Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 15-10-2012, 22:13   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: New Mexico.
Posts: 14
Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Circa 1985 I was on a fleet oiler in the US Navy. We were conducting underway replenishment with an Aircraft Carrier at night in the middle of the Atlantic on an East bound crossing to the Mediterranean. We had flight operations going and were conducting vertical replenishment while we had numerous lines across and were simultaneously resupplying via those lines.

I am not sure how many folks on the forum have ever seen an underway replenishment of U.S. Navy ships, but it is a vulnerable maneuver between to ships at sea requiring the ships to be parallel within roughly 200 yards and underway at speeds of 8-10 knots. The ability to quickly disengage and conduct an emergency break away is practiced routinely and for good reason. This particular night while we had been un-repping for roughly 2 hours when the klaxons went off and the emergency break away was sounded.

I happened to be working this night as the “tower flower” on the aft end while flight operations were being conducted. Essentially, I was in running aircraft operations and coordinating activity on the flight deck of our supply ship. As I heard the breakaway being called I wondered why they would do this with so much cargo yet to be transferred. I had been used to the emergency breakaway drills occurring at the end of an underway replenishment not in the middle of one.

Things proceeded quickly and lines were dropped and brought back as the ships started to separate from each other. This was a dark night with little ambient light (no moon) and clouds above, but un-repping is done with ample flood lights illuminating the area of turbulent water between the ships as they separated. Suddenly I saw the cause of this un-planned maneuver. A sail boat was drifting between these two huge naval vessels. No mast light was illuminated and it was not apparent that anyone aboard this mono-hull sailboat was awake or topside. I have no idea what make or exactly what size this boat was but I would guess 30 something footer. I can say it looked pretty darned small with the aircraft carrier as a background. I have no idea if this crew ever knew how close to disaster they came, but I would think the chop between the ships would have woken them to see this spectacle from a vastly different perspective than I was witnessing it.

I have always speculated that this boat was single handed and some weary sailor nearly met his/her fate that night. It’s a big ocean but there are a lot of ships on it. To merrily drift between these two vessels in the middle of the Atlantic is a miracle. Any similar experiences the readers may have would be of interest to me.
__________________

__________________
Skagway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-10-2012, 22:32   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Fethiye Turkey
Boat: Lagoon 440
Posts: 3,163
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

What a ripper story!!!! A single hander friend in early eighties on a 40 foot sloop called FLORENCE RUTH was 65 miles out to sea from COFFS HARBOUR Nth coast NSW Australia.

He wanted a cup of tea surveyed the horizon and satisfied there were no boats in sight went below to brew his tea. Cup in hand he stepped up the companionway to be greeted by another similar size yacht on opposite tack.

He said he could have thrown a biscuit on their cockpit floor it was that close, he watched with binoculars and noted no-one came on deck...SO close!
__________________

__________________
"Political correctness is a creeping sickness that knows no boundaries"
Lagoon4us is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-10-2012, 22:38   #3
Registered User
 
svBeBe's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: from Houston, TX; currently in eastern Med during circumnavigation
Boat: Amel SM 53 - BeBe
Posts: 902
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Nothing like what you experienced, but in 2008 we were sailing from Bora Bora to Niue. 5 days out and had seen or heard another boat. Around 0200 one morning I was on watch and noticed a light that at first I thought was a low star, except something seemed odd about it. Soon I realized it was an anchor light. Yes, an anchor light on top of a mast.

I adjusted course to pass leaving that boat on our port side and hailed the vessel to let them know we were passing close by. Took 3 series of hails to awaken the captain on that sailboat. Seems he was heading to the same destination as we were but could not sail at that angle. We had out poles on both sides and were flying dual headsails, sailing directly downwind. He did not have that option with his rig. So he just turned on his anchor light and went to bed.

Had we not been keeping proper watch we would have sailed directly into his stern. That was the only boat we saw for 1100 NM and we encountered it in such a way that we would have collided if we had been as stupid as he was and had just gone to sleep.

BTW, we later met the owner of this boat in Niue. He was not a single-hander; his wife was also on the boat. No justifiable reason for them not to have kept proper watches during that passage.

Judy
__________________
svBeBe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-10-2012, 22:45   #4
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 6,175
Images: 3
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

There's a crazy story that the bumfuzzle's posted about some french yacht all up in their grill. Worth reading.

