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Old 04-12-2010, 11:05   #241
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Just heard about the tragedy....Very sad story...

Oddly enough, My wife, and two young kids, 4 and 8, I sailed through that exact cut, when we were in the Bahamas in 2008. It was the scaries moment of our trip. We did it on a nice sunny day, and it was scary.

Below I have pasted my post from my blog. This was written 3 years ago, describing this very cut.

If you don’t want to read all this, skip down to the Bolded Areas.

IF you go to this link, you’ll see a pic of the cut from the inside, but scroll all the way down, past the fire on board and battery story. Search Results Leaving Marsh Harbour, on our way to Nassau « Blogging aboard Black Diamond!.

The weather was beautiful today, sunny, warm and perfect wind conditions for Black Diamond, 15-20 knots. We sailed around the north part of Marsh Harbour, tacked around “Matt Lowe’s Cay” This was labelled as a private island on the charts. We wondered if this island belonged to Matt Lowe, the actor? I again had to be diligent with the navigation, plotting on paper charts every few minutes, and watching the chart plotter carefully. With a little more confidence now, I kept all the sails up, tacking and gybing around tight corners, navigating between rocks, shoals and islands following the non direct passage to the South. I now know what it means to have a shoal draft. However, I still don’t regret having the deeper keel for ocean stability, and to help us sail closer to the wind. I thought it would be a lot worse, knock on wood, fortunately, we have not yet grounded, or hit anything in these shallow waters.


We were navigating on the inside of the Cays on our way south. As the afternoon went by the wind picked up, 20 to 25 knots. At some point we would have to cross between the cuts to the outside on the open Atlantic. The seas were about 2 feet on the lee side of the Cays so we wondered what it was going to be like on the outside. We noticed a sailboat making her way north on the outside so we decide to make radio contact. We hailed them, the boat turned out to be from Montreal, called Latitudes and was travelling with another boat called Bahama Bob. They were coming from the Berry Islands, far south, and were trying to make it to Marsh Harbour. The report was the seas were very rough about 10 feet, the whole Atlantic Ocean to the east gave ample room for fetch. Fetch is the amount of open sea the wind has to build waves. But worse than that, these boats had been trying to get in through the cuts, all along the coast with no luck. The cuts between these dangerous rocks are very narrow. As the 10 foot seas were breaking on the shallow waters and rocks, the waves built to over 15 feet. The depth in the cuts is only about 15- 20 feet. If you try to enter and ride the swells in on the lowest part of the wave, you will ground out very hard, possibly sinking your boat. We passed each other at one of these cuts, we could see the waves rolling in, and it looked like a surf you might find in Hawaii. The worst part for these boats was that it was going to be dark in about 2 hours, and they desperately wanted to get in. Through our radio conversation I suggested that they keep heading north to the next cut, which was not facing directly east into the waves. I also consulted my Sirius Satellite weather, which showed the wind would drop to about 15 knots by the time they reached it. They were concerned that they would not reach the next cut by dark, and that it would not be any better. I gave them my report and told them that we made it here in two hours and that this would be their best bet. They took my advice and headed north.


In the meantime, we could not get out, and would not make it to “Hole in the wall” tonight. Instead, we decided to anchor in front of a beautiful beach near a place called Little Harbour. This was the first time we used our dinghy with the electric motor. Both were purchased from “The Store” in Port Credit. I thought electric was a good choice so I would not have to worry about storing or spilling gasoline in the boat. Also, it would save room in the dinghy since I would not need a gas tank. The motor itself is very light and small, and easy to handle, yet still pretty powerful for an electric, the equivalent of 2HP. It’s called a Torqeedo made in Germany. However, after reading a few guide books they suggested much stronger motors for battling the strong winds and currents in the Bahamas. This made us a little nervous about getting in the dinghy and being washed away from the mother-ship.


We anchored about 300 feet from shore, pumped up the dinghy, assembled the motor, and brought our trusty little dinghy anchor in case we could not control the drift. At first, we tied the dinghy to the boat while we tried to go up-wind. It was not a problem at all, the motor was definitely strong enough. The kids and Roxane joined me in our newly named dinghy, the “Diamond Shuttle”. I steered directly into the wind and then over to the island, we used the same route back to Black Diamond, if we were over powered by the wind, we would at least be pushed back to the mother ship. There were no problems, we have since used the Diamond Shuttle a few times, and it works well.

