Experienced sailor owes life to VIKING raft
What was supposed to be another enjoyable sailing trip from Moorehead City, North Carolina to Bermuda quickly turned into a nightmare for Roger Brake. Just over 12 hours into the journey, his well-maintained 46' Cross Trimaran, Orion, started taking on water and capsized. If it wasn't for his amazing determination and a VIKING Life-Saving Equipment USCG Coastal Liferaft, he wouldn't be alive today.
Brake, an experienced and avid sailor, started his voyage mid-morning in early June. With a strong wind, he was making great time. At 11pm, he inspected the bilges, set the autopilot, checked his location and went below to take a catnap. He estimated he was 110 miles offshore.
A half an hour later the trouble began. Orion started slamming hard into the waves and Brake felt the trickle of water. He hurried topside to find the port ama underwater and no way to tack.
"I could see the boat was going down," said Brake. "The seas were rough with 10'-12' waves and 22-25 mph winds. It was only a matter of time before she went under."
Fast to act, he secured the painter line and deployed the 4-person, VIKING liferaft he borrowed from USA Services in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a dark, moonless night, Brake was unfamiliar with the length of the 85' line and he was unable to see the raft deploy. He thought it had failed to inflate.
Well prepared, he grabbed his abandon ship bag extensively packed with a manual EPIRB, flares, a handheld GPS, VHF, 8 pints of water and food. He made several mayday calls with no response. With the water over waist deep, he worked to release an inflatable he had onboard. "I was up to my neck in water, trying to get the Achilles free only to discover it was deflated," said Brake.
It was too late. Orion rolled over and he had to enter the water. Facing the violent seas, Brake lost his bag and could barely stay afloat.
"The waves kept picking me up and forcing me back under," said Brake. "I couldn't clear my lungs. I thought I was going to die and if it wasn't for that VIKING liferaft, I probably would have."
According to Brake, he saw a light in the distance. He thought maybe someone heard his mayday, but the light didn't get any closer. "I figured I had to swim toward it or die," Brake explained. "I was halfway there when I realized it was the liferaft. I thought 'I'm saved.'"
Exhausted, he climbed into the liferaft and spent the night bailing, throwing up seawater and shivering. The following morning, it was much calmer. Brake read the directions inside the raft, cut the line connecting him to his boat, deployed the sea anchor and waited for rescue.
After spending two days in the raft, a Coast Guard C-130J spotted him. "I heard engines roaring, all the hair on the back of my neck stood up and when I saw the plane I had to cry a little bit. I knew I was going home," said Brake.
He was taken to Carteret County Hospital where he was treated for mild hypothermia and dehydration. "I'm just so happy to be alive and it all turned out so well," said Brake. "VIKING makes quality liferafts."
VIKING recently supplied Brake with a new 4-person RescYou liferaft. "After watching my boat capsize and being saved by a Viking liferaft, I won't go out fishing or sailing unless there's a VIKING onboard," said Brake.
VIKING Life-Saving Equipment
1400 NW 159th St., #101, Miami, FL 33169.
305-614-5800; Fax: 305-614-5810.