Safety offshore isn’t something to take lightly. It isn’t too difficult to find tragic stories about fishermen in the deep waters off Florida not returning home. Despite the best efforts of the Coast Guard, marine wrecker services and volunteers, anyone stranded or lost at sea has a very slim chance of being found in the wild frontier of the Atlantic Ocean.
Compound this with the elevated risk of hypothermia, dehydration and other hazards and you’ve got the recipe for disaster if you’re not prepared.
Stories of deep sea fishermen being permanently lost and assumed dead off Cape Canaveral and Florida are not easily forgotten, including one as recent as July 2015 involving two teens.
Fortunately, deep sea fishermen and charters can make preparations to either reduce the risk of being stranded, or be found quickly in the event something goes wrong. Charter vessels like our Ofishal Business I and II have more stringent requirements in terms of safety gear.
Despite any legal requirements, below are several items every deep sea fishing charter in Cape Canaveral, or anywhere for that matter, must have on board to ensure a safe trip.
1. Emergency food and water rations – Most deep sea fishing charters require you to bring your own food and water, but any boat should at least have some emergency water rations. Saltwater will actually dehydrate you!
2. Heavy-Duty Life Jackets – While you don’t have to wear a life jacket at all times, it’s recommended for anyone who can’t swim or is under 16 years of age. A good flotation device is probably the most important safety item to have outside of fresh drinking water. Make sure your life jacket is durable enough for offshore and heavy weather use. It should also have devices like a whistle or small flare attached to it.
3. Visual distress signals – Items like flares and rockets allow the vessel’s operator to send a signal indicating trouble. These flares can be seen for miles, but may not do much good during a storm.
4. VHF-FM marine band radio – Any vessel venturing offshore must have a radio to communicate with shore and other fishing boats. If your charter captain is a member of a service like SeaTow, he will be able to radio in for help. A radio will also provide up-to-date weather reports.
5. Inflatable life raft or float – In the event the vessel goes down, an inflatable raft will help keep you from having to float in the water. This can especially be life-saving in the winter months when water temperatures are much lower. However, hypothermia can happen in the summer too since water drains body heat.
6. EPIRB – Short for “Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon,” these devices help the Coast Guard and others pinpoint your exact location if it’s activated. The device will continue sending out a signal until it is located and deactivated. Any professional Cape Canaveral deep sea fishing vessel should absolutely have an EPIRB on board. Besides an on-board EPIRB, individuals can bring their own personal locating beacon that operates like an EPIRB (…via satellites).
7. Spare engine parts and tools – If there is a mechanical issue, the boat’s captain and deckhands should have a few basic parts and tools onboard to try and address the problem. Sometimes all that is needed is a fresh spark plug or some other simple fix.
Besides safety gear like a life jacket and EPIRB, a Cape Canaveral deep sea fishing charter captain will also take precautionary steps before leaving the docks
While having adequate and redundant safety devices onboard is a critical part of keeping you safe on a deep sea charter, a good captain will do all he can to avoid issues in the first place.
First, the captain will make sure their vessels are properly maintained and built for going out on a deep sea fishing expedition.
Next, they will carefully evaluate the weather before going out. If bad weather is in the forecast, they may call off the charter until things clear up.
Last but not least, a captain will tell someone on shore where they are going and when they expect to be back. If all else fails, the person back onshore can call the Coast Guard if the vessel hasn’t returned to shore.
We strongly recommend you do the same – tell a friend or loved one that you will be out on a deep sea fishing charter off Cape Canaveral and that you expect to return by X time
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) requires any public fishing charters to be operated by a licensed captain. This person not only has intimate knowledge of the boat, but also a lot of experience in the waters off Cape Canaveral and the Space Coast.
OFishal Business Charters has 3 USCG licensed captains with extensive knowledge of deep sea fishing, large vessels and the waters off Cape Canaveral. To learn more about our vessels or to schedule a charter, visit http://www.ofishalbusinesscharters.com/ today.