Hooray for the crew of Class Afloat‘s SV Concordia who had the safety equipment and knew what to do when their ship went down off the coast of Brazil on Wednesday.
Even without knowing all the facts, it is obvious that everyone on the Concordia survived because of proper safety equipment and procedures.
First, an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) went off – whether automatically or manually triggered, we don’t know yet. EPIRBs are expensive, especially for owners of pleasure boats, and sometimes get triggered accidentally, but look at the results this time. Brazilian rescue crews knew the boat was in trouble, and within a few hours were able to locate the survivors on the open ocean.
Second, there were adequate liferafts for everyone on board. These liferafts kept everyone safe through the night, even in the rough conditions they must have been experiencing.
The liferafts were properly equipped with flares. When they were spotted by the search plane, which dropped a parachute light, and signaled by the merchant vessels steaming to their rescue, they were able to use flares to signal their positions. That sight was described as “beautiful” by Major Silvio Monteiro Junior, the head of the air command for the Brazil’s Search and Rescue System, speaking with CBC Radio’s As It Happens last night.
He described how the three rescuing merchant ships communicated very closely and carefully to record the names of everyone they picked up, and the “incredible moment” when they knew that all 64 people were safely on board one or another vessel.
Finally, everyone aboard the Concordia must have participated in emergency training and were able to follow procedures when the moment arrived to use it.
Pleasure boaters and commercial fishermen alike should take heart from this example, knowing that time and money spent on emergency equipment and procedures really do save lives.