The island was amazing, with beautiful white sand. The kids enjoyed hunting for shells, and whenever Alexander found one with an animal inside it was an extra treat for him. He found one with a little crab-type creature in it, complete with a little crab claw. Thomas is not to fond of animals and persuaded Alexander to leave this one on the island. We walked all over and explored the island. On the windward side of the island, we could still see the large seas breaking on the rocks. We hoped that by the next morning it would be calmer so we could leave to Nassau. We made our way back to Black Diamond before dark, to settle in for the night.

I radioed the two boats we met earlier, Latitudes and Bahama Bob, to find that they safely made it to Marsh Harbour. They arrived just before sunset, and the winds had settled down to about 10 knots, and the opening was not facing the open Atlantic. They thanked us for the advice, and we both signed off for the night.


Scary exit of a cut the the Atlantic Ocean.

The next morning at about 6AM the wind was blowing about 10 knots, perfect, so we set out as soon as possible. We made it to the North Bar Channel Cut. It looked better than the day before, but still scary, 12 foot swells, but at least they were not breaking or surfing. However, the opening was only 200 feet wide, and was hard to judge where the opening was as the rocks were awash and under the large swells. If we miss judged it would have been disastrous. We were debating if we should try it or not, when I noticed a range marker on the chart. Range markers, are two lines of sight on the shore, if you line them up in your vision, like sights on a gun, you will have a straight line passage that marks the safest route. Roxane was very scared so I gave her a job. Her job was to line up the marks which were behind us. She instructed me to steer a little to port or a little to starboard, etc. I tried my best to helm straight out the cut. Black Diamond climbed the 12 foot seas, some of them close together, and the hull slammed the water as it dropped hard a few times. The children thought it was all great fun, as they got butterflies in their stomachs. Many times when Roxane and I are a little nervous or stressed, the kids just sit in the salon watching a movie, as if they were at home in the living room. None of this seemed to bother them at all, probably because both of them have spent most of their lives on boats. The good news is that we made it outside the cut in a few minutes, and all went perfectly fine.

On the outside, the wind was 10-15 knots, and 3 to 6 foot seas, a walk in the park. The sun was shining making it a beautiful 80 nautical mile sail to Nassau. (Due to the fact we did not get to “Hole in the wall the night before, today we had to cover more ground.) As we sailed we trolled two fishing lines off the back of the boat. To our surprise we noticed that we had caught something. Roxane helped me hold the rod as I reeled in this monster for approximately ten minutes. My arm started to feel like spaghetti because at the time we were sailing 8 knots, which made reeling in a fish extra challenging. I let the sails out, steered closer to the wind, and even put the motor in reverse. This is what the sport fishermen call backing down on a fish. Not sure anyone has ever tried it in a sailboat? Finally, the fish was in – we caught a Barracuda about the length of my arm. We had to throw it back because larger Barracudas are known to cause ciguatera poisoning. We continued sailing for a total of 11 to 12 hours and arrived in Nassau harbour that evening. We anchored the boat just outside of the Atlantis Resort and Marina because we did not want to pay $160 just to sleep the night at the marina.

In my final comments, I don't want to be insensitive to the family at all. I know Hind Sight is 20/20. After days at sea and sever sea sickness, most of us would have done the same, including me. You just want to get into shore as quickly as possible.

My next comments are to serve as advice only for future would be cruisers...

After seeing the Bahamas Cut first hand during the day, your best bet is to stay off the lee shore, and as far offshore in any storm, especially at night. My advice would have been to sail with the waves and winds further south to Nassau. You would arrive by morning, in day light, to large cruise ship terminal. I only know this, because that is exactly where we were heading when we exited this cut.

For more stories and pics of the Bahamas my blog is at Blogging aboard Black Diamond!

Ed Radonic from Blogging Aboard Black Diamond.
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Old 04-12-2010, 12:42   #242
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The insurance company wants to "repair" Rule 62 not "total" it. Good luck with that!
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Old 04-12-2010, 17:21   #243
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radonic
Just heard about the tragedy....Very sad story...

