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Old 30-10-2008, 12:16   #16
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To explain the effects of the wave period, batting a ping pong 44 feet is only a little bit less than half the wave period (in time.)

According to the CG reports, the wave height was 40-50 at the time and location. So, every 4-6 seconds the boat will rise and fall that distance, plus the complete rolling motion, plus the effects of the wind which change between trough and crest. This kind of combination of motions will feel very much like being the beans shaken inside a rattle, with everything inside breaking loose and becoming projectiles.

The motion would be so bad it would likely be impossible to tell if you were sinking or not, because the water won't really stay in the bilge long enough for you see if it's rising or falling.

I've never been in motion quite this bad, though close when my haze grey skipper was racing a typhoon. On that occasion our metal desks broke the bolts holding them to the deck and were doing a fine job of trying to break through the bulkheads. A fork lift I was responsible for broke 3 of 8 chains, snapped the other five fittings, and went merrily off through the solid metal stanchions and overboard. It was an expensive night for Uncle Sam, but it was not as bad as the night Freefall was facing.


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Old 30-10-2008, 12:30   #17
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Where ever they were it must have been much worse then buoy 44004 of the Jersey coast. Word is the boat is afloat. Sounds like the accident happened when they tried to evacuate. Very sad.
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Old 30-10-2008, 12:33   #18
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Here is 44008 further north.





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Old 30-10-2008, 12:39   #19
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Aaah, now it becomes a bit clearer. Thanks for those details, Amgine, and thanks for the buoy data, Joli, which give a sense of what it was like elsewhere that night.







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Old 30-10-2008, 13:43   #20
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In addtion, to what Jolie posted is that when a gale force wind hits the Gulf Stream, it literally stands the waves up. It's a well documented phenomena. You are suddenly in waves that are no longer gentle rollers and become so steep as to be difficult to explain. You will find it difficult, if not impossible to keep the boat heading into 50 knot winds and up real steep 40 or 50 foot breaking seas. There will be little choice as you can't take waves like that beam on, so although I'm speculating, I can imagine the boat being forced to run with the storm. At that point the boat is still in real trouble as pitch polling is a real possibility. Unfortunately, it's not a Disney ride that you can get off and hour after hour of hammering brings fatigue. We all know what happens when a crew gets cold, wet and tired.

As to the weather window? If I had to hazzard a guess, these folks were probably returning to the States from The BVI and could not avoid the storm. The safest course is always to get out of the Gulf Stream by the fastest way possible when one of these Noreasters hit. If they were on the Western edge...they almost made it.

I'd like to express condolances to the friends and loved ones of Mr. Rubright.
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Old 30-10-2008, 14:15   #21
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Age kinda fits..........

"66 year old Philip Rubright is a serial OSTAR offender, this being his third entry. He came third in class in the 1996 race in his 44ft Shamwari, taking 22 days 13 hrs. It was, however, events during the storm-bound 2000 race that have left the Michican sailor with a feeling of 'unfinished business' in the North Atlantic. Almost halfway across his trusty custom specified Frers 44 was knocked down and he was thrown from one side of the cabin to the other fracturing four ribs and dislocating his knee on impact. Philip encased his chest with a cut-down plastic water container bound with parcel tape but after consulting US doctors via satellite phone decided that he had no option but to call for rescue.


When help came in the shape of a diverted container ship he was instructed to leap into the water and was hauled onboard still trussed in his plastic water barrel. His beloved yacht was reported some months later 'with only a few scratches' in the safe keeping of an Irish trawlerman but when Philip went to negotiate he found the boat to be a virtual wreck and the ransom exorbitant.
After that experience, in our sixties, most of us would be happy to just recount the tale but Philip Rubright got on the phone to the boatbuilders and ordered another boat 'same again please'."

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Old 30-10-2008, 15:52   #22
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Cool link David...slow but cool
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Old 30-10-2008, 15:56   #23
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Several posters on Sailing Anarchy were familiar with the boat and/or the crew.

The reports there are that the boat was rolled through a 360 and lost their mast in the rollover. Rubright was apparently injured in the roll-over, which is probably why he was the first that they attempted to evacuate.

