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Old 12-06-2010, 19:45   #241
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It's great and wonderful news that Abby is safe. However; the way the media and family makes it sound was that it was like an end of the world scenario. As many of us know the conditions described are actually very near the baseline anywhere on the open seas. Even off the benign coast of California, winter storms can post 75Kn winds and 45 foot breaking waves. Remembering almost any boat can survive any height of wave as long as it's not breaking one has to wonder what really went wrong.
A knock down is a terrible thing to experience for the first time; it does feel like the end of the world as everything not bolted down on your boat becomes an out of control missile. However, this is not an unknown condition to sailors and one must be prepared in advance for catastrophic failure, including a mast take down. The father fails in wanting to disclose the conditions leading up to the demasting and consequential loss of communications indicates that the boat wasn't completely prepared. Where was the "ditch bag"? As we know this is an essential piece of equipment that carries (DRY) spare batteries, food, water, navigation AND communication equipment. A spare and fully charged iridium (uses same satellites as EPERP) phone would have reestablished communications almost right away. There and many unanswered issues regarding the preparedness of this boat and I think the parents should come clean on the events leading up to and after the loss of the mast.
I actually saw this boat at Windward Boat Yard in Marina Del Rey 2 weeks before it left. They had modified the keel beyond the original specs, adding substantial weight to the bulb and length to the fin that would increased the inertial mass to the mast as weather increased.
As an experienced cruiser I would have never left the dock to go to Catalina in this boat more less do the great circle. It was an insufficient boat with insufficient crew with insufficient support with insufficient experience. No wind vane, just auto pilot...no wonder they left it adrift.
These issues aren't about curbing the human spirit of exploring our limits, regardless of our age, because this is the Human factor, but if we're going to face these perilous conditions we must be prepared so as we don't have to put others at risk to save us for our short comings.
I don't know how you can say that. The boat was built specifically for racing around the world solo. I know its been around at least once. Alan Paris skippered it in the 2002 Around Alone.
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:04   #242
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The Sunderlands insist that the boat cannot be steered by a wind vane - see Abby's web site. However, I hadn't heard about the keel modifications. I recall that in one of her blogs Abby said the keel was 10 feet. Don't know if that's accurate or how it compares to the as-built specs.
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:04   #243
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I actually did a whois on the domain name of the fundraising site, it is registered anonymously through GoDaddy. In contrast her main site (abbysunderland.com) is not registered anonymously, it has full name and address. I do hope that the fundraiser site really is their own and not a case of some Nigerian prince offering "to raise money" for them that they have naively endorsed.

Re. her "ditch bag", she certainly had one, but as to what was in it.....?

I think this near-tragedy points up one of the issues that has been raised endlessly re. solo circumnavigators: the "unassisted" bit. You know the criticism: these sailors are not unassisted as they have a shore team to talk them through any problem re. routing or repairs (or even where the cheese is — yes I'm looking at you, Jessica Watson!)

So what happens when the sailor really finds themself alone like Abby did? Can they cope? Although I doubt she could have jury rigged the boat, I can't help feeling that there were probably things she might have usefully done... e.g rig up an antenna for her phone (catch 22!) or cut the rigging off and deploy her drogue (I'm trusting that she had one). But maybe without her support line she was unable to think of these things. It's perilous to get too reliant on this hi tech wizardry.
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:06   #244
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She was in the wrong boat at the wrong place in the wrong time of year and frankly just is too young with too little maturity and experience to be doing that trip..not surprising she lost her rig and more surprising she survived it. The parents are idiots.
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:11   #245
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She was in the wrong boat at the wrong place in the wrong time of year and frankly just is too young with too little maturity and experience to be doing that trip..not surprising she lost her rig and more surprising she survived it. The parents are idiots.
Why? See my post above.
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:21   #246
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Apples and oranges

The numbers don't add up for me. It's nearly impossible to gauge the risk relation between sailing certain waters (the Indian Ocean in winter) and driving. Yes, driving can be dangerous. A fatality occurs aprox. every 10M miles. Accidents occur, of course, far more frequently. In accident prone Houston I saw and indication that every 7.5 years (say 75,000 miles) there is an accident. How does this compare with Abby's success rate? We don't have a lot to go on to make that comparison.

She got in trouble in a storm that wasn't all that bad if what is being wrtten is correct. Certainly nothing to what has knocked some of the (more famous?) adventurers over.

I don't know. People suggest she's had a lot of experience but she's only 16. How much experience can she have had? What is the quality of her experience?

We live in a crazy world. Would she have wanted to makethis trip in the same fashion if the eyes of the internet weren't upon her? If no sponsor now or later was willing to give money for the notoriety of associating with her?

Like so many things in this over-the-top age we live in, balance doesn't seem to enter into the equation.

