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Old 30-08-2012, 17:05   #136
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
According to the ME these guys did not drown, pounded to death by the surf I guess? Geez, what a way to go.

Anyone know the sea conditions at the time of the accident?
watertemp around 55 degrees, if that, rocks , and some surf at the island. i dnt remember anyone saying surf was up...
but cold water means 15 minutes until judgement is affected and hypothermia sets in .
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Old 30-08-2012, 17:37   #137
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

I was on the incident investigation panel.

I just wanted to clarify a few things (these are my thoughts not necessarily the official panel conclusions):

1. It's an important tactical decision in this race whether to go inside or outside the islands. In previous races the skipper of Aegean set a waypoint a mile or so in front of the islands to signal they needed to make a decision which way to go. And they used waypoint alarms.

Normally it is good practice to offset waypoints away from hazards so you will not run into the hazard if you over run the waypoint a little. However, in this particular race, the tactic of putting a waypoint just in front of the island is reasonable to allow you to decide which side to go with the minimum distance wasted. But if so you sure want to be paying attention when you arrive at that waypoint.

2. In previous races they did run radar but did not use a guard zone alarm because there were so many targets (race boats) it would just be going off all the time. However if they had set a small guard zone (say 1nm) it would still have given them time to react and would not have had too many 'false alarms', at least a few hours after the start as the competitors were spread out.

3. In previous races there were always at least 2 on watch at night, never did they leave only one on watch. The skipper usually went to sleep for an hour during the night motoring period.

4. The weather was calm (5kts of breeze) calm seas but a long ocean swell that was breaking on the island. It was clear with good visibility but dark with the moon just set.

Assuming they did these things as they had in previous races, then you have to conclude that at least a couple people on watch were for some reason not paying attention to a known hazard and that they did not hear or respond to the waypoint alarm. Unfortunately the human body likes to sleep at 1:30am and you really need to exercise discipline to stay alert then. There are historic procedures that have been developed to help crew stay alert - like regularly making log entries and plotting positions and setting timers to do every 10 minute horizon and radar/plotter scans, etc.

The autopsy reports found no indication of CO poisoning and no alcohol. My personal conclusion is that they were complacent after doing 6 of these races and just fell asleep.

4. Some of the crew were alive and alert after the impact as someone pushed the SPOT SOS button approximately 7 minutes after the impact. Unfortunately this SPOT SOS message did not get communicated to the authorities and no search was launched until the next day when other vessels found the debris field. A DSC may day would have been much more effective (with all the racing boats near by) but it may be that their mast fell down quite quickly on impact. An EPIRB would also have been more effective (USCG san diego would have launched assets within 30 minutes with a gpirb signal) but they did not have an eprib.

5. I believe the natural human inclination in this situation would be to try to swim toward land but in this case there was no safety that way only rocks and a cliff. They might have survived if they had tried to swim out away from land but at night they could probably not see that. Water temps were 62F. They died of blunt trauma, bashed on the rocks by the swell (3 died directly from blunt trauma and one drown due to traumatic injuries).

6. None of the bodies were wearing pfd's. When you abandon ship you should really don a pfd.

Bottom line . . . we all make mistakes, unfortunately the outcome was truly severe in this case. I am still surprised that all died in this incident. It is an intense reminder of the basics of seamanship - keeping a real watch at 1:30am, navigating to avoid hazards even if you miss a waypoint, and properly making mayday/abandoning ship.
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Old 30-08-2012, 19:15   #138
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

only one thing left out , estarzinger--the ocean temp---55 degrees is not conducive to swimming very far. hypothermia would have killed these folks way long time before drowning would. i think swimming would have been moot point, as soon after the entry into this cold water, hypothermia begins --is very very cold. even a pfd would not have saved them.

excellent report, thankyou.
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Old 30-08-2012, 19:31   #139
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

Zee,

I agree survival in the water was a long shot.

However, I did actually mention that the water temp was 62F (according to the NOAA). If they had made an DSC mayday or Gpirb they would have had assets there within 45 - 60 minutes (According to USCG San Diego). If they had been wearing pdf's AND they had successfully swum out of the cove, might have survived that long. But I completely agree with you that's is a lot of IF's. Better to have the disciplined to keep a proper watch at 1:30am.

