"A Speck In The Sea"

I think this Podcast might be of interest to many here. It is a very compelling story of a Montauk, NY lobster fisherman who goes overboard in the North Atlantic without a PFD or PLB and the resulting search for him by the Coast Guard and local fishermen. “John Aldridge fell overboard in the middle of the night, 40 miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was looking in the wrong place”. You can listen to it with your phone or PC. I hope you enjoy the story.

I just heard that and thought the same thing! It’s a good yarn.

Great listen. I might have missed it, but did they describe John’s build? I swam in long island sound a few times and even in late summer the water was not pleasantly warm. Im wondering if he was a little heavier and if that aided his survival. Also shows the value of following the most important survival rules -

In all survival situations, maintain a positive attitude (and dont panic). When you give up, you’re dead.
On the water, find something to float on (ideally your PFD, but assuming you dont have one, anything at all that floats)

Also if I worked on the water, a PLB seems like a cheap insurance policy ($200 for the device + 25/mo minimum service plan). I wonder what percentage of mariners actually carry one. I bet its very low.

Glad he made it through that

He actually wasn’t heavy at all — 5’9” and 150 IIRC. Just smart and had good mind control and survival drive, I guess. And probably also quite a bit of good luck (after his major bit of bad luck.)

After 10 years of my wife’s cooking, I bob like a cork, not sure I want to test my luck though.

You can get an Ocean Signal PLB for $290. No monthly subscription and seven year battery life. Works on water and on land, so another safety feature for hikers.

That’s almost the same title as William Longyard’s incredible book, *A Speck ON the Sea, *which tells the stories of arduous, long voyages (including ocean crossings) undertaken by small nonmotorized boaters of various types. At one time people tried to break already-astounding records for the shortest vessels to cross seas.

Some of these were so small I can’t believe even a tiny person could sleep in them.

Good point. I almost got the ocean signal PLB because of the stupid monthly subscription fees of all the others, but ended up with the Zoleo because it was light, small, cheap, can send Im OK check in’s with current coordinates (to keep my wife from worrying), and can connect to your phone and text when off the grid. (which has already come in handy a couple times when I was running late)

The Ocean PLB would be $300 well spent for any mariner. How much do you think he would have paid to have one that night?

Thanks for sharing. As one who has spent most of my life on the water both for pleasure and professionally, that was an impressive will to overcome and survive with the few tools he had in an open ocean: his brain, a knife, and things he could adapt/find…

It always amazes me that commercial fishermen do not often wear lifejackets. A serious form of denial. They risk being overboard every day and ending up in the ocean.

A PLB is a specific type of personal locator beacon, not just any personal locator beacon.

A PLB has no subscription plan. You pay to buy it, and you may have to pay a registration/permit fee to your local authorities, but there is no subscription.

Like a VHF radio with DSC, a PLB should be registered to be most useful. Registration for both is free and when you send a distress signal, your registration come up and contains your GPS location, name, home address, emergency contact numbers, etc. to aid in your rescue. The MMSI registration number for a VHF also can include your boat’s name, registration (if any), and description, as VHF radios are only for maritime use. Be careful because some companies charge to register a VHF radio.

EPIRBs and PLBs that use the 406 MZ radio frequency are required by federal law to be registered with NOAA. EPIRBs used to require a registration or subscription fee, but this seems to no longer be the case. As opposed to a PLB or VHF with DSC, an EPIRB is roistered to a boat, not an individual.

Satellite messenger devices that incorporate the ability to send and/or receive text or voice messages do require a subscription.

Some of the newest of these devices are starting to incorporate multiple abilities such as GPS that can be used for navigation, FM, VHF, and FRS radios and NOAA weather radio among others.

If you accidentally send a distress signal, you must notify the appropriate agency to cancel it. Turning off the device will not cancel a distress signal and they will come looking for you. If in coastal waters notify the USCG. On land the state police may be able to contact the relevant agency.