Pity.
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:35   #247
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She got in trouble in a storm that wasn't all that bad if what is being wrtten is correct. Certainly nothing to what has knocked some of the (more famous?) adventurers over.
Now Hummingway, how can you possibly judge that, sitting in your computer chair? You have no idea how big or how steep that wave was that knocked her over. You don't know anything about what happened to her out there. This thread has more wind than what was blowing out in the Southern Ocean.
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:39   #248
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The numbers don't add up for me. It's nearly impossible to gauge the risk relation between sailing certain waters (the Indian Ocean in winter) and driving.
Like so many things in this over-the-top age we live in, balance doesn't seem to enter into the equation.

Pity.
Not saying I am disagreeing with you either and this is why I used the phrase from economics “everything else being equal”. More to the point, I am trying to avoid the pedantic mudslinging and am concerned about how all the adverse media attention will affect yachting in general.

For example, this idiot set out from my home port the other day in a barely 20’ boat with no safety or communications equipment. When he was becalmed and suffered engine failure he sparked a major search. I was out the same day and was approached by the water police during the search.

When there was a write-up in the local paper I had a neighbour lecturing me about the fools behaviour. It was hard to explain to this non-sea person that I have lived my life around the ocean and had all the safety gear plus a bit extra onboard when I was safely cruising around on the same day. Then how do I explain to these people the genuine problems I had when I need a tow a week later? As I am saying, these moral panics can make all our lives that bit more difficult?
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Old 12-06-2010, 20:52   #249
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Now Hummingway, how can you possibly judge that, sitting in your computer chair? You have no idea how big or how steep that wave was that knocked her over. You don't know anything about what happened to her out there. This thread has more wind than what was blowing out in the Southern Ocean.
That's why I prefaced it with "if you can believe what has been written". 35 knot winds and 25 foot seas according to one news report I read. My armchair is a sailboat and I've slept through 50 knots this winter. Ok, I didn't sleep very well and there weren't 25 foot seas. I have sailed for pleasure in 30 knots. I'm not looking forward to the pleasure of a 25 foot wave breaking over my boat and in fact will do what I can to avoid those type of circumstances (which is really my point).

I'm not suggesting she isn't a wonderful sailor and a brave girl, just but they get 50 foot seas and 80 knots there as a matter of course and she was probably somewhere she shouldn't have been. Is the only way to work that out to try it? Like David Old Jersey I think setting your testicles on fire is a poor way to decide if it's a good idea and at 16 I don't think you should need to.
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Old 12-06-2010, 21:01   #250
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Knockdowns and capsizes are not automatically a measure of seamanship. Sometimes they are simply the inevitable result of overwhelming conditions. Those conditions can be sustained or freak and transient. We do not yet have Abby's full account of the dismasting. It is the only first hand account we will ever get. Much as I enjoy ridiculing the shameless exploitation practiced by her handlers, Abby has earned my respect. I may be naive, but I trust her to tell it straight. Until then, I will and must reserve judgment.
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Old 12-06-2010, 21:34   #251
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It does seem to be an emotional issue for many of us. I've got a son and two step sons - 18 to 28. Crazy ideas R us. When Jackass "happened" I could just imagine all sorts of youngsters going, "Wow that looks like a fun way to make wads of cash." Now I can imagine the boys going, "Hey, Greg's got a sailboat (they don't call me Hummingway ) I can make the webpage and you can sail the boat. How about setting the record for most beer consumed while circumnavigating. That would be awsome dude Ok, one of you will have to distract him with a bottle of whiskey."

Now that I think about it, I better give up drinking
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Old 12-06-2010, 21:53   #252
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I don't know how you can say that. The boat was built specifically for racing around the world solo. I know its been around at least once. Alan Paris skippered it in the 2002 Around Alone.
Two questions arise from the last statement:

1) What season was it was it designed to go around in?

2) Was the boat designed to have a fatigue life that would let it go around twice?

You would have to have the designer answer these questions.
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Old 12-06-2010, 21:58   #253
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Doodles; I saw this boat in the yard. It was modified. You screw with the engineering, suffer the consequences. This boat is different than Paris's. They didn't just change the name from "Velocity".
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Old 12-06-2010, 22:01   #254
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She was in the wrong boat at the wrong place in the wrong time of year and frankly just is too young with too little maturity and experience to be doing that trip..not surprising she lost her rig and more surprising she survived it. The parents are idiots.
enough said.
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Old 12-06-2010, 22:05   #255
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2) Was the boat designed to have a fatigue life that would let it go around twice?
In November-January the boat was refit by a small army of experts. All the standing rigging was replaced, but I don't recall them doing anything with the mast. Jessica Watson's refit included a custom mast and rigging which proved to be unbreakable through 7 knockdowns including a complete capsize. I never heard of a boat being designed for seasons - circumnavigating in such a boat necessarily involves more than two - I believe Abby's boat previously did it in 196 days.
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