Oddly enough, My wife, and two young kids, 4 and 8, I sailed through that exact cut, when we were in the Bahamas in 2008. It was the scaries moment of our trip. We did it on a nice sunny day, and it was scary.

Below I have pasted my post from my blog. This was written 3 years ago, describing this very cut.

If you don’t want to read all this, skip down to the Bolded Areas.

IF you go to this link, you’ll see a pic of the cut from the inside, but scroll all the way down, past the fire on board and battery story. Search Results Leaving Marsh Harbour, on our way to Nassau « Blogging aboard Black Diamond!.

The weather was beautiful today, sunny, warm and perfect wind conditions for Black Diamond, 15-20 knots. We sailed around the north part of Marsh Harbour, tacked around “Matt Lowe’s Cay” This was labelled as a private island on the charts. We wondered if this island belonged to Matt Lowe, the actor? I again had to be diligent with the navigation, plotting on paper charts every few minutes, and watching the chart plotter carefully. With a little more confidence now, I kept all the sails up, tacking and gybing around tight corners, navigating between rocks, shoals and islands following the non direct passage to the South. I now know what it means to have a shoal draft. However, I still don’t regret having the deeper keel for ocean stability, and to help us sail closer to the wind. I thought it would be a lot worse, knock on wood, fortunately, we have not yet grounded, or hit anything in these shallow waters.

We were navigating on the inside of the Cays on our way south. As the afternoon went by the wind picked up, 20 to 25 knots. At some point we would have to cross between the cuts to the outside on the open Atlantic. The seas were about 2 feet on the lee side of the Cays so we wondered what it was going to be like on the outside. We noticed a sailboat making her way north on the outside so we decide to make radio contact. We hailed them, the boat turned out to be from Montreal, called Latitudes and was travelling with another boat called Bahama Bob. They were coming from the Berry Islands, far south, and were trying to make it to Marsh Harbour. The report was the seas were very rough about 10 feet, the whole Atlantic Ocean to the east gave ample room for fetch. Fetch is the amount of open sea the wind has to build waves. But worse than that, these boats had been trying to get in through the cuts, all along the coast with no luck. The cuts between these dangerous rocks are very narrow. As the 10 foot seas were breaking on the shallow waters and rocks, the waves built to over 15 feet. The depth in the cuts is only about 15- 20 feet. If you try to enter and ride the swells in on the lowest part of the wave, you will ground out very hard, possibly sinking your boat. We passed each other at one of these cuts, we could see the waves rolling in, and it looked like a surf you might find in Hawaii. The worst part for these boats was that it was going to be dark in about 2 hours, and they desperately wanted to get in. Through our radio conversation I suggested that they keep heading north to the next cut, which was not facing directly east into the waves. I also consulted my Sirius Satellite weather, which showed the wind would drop to about 15 knots by the time they reached it. They were concerned that they would not reach the next cut by dark, and that it would not be any better. I gave them my report and told them that we made it here in two hours and that this would be their best bet. They took my advice and headed north.

In the meantime, we could not get out, and would not make it to “Hole in the wall” tonight. Instead, we decided to anchor in front of a beautiful beach near a place called Little Harbour. This was the first time we used our dinghy with the electric motor. Both were purchased from “The Store” in Port Credit. I thought electric was a good choice so I would not have to worry about storing or spilling gasoline in the boat. Also, it would save room in the dinghy since I would not need a gas tank. The motor itself is very light and small, and easy to handle, yet still pretty powerful for an electric, the equivalent of 2HP. It’s called a Torqeedo made in Germany. However, after reading a few guide books they suggested much stronger motors for battling the strong winds and currents in the Bahamas. This made us a little nervous about getting in the dinghy and being washed away from the mother-ship.

We anchored about 300 feet from shore, pumped up the dinghy, assembled the motor, and brought our trusty little dinghy anchor in case we could not control the drift. At first, we tied the dinghy to the boat while we tried to go up-wind. It was not a problem at all, the motor was definitely strong enough. The kids and Roxane joined me in our newly named dinghy, the “Diamond Shuttle”. I steered directly into the wind and then over to the island, we used the same route back to Black Diamond, if we were over powered by the wind, we would at least be pushed back to the mother ship. There were no problems, we have since used the Diamond Shuttle a few times, and it works well.

