An Open Letter To The Boaters Who Caused A Pointless Search
Last month, the United States Coast Guard participated in a multi-day search for a sailboat off the coast of Mount Desert Island. Early on the morning of November 16th, the Coast Guard responded to a 911 call from a woman named Charlotte Kirby, one of the passengers on board the Dove.
According to WGME, during the call Kirby said she was "cold and uncomfortable" and that she "was not sure she was going to get warm again". After telling the dispatcher that she was on a boat, the call went dead. That's when the Coast Guard was alerted. A two day search followed.
The search had been made more difficult by the fact that the boat's GPS locator had been disabled because the bill for the service had not been paid.
On November 18th, after the GPS had been reactivated, the vessel was located off the coast of Montauk, New York. Coast Guard made contact with Kirby and the two others on board (Nathaniel Davis and Wilfredo Lombardo) to make sure they were okay. Following that, they continued south toward Florida, but had to be rescued by a passing freighter the next day (November 19th) because the boat had been damaged by rough weather.
Here are my thoughts on this...
First, I want to give a big shout out to the men and women of the U. S. Coast Guard for always stepping up to help those in distress. The fact that so many of these brave people had to waste so many hours needlessly, not to mention the amount of money that was spent on search efforts, saddens and angers me.
For me, the most infuriating part of this situation was the fact search teams were sent out over a call from someone who was cold. You're on a boat, off the coast of New England, in late fall. It never occurred to you that the temp might be a little less-than-tropical? And, why would you ever call for such a ridiculous reason? Please tell me you did not get all the way through your childhood without a parent or teacher explaining the proper uses for 911!
And, apparently, the call "went dead". Maybe it was because they went out of cell tower range or they had some other technical issue with the phone. But, when it was working again, why not call operators back to update them on the situation? Or, use the radio on the boat to let someone know that everything was okay. Basically, to let them know that you decided to put a sweater on and were now warmer.
Finally, if you were about to make a 1,500 mile Atlantic Ocean boat trip in November, wouldn't you want to make sure all of your vessel's safety features were working properly? Radios, satellite phone, GPS locators, etc.
Please note that I am not a boater or a sailor, so there is a chance I have some of this wrong. If I am wrong about any of this, please correct me.
Also, what are your thoughts on this?