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Jul-18-2006 19:06printcomments

Trio Lucky to Be Alive After Their Boat Capsized 45-Miles Off The Oregon Coast

The trio clung together on an ice chest and locked their legs together to stay warm for over 7 hours until help arrived.


File photo

(NEWPORT) - For Bob Templin and his two friends, a gorgeous day of tuna fishing on the Oregon coast turned nearly catastrophic when their boat capsized, forcing them to spend hours floating at sea, 45 miles from shore.

At first, everything was fine. "It got hot so one of the guys took his life jacket off," said Bob Templin, captain and owner of the boat, the Cape Falcon.

"Then he got a fish on, and that's when I noticed the boat was listing. I went down to check out the holding tank, and noticed it had water in it, turned on the bilge pump and went back on deck. After a few minutes, I went back down to check the pump and the water was still coming in. By the time I got back on deck, the stern of the boat was going down."

At the same time Templin was checking the bilge pump, one of the passengers called MAYDAY on the radio.

The trio was pinned in the cabin as the boat was sinking.

"I was able to get the door open when the pressure let off. The other guys got out through the windows." Templin surfaced first, and the other passengers quickly followed.

"We were so lucky to get out of there." There wasn't time to signal, or to get life jackets on. Templin was grateful the one thing they could cling to, a cooler, surfaced. A child's life jacket also surfaced and was within reach.

At the same time, Coast Guard Astoria had dispatched five aircraft to locate the men.

After floating for several hours, the trio saw one of the Coast Guard helicopters and Templin waved the child's life jacket in the air to get their attention.

"It was hard, because we knew they couldn't see us, so I started waiving the white top of the cooler, to try to get their attention."

When recounting the events, Templin admits that you have to have a life jacket on and everyone on board needs to know where the safety equipment is.

If there's another thing Templin wishes he could have done differently, "I would've had visual distress signals in a floating container. None of the equipment I had did me any good. The Coast Guard just didn't see us."

"After a few hours, it got really hard cause we had to balance each other on the cooler and I had to keep shifting the child's life jacket to keep my balance. I wasn't going to let it go, though."

After seven-and-a-half hours, another boat, the "Way to Go II," found the three men and contacted the Coast Guard with the exact position of the trio.

"They threw us a life ring, but I couldn't grab it. I had no energy," Templin said.

A Coast Guard HH-60 helicopter from Air Station Astoria lifted the men from the 64-degree water and covered them in blankets. They were transported by ambulance to Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport and treated for hypothermia.

"We all had good attitudes out there. I just knew it wasn't my time," Templin said.

According to the Oregon State Marine Board, all vessels used on federally controlled waters, such as the ocean and mouth of Columbia River, must be equipped with Coast Guard-approved day and night visual distress signals.

"There are other signaling devices that work, like a small mirror," said Marty Law, Education and Information Manager for the Marine Board. "They can easily be secured to a life jacket, and work well during the daytime."

"They could have been saved hours sooner if they had been able to gather visual distress signals prior to the boat going down," says Dan Shipman, Recreational Boating Safety Manager for the Thirteenth Coast Guard District in Seattle. "Don't wait to call for help when you notice a problem. Most people don't realize they are in danger until it is too late. "

Know how to use your emergency equipment and have an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) to make it easy for the Coast Guard to locate you and file a float plan with a friend or relative."

The Marine Board also reminds boaters about the wide variety of life jackets available and that life jackets float, you don't.

"These boaters were extremely lucky to have survived being in the water for such a long period of time," Law said.

In an emergency, you'll be really glad you have a life jacket on."




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