gecko on. This on reflection was the sound of the satellite transmit working (it was a GPS equipped unit) I had been in the water approx 30 mins at that point. The RIB would sometimes come closer and then 2 mins later would seem much further away. After an hour in the water , the temptation to try to get to the boat was massive. I knew it would mean deflating the bladders on the jacket, but I didnt want to let go of the PLB and swimming in the dry suit, jacket, gecko combo is nigh impossible. I floated around in circles, crossed my feet pulled in my arms to my sides. The inflated chambers of the jacket blocked a lot of peripheral view. My view was like a gun barrel down the sides of the chambers, so to look for anything I had to paddle myself through 360 degrees. I saw a yacht around maybe 500 metres off, but couldnt attract its attention. Looked at my watch - it was 5.00 pm. In the water around 1 hr 15 minutes. Water was cold but with really warm pockets and currents flowing through it, sun was shining, the swell was running at around 2 or 3 feet I would estimate. I looked at the watch again at 5.15 pm. Knew it was around one and half hours since I had gone in. With no way of knowing if the PLB signal had been received, I was beginning to get just a little bit concerned. I could sometimes see the Echomax on the A frame of the RIB over the swells, maybe 250 to 300 metres away. at 5.20 pm and just starting to feel a little chill, and getting cramps in my legs, I let some of the air out of my jacket and contemplated getting myself someohow to the RIB. I saw the funnel of the Irish Ferries ship then, maybe 500 to 800 metres behind my rib, and about a minute later heard the Seaking from Chivenor. They positioned themseves round 20 metres off the water, hovering facing me. I made a signal to try to tell them just me (one) and pointed at myself as I expect they were looking for any additonal people in the water. They put the diver in, and he hooked me up and 15 secs later I was in the helo, looking down at all the pax on the Irish ferries boat enjoying the view. I asked the winchman to go back down to my RIB as soon as I was on the helo, they asked about injuries how I felt...I said I was fine, I have a massive dent in my pride but otherwise fine. They conferred with MHCG and then winched me back into my boat.
There was a Dive Boat on scene then and he asked about intentions, I was contemplating keeping going to Kilmore quay until I saw the state of my seat, so I agreed to wait for St Davids lifeboat ad followed that into Milford Haven, where the Angle lifeboat met me and went with me to Neyland. Apart from the seat, the Rib is fine. Apart from a big bruise on my shoulder, I am fine.
I was so cross with myself for the ejection. As I was going over in that split second, it was running through my mind, how am I going to explain this then !
I was disappointed about the VHF but in the circumstances of the impact, makes sense I guess. I woud like PLB/EPIRB manufacturs to install some way of bouncing back a signal to a beacon - some tell tale fool proof way / big red light or something, that is activated on your beacon when your distress signal is received. Another 10 or 15 minutes and I may have attempted to get back to the RIB with a poor result.
Big thanks to the Chivenor crew who I think were a little "surprised" that I wanted to get back on the RIB when they picked me up, the St Davids and Angle crews for the escort and chat, and the Coastguard at Neyland for sorting a berth at the marina (and some fish and chips - hungry business this rescue stuff).
and yes I am lucky - and yes I love my boating kit.