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Old 11-02-2014, 09:56   #31
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

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Originally Posted by S/V_Surya View Post
I always ponder what would I have done. Go home, or sail with a trusted experienced skipper. Common sense says do not go on the trip, but the captain says it is safe. I think I would have gone on the trip. Scary to think about.....
Isn't that life in general...betting on the wrong horse?

Lots of other tall ship captains though the master of Bounty a buffoon.

If you are starry eyed at anything...you may have to pay the piper. Look at all the starry eyed young fools that have joined the military in a rush to get "into the action"...then after 15 minutes on the beach they are puking, becoming men and wishing mankind was more intelligent.

No...sailing with that guy had to have been for the uninformed (true 99% of the population might think the guy was good...but never ask your butcher what captain you should sail with, just which steak looks better)...too many red flags along the way.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:02   #32
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

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Lol you need a quick lesson in law. The insurance company isnt sued. The company that owned the boat, the estate of the captain, maybe the dockyard, maybe the Coast Guard, all could be joined in a suit. But not an insurance company, even though the damages would be paid out, in actuality, by the insurance company. And costs would be factored in so it doesnt matter how high they go.

I dont know why you doubt they had insurance. A prudent owner would never let a ship for sale for $4 million head into a storm without insurance. Plus it would need full insurance to be a dockside attraction not just liability.

By the way, the reason why i would join the USCG into the case is there is legislation in the US saying the coast guard can force a ship not to leave port, turn a ship around, and to force it to abandon. A good lawyer will cover all bases so he makes sure he gets the fullest amount of money for his clients.
I didn't mean to imply or for you to infer that I was saying sue the insurer. Just that the suit would be based on the insurance and ultimately the insurer would be involved from a legal standpoint in the defense since it's their money at risk. As to what a prudent owner would do, first you're making a huge leap to even say this boat had a prudent owner. Clearly it didn't. But as to insurance, probably not available on this boat, if available it would have been for far less than $4 million as that may be a show amount but not the value of the actual boat, and it probably would have been prohibitive in cost to a non-profit. So, I remain doubting seriously that the boat itself was insured. Furthermore, even had it been, to intentionally head to a hurricane would have probably invalidated the policy.

There is not going to be a big payday out of this. Probably a settlement by an insurer with the family of the deceased girl and small amounts for the others as the other factor is that each of them willingly undertook the voyage aware of at least some of the dangers.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:25   #33
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

There is a military attitude that made it into boating and that is to always follow the Captain. Well in this case the captain was clearly an egotistical bumbling idiot who had disregard for human life. Now then what about those who blindly followed in the sense of adventure?

Well, while I hold the captain nearly completely responsible for all that happened, I think others need to be looked at too. The owner of the boat should have said "no, do not go." It's simple. With our boats if either the captains or the owner says no, then the answer is no. It must be total agreement. Second the crew. Especially the first mate and those more experienced. Do not let anyone put your life at risk. Learn to say no. Having seen this and others we put in our crew manual a section that states clearly that if you are uncomfortable with anything ordered and feel it puts you at risk of personal harm then don't make the voyage. No one has the right to risk your life. I long ago faced similar in orders for employees when it snowed or iced. Yes, the office is open but no one can tell you whether or not to drive in the conditions. You are responsible for your safety and if you feel unsafe then don't drive. Now, I know many will disagree with this and say it's undermining the captain. But that's not like failing to do what the captain orders when on sea. This is making your own decision as to what risk you're willing to take.

Furthermore, some of the crew should have stood up. Is that mutiny? Perhaps, but what boat could that be more fitting on. They should have launched the liferafts and abandoned sooner. They definitely should have called the coast guard sooner. Sorry, I don't blindly follow anyone and had I been first mate, I would have called against the orders of the captain. He had already shown himself to not be worthy of trust.

I say this also for all crew. Know your captain before and during. There are a lot of captains out there drinking on the job or drinking heavily at night and in no condition to do their jobs. To a lesser extent those doing drugs. Don't accept this. Your life is in the hands of these people. Do not take jobs on their boats and if their behavior is extreme and documentable easily with unquestionable facts, then report them. The majority of boat captains are great. We respect and love ours. But there are still some out there who are dangerous. And dangerous not just to themselves but to the rest of us on the water.

Safety on the water is the responsibility of all of us. Too often we look the other way. In this situation, I think the Captain had a bit of a suicide martyr state of mind of challenging the sea and that ultimately being how he would go out, even if he didn't intend this to be the time. But the others injured and especially the girl killed. If I'd been the owner, or I'd seen the vessel in the shipyard, or I'd been another member of the crew, I'd feel horrible second guessing myself and thinking what I might have done to stop it.