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only one thing left out , estarzinger--the ocean temp---55 degrees is not conducive to swimming very far. hypothermia would have killed these folks way long time before drowning would. i think swimming would have been moot point, as soon after the entry into this cold water, hypothermia begins --is very very cold. even a pfd would not have saved them.

excellent report, thankyou.
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Old 30-08-2012, 20:17   #140
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

Estarzinger, thanks for posting.

Like so many boating accidents, this one appears to have been a series of bad decisions and was totally avoidable. Such an unnecessary loss. And, what an unpleasant way to go.

Also, a good example of why SPOT is a cool little toy, but no substitute for real emergency electronics like an EPIRB.
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Old 31-08-2012, 06:31   #141
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

Evans, thank you for all that excellent information.

Regarding the SPOT SOS -- I'm appalled that it was not transmitted to the Coast Guard. In the investigation, did you get any details as to why this happened? Was someone napping at the GEOS Emergency Response Center?
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Old 31-08-2012, 08:28   #142
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

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Evans, thank you for all that excellent information.

Regarding the SPOT SOS -- I'm appalled that it was not transmitted to the Coast Guard. In the investigation, did you get any details as to why this happened? Was someone napping at the GEOS Emergency Response Center?
I have talked with both the folks at SPOT and at GEOS.

The specific SOS message was received by GEOS without a lat/long (those fields in the message were empty - the SPOT apparently did not have a good gps signal, or enough time for a fix, when it was activated). GEOS's 'official response protocol', at the time, when that happens (an SOS without location data) was to call the emergency contact but not the USCG. They called the emergency contact and left 2 voice mails (pretty much one right after the other at 1:30am PT) and then dropped the case and did not follow up further because the SOS signal stopped (when the SPOT sank).

GEOS did not go look at the SPOT track to see if they could get a position from it, which they could have done if they had tried. Apparently in 2009 they had a 'privacy issue' (and lawyers involved) when they looked at a SPOT track for location data and stopped doing it (which is silly, when you push an SOS button your privacy goes out the window). But after this incident they have started including it in their protocol again.

The folks at SPOT were appalled by the (lack) of action. They felt that GEOS should have looked at the SPOT track, and should have worked harder (than two voice mails) to make contact with the emergency contact.

The plain fact is that SPOT is an excellent device for tracking. It is not such a good solution for maydays (compared to DSC or Gpirbs), but is of course better than nothing. There are several of these 'commercial response services'. We were playing with an 'In Reach' yesterday, which uses the iridium satellites to do what SPOT does but on a truly global basis, with higher message reliability. An interesting device, and again excellent for world wide pole to pole tracking, but not your first choice for emergency signalling.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:03   #143
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

Thanks for posting about this, Evans. Do you think there's any chance that the SPOT distress message was somehow triggered by tumbling in the surf and rocks instead of being activated by a person? It seems odd that it would not include a position seeing that the unit had been transmitting accurate position data every ten minutes right up to what looks like nearly the moment of impact. Also odd that it didn't keep transmitting distress messages if a man had his hands on it.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:25   #144
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

spot has automatic tracking..one must engage the emergency action manually....
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Old 04-09-2012, 09:30   #145
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

All I can say is the school I went to taught me that watch standing ment being awake!! maybe things have changed?? but then ya can't do anything asleep but dream! maybe things like this would not happen if folks stayed awake?? just my 2 cents !
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:11   #146
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

I doubt they decided it was okay to all go to sleep. Probably the watch dozed off.

I think whenever you're on watch and feeling even the slightest bit of sleepiness, it's good to have an egg timer or a 10-minute timer set on your wristwatch. Set it, reset it, reset it . . . doze off? wake up, slap yourself hard, and reset it . . .
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:21   #147
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

Just sing ! it's impossible to fall asleep as your singing !(even if you sound as bad as I do LOL) All kidding aside it do work !!
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:04   #148
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

It's impossible for anyone to fall asleep if I'm singing -- but there's a good chance the rest of the crew would throw me overboard.
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Old 04-09-2012, 19:25   #149
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

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Just sing ! it's impossible to fall asleep as your singing !(even if you sound as bad as I do LOL) All kidding aside it do work !!

...actually Bob, I imagine no one would sleep with your singing...
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:35   #150
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Re: Sad News Again Off Mexico

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spot has automatic tracking..one must engage the emergency action manually....
Right, but I think it's possible that the Distress Alert could be sent, at least once, by vigorous pounding on the Spot. I know, for instance, that the USCG SAR command in Miami keeps a list of discarded EPIRBs that still occasionally fire off when pushed around by a bulldozer in a landfill.
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