Safety Under Sail Forum: Lessons Learned from Time in a Life Raft
Mario Vittone, VLink Corporation, Author
Captain Bill Curry, Saltchuk
Join a USCG rescue swimmer and two mariners who have spent time in life rafts for an interactive discussion on lessons learned from emergency use of rafts. Take away techniques and ideas that will fortify crew training and emergency drills in your operation, be that offshore or coastwise.
Jessica Hewitt started sailing on 420s for her local high school team. Despite having never sailed before, she became captain of the sailing team by her junior year. She tired of sailing in “circles” and yearned to travel, first meeting this goal by sailing to the Arctic circle aboard MaineMaritimeAcademy’s schooner Bowdoin. Since she graduated from MMA’s Small Vessel Operations program in 2009, she has worker on educational vessels Westward, Harvey Gamage, Amistad, and Niagara. She loves teaching students of all ages. Before getting aboard HMS Bounty, she captained a 47-foot work boat called Perseverance for Star Island Corporation. Like the name of the work boat, Jessica has persevered since the Bounty tragedy and has worked on several vessels since. She attributes much of her sailing success to the generous mentors in her life, but expecially to her students. Jess says, “Teaching is my happiness.”
Mario Vittone has been heading offshore since 1985. His first experience with at-sea emergencies came that first year as ship’s company aboard the USS Coral Sea, a WWII era aircraft carrier. Joining the Coast Guard in 1991 he worked at Training Center Cape May before transferring to the Cutter Point Franklin as a helmsman and small boat coxswain. He graduated from Helicopter Rescue Swimmer School in 1994 and began his career as a rescue swimmer with two tours at Air Station Elizabeth City, one at Air Station New Orleans, then finally as an instructor and course developer at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City, NC. He recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard following four years as a vessel inspector and accident investigator in Norfolk, Virginia.
Mario is a leading expert on immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival, and safety at sea. His writing has appeared in Yachting Magazine, SaltWater Sportsman, MotorBoating Magazine, Lifelines, On-Scene, and Reader’s Digest. He has developed courses for municipal rescue teams and the military on search and rescue tactics and open ocean survival. In 2007, he was named as the Coast Guard Active Duty Enlisted Person of the Year and was named as the 2009 recipient of the Alex Haley Award for Journalism.
He now directs the maritime safety division of VLinc Corporation where he overseas the development of maritime safety and security training products, helping mariners come home safely from their work at sea. Mario lives with his wife and children in Coastal Virginia, and when he’s not writing about the water he can be found on his 32 foot St. Tropez, making sure she stays above it.
Captain Bill Curry
Bill Curry spent 40 years at sea drilling his crews in abandon ship procedures hoping he’d never have to see them carry it out for real. When the SV Concordia was knocked down 300 miles off the coast of Brazil, Captain Curry and the other 63 people aboard evacuated to the ship’s rafts seconds before the vessel sank. Good luck was a big factor in helping all survive, but Bill maintains that good drilling helped them take advantage of that luck. Bill began his seagoing career in 1973 as a fo’c’sle sailor aboard a square rigger plying West Indian waters. Since then he has sailed extensively across the globe working for several well-known sail training non-profits and in the head-boat industry aboard a long list of traditionally rigged vessels. Captain Curry has sailed under his 1600 ocean master’s license since 1980. In this year’s conference, Bill will talk about the Concordians’ experience in 2010 while adrift for two days before rescue by a pair of bulk oar-carriers off Rio de Janeiro.