Close call inspires 12-year-old to create wilderness tool
Grayson Davey of Anchorage isn’t your typical businessman. He’s just 12 years old. Yet this entrepreneur found inspiration to start his business after hearing a harrowing tale of survival from a family friend.
“My Dad’s friend was care-taking a remote cabin (in the Mat-Su Valley) and he and his daughter decided to take the boat out on the Skwentna River for the day,” Davey said recounting the story.
“This guy is a real survivalist and has been living in remote areas of Alaska for years,” he explained, “so he was really prepared.”
According to Davey it was a beautiful August day with temperatures in the low 80s. Everything was going great until the engine suddenly quit on the boat. They tried to throw out the anchor but it didn’t work to stop them. In fact, instead of helping, it caught on an underwater sweeper and capsized the boat.
Davey said both father and daughter made it to shore but were stranded with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and a holstered pistol.
“They had all kinds of survival gear with them in their boat but they lost it all,” Davey said. “And the dunking was so violent that everything was ripped out of their pockets. Plus their dog was tied to the boat so their dog drowned.”
Instead of putting all their planning and preparation to work, they found themselves struggling to stay alive with nothing. “They had no way to start a fire and using the bullets from the gun didn’t work,” said Davey. “So all they could do was pretty much huddle together and pray.”
The beautiful August weather quickly turned ugly and for the next three days it rained and the wind blew. On the third day the miracle they had been praying for finally happened; a plane flew over and they waved their arms to let the pilot know they needed rescue. By the time help arrived by boat the pair was suffering from hypothermia and knew they were lucky to be alive.
“My friend and I had been making bracelets out of paracord and I realized, this could easily be turned into a survival tool,” said Davey.
With help from his father, he devised a unique design that includes an emergency whistle (on the buckle,) flint and steel (included in the buckle and woven into the bracelet,) along with fire starting jute soaked in paraffin wax (also woven into the bracelet.)
“The idea is that this is something you are wearing so if you do end up in the water or separated from your gear, you still have this one critical survival tool with you,” he explained. “You can get an emergency fire started and easily signal for help. Plus you can take the bracelet apart and there is about 17 feet of paracord you can use to lash together an emergency shelter.”
Since launching his business in the spring of 2013, orders have begun to pour in. You can purchase Grayson Davey survival bracelets locally at B & J’s sporting goods (Northern Lights and C Street in Anchorage) or custom order online at alaskaparacord.com
He has already expanded his product line to include a ‘Fire to Go’ (a fire starter with 17’ of paracord) and a ‘Fire Bug’ keychain. And he’s working on a new product that will include a signal mirror.
“Things can go bad really fast in Alaska,” said Grayson’s father, Trent. “One minute it’s a great time and the next, you could be struggling for your life. My wife and I are proud of our son and happy to support the work he’s doing to help save lives.”
Grayson’s mom built the website where you can learn more about this young man and his products, while his father, an Alaska Airlines pilot, helps purchase the raw materials, drills holes and assists in the assembly process. He proudly sports his own bracelet and has been taking orders from friends and coworkers.
“I don’t want to ever be caught with absolutely nothing if I end up in a situation like my Dad’s friend,” said Davey. “And now with my Alaska Survival Bracelet, I know that won’t happen.” ◆
Check out the full schedule of courses offered by the North America Outdoor Institute and register for programs at www.naoiak.org or call 907-376-2898.