Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Survival- 11 hours overboard without a life jacket

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 21 Jul 2012
Sailing in Block Island Sound - Joseph Gross says he’ll wear a life jacket from now on SW
A man who survived nearly 11 hours in cold water without a life jacket says he'll wear one from now on.

Joseph Gross said he could see the Coast Guard searchlights as he treaded water in the dark calm of Block Island Sound near Rhode Island in the USA.


The 51-year-old had already been in the water without a life jacket for three hours when he spotted the lights that would eventually find him hours before dawn.

'The searchlights came on, then I saw the helicopter,' Gross said Thursday from a hospital bed at South County Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. 'I knew I had a better chance. I tried to stay up as long as I could.'

Before sunset on Tuesday, Gross had been motoring from Block Island behind the wheel of Rock Bottom, his 23-foot boat. About a third of the way back to shore, the Westerly Yacht Club member had his foot up on a side rail when a wave hit the boat and he fell overboard.

'It happened in a second,' Gross said. 'The boat went up, came down and dug right in. The back end came up for whatever reason.'

The sudden movement shifted his weight and sent him reeling overboard into 70-degree (21 degree Celsius) water wearing just a bathing suit.

The boat sped off and would eventually run aground on Green Hill Beach in South Kingstown with its motor running; a woman called 911 around 7:30 p.m. to report it.

'I watched the boat just fly away,' Gross said. 'I was a long ways from anywhere, 6 to 8 miles from land. At first I panicked. I thought, ‘This is the end.’'

He had one glaring thought on his mind. 'Death. Death. What more could I tell you?' Gross said.

But Gross said he realized he needed a plan and needed to stay calm in order to survive. He figured out the tide was moving toward Block Island, so he started swimming slowly in that direction.

'I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something. Calm down. The water is not that cold right now,’' he said.

As the hours stretched on, Gross tried creating a makeshift flotation device using his bathing suit, but it didn’t work. 'It was rough,' he said. 'You keep asking yourself, ‘How hard do you want to live?’'

At one point, Gross said one of the search boats came within 200 yards of finding him, and a Coast Guard helicopter came close to spotting him but turned east at the last minute.

'I tried to get back in the search grid,' he said. 'I stuck with my plan and tried to swim to New Harbor [on Block Island].'

Gross said he neared the south side of a break wall off the island, but kept getting pushed out by the tide. By the time he was rescued, hypothermia had set in and he was starting to hallucinate.

He thought the Coast Guard vessel that rescued him was an airplane. 'You have no idea how cold that is,' Gross said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Riley Harriman said the 8-plus-hour search ended at 3:37 a.m. Wednesday, when Gross was found 3 miles southwest of Point Judith Lighthouse. A 47-foot boat from Station Point Judith, a 25-foot boat from Station Block Island, a Coast Guard Cutter and a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod were all used in the search, along with a state Department of Environmental Management vessel.

'Pretty incredible,' Harriman said of Gross’ survival against the odds. 'Unfortunately, these things don’t come up as much, as far as finding the person.'

Gross said he planned to return to work in the engineering department of General Dynamics on Monday morning, and would be back out on the water next weekend.

'But with a lifejacket on,' Gross said. 'If I’m not working this time of year, I’m on the water. That’s not going to change.'

'I want to thank the Coast Guard, the DEM and South County Hospital. I can’t say that enough,' he added.

The DEM was continuing its investigation of the incident on Wednesday and has not yet released its findings, though there will be no charges brought against Gross, spokeswoman Gail Mastrati said

Meanwhile it's possible Joseph Gross has been punished enough. He says he feels fine physically, but emotionally 'it's kind of torture to me.'

Gross says he has spent so much time boating he got complacent, but reaffirms he plans to wear a life jacket from now on.

Editor's Comment: Maybe he should think about a tether as well, to keep him ON the boat.
Southern Spars - 100Giacomo Yacht SaleC-Tech Emirates TNZ

Related Articles

A Few Rays – Moisturising, Anti-Aging Action …
Consistent moisturising sun protection has an anti-aging action Consistent moisturising sun protection has an anti-aging action Out on a boat, sailors are exposed to extreme conditions for their skin. There are UV rays from the sun, hopefully some wind if you are a sailor, and the drying effects from wet and dry cycles during the course of your day
Posted on 23 Jun
Doyle Sails announce new ownership and global expansion
Doyle Sails New Zealand formally announce their ownership of Doyle International Doyle Sails one of the global leaders in high performance sails as well as having a reputation for being proven innovators with new technology, has announced their next bold move to drive the Doyle business forward. The leadership team headed by Mike Sanderson and supported by David Duff and Richard Bouzaid from Doyle Sails New Zealand formally announced their ownership of Doyle International
Posted on 22 Jun
The Bridge – Arriving into New York on the 1st July
The 345m Cunard flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2 will race some of the world’s fastest yachts from France to America. Two thousand seven hundred passengers will board this historical ocean liner to race against the world's fastest trimarans helmed by the worlds best skippers: Macif (François Gabart), Sodebo (Thomas Coville), Actual (Yves le Blévec), IDEC (Francis Joyon).
Posted on 21 Jun
Hokule'a makes it's way home after a three year worldwide voyage
Hokule'a along with sister-ship Hikianalia returned home to Hawaii after a three-year worldwide voyage. Saturday morning at 9:30 am HST, June 17, 2017, Hokule'a along with sister-ship Hikianalia returned home to Hawaii after a three-year worldwide voyage. Their tour included 150 port calls in 23 countries with 60,000 nautical miles shared between the two double-hulled sailing canoes.
Posted on 18 Jun
A Few Rays- Calculate how long your sunscreen lasts.
Confused by SPF's? It’s easy to calculate how long you will be protected by using the following process. Exposure to the sun is a serious issue for all those who venture on the water. Confused by SPF's? It’s easy to calculate how long you will be protected by using the following process.
Posted on 14 Jun
BoatUS looks at accuracy of 22 Years of hurricane season predictions
BoatUS Seaworthy Program, which helps BoatUS members avoid injuries and boat damage by analyzing insurance claims data With most 2017 storm forecasts now predicting average to above-average storm activity for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season (June 1 – November 30), just how accurate are these predictions, and do boaters need to adjust their hurricane prep plans this year?
Posted on 13 Jun
Dismasted solo sailor Lisa to complete Antarctic Circumnavigation
Sydney- based solo sailor and adventurer Lisa Blair (32) will recommence her attempt to circumnavigate Antarctica She has spent the past two months preparing Climate Action Now so that she can complete her circumnavigation, including the installation of a new mast and repairs to the hull and electrical and navigation systems sustained during her dramatic dismasting.
Posted on 11 Jun
Race for Water – A key player in fight against plastic pollution
Race for Water Foundation is drawing attention to the need for concerted action against the plastic pollution To mark World Oceans Day on June 8, 2017, the Race for Water Foundation is drawing attention to the need for concerted action against the plastic pollution that is swamping our oceans.
Posted on 7 Jun
BoatUS – NOAA National Charting Plan looks to the future
The plan also allows NOAA to focus attention on underserved waterways, such as resolving chart discrepancies. The plan also allows NOAA to focus attention on underserved waterways, such as resolving chart discrepancies in areas of importance to recreational boaters.
Posted on 1 Jun
See how your smart phone can help save your life
OLAS, the man overboard location alert app from Exposure Lights is available on Android as well as through App Store. OLAS, the man overboard location alert app from Exposure Lights is now available on Android as well as through the App Store.
Posted on 25 May