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Old 03-12-2011, 16:07   #16
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Re: Sailing Accident

On the return (downwind leg) of a long-ago Lightship Race (San Francisco), the captain (my dad) ordered the chute up on his 28.5-foot Columbia Defender. The three crew (me -- foredeck guy, and two inexperienced sailors) said "no." The wind was strong, the waves steep, and crew were seasick. I poled out the working jib to go wing-and-wing, and we came in second place.

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Old 03-12-2011, 16:36   #17
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Re: Sailing Accident

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Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
That is a really good analysis of the accident. If you take out the Captain's screw-up, really the helmswoman was at fault and the person handling the mainsheet. It would be hard to imagine they had no clue the boat was going to gybe.
I find it hard to blame an inexperienced sailor for a mistake like that. The Captain should have postulated the possible difficulties. They don't say how far off the fishing boat was but to an inexperienced person at the helm it's going to look a lot closer then it is. The instinct to turn away can be very strong. In 25 knots it's going to happen awfully fast once the gybe starts. An indication of how panic affects people is that the person who took the helm immediately caused the boat to gybe again. Tragic to learn that lesson with a two month hospital stay.

The Captain blew it when he lost patience with the crew on the foredeck. He should have taken a few moments and been sure that the person taking the helm was comfortable and understood what was coming..
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Old 03-12-2011, 16:43   #18
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That is a really good analysis of the accident. If you take out the Captain's screw-up, really the helmswoman was at fault and the person handling the mainsheet. It would be hard to imagine they had no clue the boat was going to gybe.
It seemed to me the helmswoman gybed on purpose due to concerns about the fishing boat. Unfortunately the last person who should be surprised by a gybe is the person steering.

It is truly awful that she got hurt. Anyone who has sailed a while has been hit by the boom. Most of us learn this lesson on 20-24 footers and learn to stay the hell away from the boom. Its hard to explain but you learn to feel what the boat is doing without looking up.

I was two handed match racing on J24s a couple months back. Racing was tight short courses and I was trimming. It worked out that I would stand in the pit most of the time, where I could reach everything, my weight fairly forward and also easily could pop up on the rail. My head was down a lot doing my job.

In one prestart sequence I felt the wind angle changing on my face, felt the boat pivoting quickly, maybe saw a shadow and for only a nano-second ducked my head 3 inches. The skipper was maneuvering for position, had not called the gybe (he's a grerat helmsman) and after the boom crashed through grazing my few remaining hairs he said, "God damn, sorry. You must have eyes in back of your head!" - (PS - We won the start and actually won 5 of 6 races to carry the day so I forgave him - LOL)

You learn to be aware of a lot more than your job. I think like driving a car. In the beginning your focus is on driving. Ten years later
you are eating, texting and putting on make up while barreling down the freeway at 75 mph. OK I dont often put on make up but you get the gist.

When you step up to big boats there are lots of forces involved and the danger level goes up considerably. Even at that there will be injuries. Recently a guy on a TP52 wearing no shoes had a small trim line wrap around his toe in a gybe, it pulled all the flesh off his little toe down to bone. Ouch!

Thats one reason you learn to call the tacks and gybes clearly and loudly so everyone can hear. New helmsman seem "sheepish" about this. I dont care if you call, hard a lee, helm a lee or "tacking" the purpose is to let the crew know what is going on and help get everyones timing right.. Dont be shy! shout it out. With a lot of new crew my usual call are "ready to tack" and "tacking" and "ready to gybe" and "gybing" - it is not always intuitive to new crew whether its a gybe or tack coming up so "ready about" is too ambiguous. I also require my crew to reply "ready" and although I shouldn't have to I then check the genny winches are loaded properly. The most common error is leaving the handle in the low side winch or not putting it in the high side winch.

Dont get me wrong. I make tons of mistakes and am and I hope always will be intimitaded by sailing, especially boats over 36 feet. Once you get to rig sizes that can really hurt people, hurt the boat or overpower the boat quickly, it becomes a new and moree dangerous game.

I am sure the skipper feels bad but he clearly wasnt working within the capabilities of his crew. I only offerring my singular opinion about this to reinforce my learning - skipper stays at helm. Work within the capability of your crew even if it means losing a race, assignments must always be clear and when something goes wrong any decisions made will make it worse or make it better. Choose carefully.
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Old 03-12-2011, 17:06   #19
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Re: Sailing Accident

from the article: The injured woman was French, but spoke good English. She had held an RYA Competent Crew certificate since 2010, and had qualified as a Day Skipper in early 2011. At the start of the Myth of Malham race she had sailed 550 miles as crew.
550 miles is not much experience the skipper was wrong in judging her experience and skill. her lack of skill caused the accident.Her certification was useless. When you Jibe you sheet in if you accidently jibe you know you are on the edge and prepare.
Lack of experience and bad communication.
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Old 03-12-2011, 20:26   #20
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Re: Sailing Accident

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So, its a culmination of 3 mistakes, and he is lucky it didn't turn out worse. Do you think that a commercial endorsement on his yachtmaster's certificate would have prevented the accident??
I have only been in 1 yacht race (around the bay ) - as crew (passenger!), basically the skippers technique was to stay away from anyone who looked like they were keen - most of 'em .


The start was kinda exciting in a WTF is going on sort of way - the rest of the race was as uninteresting as I had expected, being near () back of the fleet may have had something to do with that .....but I still can't see the attraction of grinding a winch on someone else's boat.

I only mention the above to give folk an idea of my racing skills

But nonetheless I happily sit in judgement on the Skipper and Company involved :-

- An idiot led by morons.