The actions of the Captain were criminal. The compliance and acceptance by others from owner to shipyard to crew were unfortunate and unwise.
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Old 11-02-2014, 11:44   #34
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
Things were a lot simpler in the days where the Captain's word was law.

It wouldn't have done anything to prevent this tragedy, but it would surely make it simple to allocate responsibility now.

Now there's legal precedent for the USCG to pull rank on the captain of a US vessel, and order them to abandon. What next?

The way things are heading in the US, everyone is responsible, which is functionally indistinguishable from nobody being responsible.

And the rule of law, it seems to me, is increasingly subsumed by the rule of lawyers.

Crappy outcomes like this will always be on the cards, but if we continue behaving as though "we" can prevent them, and should have done so, I'm thinking we are more likely to make the overall future picture worse rather than better.

And it seems to me this is particularly so at sea, where we are so far from having converged on 'single best practice' in almost every respect of operation

There are a great many different philosophical bases for voyaging, which can each be perfectly valid.

But forcing people to conform to aspects of an incompatible philosophy is, I think, just asking for trouble.




Well said, Andrew. You're not the only voice in the wilderness . . . but we are certainly nearing extinction.
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Old 11-02-2014, 12:17   #35
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

old article: Life and Death on the Bounty
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Old 11-02-2014, 12:29   #36
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

If preferring the rule of law to the rule of lawyers is to be a 'nostalgic', then I'm happy to be made that way.

But people who actually know me have labelled me an iconoclast as often as a nostalgic.

Labels are simple, whereas (many if not most) people are complicated.
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Old 11-02-2014, 12:42   #37
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

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Andrew, I understand your point, but we cannot disregard the fact that some tragedies can be prevented and it is imperative that investigations be conducted in order to ascertain the facts and to make findings and recommendations in order to prevent (or at least reduce the risk of) similar tragedies in the future. Do you also believe that airplane crashes should not be investigated?
I'm not sure you do understand my point, Southern Star. Nowhere did I say, nor do I think, that there should not have been an investigation.

In my ideal world the investigation would be thorough and focussed and implacable. It would detail and dissect the shortcomings and (in this case) lay them at the door of the captain.

The disapproval of society would be squarely directed at the captain.

This thread would have no rambling dissertations into minutiae of law and the responsibility or exposure of insurers and governing boards

... and future captains would be encouraged to shoulder their responsibilities and not be provided with a plethora of potential co-defendants as a smokescreen for their rehabilitation (posthumous or otherwise).
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Old 11-02-2014, 13:08   #38
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

Andrew, very well said.
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Old 11-02-2014, 13:30   #39
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

I think that if the attitudes and seamanship of the 18th and 19th centuries were combined with the engineering and navigational and scientific advances of the subsequent centuries we would have an even better safety record than we do.

In the case of the original Bounty, the story would have ended a lot more happily if the crew had remained loyal to their captain. Management by committee did not work particularly well for the mutineers, whereas the loyal crew were exceptionally well served by their captain in their subsequent (and considerable) challenges.

This does not prove anything by itself, but I think it supports the proposition that is fallacious to blame the poor safety record of that era on the command structures.

It does not logically follow that because remaining loyal to the captain sometimes does not pay, then our only course of action is to set up alternative, better, command and/or responsibility structures.

I would prefer that we look for better captains.

When the **** hits the fan offshore, the insurers, lawyers, owners, governors, and assorted www experts and dilettantes, might as well be on Mars for all the help they'll be.
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Old 11-02-2014, 13:58   #40
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

I wonder if planked wooden ships (above yacht size) are simply incompatible with modern viable crewing levels and the affordability of labour-intensive maintenance?

Apart from anything else, planked sailing ships are elaborate devices for squeezing out and ejecting their caulking. This is greatly assisted by the 'spanner' leverage of the masts, when wind and wave join forces.

The planking acts like a stack of cards, which can easily be deformed into a parallelogram when viewed from the side.

Sailors since biblical times have known that the relaxation which results when the load is temporarily removed is a recipe for sprung (or do I mean "started"?) seams, and rigged up diagonal frapping (both of the rig and of the hull) with anchor cables and hawsers in heavy going, but shipwrights were highly resistant to new ideas, like built-in diagonal bracing of the hull frames.

The first warship of any size to incorporate this radical innovation, a heavy frigate, was outstandingly stiff and sound (USS Constitution ??? IIRC) but the iron bracing straps, let into rebates in the outboard (?) faces of the frames, were unaccountably left ashore after a major refit, few other shipbuilders emulated the idea, and things continued to go downhill for planked ships. Substituting modern compounds for traditional caulking is arguably a retrograde step; it doesn't address the failure mechanism, for a start.

