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Old 09-09-2010, 11:29   #1
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Fate of Mid-Ocean, Abandoned Boats

My first California to Hawaii cruise was on the Statendam in 2003. A bit more than halfway to Hawaii we took on three sailors who abandoned their 35-to-40-foot fiberglass sloop. We lost a day making the 600-mile detour. The boat's sails were down but the boat didn't appear to be in any distress. Never heard the whole story other than vague rumors of crew illness. ... Anyway, we proceeded on to Hawaii and left behind the drifting sailboat. Wonder whatever happened to the craft.

Edit/supplement: Just found this article briefly mentioning the rescue. It says the sailboat was sinking. However, when I observed it the condition wasn't apparent.

http://books.google.com/books?id=S5Q...rescue&f=false
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:57   #2
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Some boats sink, some drift around until they are driven ashore and break up and very few are found and towed, sailed into port. There was a 35' or so boat that was brought into Hilo a few years back after drifting for more than a year. Boat was in extremely poor cosmetic condition looking lke it was a before picture in a before and after ad for an industrial strength mildew remover. Sails and running rigging were toast. Don't know about the engine. It sold in an as is condition really cheap, IIRC. It seems that most of the boat that are eventually rcovered have been visited by someone in their at sea wanderings and stripped and/or vandalized.

There are usually more than one boat a year abandoned between Hawaii and the Mainland, either coming or going, every year. Steering issues are a big reason for abandoning. Another is injury/severe sea conditions beyond the ability of the crew to endure. These boats are a candidate for recovery. Some are actually sinking and obviously will not reach port.
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Old 11-09-2010, 20:28   #3
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What ever happened to the 16 year old girl from California's boat? has anybody heard anything?
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Old 11-09-2010, 21:05   #4
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There is a book written about a Nonsuch 30 which was abandoned by a sailor whose "dream" of sailing across the Atlantic did not survive the first encounter with rough seas. He was picked up by a ship and the boat drifted across the ocean and ended up in Central or South America. Where the owner found it and had it refurbushed and it is still sailing today. The book is called WITHOUT RIVAL. I think the author was Peter Shelly. Some boats are tougher than the people who sail them.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:08   #5
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Wild Eyes

"Wild Eyes" was the Open 40 (Scot Jutson) sloop that would-be teen circumnavigator Abby Sunderland abandoned in June. The picture of the dismasted boat seems to have shown the companionway open. It is possible that the boat was left open, in which case compartmentation may not have been able to keep the boat afloat in rough conditions. Presumably, the emergency beacons would have failed within a week if they were not turned off when the boat was abandoned. If Wild Eyes was abandoned near longitude 75 E (far south of India and a few hundred miles from some small islands) and drifting east at 24 nm/day and were still afloat, it could now have been some distance south of southwestern Australia coast or perhaps nearing south of the Great Australian Bight. Since there seems not to have been news of any recovery, Wild Eyes may have succumbed to the Southern Ocean. Does anyone know more?
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:39   #6
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abandoning a boat offshore is a sad thing to do but i feel one MUST scuttle the boat to prevent other boats from hitting it at night...odds are slim that that would happen but i sure wouldn't want to be drifting along at night and whack into someone's abandonded boat...
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Old 13-09-2010, 14:02   #7
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The rescue accounts didn't say that Abby had scuttled the boat; perhaps that was beyond her ability in her circumstances. The boat was compartmented, but it seems likely she may have left the companionway open. Also, if she hadn't cut the dismasted rig away completely, its possible that the rig might have holed the boat in the next blow. So, even without scuttling, it's possible Wild Eyes was left in such a state as to have sunk eventually.
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Old 13-09-2010, 14:27   #8
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if she wasnt smart enough to cut away her failed rig, and she wasnt smart enough to close her abandoned boat, then she wasnt smart enough to scuttle the boat, that child was not prepared to do that sailing trip.

th e usual fate of abandoned boats is that of becoming property of salvors who actually have jobs salvaging abandoned boats, what ever happened to the vagabond 47 abandoned in atlantic last yr?/ what about the bavaria the family abandoned in atlantic as it sailed sweetly away on her jib alone?? these end up as property of a salvage operation. folks hoping to see their allegedly beloved home again best not abandon them.
as far as scuttling boats goes--is easier to see an unsunk not scuttled boat to avoid collision than it is to see a boat just under the surface--many boats remain just below the surface of the water so as to be found by air. i think i would rather find a floating one than a partially sunk one that can hole my boat with a mast or other protruberance without me being able to see where it is.
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Old 13-09-2010, 19:17   #9
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What I have heard on more than one occasion is that the insurers do not want to pay if they know you scuttled...

(True/False?)

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Old 13-09-2010, 21:17   #10
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I'm not sure that would be true. An unmanned boat is a liabllity that could easily run up on some pristine beach and spill a lot of diesel or be a hazard to navigation in other ways.

Wild Eyes was a custom built single handed ocean racer. The boat was supposedly unsinkable. It was built for open ocean racing and had collision bulkheads, a foam cored hull and lots of foamed in lockers. Since it was built for short handed sailng, sacrificed a lot of unneeded storage for flotation.
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Old 14-09-2010, 11:38   #11
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Wild Eyes was a custom built single handed ocean racer. The boat was supposedly unsinkable. It was built for open ocean racing and had collision bulkheads, a foam cored hull and lots of foamed in lockers. Since it was built for short handed sailng, sacrificed a lot of unneeded storage for flotation.
If so, why was it abandoned?

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Old 14-09-2010, 12:03   #12
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When we sailed across the Atlantic, there was a monohull boat that lost their rudder in the middle of the Atlantic, and no matter what they did, they could not achieve steerage. They abandoned the yacht.

Within the next month, the yacht completed the transatlantic voyage with no crew on board and ran aground on the windward side of Barbados where it was pounded to pieces in the surf.

In the Queen's birthday storm north of New Zealand years ago, several of the abandoned yachts were later recovered after long periods of time. One of the crews let out their anchor chain before abandoning the yacht. When the yacht approached land, the anchor hooked on the seabed and the yacht was recovered.

I favor scuttling the yacht if it is abandoned. But I have no idea how to scuttle an unsinkable catamaran like Exit Only. I think a navy ship would have to blow it up with explosives.
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Old 14-09-2010, 12:09   #13
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Probably the French trawler captain was not prepared for nor interested in towing a damaged sailboat a to the nearest anchorage.
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Old 14-09-2010, 12:39   #14
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If so, why was it abandoned?

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Unsinkable doesn't mean steerable or otherwise operable. Getting dropped off in the mid Atlantic on a surfboard, etc.
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Old 14-09-2010, 12:43   #15
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Sinking boats quickly can be surprisingly difficult. I had the unfortunate task of figuring out how to sink a bunch of small boats and rafts that were sailed by Cuban refugees. We'd rescue the people, but there were so many boats we couldn't track which ones we rescued and which still held refugees. So we started sinking boats after we got the people off. At the time, I was the weapons officer on a guided missile frigate, so it fell to me to figure out how to destroy these boats. 50 cal machine guns didn't work very well. Firing the ship's gun would be too dangerous to nearby survivors. So we used avgas and ignited it with signal flares. That became the standard method for all the rescue vessels in the area. At least the boats that stayed afloat were obviously charred. We ended up with over 800 refugees onboard (our crew was about 150), but a passing storm sank who knows how many boats and basically marked the end of most successful rescues. So the short answer is that Mother Nature is far more effective than the US Navy at sinking boats.

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