Man Overboard


It has been a little while since my last post and lots has happened. As a few of you know, we had an “incident” last week that tested out emergency response skills and saved two lives. We were cruising down the Panamanian coast late at night, and all the crew (except the night shift) and guests were in bed. At around 1:30 am, the Captain comes on over the crew PA system and announces “there is an emergency, all crew is needed on deck. Man overboard.” My two roommates and I jump (or crawl, as my bunk is a little tricky to get in and out of), throw on clothes and glasses and run up to the dining room where people are running back and forth and radios are crackling non-stop. We shout out our billet numbers to the Purser and proceed to our emergency stations without really knowing what’s going on besides that we’re looking for someone in the water. It’s dark outside and the boat is rocking in the swells. My billet for man overboard is to station myself on the bridge deck, starboard (right) side and call out if I see anything that could be helpful, even if it’s a floating bottle. After awhile of not seeing much, I was asked to switch out with the bartender who was turning the starboard spotlight in the bridge. As I listened to the radios and the conversations among the crew, I slowly began to piece the story together. The 2nd Mate, Andrew, had been driving when he came across some debris in the water. He had a strange feeling about it, so he positioned the ship closer for a better look. Then he saw two men clinging to a cooler. He notified the Captain, who sounded the alarm and had the Zodiacs dropped for the rescue. Onboard, the two men, very weak, dehydrated and sunburned, said that there were two more people that were with them when their small fishing boat was capsized by a wave. We resumed our search and found a third victim, who unfortunately, was dead when we rescued him. Later we found out that he past away only 40 minutes before we came across the scene. We searched until 4:30 am when the Costa Rican Coast Guard finally reached us and took over the search and rescue. We kept the two survivors onboard in an empty guest cabin and let them sleep until we arrived at Golfito the next morning where they disembarked to waiting friends, family and an ambulance. The deceased was given a proper ceremony as he was carried off the ship, but his son has not yet been found, as far as we know.

The group of four had been out fishing in a large river when a wave (from what, I’m not sure) hit them and capsized their boat. They were swept out into the ocean and spent three full days clinging to debris and helplessly watching boats pass by without any way of drawing their attention. The father and son we rescued had already said their goodbyes when they saw our ship’s lights coming towards them. They said it was “God answering their prayers.” I didn’t have time to process what was happening that night, but looking back on it, it really was a miracle that the two men happened to be directly in the course of our ship. If that had been been 20 feet off of our line, Andrew probably wouldn’t have spotted them.

I have more to report about my adventures in Costa Rica and Panama, such as kayaking in the rain through murky crocodile waters, spotting a blue Morphos butterfly, doing yoga on the beach and getting eaten alive by no-see-ems, a visit to a tropical eden, and of course, transiting the Panama Canal. But I’ve already taken up a lot of space and I need to get ready for the next group of guests coming in later this afternoon, so I’ll have to continue on later.

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2 Responses

  1. Hey Becks! So good to hear from you again, and read again such an incredible story. So sad that you missed saving a life by 40 minutes. I’ve launched my blog…hopefully you have seen it already. Life in DR is muy bien. I’m slowly learning the language. Yoga and meditation every day, though I’m getting tired of the yoga dvd that i brought with me. I’ve tried downloading another one, but the internet is too slow here. Love you so much! It’s so great when I discover you have posted again.

  2. Yo! Time for another post! I’m missing you! I know you’re busy…but try to find time for another one, okay? Having a great time in the DR. Hope you’re reading my blog! Dad say’s he might come down. I hope so! Love you lots!

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