Botched Adventures, Dramatic Rescues
U.S. Department of Defense
If you're going to attempt a sailing trip around the world, bringing a one-year-old along may not be the best idea. Carrying along a recently ill one-year-old is even worse.
During a sailing voyage with her family on a 36-foot yacht named "Rebel Heart," Lyra Kaufman fell ill about 900 nautical miles off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. A costly air rescue operation was needed to reach the family, and the infant girl was treated for salmonella.
Adventurers can find themselves in peril for any number of reasons, but there is a certain breed of thrill-seeker who through some combination of poor planning, bad luck and a lack of clear thinking get in over their heads and require potentially dangerous and often costly rescue missions to save them.
Abby Sunderland may be the poster child for adventurers biting off more than they can chew.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of her brother, Zac, who at 17 years old circumnavigated the globe, becoming the youngest person to do so, at 16 years old Sunderland embarked on her own sailing voyage around the world. Sunderland made two attempts at her journey, with the second leaving her stranded in a remote area of the Indian Ocean after severe weather disabled her vessel. Sunderland was rescued by a French vessel, which pulled her out of rough seas, as part of an operation that cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Although Sunderland had been training for her voyage for years prior to her attempts, Sunderland's parents were roundly criticized by sailing experts, who questioned the wisdom of allowing anyone that age to undertake a feat so dangerous.
Earlier this year, three hikers were rescued by helicopter after finding themselves stranded in 2 feet of snow and wind chills of -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 degrees Celsius) and without shelter.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the trio had been preparing for their hike at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for six months prior to embarking on their trip. The weather forecast over the course of their trip had only called for two days of rain, so the hikers were caught unprepared for the extreme conditions.
Rescue efforts were delayed to the weather and road conditions, but rangers eventually caught up with the trio, who all suffered from hypothermia and the early stages of frostbite.
Things got a little too real for the reality show Dangerous Waters when a group of American adventurers traveling the Northwest Passage by jet ski last year were in need of rescue.
Beginning their journey in Seattle, the group had to call it quits after facing freezing temperatures, high winds and ice. They made it as far as Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, Canada before radioing for assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier, according to a CBC report.
Earlier this year, a Russian research ship, Akademik Shokalskiy, got stuck in the ice off the Antarctic coast, carrying 52 crew and passengers, including scientists, tourists and news media and requiring rescue. The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long came to their aid, but it, too, got trapped in the ice. When it seemed as those both ships were stuck, United States dispatched a rescue ship, the Polar Star, which was called en route after the Chinese vessel broke free.
What made this rescue mission unique was not so much the enormous, multinational operation, but rather, as National Geographic's David Roberts notes, the totally disengaged attitude with which the passengers of the Russian ship handled the crisis, who seemed if anything to relish the affair.
While the entire expedition drew criticism even before news of that the ship had become ice-bound, during the drama, the passengers passed the time amusing themselves recording sing-a-long or chatting about yoga classes while the crews of the Russian and Chinese ships worked diligently to see both vessels out of peril. The passengers were eventually rescued by helicopter and taken to an Australian government supply ship, the Aurora Australis.
Courtesy Hugues Lemoine/Lem’s Blog
Last January, a French solo sailor who had intended to circumnavigate the world had to be rescued after his yacht sank in severe weather and he had been left adrift floating in a life raft.
The sailor was rescued by an Antarctic cruise ship carrying 100 passengers, which had to be diverted more than 1,000 miles. The ship itself faced strong winds and high waves, which didn't necessarily pose a threat to the vessel itself but nearly stalled rescue operations.
Twitter / NBC News
A TV reporter became news himself after needing to be rescued while covering a mudslide in Los Angeles County in late February.
NBC News's Miguel Almague waded into the waist-deep mud in Azusa, Calif., during a live broadcast in order to demonstrate its depth to viewers at home. Once he climbed in, however, he couldn't get out, and already-strained rescue workers had to dig out the news man.
After the rescue, Azusa police ordered all residents and news media to evacuate the area, according to the L.A. Times.
For most people, news of an approaching hurricane would send them to their homes for shelter or even evacuating in the most extreme cases. For unhinged surfers, kayakers and other watersports enthusiasts, hurricanes are a rare opportunity to catch a thrill in stronger-than-average winds and higher-than-usual waves. Naturally, there's danger in being on the water during a hurricane.
When Hurricane Irene churned up the waters of New York harbor, two kayakers from Staton Island had to be rescued after their boat capsized. Their actions earned them a court summons and a rebuke from then-mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called their actions "reckless."
After three days of rain flooded Piner Creek near Santa Rosa, Calif., Alex Bowman and his friend Patrick Sitzer took to the swollen waters with their small blow-up raft -- sans lifejackets. The duo was unprepared for the whitewater condition and capsized, nearly drowning as they pulled themselves to shore to wait for rescuers.
Upon arriving at the scene, emergency response personnel had to perform a swift-water rescue, a dangerous feat given that the flow rate of the creek "was between 3,000 and 4,000 cubic feet per second," according to The Press Democrat.
When interviewed about the ordeal, in which he was asked how he had felt about his actions putting both his and his rescuers' lives in peril, Bowman had this to say: "If they're so upset about it, they shouldn't be rescuing people for a living. ... I pay taxes."