The Rescue

August 16, 2014

by Jim Openshaw


ANSA’s Women on the Water course (WOW) was expertly taught by Instructor Vilma Baez on August 16, 2014. After practicing various boat evolutions including many Man-Over-Board exercises, the ladies were soon to learn the true value of their teamwork training. During the return up Mill Creek at the end of the day, the ladies saw someone on a dock near the mouth of Mill Creek waving to us. The crew politely waved back but the person kept waving quite frantically as if calling us closer. The skipper, Jim Openshaw, quickly took the helm and headed Fantasea toward the dock, keeping a close eye on the depth. Recalling the near rescue a couple years ago when Felix Sheil spotted a man in the water near Thomas Point, he remembered the importance of moving quickly and decisively.

As Fantasea got closer, the WOW crew noticed two people in the water between a dock and a small docked sailboat; a third person was beckoning us to help. Fantasea nosed up to their friendship line. Commodore Dave Chappell removed the ladder from the aft lazarette, opened the port lifeline gate, and secured the ladder on the port side. Meanwhile, a quick thinking student use WOW used her cell phone to call 911 and give the address provided by the victims in the water.

Fantasea backed away from the friendship line and maneuvered closer up alongside the other boat. The crew installed Fantasea’s fenders for protection between the boats and held Fantasea’s bow securely alongside of the other boat.

Vilma and Dave hopped onto the other boat to size the situation. Fran Young removed Fantasea’s life-sling from its stern holder and carried it forward to Vilma and Dave who lowered it to the two in the water. Using the life-sling’s yellow line, the WOW crew on the bow of Fantasea guided the two victims around the stern of their boat, thence around the bow of Fantasea, and down Fantasea’s port side to the ladder. It was a long trusting journey through the water by the victims who gave up their tenuous but secure position to be towed quite a distance to a completely unfamiliar boat. The WOW crew calmly provided words of encouragement the entire way.

Meanwhile, Fran Young prepared a dock line and looped it around a piling to secure Fantasea’s stern and Ellen Lewis prepared the spinnaker halyard to use as a possible hoist (in conjunction with the life-sling) in case the victim(s) could not climb the ladder.

Dave jumped into the water to assist the victims up the ladder, thus providing welcoming comfort and guidance. With Vilma shouting encouragement every step by-labored-step and Dave guiding from the water, the female victim slowly climbed the ladder with Vilma and Jim pulling and guiding. She made it (!) and quickly sat down shivering and exhausted. Her male helper climbed the ladder without a problem remarking that he was glad the water was so warm. Then Dave retrieved a life vest and fender and climbed up the ladder.

Vilma wrapped the lady with Vilma’s own towel to help warm and calm her. Anne Arundel’s County paramedics and fire fighters soon arrived as a result of the 911 call. They carefully and laboriously helped guide the lady from Fantasea to the other boat and thence to the dock. While they expertly tended to the victim, Fantasea backed away and continued up Mill Creek. Everyone was relieved and pleased, knowing they had helped someone that day.

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