Best Practices

Vincent D. McBeth
President of The McBeth Group International
Commander, US Navy (Retired)

As a kid growing up, my boating experience came on the lakes and rivers of Arkansas.  It was an informal introduction wrought by lack of respect, lack of preparedness, miscalculation and, in one particular case, tragedy.  When I was 14-years old, my best friend drowned in a lake.  That experience forced me to reevaluate my relationship with the water.

 

Three years later, I entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.  It was there, as a Midshipman, where I received my first formal instruction on my journey to becoming a professional mariner.  At the Naval Academy, I learned the Law of the Sea and the Rules of the Road.  I learned to navigate by charts and the stars.  I came to understand meaning of the phrase, “Time, tide, and formation wait for no one.”  As importantly, I forged a new relationship with the sea.  A relationship based on three things:

 

1) Recognizing that the road to becoming a professional mariner is a life-long journey,

 

2) Accepting that the sea will always be more powerful and more uncertain than any amount of preparation can            portend, and

 

3) Understanding that our respect for the sea must be unwavering. 

 

As a Naval Officer, I served over twenty years in seven U.S. warships and in command of two.  I know firsthand the power of the sea—a power for which I have absolute respect.  As a young Lieutenant in command of a warship for the first time, my crew and I were caught in a violent storm between Florida and Cuba.  A structural engineer met the ship in Key West to evaluate the damage to the 177-foot patrol boat.  He concluded that the ship had only 25 percent hull integrity remaining.  Even more sobering was his advice to me, “Captain, don’t lose sight of land on your transit home to Norfolk, Virginia.”  That experience reinforced the reality that even with meticulous preparation, professional training, and the best equipment we can find ourselves helpless when in the grasp of the sea.

 

In July 2015, I became involved in the search for Perry and his friend.  My involvement was as an emissary for the families with the media, U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies, and volunteer efforts.  The operation to find Perry and his friend was the largest and most comprehensive privately-led search South Florida had ever witnessed.  Working alongside the Coast Guard, and then independently, the search consumed hundreds of flight hours, covered thousands of square miles covered by sea, air and land, and required hundreds of thousands of dollars of both monetary and in‐kind contributions.  From this experience, we will share best practices and lessons learned in an attempt to make a positive difference.

 

A goal of the Perry J. Cohen Foundation is to force a change in behavior, one that will drive us to leverage known best practices and lessons learned from our search for Perry and his friend to inform actions and create recreational boating experiences that survive generations. 

 

Through the Perry J. Cohen Foundation, we will present lessons learned, develop best practices, and engage in specific discussions on key points of recreational boating safety.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you!

 

 

Vincent D. McBeth

Commander, US Navy (Retired)