“Lost” – North Atlantic Ocean, Somewhere off the Coast of Newfoundland
© Doug van Kampen, 2014 :: All Rights Reserved
In all of my travels around the world, I have not only seen some amazing things and places, I have seen desperation on the faces of people who could have potentially been lost at sea. I am reminded how incredibly enormous the ocean is, how plentiful it’s bounty can be, and how incredibly small we are as humans out on its vastness. Fortunately enough in my travels to the Bering Sea in Alaska, the Tasman Sea in the Southern Hemisphere, and everywhere in between, there have been more tales that end well than those that have not.
The image above illustrates how incredibly small you would appear to a SAR (Search And Rescue) helicopter (pictured actual size in the left of the frame), should you become lost. The helicopter pictured is roughly the size of a city bus and the average human in the water is roughly the size of a watermelon, given that only the top of the head and part of the shoulders remain not submerged. Factor in the sea-state (with a wind above 11 knots, white caps form on open ocean) and you are [mostly] invisible. In water such as this with a temperature 32˚F (0˚C), you have four(4) minutes without any sort of life-saving equipment such as a mustang or gumby suit. With the suit, you have a few more hours and if your lucky, you have some sort of signaling device such as smoke flares or marker dye and you know when to use it.
When people ask me what we usually site people for on the open ocean, the answer does vary depending on the mission, but for the most part, its having the proper safety equipment to save their life and the lives of their crew in the event their vessel is in peril at sea.
I have seen the ocean go from a calm, welcoming, and bountiful resource to a cold, unforgiving, and churning mass of water that will swallow anything that is unprepared to adapt to it. It is in those moments that I think about those that have been lost and those that have witnessed her fury and lived to tell about it. Be safe out there and always remember, one hand for the ship! -DvK