Powerless and Adrift
We’re limping home when Pete hits me with another disaster. We lose all power and are now adrift. The VHF is dead too. I realize I’ve committed a cardinal sin of boating; I don’t have a backup. Always carry a handheld VHF and GPS aboard so you can call for help and pinpoint your location should the units installed at the helm lose power. With a working radio, call for help. “If you’re in a shipping lane, get on Channel 13 and notify other captains that you’re adrift in traffic,” Jeff says.
“If you’re drifting into trouble,” Pete says, “drop the hook.” Your anchor is your first line of defense against drifting into danger, such as the surf line or rocks or jetties. “A lot of people don’t even think to do that,” Gasiorek adds.
If it’s too rough or you’re too deep to drop the anchor, a sea anchor is the next best thing. A sea anchor is a large cloth bag or parachute that helps slow your drift. If you don’t have one, you can rig a makeshift sea anchor by running spare lines through the eyelets of your boat’s canvas. Cleat it off the bow to keep the boat pointed into the waves and out of a dangerous beam sea situation.
We don’t have one on board, so I’m tempted to use Pat the Plebe as a human sea anchor, but no one else thinks that’s such a good idea.