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Old 13-08-2008, 06:09   #1
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Capsize / MOB challenge.

Time for a non navigational challenge:

What would your actions be if you were the skipper in the following sceanio:

Vessel: Blue water well found yacht (say 42 ft mono) with all the usual equipment necessary for safe passage making.

Crew: you and your best friend.

Location: Southern Ocean, about halfway between NZ and Cape Horn around S46.

Situation: You have been weathering a storm for some 18 hours, running under bare poles towing a series drogue, and the barometer is still dropping. At dusk, you decide to hove to (under trisail) as it is becoming more difficult to steer around the increasing number of breaking seas and you are concerned that neither of you can continue to steer throughout the night safely. Due to situation you are both wearing survial suits. However, before getting the vessel snugged down, you are rolled though 360 degrees.

When the boat returns upright, you are aware of the following:

Washboards are missing from main companionway.
Mast is dragging along side the hull.
One main cabin window is smashed (on the leeward side).
Down below, water is knee deep but apparently not increasing.
All the on board electronics are shot except for a sealed handheld GPS and handheld VHF.
Solar panels and wind generator are gone.
Batteries are underwater.
AND YOU BEST MATE IS MISSING. You find the broken end of his (her) safety harness attached to a strong point in the cockpit.

There is no known shipping within a 1000 nm.

Now you do what?
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Old 13-08-2008, 07:06   #2
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THROW CUSHIONS AND HORSESOE AND LIFE JACKET OVERBOARD and something that won't blow away too fast, i.e. floats deep in the water.
Shout for matey and visual scan, find a flare prefered or torch to advise matey where the boat is and scan again. Start engine in neutral (before batteries drain to sea water) and leave in neutral to avoid fouled prop, turn on all lights and the electric bilge pumps. Trail the longest rope to hand and add more lengths. (The boat is hunkered down slowly drifting downwind same as matey is). Throw out the drogues unless already stored below.
Assess inside for boat survival chances, trip the EPIRB, collect VHF and on deck try VHF while scanning again, flare again if available. Then attend to the boat with regular scan and flares/hails at max two minute intervals. Save two flares for later!
Likely first priority is the mast if it's hitting the hull though it's probably downwind and no immediate danger but can't get to matey if I do see him. Don't have washboards on a cat but it's all a bit difficult even though some freak wave rolled us right through three sixty. The window can wait, it's only splashing through, the pumps can cope if the engine keeps running and keeps the batteries alive. They should be alright, sealed batteries in a sealed box, dearer but thank heavens for caution and deep pockets. And thank heaven too for this list, glued behind the wheel behind all the standing orders pegged above and gone now and just ablove the watertight torch still in it's clips.
Breath. Think. What should I have done? What have I not done?
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Old 13-08-2008, 07:37   #3
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Take a quick look for the mate, and notice if the mast is in danger of puncturing the hull. If the hull is in danger then it is time to release the mast. I personally would let it drag from the bow to control the boat, and hopefully use it for a later jerry rig.

If I see my mate it is a decision if he is close enough. If he is capable of swimming. If his head is split open, and face down. All these things will be in the decision making of what is next. If the mate can't be helped. Then it's time to stablize the boat, and save yourself.

The mate is either gone, or aboard by now. Time to pump the boat, and assess what is usable of the rigging. Is the boom still there? Are any sails attached? Are there spare sails aboard? I would save the vhf for later. The goal is to make the boat sail again.

Obviously there are still charts, so the gps will get you to the Hoorn. I would save the vhf for closing in on the Hoorn. EPIRB? not a chance of using it unless I am sinking
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Old 13-08-2008, 07:44   #4
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Nice

OK, won't make many comments until any others chime in BUT "on board electronics shot" includes all things electrical like electric bilge pumps, alternators, regulators, chargers etc. Basicly anything connected through the electrical distribution system are shot.

I will allow the batteries are sealed batteries in a sealed box. Nice touch . After all, it is (was) a well found vessel. And perhaps I can allow that a direct connection is made to starter motor, to start engine WHEN YOU HAVE TIME and energy. I can't allow the batteries being charged up though.

I think some more could be done!
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Old 13-08-2008, 07:50   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagine2frolic View Post
Take a quick look for the mate, and notice if the mast is in danger of puncturing the hull. ........
If I see my mate it is a decision if he is close enough.......
Sorry, cant see mate as it was dusk when the decision was made to heave to under trisail.
Capize occurred before boat was snugged down suggesting the boat been turned into the weather, trisail hoisted, drogue probably retrieved before turning into the wind so all this took some time. Too dark to see mate.

Now what?
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Old 13-08-2008, 08:37   #6
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I agree with most of Eleven's comments, but would start with a danbuoy as the very first item. As the boat is equipped for the Southern Ocean, the danbuoy will have an automatic strobe and maybe even a beacon. If you can see your mate, throw it in his direction, otherwise as far to the side as you can - in either case, make sure to avoid loose rigging and the trailing drogue. Cushions and floating objects will probably be whisked away by the wind but you need to try.

