Friday, September 17, 2010

Florida History - Fort Lauderdale's link to global use of orange on life rafts

Ever wonder why many life rafts, floats and other buoyant apparatus around the world are colored international orange?

There’s a Fort Lauderdale connection.

In 1960, the five-member vacationing Dupperrault family left Bahia Mar on a 60-foot charter boat, the Bluebelle, captained by Julian Harvey. A few days later, Harvey was picked up on a life raft with the body of young girl, a member of the family. He told the U.S. Coast Guard that all the Dupperraults had perished in an accident on the boat.

While Harvey was telling his story to the Coast Guard, word came there was a survivor. Eleven-year-old Terry Jo Dupperrault had floated on a small white cork device for three days before being picked up in the Bahamas by the Greek ship, Captain Theo. Other ships may have mistaken the float for a white cap and sailed past the girl.

Hours after hearing news of the rescue, Harvey killed himself in a motel room. The subsequent investigation and interview with Terry Jo revealed the family was murdered by Harvey.

In closing the investigation in 1962, the Coast Guard recommended “that the body of buoyant apparatus, life rafts and life boats … be painted or otherwise colored international orange.” This regulation was adopted and implemented by the Coast Guard.

Afterward, the practice was embraced world wide; orange is used today as a life raft safety precaution aboard many boats and ships throughout the world. Thus, one girl's three-day ordeal at sea served as catalyst for the adoption of a new, international marine safety standard.

History of the US Coast Guard at

Logan, Richard and Fassbender, Tere Dupperrault.  Alone, Orphaned on the Ocean. Green Bay: Title Town Publishing, 2010.

Tags: Marine safety standards, international orange, Bahia Mar

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