But I digress: Traditionally built ships require huge manpower to keep the wet out in the long term. Whether at the graving dock, or at the pumps, or both.

And engine driven pumps, even in much better cases than the Bounty replica, are a dubious substitute. Their apparent contribution to safety is also an invitation to dance ever closer to the fire. Maybe planked sailing ships should be required to retrofit diagonal bracing?

(Small planked boats, like Wanderer III, can IMO get by with massively wide frames at ridiculously close spacing, but I would still not wish to own one - in fact I am not a fan of wood anywhere on a boat which does not belong to someone else than me)
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Old 12-02-2014, 02:35   #41
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

Seems like she fell through a gap in legislation - and ime those gaps are never there by accident......likely the main benefit of the lack of rules is for superyachts, owned by the folks who write many of the other laws for own commercial benefit.

Whilst obviously not a passenger vessel she was clearly operating commercially, even if not for profit.......and imo any vessel that has paid crew has a higher duty of care than for non paying guests....and human nature being what it is that needs to be backed up by legislation (on vessel condition and equipment - albeit less than with fare paying passengers onboard) otherwise we get the current scenario of crew being expendable - as it was in the good olde days.

Imo the skipper was an idiot (and so were the crew, albeit for different reasons) - but he didnt do anything legally wrong.
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:39   #42
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

This is an excellent report by the NTSB. The sinking illustrates humanity's twin tragic flaws: we like ourselves just a bit too much, and we take shortcuts that lead to evidence-free decision making.

The captain was an idiot, notwithstanding his experience and qualifications. The fact that he had not gotten into serious trouble in his fifteen-year tenure sailing Bounty was random chance; his decision making was bereft of sense or sanity, a ticking time-bomb if you like, and things had only come out well for him because his decisions had not happened to be tested. Along came a test, finally, and he was found wanting.

Certainly the captain had been making poor decisions all along. The report cites no change in his behaviour or circumstances and there is historical evidence of his profound foolishness: "We chase hurricanes". Nothing changed in his behaviour, so far as a we can determine.

The shortcut that we took was to allow his qualifications and experience to stand in for any kind of meaningful evaluation of his capacity. In a fair world, anyone hearing the captain of a ship speak with bravado about the sea, and particularly hurricanes, would reasonably doubt his capacity for any task. There is ample historical evidence that the sea, and particularly the sea in bad weather, has the capacity to destroy any ship we have built so far (see the loss of the Darbyshire, for starters). Any member of the vessel organization or of the crew should reasonably have responded to the captain's bravado by either removing the captain, or removing themselves.

That did not happen because we think we are better than we are. We put his bravado down to good marketing (without bothering to check if it truly represented his opinion--turns out it did!) and we look at his qualifications and experience and dismiss our concerns. Even worse, we invoke such concepts as "respect" and "confidence" to allay our fears in the face of reasonable objections to the contrary. By joining a cult of personality, we subjugate our reasoning to irrelevant factors. Does he look the way we expect a captain to look? Do we like him? Do we trust him? Is he a man? These are the questions we ask ourselves, perhaps subconsciously, and our affirmative answers explain why we put to sea with him against all reason.

By aggrandizing the captain, we aggrandize ourselves. We think, "He's good enough to keep us safe, so we must be great, we humans, to do such amazing things despite that fact that we are sailing shorthanded into a named storm in an old, rotten, wooden boat with an inexperienced crew, untested pumps and no margin of safety."

This is the ethos that infects all our affairs.

There can be no question that there are many other sea captains and pilots out there making the same kind of poor decisions. Should we trust them? Of course not. So why do we do it? Because we share the twin delusions that qualifications are meaningful and that past experience is a good predictor of future performance. It may be so in a mechanistic universe, but we do not live in such a universe: we live in a chaotic universe. When the autopilot kicks out over the ITCZ and you have to fly the plane manually, you are, at best, as good as your last check ride and the last time you did this particular thing in the simulator. The letters after your name and that fact that you have flown safely for many years have absolutely no relevance if you have not encountered this particular situation during your training or past experience.

Whether, in the moment, a captain turns out to be a Sullenberger or a Walbridge depends not upon what we think of them, nor their qualifications and experience, nor any hopeful but meaningless criterion we choose as a stand-in for actual testing, but upon the particular preparation, training, measurement and reason of the individual. Even then, tragedy will be the result from time to time, because a chaotic universe is inherently unpredictable, but without those things the proportion of tragedy will certainly be much higher.

