Died at sea: Mikal Williams (pictured) and his brother Mustafa Abdul-Hadee worked all hours to restore their wooden fishing boat, Tern. *Photo supplied
Died at sea: Mikal Williams (pictured) and his brother Mustafa Abdul-Hadee worked all hours to restore their wooden fishing boat, Tern. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, JAN. 27: The grieving family of two brothers who died after their fishing boat hit the reefs has urged all sailors to ensure their lifejackets are always within reach while at sea.

Mustafa Abdul-Hadee and his brother Mikal Williams drowned before rescuers could reach them off St David’s Head in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The bodies of both men were pulled from the sea without lifejackets on.

But the brother’s family told the Sun that their wooden boat, Tern, was equipped with lifejackets and safety equipment.

Kimmie Mello, the brother’s first cousin, said: “There was safety equipment on the boat including lifejackets but we do not believe the guys had time to get to it. Most boats have their life jackets tucked away in a cabinet – which is sometimes locked. In an urgent situation every second counts.

“So we would urge all sailors, no matter how experienced they are, to make sure they can easily reach all their safety equipment and lifejackets. It should be in the cockpit or close at hand at all times just in case something bad happens.

“Fishermen have a great sense of what is going on around when they are on the water and if they feel something is not right they should err on the side of better judgement by putting their lifejackets on – especially if they are night fishing.”

Every registered watercraft in Bermuda has to carry a lifejacket for every passenger aboard, however there is no requirement to wear it.

Anthoni Lightbourne, chairman of the Water Safety Council said: “The ocean and the reef line that surrounds Bermuda can be very unforgiving and we take this opportunity to remind the boating public to take every precaution when on the water especially at night.

“The WSC observed through early reports, that the brothers were not wearing any form of Personal Flotation Device. Though we are not suggesting that the outcome of this accident would have been different had the brothers been wearing a lifejacket or vest, we do know that wearing the appropriate lifejacket can reduce the incidence of drowning. Lifejackets or vests come in a variety of shapes, colours, and materials. The most important thing to remember is to choose the right one for you.

“Consider what kinds of boating you may be doing. You may need to choose more than one type of PFD if you use your boat for a variety of purposes, such as on Paradise Lake one day and deep sea fishing another.

“Make sure it is comfortable and well-fitting and a colour that will be visible when you are in the water. Your best choice is a bright color, or at least a PFD with reflecting tapes. These are easiest for rescuers to spot against dark blue or green water.”

Mr Lightbourne sent his condolences to the brothers’ family on behalf of the WSC.

He added: “At the moment there are more questions than answers and we wonder as well how the lives of two very experienced boatmen came to such a tragic end in the very waters they were familiar with.”

Find out more about Personal Flotation Devices (PDF) basics and other boating information on the Resource page on the WSC’s website www.wsc.bm