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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Seven boaters on a 4 feet by 4 feet raft

The pressofAtlanticCity.com carried an incredible story this morning as the title “Seven boaters clung to hope, each other – and 4-foot raft” tells it all. The seven are friends on a productive weekend fishing trip onboard the 52-foot fishing boat, and on their way home, when the boat hit something badly that stopped the starboard engine and the boat was taking on water. They just have time to call a mayday and pulled out the life raft and got into it, before the boat “sank like a full oil drum.”
The seven bunched inside an enclosed life raft intended for four, which is measured 4 feet by 4 feet, smaller than a bunk bed, and there they spent the night and into the next day and then as the reporter describes it:
“The tiny boat tossed in 14-foot swells threatening to overturn it with each peak and valley. The National Weather Service had issued a small-craft advisory Saturday, and they felt its full brunt. They leaned in unison to keep the raft steady. A small light in the raft lasted only a few hours, leaving the men in the dark with the crash of the waves.
‘It was rough. We tried a million different positions,’ Werler said.
Finally, the swells eased to about 6 feet, allowing the men to relax. Some time later — nobody had a watch — a single, giant wave lifted the raft and slammed the men with such terrifying force, they feared they would be swamped.
‘I don't know how long I was asleep. A rogue wave completely pulverized the raft,’ Arters said.
They pushed the roof back up and bailed water with a cup that came with the raft. Then they endured the night in wakeful silence.”
Right there and then they had unmistakably encountered a true freaque wave event. The pattern is all too familiar: there’s the storm and it momentarily eased off and then, bang, a freaque one hit! This kind of incidents had been told frequently from those who survived an encountering. It has to be true! But there are really not any actual measurements available to verify or any conjecture ever developed to explain how and why it was happening the way it was happening.
This story has auspiciously a very happy ending: the seven were all rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter after two days ordeal:
“The men were still grinning when they reunited with their families in Delaware hours later Monday evening.
‘I think we'll be friends for life,’ Werler said. ‘We experienced something and had a bond you could never recreate.’”
He can certainly say that again!

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