The next priority is the MOB button on the GPS. Get your safety grab bag holding the GPS, VHF and flares - and EPIRB if not mounted. Switch on the GPS and press MOB as soon as it will be accepted. Can you spot your mate? Presumably he is wearing a lifejacket with a strobe? Can you see the flashing danbuoy? Send up a parachute flare. How long since knockdown to MOB button? How fast are you going? Estimate distance travelled - knockdown to danbuoy to MOB button. Write them down if you can. Maybe 2 minutes elapsed by now?

Then to the urgent tasks on the boat. Engine on in neutral, nav lights on - don't destroy night vision, bilge pumps on if not on automatic, cushion in the broken window. Then activate the EPIRB and try a couple of maydays on the VHF - you never know if there is some other boat around.

Are the bilge pumps reducing the water level? Is there anything to quickly secure the main companionway? If you can't solve that quickly, then the mast would take precedence, so you can manouver and commence the search for your mate. Without going into detail on that horrendous task, then check for loose ropes and rigging, cut the drogue free and cross your fingers as you engage gear.

While motoring back with GPS in hand, calculate likely drift due to current and wind. Ensure the GPS breacrumb trail is on and plan your search pattern. Rig the lifesling, try maydays again, maybe another flare when you reach the search area.

However, with a broken harness, there must have been some significant forces, so be prepared.

EDITED after seeing the guidelines about no bilge pumps.
OK, so no bilge pumps. Well I have a hand pump at the helm so would manage to get a little water out on the way back but would not treat it as top priority . No alternator? Another reason to keep lights to nav only. Also, turn off fridge and other unnecessary consumers of power.
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Old 13-08-2008, 09:55   #7
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To reiterate, there is NO electrical systems functioning except for Eleven's sealed batteries in a sealed box (which is underwater) and I have allowed the starter motor to be serviceable if power can be taken direct to it from the "sealed" batteries. Even so, the water level will have to be reduced before being able to access them. I didn't really intend to have any power available but Elevens sealed batteries seemed like such a good idea, I have allowed them as the OP indicated the batteries were "only" underwater.

The only electrical items that are useful are those with a self contained power supply like the handheld VHF, GPS, torches (if they can be found), EPIRB, Strobes etc.

I know that for some, it is inconceivable to not have all the electric items you take for granted but for this challenge, they aren't working and we have to deal with it.

I don't know as I have no experience with a Southern Ocean storm at 46 south (that is still intensifing after 18 hours) but if it is anything like Cape Leewin in 50+ kts, I suspect one wouldn't be motoring around in the dark using torch light with breaking seas in a disabled boat trying to conduct a search singlehanded after already running shorthanded for almost a day.

By all means do whatever can be done to help the missing mate but I just can't see starting a motor in a cabin knee deep in water and then motor about in the storm with all the other damage as being feasible.

However if you experienced similar conditions (without a MOB) and think it is possible, please post and let us learn from your experience.
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Old 13-08-2008, 10:50   #8
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Warning, Thread Hijack in progress:

"To reiterate, there is NO electrical systems functioning "
If the boat was prepared for blue water, and there was no EMP attack, that just means some breakers popped off.
How or why would you postulate an entire electrical system failure due to a rollover and some water, in a well-founded boat?

Doesn't matter if my batteries are underwater, AGM batteries don't care about that.
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Old 13-08-2008, 13:02   #9
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First thing would be to visually look for my mate. Appreciate that visibility is very poor, but possible he is bobbing around a few feet from the boat (or even hanging grimly on somewhere ). and try and get an idea of what direction he would have floated away in. Quick glance at the Compass to get the boats heading. Be nice to throw some floating stuff in the water, if not for me mate to grab hold off to get an idea of his drift - but I suspect not much left that floats in the cockpit or on the rail!

On the basis that he is not visible (and unlikely given the weather to be audible) I would want to fix a position ASAP and to grab some flares. Given the low viz would also switch all the lights on, just in case my mate can see them and self rescue (no matter that unlikely) - albeit it sounds like the lights won't be working. Might take me a little time to realise that main GPS is not workable for a quick fix, but would then take the handheld GPS and flares into the cockpit (Harness clipped on!).

BTW at the moment I am deliberately ignoring the fact that the boat (and therefore me) is in great peril - especially from the mast against the hull, the open port and hatch and of course the storm! Been rolled once - quite possible to happen again.....But I figure for the next hour or so sh#t either happens or it doesn't.

