01-12-2012, 07:52 AM #1
Jet ski rider attracts help with SpongeBob SquarePants shorts
Police have warned jet skiers to carry the correct safety equipment, after Eric Bettanin was rescued when his jet ski broke down and drifted out to sea. HWT Image Library
Jet skier Eric Bettanin contemplates his survival with the help of a pair of loud SpongeBob SquarePants shorts. Picture: Alison Wynd, The Geelong Advertiser HWT Image Library
A MAN who survived nine hours drifting on a broken-down jet ski off the Surf Coast used a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants boardshorts to attract help.
Eric Bettanin, 29, was wearing the yellow boardshorts on his head as he waved to a rescue boat while drifting helplessly off the notorious Port Phillip Heads at dawn yesterday.
Mr Bettanin told the Geelong Advertiser he placed them on his head to keep himself warm and attract attention.
''As silly as it sounds, they made quite a significant difference to my core temperature,'' he said. ''When I stood up and started waving I had them on my head.
''I bought them the other day as a bit of a joke.''
His ordeal began when his craft broke down off Torquay late Monday and was swept out to sea.
He spent the night adrift before being rescued.
''There was no better sight than that big orange Coast Guard boat coming straight towards me,'' he said.
Police said yesterday Mr Bettanin was lucky to be alive. Water Police Sgt Nathan Gardiner said the conditions at the time were ''treacherous''.
''Given the choppy seas, strong winds and the man's light clothing he is extremely fortunate to have survived,'' he said.
Sgt Gardiner described the search operation as ''substantial''.
''The police air wing was involved from the start, as was our 17m launch Fearless based at Queenscliff,'' he said.
He said the minimum safety requirement for jet skiers under the Marine Act and Regulations was a type three life jacket - which Mr Bettanin had - and a waterproof buoyant torch.
Jet skiers who intend to travel more than two nautical miles (3.7km) from land must also have an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).
"(I'm) unsure about the torch. They are making some inquiries about that,'' Acting Sgt Gardiner said.
"That equipment is the minimum. Our advice is that it would definitely be prudent to have an EPIRB, distress flares on board.
"I don't really think that's an issue in regards to the EPIRB in these circumstances.''
Mr Bettanin faces a $153 fine if police discover he didn't have a torch.
He was taken to Geelong Hospital with suspected mild hypothermia and released mid-morning.
- with Amelia Harris
01-12-2012, 09:33 AM #2
I feel for the dude. First broke down and maybe dead, oh and now that you are rescued, you owe us money.
I bet the majority of all craft going more than 2 miles off shore there dont have the proper safety equipment.
01-12-2012, 11:26 AM #3
On the plus side, I'll willingly pay $153. to have my life saved. The Sponge Bob board shorts are more than enough insult to injury... but all's well that ends well.
01-12-2012, 01:55 PM #4
That is why you don't ride by your self. I would never be more than 1/4 of a mile off shore here in Oregon it is very spooky out there. I have look at Hawaii, recreational vessels operating more than one mile offshore must be equipped with either a VHF radio or a USCG approved Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). . But Thrillcraft (PWCs) are exempt from this requirement per Act 54, Session Laws of Hawaii. I think I am so post to have 3 flairs when riding in the ocean. That the only deferents from the lake riding requirements. I better get some flairs before I get fine I guess and some sponge bob board shorts too. More like a sponge bob wet suit or dry suit. B-RRRRR.
01-12-2012, 03:43 PM #5
This is a good example of why the proper safety equipment needs to be carried, especially on the ocean. On the ocean you want a GPS, 6w VHF floating/waterproof VHF radio, fresh water, whistle, small tool kit, zip ties, tow rope, and some visual signaling device.
When I ride offshore I'm never more than 3 miles from the coast, but thats still a long way out without the proper equipment.
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