The force multiplier of technology gives us all the capacity to be dangerous. A tendency take shortcuts and to be optimistic without reason is our birthright. We are therefore, all of us, dangerous idiots

The only way to avoid being dangerous idiots is to realize, a priori, what we are, and to take reasonable steps to ameliorate the condition.
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Old 12-02-2014, 08:05   #43
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

From what I understand 2 of the key factors that led the crew to go with him into a hurricane, were he was very likeable and most of the crew had no prior tall ship experience.

This captain for most of the crew was the all knowing, likeable, caring, center of their tall ship world. He knew what was best, he knew all the tricks, and he praised their hard work. They liked and trusted him because they had no other experience to judge him off of. Whether that is their fault or his is another argument.

The newest member who was the only other person to die texted her mother saying something to the effect of.... if the worse happens then just know that I died doing something I loved.

The problems with that statement are compounded.

First for anybody to willingly go risk their life for an adventure that is 100% optional is unfathomable to me. We all take risks but when you have the option to not go into a hurricane and stay safe you don't go. (getting caught by one is another story)

Second for a captain to have been able to influence someone to feel that way about any boat or any adventure goes to show the mentality these people had towards him and sailing. Which I partially say is his fault for not instilling at least some fear of the sea.

Her statement and the willingness of the crew to go into a hurricane in a old wooden boat shows me (and I know others may argue this) that the Captain had the same type of personality characteristics that you would find in a cult leader. (no I am not saying they were all a cult). What I am saying is he had an uncanny ability to get people to like, respect, and trust him when they absolutely should not have. Just like cult leaders do.

It's all very sad but in the end the blame goes both ways. Mostly it is all on the captain for not making the correct decisions and being complacent due to his "experience". The rest of the blame albeit much less goes to the crew for believing everything that was put in front of them and not questioning anything or verifying the captains competency or knowledge.
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Old 12-02-2014, 09:14   #44
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

This has more to do with the issues surrounding "tall ships" and volunteer crews then anything 19 or 18th century.

Its a sad fact that the skills acquired over generations to sail these vessels, has been effectively lost, none of todays captains come from a "unbroken" line. The line was broken effectively by the 2nd world war.

Todays we have vessels designed to be crewed by expert experienced seamen, in effect being crewed by amateurs, often with far less experience in actually handling a vessel, then ,any leisure yacht skippers. Often they are dreamers, wanderers and end up doing some thing for the romance.

Thats a very dangerous situation, crews don't have proper "on the job experience", often there is an over reliance on the captain, IN previous generations, there would have been experienced sailing master, mates and various 2nd in command, that provided the captain with an invaluable 2nd opinion and in the privacy of his cabin , no doubt, a forceful one.

Today, we have crews on tall ships that you wouldn't let crew a yacht. Ive seen then, often they sign on for a trip or two, many acquire the title "watch leader", and yet have almost zero understanding of the dynamics of sailing, weather and the like.

That tends to leave the captain as the sole repository of experience, and that can often be poor experience. Hence the mistakes that dog the sail training industry and tall ships.


And before someone flames me, I am not commenting on the bounty specifically, merely generalising on the issues.

Read " tall ships down" for an illuminating read into this subject.

dave
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Old 12-02-2014, 11:15   #45
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Re: Bounty sinking official report!

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This has more to do with the issues surrounding "tall ships" and volunteer crews then anything 19 or 18th century.

Its a sad fact that the skills acquired over generations to sail these vessels, has been effectively lost, none of todays captains come from a "unbroken" line. The line was broken effectively by the 2nd world war.

Todays we have vessels designed to be crewed by expert experienced seamen, in effect being crewed by amateurs, often with far less experience in actually handling a vessel, then ,any leisure yacht skippers. Often they are dreamers, wanderers and end up doing some thing for the romance.

Thats a very dangerous situation, crews don't have proper "on the job experience", often there is an over reliance on the captain, IN previous generations, there would have been experienced sailing master, mates and various 2nd in command, that provided the captain with an invaluable 2nd opinion and in the privacy of his cabin , no doubt, a forceful one.

Today, we have crews on tall ships that you wouldn't let crew a yacht. Ive seen then, often they sign on for a trip or two, many acquire the title "watch leader", and yet have almost zero understanding of the dynamics of sailing, weather and the like.

That tends to leave the captain as the sole repository of experience, and that can often be poor experience. Hence the mistakes that dog the sail training industry and tall ships.


And before someone flames me, I am not commenting on the bounty specifically, merely generalising on the issues.

Read " tall ships down" for an illuminating read into this subject.

dave
While I mostly agree with you...the military backed ships...and I don't know of any other than the USCG Eagle...but that one probably has the right mix of crew, captain and oversight to remain in the realistic lines of "safe".....
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