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Old 10-12-2007, 16:55   #46
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Originally Posted by Rez View Post
He's done a first rate job of bringing his boat back to life.
When he was drifing he was exhausted and perhaps not thinking as well as usual. 2nd, his engine was down and he is not an engine guy.....he is an "engine guy" now)...... 3rd, the mainsail halyard was up the mast. Apparently there was not a spare halyard up there for a bosuns chair or such. And it seems he could not physically climb the mast. (if the damned stowable mast steps didn't rattle we'd all have them).
So what was he supossed to do?
His boat is disabled and he is exhausted.
Perhaps ask for help with the halyard and for the CG to hang around 10 hours while he slept.

From what everyone has said, the CG did not have that sort of option in mind.

But since that exact sort of help was on the way from a friend, and the CG knew it, I think they done him wrong with what they did do.

And think of it, climbing a mast is not a big thing, why didn't they get his main halyard down? They probably could have careened him a bit and done it on their deck. The whole thing smacks of a lack of comitment about truly helping a seaman in need.
Thanks for the kind thoughts but the CG nor anyone else was about to approach that (or any other) vessel for any other reason than to remove the occupant. I don't blame them for that. There was a very good chance of the vessel being severally damaged and someone being injured or killed from any ship-to-ship contact. That is a very dangerous proceedure and NEVER an option for "Assisting" another vessel.

The Northern Divinity's skipper did drop 5g of 30wt diesel oil, that he happend to have on board. He just dopped it in the water about 150' from the yacht then passed by, dropping a floating line that Walter was able to retrieve.

Walter drained the engine oil/water mixture out of his engine, refilled it with fresh oil and started the engine. He motored about 20 minutes and the engine filled with water again (3rd time). He had no idea how or why it was happenning. Although probably 75% of the people on this forum would immediately identify that as a broken engine oil cooler. Most of us would merely figure out a way to by-pass it (it doesn't really need it anyway in most circumstances).

Anyway, the skipper of the Northern Divinity turned his 900' ship around and picked Walter up after much coaxing from the USCG. I can't even imagine the financial sacrifice from the Northern Divinity and I really don't think that many ships would have even gotten involved. I would estimate that "rescue" cost that shipping company $100K in fuel and lost time.

Now, a year later, Walter is about 80% whole and has paid his dues. The only problem is, he is 5,000 miles away from his goal.

The upside is....many people have the oportunity to learn from his experience and realize how critical it is to know ALL of the systems on your vessel, especially your engine..All sailors should understand that conditions at sea ALWAYS change. There is no place in the world that weather stays the same all of the time. If there is no wind today, there will be sooner or later. Also, if the wind is too strong, you should have a means to keep your vessel in place, head to wind and seas (parachute sea anchor, which Walter did have).

BTW.....it should be noted that he still had a working jib and the USCG knew that. They also knew that he had a Parachute sea anchor on-board. They chose to put the fear of God in him by telling him that he may never see wind or another vessel again.

What I learned from this is, never assume that the USCG is always working in your best interest. That's really sad....
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Old 10-12-2007, 17:30   #47
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Explain this to me...

This is a very interesting thread!

But I have a question (I'm a newbie to sailing culture). Kanini said "Don't get me wrong, if someone finds a boat adrift at sea, they have rights to anything they find."

Why is this??? Does everyone feel this way? Is this an unwritten law of the sea: finders keepers, losers weepers?
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Old 10-12-2007, 19:54   #48
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It's called Salvage rights and dates back at least to British Admiralty Law.
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Old 10-12-2007, 19:56   #49
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Would you explain also, why the coast guard did not tell him he had a friend coming to help?

Fairly calm seas. Coast guard will drop a guy in to swim to a boat and get a harness on a person.

While there are a lot of things Walter shoulda, coulda done, I think we all spot those in the story. I just think what the Coast Guard did was flat dishonest. The only out I'd give them is that they may have recognized how exhausted he was - exhaustion can put a person in a state where they need to be rescued.
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Old 10-12-2007, 20:33   #50
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They have smaller boats stowed on their big ships.

I'm 68 and certainly know not to trust governments. But now I need to look at the Coast Guard in the same way and I have to admit I am finding this to be a real bummer!

Prior to this I just thought their drug searches were stupid, and was always friendly with CG. It is hard to look at them as a negative force.

I'm thinking how foolish I've been on several dozen trips back and forth to East Central and South America where I have some family - always glad for the Coast Guard's presense.
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Old 10-12-2007, 21:08   #51
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Would you explain also, why the coast guard did not tell him he had a friend coming to help?

I'm afraid that you'd have to ask the CG that question. Also, the CG may have seen that as compounding the problem rather than resolving it. They had no way of knowing my experience.
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Fairly calm seas. Coast guard will drop a guy in to swim to a boat and get a harness on a person.

Actually, the CG had nothing to do with this rescue other than to communicate by VHF radio to Walter from a fixed wing aircraft. IMHO, had the Northern Divinity not been there, the CG's communication may have been in a more encouraging vain. I don't believe that they would have mounted a rescue effort due to the fact that he was clearly not in imminent danger.
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While there are a lot of things Walter shoulda, coulda done, I think we all spot those in the story. I just think what the Coast Guard did was flat dishonest. The only out I'd give them is that they may have recognized how exhausted he was - exhaustion can put a person in a state where they need to be rescued.

This is a very valid point. As I pointed out before, I was not there and have little business critisizing their judgement. I just think that there is a big lesson to be learned here for a lot of newbies.
My answers are in red.
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Old 11-12-2008, 21:52   #52
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Just stumbled onto this thread and have read it all the way through without hearing anyone ask why he didn't use his other two sails to cross that 100 miles. If I am not mistaken, a Nauticat 33 is a ketch rig, which means that she still has ample sail area even without her main.
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Old 12-12-2008, 14:46   #53
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Kanani
Just stumbled onto this thread and have read it all the way through without hearing anyone ask why he didn't use his other two sails to cross that 100 miles. If I am not mistaken, a Nauticat 33 is a ketch rig, which means that she still has ample sail area even without her main.
One word...."Inexperience".

This is something that we have ALL suffered from at one point in our career. Just be thankful that we were not faced with the same scenario that Walter was faced with. Don't think for one moment that any of us may have done anything different from what he did.

Remember, he was single handing, he just left a port where all the cruisers do is sit around and talk about the nightmare scenarios of the Tuantepec storms that visit that area, he was becalmed for days with a forecasted storm coming his way, the Coast Guard was hovering over-head telling him that his only chance for survival was to get on this passing ship.

If anyone learns anything from Walter's experience, that's a good thing. If anyone thinks that they would have definitely made a different decision, that only tells me that you've never "Been there".


As a side note:

Walter lost his wife "Cristina" to cancer a few weeks ago. You might want to say a small prayer for him. He's going through a lot. He's staying with me now. Chaton De Foi is still in Hawaii and may be for sale soon. The yacht is in like new condition now. Everything has been replaced including the engine and sails.

Walter is saying that he may sail her back to California in the summer. If I didn't have to work, I'd go with him.
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Old 16-01-2009, 22:53   #54
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I was going to say, If it were me........but if it were me I would have had extra oil, known what was going on with the engine and had a spare sail. If nothing else, you can always hang onto the stern and kick with your feet.
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