Lifeboats Where There Are None: Day 8 – “We Take Beginners and We Make Them Do the Most Difficult Things at Sea”

Things were thrown into perspective a bit more for me out on the sea this afternoon when one of the instructors told me that the maneuver we were about to do is one of the most difficult things you can do at sea. And here we are, a whole lot of beginners, who’ve just garnered an understanding of the water.

Today’s maneuver was transferring people from one boat to another while both boats were still in motion. This involved the first boat maintaining a course and a constant speed while the second boat comes up beside it, matches its speed, and then cuts over into the other boat, literally making contact with it and then turning slightly into it in order to create friction between the two boats. It’s incredibly insane to think about now that its over, but this afternoon, we did this over and over again, ramming our boat into another moving boat and creating the opportunity for people to move from one boat to the other. Even in the crashing waves and even at high speeds, we were able to figure this out.

Before getting on the water, we also learned how to do a couple of different search patterns. If someone is lost at sea, there are multiple different ways to search for them in order to expand your chances of finding the needle in the haystack. Unfortunately, having to focus so much on our first task of transferring people from one boat to another, we didn’t get to do any search patterns, so I’ve promptly forgotten them all, having not had the chance to cement them in my brain by seeing them demonstrated.

This morning, the day began by being tested on our casualty care response. I was the first participant to go, quickly volunteering in an effort to just get it over with.I did okay, but not as well as I would have liked. Oh well, I’m not worried. We then had a brief one-hour session on boat repair and learned how to patch a whole with fiberglass in the bottom of a boat. I wasn’t super interested in this as I don’t see how this will benefit my existence in the years ahead, but you never know. How did I get here? What am I learning!?

Unlike a couple of other nights this week, we did not have the evening off today. In fact, the evening was very much ON as we were called to a stretcher presentation and ended up doing relay races with our teammates strapped into the stretchers. Terrifying and fun. My group finished last in all three challenges we did. This is about how well I feel I’ve been doing over all. (Joking).

I’m so glad this course is wrapping up, but so grateful for all that it has offered me.


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