It’s not often that sailors get a chance to put their rescue and MOB training to the test, rarer still that they do as quickly as newbie California sailor Khosrow “Koz” Khosravani did recently. If and when an emergency situation ever arises, though, it pays to be prepared.
This past September, Khosravani, and three crew were about an hour into a trip from Marina del Rey to Paradise Cove, off Malibu, when they noticed a pod of dolphins swimming across the bow of their Catalina 25, Defiant. At the time the boat was about three miles offshore. Next thing they knew, they saw—or at least they thought they saw—a human hand just above the surface near where this same pod of dolphins was now milling about. Steering closer—the crew was motorsailing at the time—Khosrow spotted the pale shape of a young woman in the water, naked and barely afloat.
Immediately, the training he’d received as part of the American Sailing Association ASA 101 and 103 courses he had taken at the Blue Pacific Boating in Marina Del Rey just two weeks earlier kicked in. “One thing that the ASA Instructors at Blue Pacific taught me was how to pull someone out of the water if they went overboard. They taught me this not just once, but many times. It was all fresh in my mind,” Khosravani says.
After approaching the victim from leeward to ensure he didn’t accidentally run into her, Khosravani threw the victim a PFD-4 cushion. However, she was too weak to hold onto it. He then made another pass, at the same time deploying an Acelane Water Rescue Bag with a 70ft rope, which the crew was able to use to pull the victim alongside the boat. From there, Khosravani and his crew were able to get her safely aboard.
That done, Khosravani contacted authorities, who sent a boat that rushed the woman to the hospital, where she spent the next three days being treated for hypothermia. As to how the woman, who was in her early 20s, had ended up in the predicament she’d been in: apparently, she’d been skinny-dipping around midnight the night before and had been in the water a good 12 hours by the time the Defiant crew found her.
“I am a scientist and I do not believe in divine intervention,” says Khosravani, a former Teaching Fellow in Computer Science at Harvard University. “But thank God for all that did go right that day. The important thing is to be prepared. When I was buying my safety gear and taking my ASA classes, some people said, ‘Why do you spend so much money? Just go out and teach yourself.’ But I told them they are wrong. This is serious business. I used all the equipment that I bought and everything that I was taught by my ASA Instructors to save that woman.”
Let that be a lesson to us all! Great work Koz, and here’s wishing you plenty of safe and satisfying years of sailing to come. To learn more about American Sailing, as ASA is now called, and the organization’s sailing and sail-training courses, visit asa.com.