(kinda reminds me of my day job )


Skipper - With that number of newbie racers onboard should not have been even close to pushing the boat / crew that hard - even I know they were never going to win IMO trying to impress crew (most of which probably wouldn't understand ) and his new bosses for future work (with a high finishing place).......short sighted stupidity, in 6 months they would not only likely have forgotten the name of that race, but also the Skipper.

Main hobby is probably shouting at people........


Company - The lack of real Management is telling - IMO more paperwork / procedures won't change that. It's simply down to the Directors to know:-

a) WTF they are meant to be doing
b) WTF is actually going on

Not to say that a "Risk based approach" should never be used - just you have to know when you are pouring petrol on your head and then smoking..........

They either didn't know the Skipper (including raced under him) or didn't care............it's not as if RYA qualifications / and or an impressive CV cover everything - for £18k I too would want that yacht out of the harbour.

IMO this case was not only an accident waiting to happen, but also shortsighted from a commercial basis. Folks willing to pay £3k to get cold and wet are hard to find.....need to add an enjoyable element to the experiance by keeping within there capabilities.

Be interesting to see what the RYA does........my bet is on warm words and SFA in action
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Old 03-12-2011, 20:52   #21
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Aint Armchairs Wonderful......................
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:15   #22
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Re: Sailing Accident

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Aint Armchairs Wonderful......................
I am far more comfortable with the 2nd half of my post
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:47   #23
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Re: Sailing Accident

In aviation, we have what we call a "Swiss Cheese" model for accident prevention. Each slice of swiss cheese has holes in it (through which an error can slip through). But if you layer enough slices, it is much harder for an error to slip through.

In other words, many seemingly small errors occurred in this event, none of which were egregious. But they added up to a tragic accident. When I sail, I use the same analogy for risk management. "What is the worst that can happen right now?" is a question I ask myself constantly. That is followed up with "What can I do to prevent that from happening?"

As captains, we are responsible for the safety of our crew. And we should always be looking for "slices of cheese" that we can put between us and an accident.
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Old 04-12-2011, 09:16   #24
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Re: Sailing Accident

Ex-Calif,
I disagree with you on one point: IMO, in open water, the skipper shouldn't stay at the helm. On such a large boat, he should be in the cockpit and manage the crew. If nobody other than him is able to steer safely with a spinnaker, then he shouldn't hoist a spinnaker.

When I am in charge of a yacht with trainees as crew, I try to have them sail the boat. I occasionally take the helm for difficult maneuvers (gybing in strong wind, docking with cross current...) but I want to be able to move in the boat. If I am at the helm, I can't move. Sometimes, yachts run aground because the skipper was at the helm and not checking the position.

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Old 04-12-2011, 09:35   #25
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Quote:
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Ex-Calif,
I disagree with you on one point: IMO, in open water, the skipper shouldn't stay at the helm. On such a large boat, he should be in the cockpit and manage the crew. If nobody other than him is able to steer safely with a spinnaker, then he shouldn't hoist a spinnaker.

When I am in charge of a yacht with trainees as crew, I try to have them sail the boat. I occasionally take the helm for difficult maneuvers (gybing in strong wind, docking with cross current...) but I want to be able to move in the boat. If I am at the helm, I can't move. Sometimes, yachts run aground because the skipper was at the helm and not checking the position.

Alain
Good point. There were supposedly 2 paid professionals on board. Both ended up on the foredeck at the time of accident.

The person at the helm had about 10 hours on the water and certainly fewer than 20. Imagine had this been in the states and another of the crew were hurt. i.e. I paid 5 grand to learn to race. The paid professional stuffed up the hoist, left the helm in 25 knot winds to a person with 10 hours on the water, who gybes the boat and breaks my neck... Then we find out he doesnt have a commercial cert! Can you spell gross negligence? I reckon the business would be outta business already...
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Old 04-12-2011, 09:44   #26
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Re: Sailing Accident

Was anyone trimming the main during this time? In any race that I have ever done, we always had experienced mainsail trimmers who could control the main. This is especially necessary when gybing.
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:02   #27
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Re: Sailing Accident

Here is the link to Hot Liquid Sailing webpage about their next Fastnet Campaign: Rolex Fastnet Campaign 2013
They are still in business...

What type of customers do they expect when they offer to loan foul weather clothing? When one is serious about sailing, one already has a good set of foulies.

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Old 04-12-2011, 10:04   #28
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Was anyone trimming the main during this time? In any race that I have ever done, we always had experienced mainsail trimmers who could control the main. This is especially necessary when gybing.
The report was silent about anyone tending the main, hence my inferential leap on where the 8 people on board may have been deployed. We know 4 people were eventually on the foredeck, one at helm leaving 3 people. I have to think there was a person on spin sheet and guy. That leaves one. Asleep (off duty) main or piano?
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:16   #29
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Re: Sailing Accident

In fact, the report says there were 10 people on board: the skipper, the mate and 8 paying crew. The mate went with 2 crew on the foredeck, then the skipper went too. The woman was at the helm.

This leaves 5 other people to man the 'chute halyard, sheet, guy, foreguy, topping lift and the mainsheet, provided everybody was able to operate after 3 hours sleep.

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Old 04-12-2011, 10:23   #30
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Re: Sailing Accident

Maybe it is just me, but I would never leave a mainsheet unattended when going downwind.

When cruising offshore I always use a preventer unless the boat has a boom brake. When racing, preventers are often not used as the crews have more experience and are more attentive and tuned in to the boat.. In this case, the preventer was rigged AFTER the accident.
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