The island was amazing, with beautiful white sand. The kids enjoyed hunting for shells, and whenever Alexander found one with an animal inside it was an extra treat for him. He found one with a little crab-type creature in it, complete with a little crab claw. Thomas is not to fond of animals and persuaded Alexander to leave this one on the island. We walked all over and explored the island. On the windward side of the island, we could still see the large seas breaking on the rocks. We hoped that by the next morning it would be calmer so we could leave to Nassau. We made our way back to Black Diamond before dark, to settle in for the night.

I radioed the two boats we met earlier, Latitudes and Bahama Bob, to find that they safely made it to Marsh Harbour. They arrived just before sunset, and the winds had settled down to about 10 knots, and the opening was not facing the open Atlantic. They thanked us for the advice, and we both signed off for the night.

Scary exit of a cut the the Atlantic Ocean.

The next morning at about 6AM the wind was blowing about 10 knots, perfect, so we set out as soon as possible. We made it to the North Bar Channel Cut. It looked better than the day before, but still scary, 12 foot swells, but at least they were not breaking or surfing. However, the opening was only 200 feet wide, and was hard to judge where the opening was as the rocks were awash and under the large swells. If we miss judged it would have been disastrous. We were debating if we should try it or not, when I noticed a range marker on the chart. Range markers, are two lines of sight on the shore, if you line them up in your vision, like sights on a gun, you will have a straight line passage that marks the safest route. Roxane was very scared so I gave her a job. Her job was to line up the marks which were behind us. She instructed me to steer a little to port or a little to starboard, etc. I tried my best to helm straight out the cut. Black Diamond climbed the 12 foot seas, some of them close together, and the hull slammed the water as it dropped hard a few times. The children thought it was all great fun, as they got butterflies in their stomachs. Many times when Roxane and I are a little nervous or stressed, the kids just sit in the salon watching a movie, as if they were at home in the living room. None of this seemed to bother them at all, probably because both of them have spent most of their lives on boats. The good news is that we made it outside the cut in a few minutes, and all went perfectly fine.

On the outside, the wind was 10-15 knots, and 3 to 6 foot seas, a walk in the park. The sun was shining making it a beautiful 80 nautical mile sail to Nassau. (Due to the fact we did not get to “Hole in the wall the night before, today we had to cover more ground.) As we sailed we trolled two fishing lines off the back of the boat. To our surprise we noticed that we had caught something. Roxane helped me hold the rod as I reeled in this monster for approximately ten minutes. My arm started to feel like spaghetti because at the time we were sailing 8 knots, which made reeling in a fish extra challenging. I let the sails out, steered closer to the wind, and even put the motor in reverse. This is what the sport fishermen call backing down on a fish. Not sure anyone has ever tried it in a sailboat? Finally, the fish was in – we caught a Barracuda about the length of my arm. We had to throw it back because larger Barracudas are known to cause ciguatera poisoning. We continued sailing for a total of 11 to 12 hours and arrived in Nassau harbour that evening. We anchored the boat just outside of the Atlantis Resort and Marina because we did not want to pay $160 just to sleep the night at the marina.

In my final comments, I don't want to be insensitive to the family at all. I know Hind Sight is 20/20. After days at sea and sever sea sickness, most of us would have done the same, including me. You just want to get into shore as quickly as possible.

My next comments are to serve as advice only for future would be cruisers...

After seeing the Bahamas Cut first hand during the day, your best bet is to stay off the lee shore, and as far offshore in any storm, especially at night. My advice would have been to sail with the waves and winds further south to Nassau. You would arrive by morning, in day light, to large cruise ship terminal. I only know this, because that is exactly where we were heading when we exited this cut.

For more stories and pics of the Bahamas my blog is at Blogging aboard Black Diamond!

Ed Radonic from Blogging Aboard Black Diamond.
A very good read. Thank you
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Old 04-12-2010, 19:50   #244
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Thank you Radonic for posting your experience and blog link. In the picture where you refer to the waves, at first I thought the tops of the waves were actually the clouds in the sky...Wow! That cut just sounds by description in words and appears in pictures as just insane.

