Man Overboard in Berkeley Was Not a Drill
November 22, 2020, is a day etched into the minds of a handful of Bay Area sailors. Niklas Hache was singlehanding his 22-ft Santana outside Berkeley Marina when his boom swung and knocked him overboard. The current and the cold water quickly conspired to create a life-threatening situation for the 32-year-old sailor.
Fortunately Hache was wearing a PFD, which activated soon after he hit the water. However, the cold had already affected his thinking, and it took him a little time to remember the VHF strapped to his vest. Within minutes of Hache’s sending a mayday alert, four sailboat crews were on the lookout for a person in the water — a difficult task in any situation. Approximately 15 minutes later the US Coast Guard had dispatched a boat, followed by a helicopter.
Searching sailors spotted Hache’s boat adrift, but after 30 minutes there was still no sign of its skipper. Despite his arm-waving and shouting, Hache remained invisible to nearby boats. By this time he was feeling the effects of hypothermia and was, to his knowledge, a long way from being rescued.
Ultimately Hache’s rescuers appeared aboard the Emerald Sea, and according to the boat’s crew, their practice drills paid off and Hache was successfully hoisted aboard Emerald Sea (also known as Emmy).
But these are only the facts. The real story lies in the thoughts and feelings of the overboard sailor, those who searched, and those involved in his rescue. Hache’s story had a happy ending, but it could have turned out otherwise.
We’ll bring you the full account of his rescue, in January’s Latitude 38 magazine.
All are STRONGLY encouraged to read “Suddenly Overboard: True Stories of Sailors in Fatal Trouble”. (Google it.)