That carrier one sounds crazy as hell. I can't even imagine that from any prospective.
__________________
rebel heart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 05:24   #5
Senior Cruiser
 
Blue Stocking's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: St. Georges, Bda
Boat: Rhodes Reliant 41ft
Posts: 3,572
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Many years ago, a friend worked on an inter-island freighter in the lower Caribbean.
Pulled into port after a over-night run, to find remains of mast and rigging hooked in anchor.
Never did identify the boat.
__________________
I never did anything that didn't seem like a good idea at the time.
Blue Stocking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 07:09   #6
Senior Cruiser
 
skipmac's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: 29° 49.16’ N 82° 25.82’ W
Boat: Pearson 422
Posts: 7,445
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

I have had two close encounters with other sailboats at sea. First time was about 35 years ago, sailing from Jamaica to the Windward Passage. We were about 150 miles from Jamaica, middle of the night, overcast and very dark. I was on watch and saw a light area in the dark dead ahead. Could not tell what it was but I killed the autopilot and altered course just in time to miss a head on collision with a sailboat on a reciprocal course. No running lights and apparently no one on watch.

Second time was three years ago heading to FL from LI Sound. We had anchored overnight on the south side of Delaware Bay and left early for an outside passage to Norfolk and the ICW. Wind was on the nose so were motoring south on a course to stay about 5 miles off the coast. As we rounded the point headed out to sea I saw a sailboat exiting Indian River Inlet a few miles ahead of us, under sail, close hauled on the starboard tack. I watched as our courses gradually converged and after about 45 minutes it was obvious we were on a collision course. I altered course to pass just astern of the boat to see no one on watch, the cockpit empty. I don't think anyone ever knew we were there.

Of course we were the stand on vessel but still might have been a good idea for the other guy to keep an eye out. At the time we crossed paths I could see at least 6-7 large ships within a few miles of us running up and down the coast.
__________________
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
skipmac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 07:17   #7
Registered User
 
mbianka's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,111
Images: 1
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

It always amazes me how in the oceans with so much space there are so many collisions and close calls. The oiler/carrier story was fascinating by the way. Even Joshua Slocum in the 1800's mentioned hearing voices one night and when he poked his head out found his boat Spray drifting past another boat. I've just installed AIS transponder which should help with the BIG ships but, there are a lot of smaller fishing boats out there too to be weary of!
A couple of years ago I was a passenger on a freighter. I was sitting enjoying my usual afternoon beer on a side deck when I noticed an object dead ahead. I soon recognized it as a floating barrel. I went to the bridge and just mentioned it to the officer on watch. He nervously said where? I pointed it out that it was just ahead off of the port bow. He had never even seen it even though he was on watch and it was broad daylight in good weather. The barrel would of course not damaged the freighter but, it could have just as easily been a floating mine or a liferaft too!
__________________
Capt. Mike
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG
mbianka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 07:18   #8
Registered User
 
ReMetau's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Marathon, FL
Boat: Hans Christian 33
Posts: 546
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Of course we were the stand on vessel but still might have been a good idea for the other guy to keep an eye out. At the time we crossed paths I could see at least 6-7 large ships within a few miles of us running up and down the coast.
Wouldn't you have been the give way vessel since you were under power?
__________________
Don & Diana
s/v ReMetau - a Hans Christian 33
http://www.remetau.com
ReMetau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 07:38   #9
Registered User

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Toronto
Boat: Custom 41' Steel Pilothouse Cutter
Posts: 3,891
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

This would surprise me only if I hadn't seen an overlay of the common shipping lanes with that of the pilot charts.

I have been in an otherwise empty Lake Ontario in October and had very close daylight passes with other sailboats on autopilot who were not keeping a watch/making coffee/abusing themselves below.

They tend to get the airhorn as I duck their sterns at arm's length shouting "KEEP A WATCH, SKIPPER" or "STARBOARD, STEVIE WONDER!"

This is after I've made multiple calls on 16, naturally.

Just because it's a big stretch of water doesn't mean you get to ignore what might be on it.
__________________
Can't sleep? Read www.alchemy2009.blogspot.com for fast relief. Can't read? Avoid www.volumesofsalt.blogspot.com, because it's just personal reviews of sea books.
S/V Alchemy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 07:54   #10
Senior Cruiser
 
skipmac's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: 29° 49.16’ N 82° 25.82’ W
Boat: Pearson 422
Posts: 7,445
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReMetau View Post
Wouldn't you have been the give way vessel since you were under power?
Thanks for pointing that out. That's what I meant but made a mental typo. Intended to say that he (not we) was the stand on vessel so we were required to alter course. Even if we had been under sail he was on starboard tack.

