Five Tips to Stay Safe in Stormy Waters

To many, the allure of fishing is that you never know what you’re going to catch. One day you could come back with an empty net, and another with a trophy fish. But what happened to Orson Tarver and Captain Dan Kolodny on a November night is more memorable than any trophy fish.


Orson Tarver and his friend, Captain Dan Kolodny, were on his 23-foot Aeon Marine boat powered by an Evinrude E-TEC 250-HP engine in the Sebastian Inlet in Florida fishing for redfish and snook. As the sun set and the wind picked up, they were quickly battling 8-10 foot waves in the dangerous inlet. The weather was also poor, as Tarver recalls: “It was terrible weather… but that’s when the fishing is the best, that’s why we do it.” It was then that they spotted an overturned boat in the water. After alerting the Coast Guard of the situation via radio, the two men decided to risk their lives to save the two men clinging to their capsized boat. Because he was so focused on the task at hand, Tarver “didn’t even think about the motor. [It] performed flawlessly.”


Though Tarver and Kolodny are heroes now for what they did in saving these two boaters, Nickolaus Munoz and Jeremy Reed, they do not recommend doing the same. Tarver remembers vividly, “I was gripping the steering wheel for dear life.” They put themselves in serious danger to help these two stranded men, but most times it’s best to leave situations like that to the professionals. This piece of advice is just one of their five tips that you should always remember in order to stay safe in rough water and bad weather conditions.




Orson and Captain Dan’s Five Tips on Staying Safe if You Get Caught in a Storm 


Stay in contact with the Coast Guard

Always have the capability to contact the authorities not only if you see someone who needs help, but if you need help yourself. Tarver said, “We told them we were going to see what was going on [with the overturned boat].” Regardless of what your actions are, always let the Coast Guard know what you’re doing.


Always wear your life-vest

You never know when a wave is going to overtake your boat or when you might slip and fall overboard, so make sure you wear your life vest at all times. One of the victims in the storm, Nickolaus Munoz, said “We had life preservers, flares, all that stuff, we didn’t have time to get to any of it.”


Leave rescue up to the professionals

Though Tarver and Kolodny made a brave decision to rescue stranded boaters, in most situations it’s best to just report it to the Coast Guard and give them as much information as possible. Kolodny recalled, “I kind of went against my training.” The Coast Guard has the training and equipment to save stranded boaters, and it’s best to leave the rescue to them. However, in this situation, Kolodny adds “the entire reason we decided to do what we did was that even though it is for the professionals to do, the conditions were dire for the two men and the professionals would not have arrived in time.” Assess the situation and see if you can help, but when in doubt, leave it up to the authorities.


Don’t panic

Kolodny was trained in responding to emergency situations, and he recalls from his training that you should always keep a level head: “Nothing’s ever going to go how you train”. A piece of advice he gives is to stay calm and level headed, and not to panic or make rash decisions.


Run perpendicular to the waves

An easy way for a boat to capsize in the water is for a wave to catch the side of the boat. To avoid this, face the waves head-on rather than getting caught parallel to them.