Those words represent every sailor's nightmare — but imagine the possibility for tragedy when the disaster happens at night.
Matthew Moore, who has spent a lifetime sailing Nova Scotia's waters, knows the danger all too well. That's why his new company, Canada Rope and Twine Ltd., has developed a life-saving rope that glows in the dark.
Speaking to CBC's Mainstreet, Moore said that during night-time rescues, "a glow-in-the-dark rope that's anchored on the ship almost acts like an umbilical cord. It helps the person get guided to safety a lot quicker."
Friend lost at sea
For Moore, marine safety is a cause that hits close to home. Thirteen years ago, a close friend was working on a fishing boat off the coast of Yarmouth, N.S., when a rogue wave washed his friend overboard. The man didn't survive.
Moore didn't name his friend out of respect for the family, but says the incident "happened at night, when they were coming back from their catch, right around dusk time."
"Unfortunately the equipment on board wasn't serviced properly," Moore said, which he now knows after 10 years of experience servicing and selling marine safety equipment.
How it's made
The secret of the rope's luminescence is a new synthetic fibre made in Switzerland, which Moore said he discovered through family connections.
The rope is made of the luminescent sheath, which is charged by natural daylight, and reinforced with a fibre core that Moore claims "is 10 times stronger than steel wire."
According to Moore, there have been other glow-in-the-dark ropes on the market before but those used luminescent paint.
"That only caused problems," he said. "It would only glow for three or four hours and really it would just rot the rope over time."
With approximately 61,000 registered commercial fishing boats in North America alone, Moore said the already high level of interest is good for business and good for saving lives.
Still in its prototype phase, the glow-in-the-dark "night-saver rope" should be available by next spring, he said.