Think I need another cup of coffee this am. Brain isn't quite awake it seems.
__________________
The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean.
skipmac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 07:57   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 398
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

On a recent trip off the coast of Georgia, my buddy was on watch. I cooked dinner and served it in the cockpit. It was a clear, sunny evening. We both sat with our backs to the cockpit coaming as we ate. I guess we got to talking about politics, our kids, or some other engrossing topic for what seemed like a few minutes. As I started to pick up the dishes to go below for the cleanup, we both happened to looked forward at the same time. We were barreling straight into an offshore oil well!

Fortunately, we still had time to turn. Neither of us had ever seen the thing before.
__________________
Tia Bu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 07:58   #12
Deep Water Deliveries
 
boatman61's Avatar

Community Sponsor
Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Portugal... W. Coast
Posts: 13,885
Images: 2
Send a message via Skype™ to boatman61
pirate Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
There's a crazy story that the bumfuzzle's posted about some french yacht all up in their grill. Worth reading.

That carrier one sounds crazy as hell. I can't even imagine that from any prospective.
Damn....Thought that was my story about how on day 47 of a non-stop solo trans-atlantic I was rammed and flew over a hot grill..... no clothes on to boot... but if it 'was' the bunfuzzle's experience as well... stay clear of the french... say no more...
__________________
"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." Dean Martin
"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about...." Oscar Wilde

boatman61 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 08:24   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Hudson Valley N.Y.
Boat: contessa 32
Posts: 750
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

I'm always surprised when after days of a boring empty ocean, a casual scan in some random direction reveals some huge ship close aboard that wasn't there a a few seconds before. It seems that when one does not expect to see something ,it is much less likely to be perceived. The scare always makes me more vigilant ( for a while ).
__________________
mrohr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 09:01   #14
Registered User
 
Capt Phil's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Stateline NV
Boat: Prior boats: Transpac 49; DeFever 54
Posts: 2,189
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

These tales remind me of an unforgiveable lapse of watchkeeping and how fast it can happen. I was singlehanding from Sitka, AK down the west coast headed south and dozed off in the cockpit of my Ingrid 38 on a beautiful sunny day, unusual for the west coast of Vancouver Island. I was awoken by a low drumming in my ears and wondered what the strange noise was. Upon opening my eyes and looking over the cockpit combing, I saw a wall of grey steel going towards the sky just as the bow wave of a large freighter hit me and pushed me away from the hull. A scramble to swing away from the vessel ensued, re setting sails and trying to get my little ship under control.
It was a lesson I never forgot and ever since then I've taken watchkeeping as the most critical responsibility one has afloat. The fright still is with me 50 years later!
I was truly embarrassed and felt an idiot once the immediate terror left me but the lesson was branded into my brain forever! Phil
__________________
Capt Phil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2012, 09:13   #15
Registered User
 
svHyLyte's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Tampa Bay area, USA
Boat: Beneteau First 42
Posts: 2,560
Images: 25
Re: Middle of the Atlantic- Emergency Breakaway

When we lived in SoCal we frequently took our boat over to Two Harbors on Thursday evenings and returned Sunday afternoons. On the return from one such trip we overheard a woman hailing the Coast Guard on the VHF. When CG San Pedro responded it seemed the woman wanted to complain about the CG having put a "Piling" right in the middle of the Santa Barbara Channel. The CG radio operator patiently advised the woman that there was no pile at such a position but she complained that clearly there was as she was looking at it even as she spoke. "Is there a wake around it?" the CG asked. Yes she said, of course, because the current is so strong in the Channel. With that, another voice broke in--"Lady, you're looking at a Parascope!" "Well--Of all the nerve!" she responded...!?!

Only in La-La land we laughed.

FWIW...
__________________

__________________
"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
svHyLyte is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
emergency

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

RV & Travel Trailer Communities

Our RV & Travel Trailer sites encompasses virtually all types of Recreational Vehicles, from brand-specific to general RV communities.

» More about our RV Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 22:30.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Sailing News Delivered to your Email!

Stay up-to-date with the latest cruising news.

unsusbcribe at anytime with one click

Close [X]


ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.