A fishing tournament is usually filled with fun and excitement. Unfortunately, Mark Robbins had a completely different experience on his way to compete when his boat collided with a sailboat operating with obscured lights. Robbins has never been so glad to have his Viking RescYou Coastal Liferaft aboard.
At 4 am, Robbins and his five-man crew headed out from the Indian River inlet in Delaware to the Baltimore Canyon for the 25th Annual OC Tuna Tournament on his 32′ Ocean Yachts sportfish. It was very dark, but visibility for lights was very good. After about half an hour on the water, Robbins’ boat collided with a 41′ sailboat seven miles out in the Atlantic. The sailboat had obscured lights and no radar reflector.
“My sportfish went down in two minutes, just enough time to radio a mayday and deploy the six-man Viking liferaft before we sank,” said Robbins. “I can tell you first hand that it’s an incredible relief to watch the raft inflate and the strobe light come on. I’ve heard horror stories of other manufacturers’ rafts not inflating properly.”
Robbins deployed the raft when the boat went down. It was impossible for the crew to board from the boat causing much distress. He knew he had to get them to the raft and he had a hold of the painter cord.
The first person into the raft was young and agile, but the second was older and weighed 280 lbs. Robbins climbed in and the two aboard the raft pulled in the other crew member with much effort and a lot of stress on the raft. The Viking RescYou Coastal Liferaft’s seams didn’t rip, surprising the group.
“The best features of the raft in our situation had to have been the automatic strobe and interior lights and impressive construction,” said Robbins. “Lights because I already knew the sailboat had little or no radar signature and was now only showing an obscured stern light. Also, my boat was mostly underwater and there would be a lot of sportfishing traffic coming our way. The raft endured extreme pressure while two people were trying to pull a 280 lb. person into the raft.”
The group was only afloat for a little over an hour before being picked up by the Coast Guard, but as dawn broke Black Tip sharks were abundant. Robbins had also taken video of a 12-14′ Great White in the area just the week prior.
“What a good feeling to be in a Viking liferaft,” said Robbins. “I’m shopping for a new boat and it will be equipped with a new Viking.”
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