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Thursday, March 30, 2023

A BC man survives at sea for six days after a boat sinks in the Caribbean. World Nation News

a BC A man from the U.S., who lived for six excruciating days on a life raft with little food and water after his boat sank, says that he never really thought about dying.

“I was more concerned (for me) about the people concerned,” said 77-year-old Don Caverns, a Shuswap resident who was found in the Caribbean.

“That never really became a part of my thinking. I don’t know where it comes from; the eternal optimist, I guess.”

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An active boating enthusiast for 30 years who sailed to and from Mexico in the past, Caverns bought a used sailboat in Colombia for US$45,000 and took a leisurely trip to Puerto Rico to visit his son. was planning to do.

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Enter Mother Nature, who sabotaged the Caverns’ plan by hitting rough seas.

After leaving port, cavers encountered 15-foot waves (4.5 m) on their second night. Water quickly filled the cabin, three inches above the floorboards, with cavers blaming top-side leaks and a faulty bilge pump.

“The boat slowed down a bit, and then I realized I was carrying a lot of water,” Caverns told Global News. “So I turned to get the water off the deck so the waves wouldn’t break at the bow.”

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With the boat on autopilot, he then began bailing, which took several hours in rough seas.

“Down (looking at the water in the cabin), you panicked,” he said.

“When you get into that type of situation, you have to take it one step at a time. Once I realized where I was going to take the water — in a position to still be alive to get the water out — I Knew I wasn’t drowning.”

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Don Caverns’ sailboat.


The cavers say that despite being bullied while rolling by hand, he managed to clear the boat from the water. Only the next day it was discovered that the power system had been compromised.

“So I lost the autopilot, I lost everything,” he said.

Everything included his satellite phone, his cellphone, an iPad, and his navigation books.

Caverns noted that any paper he turned into paper mache was caused by the water, which later plugged the bilge pump.

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For the next 36 hours, cavers steered their boat by hand, roughly north, northwest by means of a triumphant compass, and about 150 miles from their closest point to land.

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Caverns said the sea eventually calmed down, but without electronics, he had no idea where exactly he was, his speed or distance measured.

He also mentioned that he twice crossed two fishing boats with large nets, one within 200 feet, but both turned their backs on him. They believe they were fishing illegally, so they ignore him.

The cavers said they also saw a tanker, and opened fire, but they did not see it.

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On the morning of his fifth day at sea, and his third without electronics, Caverns said he got the autopilot function back online, giving him some much-needed sleep.

But near midnight, their arduous journey turned into an emergency.

“I suddenly fell asleep when I hit a cliff. You know when you’re sailing you’re on the ground and then you hear a big rumble,” said Caverns.

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“It was probably the scariest thing, those 15-20 minutes where basically, I turned on the engine and thought I was going to get off the cliff.

“But something made a hole in the stern, it started taking water very fast.”

Caverns estimated the rock to be a kilometer long, as well as an island a few kilometers away.

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The reef cavers hit was close to Cuba, from where they began their journey. It’s roughly the same distance from Vancouver to Swift Current, Sask., along the Trans-Canada Highway.

Caverns say they grabbed a few items including an emergency beacon device, a bag of chips, a box of firecrackers, a 20-liter jug ​​of fresh water, and jumped into the boat’s nine-foot canoe, leaving the sailboat behind. When he jumped into the canoe, the water was covering the deck of the boat.

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“I opened the life raft and threw it, and it magically inflated, and I swung it next to the canoe,” Caverns said. “And then I left in the ship and the life raft.”

His plan was to tie up the canoe and life raft beside the boat, but winds and waves stopped him, causing him to be swept back into the breakers.

Lifeboat Don Caverns spent six days in the Caribbean.


The cavers said they didn’t trust the canoe, and went to the seven-foot life raft.

Again, nature played a part, with the winds blowing him back into the sea, where he swam for six days.

Three days on the lifeboat, cavers discovered that his emergency beacon was not sending signals properly. He adjusted to it, and, on his 12th day at sea, finally heard a sound he would never forget.

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“I was falling asleep and heard a ship horn,” he said. “Usually if you’re on a sailboat and you hear a ship’s horn, they’re telling you to get out of their (way).

“So I grabbed the flare gun and shot a couple of flares, then the radio to say, ‘Hey, I can’t get off your street.’

“And then — I choke every time I say it — they said, ‘Okay, that’s fine. We’re here to save you.'”

The 225-metre ship pulled right next to the cavers and dropped the rope ladder.

A merchant ship was redirected by the US Coast Guard, the Canadian Mission Control Center and the Joint Rescue Coordination Center as her emergency beacon was operating.

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Caverns said he’s learned many lessons from his near-death journey, one of which is to make sure all of his electronics are kept in waterproof containers. He says it would have saved much faster.

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© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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