Fishing couple who "owe their lives to Crewsaver" advise "keep your lifejacket on at all times"
5 April 2023

A couple’s fishing trip has emphasised the importance of wearing an approved, properly maintained and correctly worn lifejacket at all times when a freak wave caused their 6.8m boat to capsize off New South Wales, Australia.

Philip and Olivia (‘Livy’) Hanel, who were line fishing from their Trailcraft Trailblazer 680 off Tathra, NSW, last summer, said they owe their lives to their Crewsaver lifejackets.

Wearing Crewfit 165N Sports lifejackets, the Hanel’s, both experienced sailors, launched the boat at Kianinny Bay, Tathra, on NSW’s south coast, at 6 am on the 28th of December 2022, heading out 3km before setting up to fish flathead.

After an hour or so, a larger-than-normal swell crashed into the transom stern, causing the dive door to open, letting in a large amount of water. Philip turned the boat to face the waves, but a second hit starboard, causing P&O II to roll.

“From that first wave, it took a matter of seconds to capsize,” he said. “If we hadn’t had our Crewsaver lifejackets on, we would not have made it; we would not have survived. There is no doubt in our minds these lifejackets saved our lives. We owe our lives to Crewsaver,” Philip said in an email to the Survitec brand.

Philip and Livy were in the water for two hours before they were rescued.

He explained for many years, he and Livy had been “a little careless” about wearing their lifejackets. “Sometimes we would, sometimes we wouldn’t, but about fifteen years ago, we decided to wear our lifejackets at all times when at sea,” he said. “This decision has proven to be lifesaving for us. Anyone that heads out to sea and thinks nothing bad will happen is taking their lives into their own hands if they fail to wear a lifejacket and keep it on!

Chris Cox, General Manager of Survitec's leading lifejacket brand, Crewsaver, said: “It is undeniably down to Philip and Livy’s decision to wear their lifejackets at all times that avoided a more tragic ending to this story. There are so many maritime incidents where the loss of life could have been avoided simply by putting on a lifejacket. I implore all those on the water to heed Philip and Livy’s advice and ‘KEEP YOUR LIFEJACKET ON’. It is there to save your life.”

Livy Hanel added, “Crewsaver lifejackets are lightweight and comfortable to wear, to such an extent we forget we have them on after we have left the boat and back on dry land! We both continue to spread the word about how important it is to wear lifejackets at all times while at sea and how important it is to maintain them.

“I am very conscious of the fact we could have lost our lives if they had failed. You have to keep your lifejackets well maintained and have them serviced every year.”

Despite the capsizing, the incident has not put the Hanel’s off ocean fishing. “We have just bought a beautiful new boat!” concluded Philip.

Crewsaver has created a series of ‘how to’ videos as part of their long standing #LifejacketSafe initiative which shares top tips on how to keep your lifejacket ready for action. The bitesize videos cover a wide range of tutorials such as ‘how to care and maintain your lifejacket’ and ‘how to repack your lifejacket’. These are available on the Crewsaver YouTube channel HERE.