Effective Systems Can Help Save Lives
As I listened to the debate on whether or not the navy could have rescued the lady whose car slipped out of Likoni ferry and sunk into the Indian Ocean, I remembered the story of Walrus Kappa Toski.
In 2008, the 65-year-old Polish national was returning home from a worldwide solo sailing tour in his small boat when he hit a storm off the coast of France. The boat capsized, emptied all his possessions into the sea, but it did not sink.
It was in the middle of a busy shipping lane, so he held onto the top of his capsized boat, hoping one of the passing ships would rescue him. Five ships passed by, but none seemed to notice him. One was so close it nearly crushed him.
After a while, he noticed his satellite phone floating on the water next to the boat. Surprisingly, it was still working; but seawater had wiped out his phone book. The only phone number he could remember off-head is that of his wife, who was in the Polish capital of Warsaw. He called her and asked her to get him help.
She called a friend in Paris, France, who informed the French coast guard, which sent a Forker aircraft to trace him. Using his satellite phone signal, it located him 40 miles off the coast of France. The pilot of the Fokker spotted him still clinging to his capsized boat, and, as he turned back, he sent Kappa Toski's coordinates to a helicopter rescue team on standby.
Within 50 minutes, Kappa Toski was on board the rescue helicopter.
From capsize to the rescue, it took four hours.