Great blog! Love the picture of your sons fast asleep...makes me wish I was young enough to be that carefree again!
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:28   #245
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All is speculation on what happened to cause them to wreck, but I now have
(and if I can figure out how to get 41M up somewhere, in mininum 2.5 to as
much as 4M pix, I'll give a link) pix of the boat as it was being prepared
for pulling across the beach to transport to Marsh Harbour and then to the
states.

There are large plywood hot patched sections in the turn of the bilge (about
the same area we experienced our damage in during our wreck, but on both
sides) above the steel (based on observable rust) keel, which has been
removed and is on the beach with nuts attached to the bolts but no hull
material present, with a small chunk taken out of the leading edge, but very
little other observable damage, other than some paint removal along the flat
bulb (not a wing, but not a true bulb). No sign of the rudder, which is
suggestive (note this purely speculative) of a loss (which would explain
their track veering from SSW to due west).

It appears not to have rolled on anything hard (wheels, davits, engine on
bracket on pushpit all intact, unbent) and all the scarring is either below
or near the waterline. However, there's a suggestion of a dismasting via a
starboard roll, due to the furler being bent severely to port, no
cable/sail, along with the pulpit which is pushed over, or perhaps a shroud
gave way - but the angle of the pulpit bends suggests the entire mast went
over. Further evidence includes the port jackline being up over the rail
midships, and the absence of a mast (but the boom is lashed to the cabin
top) or any rigging visible anywhere.

The lack of any mast debris suggests (speculation, again) that they
successfully cut it away. The hull appears in very good condition, patched
areas excepted, and the fact that it made it to the beach on that night
suggests it didn't sink, or it would have been rolled through the reefs in
the surf.

Of course, I have no real knowledge of what happened, but my SPECULATION is
that

1 diversion due to seasickness and tiredness (known)
2 dismasting somewhere along the way - causing loss of SSB comms, likely
also VHF - apparently successfully removed. Perhaps that exercise was
when the two crew were washed over (also known) and recovered (no
doubt tethered, or they'd have been gone for sure)
3 heading toward Lynyard/down the outside of the Abacos, at some point
they turned due west - rudder loss, therefore being carried by the wind
and sea?
4 hitting the reef, being holed, they decide to get in the life raft after
epirbing (known) and perhaps maydaying (unknown)
5 boat didn't sink (lack of topsides damage) and was eventually washed up on
the beach - reminding me of my protocol of stepping UP into the liferaft -
if the water's not over the countertops, I don't even want to THINK of
leaving the boat

A real tragedy...

L8R

Skip, in Georgetown, after a rollicking, >6 knot average passage
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:24   #246
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Well that reads a little harsh. Just a little.
What I really want to say is that internet forums have never progressed beyond being a medium for cliques, self-validation, and one-up-manship.
And now I've seen it true even with the death of someone who's family and friends are watching. Justify it how you will.
My apologies to the family....

Laura’s loss is devastating to her family, her friends and the boating community in general. However, We also need to try to learn from that loss. We learn more from mistakes than from successes.

I don’t think that posters have been second guessing what happened, but, rather trying to learn.

Maje
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Old 05-12-2010, 07:33   #247
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I sailed in the 1500 this year for the first time. We heard about this tragedy while we were still at sea on the way to Tortola. It cast a terrible pall over us all, even as we were experiencing warm weather and much milder conditions, the worst of it behind us at that point. I believe something which no one seems to be mentioning may have played a crucial part in Laura's tragic loss. According to an article I read, she had lost the use of her right arm as a result of a motorcycle accident when she was a teenager. Despite this, and greatly to her credit, had become quite an accomplished sailor. Although it is hard to overestimate the difficulties encountered by the Captain and crew of Rule 62 in this horrendous event, Laura's lack of strength in two arms may have made the difference when attempting to re-enter the life raft after the reported capsizing of the life raft after it was deployed and they managed to get inside. It was reported as having thrown all four back into that maelstrom in the night. Perhaps the information I have gleaned is incorrect or incomplete, however it would appear to be quite likely, that had she not already lost the use of that arm, perhaps she might have been able to pull herself back to relatively safety. I wish I had been there to be able to help her. We all feel for her loss. I hope that it might be forever learned from this tragedy, that seasickness is easily treatable through timely use of proper available medication, and that sailors risk of the loss of their boat and lives if and when they ever attempt to enter an unknown harbor at night, especially under adverse sea states. To have attempted that entrance in those perilous conditions, with the reefs and surge, is a decision that cannot be contemplated as reasonable under the circumstances. In hindsight, it is perhaps too easy to say that they needed to, they should have, and indeed they well could have simply continued on to their original destination. I daresay, had they done so, instead of giving into fear and nkt going forward, Laura would still be among us, and instead we now all deeply mourn her loss of life in this tragedy for all concerned.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:51   #248
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Thank you for your first-hand report on the condition of Rule 62, Skip. While your look at the vessel as it currently awaits transport back to the States is, perhaps, somewhat limited, I think it's as thorough as we're ever likely to get - so thank you for taking the time to check it over and take some pictures (which we all look forward to seeing).