Link: 44 ft. Sailboat Sinks off NJ - Sailing Anarchy Forums
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Old 31-10-2008, 11:36   #24
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Yeah, they were running with the storm and got pooped and rolled by a monster wave. The guy was very experienced with several solo Atlantic crossings. This could have happened to any of us.

What is mind boggling is the rescue driver's injury. He was timing waves for his dive and miss counted. Instead of a 10' jump it was a 60' jump.

Monster waves for sure.
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Old 31-10-2008, 12:05   #25
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Reminds me of Fastnet, when, IIRC, most of the fatalities were the result of abandoning ship in very bad sea conditions.
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Old 31-10-2008, 15:00   #26
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I cant imagine being in 50 footers on a 44 foot saiboat. Ive been in 50-60 on a 230 foot CGC in the Berring sea and that was hell by itself. Its a true shame about Rubright. I will surely stay in a protected area when a Nor Easter blows through.
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Old 31-10-2008, 15:29   #27
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Sad to read (form the anarchy link provided) that all passangers were alive when the first coast guard helicopter arrived:
"A rescue swimmer entered the water and attempted to place Rubright into a rescue basket, but a large wave damaged the basket and hoist cable.

The helicopter crew then deployed a life raft and Rubright was placed in it. Another large wave hit the raft, injuring the rescue swimmer and tossing Rubright from the raft, the Coast Guard said. The injured swimmer was unable to recover Rubright.

The helicopter crew deployed an emergency recovery device to hoist the rescue swimmer from the water, called for assistance and flew to Atlantic City to seek treatment for him"

Makes me concerned about the safety of being in a life raft or being in a rescue operation.

How could this have been avoided?
By using a clip on harnesses that clips onto of the life raft? The poor guy that died was tossed from the raft onto the water, and then the helicopter left, he ultimately perishing.
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Old 31-10-2008, 15:35   #28
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Originally Posted by andrejsv View Post
How could this have been avoided?
By using a clip on harnesses that clips onto of the life raft? The poor guy that died was tossed from the raft onto the water, and then the helicopter left, he ultimately perishing.

It can't. You aren't going to be able to lower a basket and get by the rigging without becoming entangled.

Rubright was not only an experienced off shore sailer, he'd been through this exact drill before. The only way he would have left the boat is if he were ordered to leave her in order to grab the basket. Incidently, the raft would have been a big beach ball in those conditions.

The sea just didn't cooperate.
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Old 31-10-2008, 15:35   #29
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Very sad that a life was lost. I really admire those guys in the choppers that jump into the raging ocean to try and save people. They do an amazing job.
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Old 01-11-2008, 08:43   #30
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Hello group,
I've never posted anything on this site before but, I couldn't resist on this topic because my plans for the near future may put me, in spite of all my best efforts, in a situation similar that of the ill fated Freefall and so I have been, naturally, thinking about what I would do in that situation. I hope this is the right place for this.

First, I'd like to say that I that these CG guys define heroism and though they have no choice but to attempt rescues at sea when an EPIRB is set off, they know that and sign up anyway. Guys like that are rare indeed and enough cannot be said in their praise. On the other hand when I watch the 3 min CG video on Google or YouTube it seems to me that despite the dismasting, the 45ft waves, 50kt winds and what must have seemed like hell in the cabin of that boat, it does NOT look like it was actually sinking. In fact, to me, it looks like it is holding pretty well. Swan does make a good boat. In addition, I cannot find any official report (stress official) that the boat actually sank. Please, someone correct me if I am wrong.

Here is my question. A moral one I think. Though I am sure that they thought the end of the world was upon them, at what point do do you say to yourself; "Conditions are so bad that I think I am going to die, is it time to ask others to risk their lives by coming out in these conditions to save me even though I know they might die trying"?

To me, this is a moral issue that, as I said, I've been mulling over and it is not my intent to criticize the crew of Freefall or the CG. I wasn't there and have, like everyone else, only secondhand info on this particular incident. I only ask because I was wondering what thoughts, if any, you all had on this issue. Incidentally, I am afraid I would debate the question with myself until it is too late to call anyone. I don't know.

Any thoughts? Does anyone know if she sunk?
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