Hmm ... Other prodigiously experienced sailors who didn't know they couldn't fall overboard include Rob James, Britain's answer to Tabarly (Tabarly was arguably a better sailor but I would rate James as a much better skipper), who drowned off Salcombe.
A few others culled at random:
Case 19 occurred aboard the 73 foot Maxi
ULDB "Meridian" off Cape Flattery on October 18, 1984. The boat was under charter
heading for California
. Aboard were a very experienced delivery skipper
and an inexperienced crew. Late at night the skipper
came on deck and slipped overboard. He was not wearing a harness or PFD. In the panic that ensued, the engine
was started and a line wound so tightly around the propeller
shaft that it disengaged the shaft from the coupling key way. The crew affixed a set of vice grips to the shaft to keep from losing it out the stern tube. The skipper was not recovered.
and this one:
The skipper was the only experienced sailor aboard. When the jib halyard
broke, he went forward to retrieve the jib
. He was wearing a type 1 PFD and a Forespar harness with a six foot tether. He was washed overboard in a large swell but managed to hang on to the lower starboard lifeline. He was still made fast with his harness safety
line which was connected to the mast
. He was too heavy for one crew member
. .... As the two crewmen pulled on his harness shoulder straps, the skipper lost his grip on the upper lifeline and slid out of the harness. He as able to grab the rail. ..... He tried to climb aboard several times on the ladder over the side with the help of the crew. .. but could not get good footing on the rungs. Finally, stating that he was getting weak, he let go, fell from the ladder, and the boat drifted away. At this point, one of the crew threw a line to him which he caught and they began to pull him in. However, another crew member
started the engine and commenced to back down, fouling the line in the propeller
. More lines and a life ring were thrown, which the skipper could not grasp. The boat drifted away and the crew lost sight of him. Two hours later the unconscious skipper was located and recovered from the water. He never regained consciousness.
an 87 foot Holland sloop
was on a voyage from the Canaries
yacht was motor
sailing at 10 knots on auto-pilot, with main, number one genoa
, and both engines (twin screw) assisting. Wind
was 9 knots, seas 5 feet. The yacht's professional skipper went forward of the shrouds and stood outside the genoa
sheet. The genoa sheet slacked on a roll, then fishailed and catapulted the skipper overboard.
in the 1992 Bermuda Race
. John Ahrens, skipper of the "Lively" went overboard from the foredeck while putting a sail through the hatch
. A wave caused him to lose balance and go over the leeward rail.
I could go on, but I think the point is that being experienced, and a skipper, are not indicative of inability to fall overboard.