I don't know if you're a trained accident investigator, but your analysis rings true to my mind. All cruisers should thank you for making the effort and reporting what you observed.

TaoJones
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:35   #249
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoJones View Post
Thank you for your first-hand report on the condition of Rule 62, Skip. While your look at the vessel as it currently awaits transport back to the States is, perhaps, somewhat limited, I think it's as thorough as we're ever likely to get - so thank you for taking the time to check it over and take some pictures (which we all look forward to seeing).

I don't know if you're a trained accident investigator, but your analysis rings true to my mind. All cruisers should thank you for making the effort and reporting what you observed.

TaoJones
My pleasure. However, I can't take credit for the pix, which were provided by another cruiser recently from Abaco, third-hand. I just looked at them (huge pix so one could zoom to any interesting area and get great detail.

If I'd taken the pix, no doubt there would have been a hundred, much smaller, and I'd have put them up in my gallery seen in my sig line :{)) However, these are so huge, there's not much that's missing from view other than a trip topsides or below.

Anyone got an FTP site I could use? If so, I'll get them up and post the link. Mail me directly at my name, all one word, at gmail...

L8R

Skip, pleased to have not only walked away from our wreck but fixed it and continued this amazing lifestyle
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Old 05-12-2010, 15:42   #250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipgundlach View Post
All is speculation on what happened to cause them to wreck, but I now have
(and if I can figure out how to get 41M up somewhere, in mininum 2.5 to as
much as 4M pix, I'll give a link) pix of the boat as it was being prepared
for pulling across the beach to transport to Marsh Harbour and then to the
states.
Sorry, forgot to say:

If you have a FTP site I can use, mail my name, all one word, at gmail...

L8R

Skip, in Georgetown, after a rollicking, >6 knot average passage
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Old 06-12-2010, 20:34   #251
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Thanks to Michael, on another forum, for hosting an FTP site for the pix.

Go to Index of /FlyingPig and click on the image numbers to download them, and have a look at Rule 62 before it was DRAGGED across the island (very short distance) before being readied for transport for repair...

L8R

Skip
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Old 07-12-2010, 01:19   #252
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You must be the people that block traffic at a car wreck.
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:47   #253
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenny chaos View Post
You must be the people that block traffic at a car wreck.
After 4 weeks, and 250 posts on the subject, you manage this?

I believe you'll find that there is concern for the presumed dead, concern for how it may have happened, objective lessons being learned, AND when some actual hard evidence is present, an attempt to understand how we might find ourselves in the same place.

That three people and the boat survived the conditions out there is actually pretty good, as you'd know if you'd seen what was happening at the time. If you didn't, you could look in my log postings where, the day AFTER, when conditions were subsiding, I got a few pictures - and put links to THOSE, too, in my log posting...

L8R

Skip, happy OUR wreck was on FLAT rock, not really nasty coral outcroppings
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:56   #254
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Kenny, if you knew what cruising is like you'd understand why sailors are very interested in learning all they can from mishaps and how to prevent them and when they happen how to minimize damage and salvage the vessel. There is no AAA out there, only your fellow cruisers and mariners. As for Rule 62 it looks like a lot of work will be needed. Wonder if it's worth it. Might have been more reasonable to strip it.
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:31   #255
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Skip, Just to help with your reconstructed time line. Rule 62 checked in with the 1500 fleet at the 1900hrs that evening, their sequence being more like 1930hrs. Any loss of comms/dismasting occurred a very short period of time before their loss of control near the cut.
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