Whilst the GPS is warming up maybe would have grabbed some floating stuff (Cushions? / Fenders?) and would throw them over.....if feasible a fender on a long warp (or 2) downwind. I would also launch a flare or 2 in the direction I thought my mate would be in an attempt for visibility / give him something to swim for / give him hope that rescue was being tried / give him a last comfort that someone was trying......plus the chance of attracting another yacht / vessel (even though none expected). Once I had the GPS fix I would write it down. Just in case. Probably launch another couple of flares. just in case.

Next step would be to try the VHF - given the limited range would have no great expectation of response. But the flares may have alerted someone nearby to switch their own VHF on.......albeit how much help they would be is another matter (or Challenge?!).

One thing I have not done yet is hit the EPIRB button. It's because I do not have one - so it was not in my mind to do so . Now that I have remembered that I may have one onboard I am in 2 minds on this - at the moment I do not think I need rescue (albeit I may be wrong!) and do not want to put anyone at risk and I think any "rescue" would be way way too late for my mate.....but on the other hand their may be a vessel in the area that would respond / be directed to me......and their is always a chance they would luck upon him. Not a very big chance though - given we would likely be talking many hours hence. But with his survival suit on he could last better than most.

On the basis that I have not now visually seen my mate (I guess seeing him just outside of easy reach is yet another Challenge!), I figure time to look to the boat - both for my own survival, but also in the hope (no matter how unlikely) that I could later use it to try a SAR for my mate (using my GPS fix and some DR / Guesstimates on drift rates). Although I would no doubt feel bad about me mate having gone missing, I am comfortable that he would understand that the boat by then becomes the priority. as I would understand for him.

Obviously the weather is still very bad My priority would be to clear the rig - unless it was acting as a nice drogue with calming slick and did not appear to threaten the hull, in which case I would leave it for the moment (probably very unlikely, but I have no idea. and I hope it stays that way!). In an ideal world when cutting free would want to reclaim as much of the rigging / spars / sail as possible - but single handed in bad weather I think unlikely.

I would also already be considering how the boat is reacting to the conditions. At some point already I would have tied the wheel off, both to prevent the rudder from damage (Windvane gone / no power to autopilot ='s no steerage?) and to try and help the motion of the boat.

Be nice to have a parachute anchor to deploy, or at least the drogues to experiment with (and to mentally compose a post on CF.com about my experiances of them? ). I would choose to try and stabilise the boat's motion before seeking to block the smashed port and replace the missing washboards, unless I had something ready made / easy to use.....the thinking being that a boat in control is less likely to get rolled again and doing some DIY with a saw in a Force Hooley ain't gonna be quick.

Once the DIY done - time to put the kettle on

And after that? Try and get power back and the engine started (and hopefully the bilge pumps in action - BTW if the water was not increasing I would not prioritise a manual pump out with a bilge pump - simply because it is tiring work - and IMO single handed their are other priorities for both time and energy. Maybe 10 minutes or so with a bucket into the self draining cockpit but I would not worry about a foot of water in the cabin until the boat was sealed. Hopefully no green ones coming down the hatch every 5 minutes!).......and when conditions permit (for a stricken vessel) would try some SAR - no matter that hopeless......whilst thinking of plan B. How to get home!
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Old 13-08-2008, 13:10   #10
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Miles Smeeton ..when rolled over in similar conditions, went below and made a cuppa tea, before doing anything else… then again he hadn’t lost his wife overboard.

OK my list in order of priority!

Check your own harness and storm lines to make sure they are still intact

Get flashlight and work your way all around boat (especially near rigging) to see if mate is clinging onto something

MOB pole deployed with strobe and floatation.

GPS….. MOB activated

Whichever seems more critical do first…Use anything to plug holes in cabin and/or minimize danger of holing hull by cutting away short leads and sinking below keel on a long tether.

Deploy Liferaft on a very, very long painter and hope your mate can somehow snag it…(long shot)….was the survival suits fitted with personal EPIRB?

Activate boat’s EPIRB……..Mayday on VHF….(as said…you never know!)

Pull out emergency manual Whale Gusher with 5” suction hose , grab that snickers bar you see floating by and start slowly pumping out cabin while watching and listening for mate in any storm lulls.

After a few hours of pumping, the boat is lighter but you are exhausted and the storm is still raging…go down below if the stink of diesel is not too bad, grab some energy food and think of ways to get some propulsion so that you can try searching for your mate when the storm abates,

Have a cuppa….you’ll feel better!
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Old 13-08-2008, 13:19   #11
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OK, with the inability to start the motor before pumping or bailing the water out by hand I would agree there is likely to be little point in trying to get back there.

In fact with no bilge pumps automatically emptying the bilge and no companionway cover, more water coming in seems likely and it does seem to be a race for survival.

As for the EPIRB I have reconsidered what I said earlier. Search and Rescue would be too late for my mate, so no point there. If the boat looks like it can stay afloat, then don't activate it, as the chain of events for evacuation can't be cancelled. Reconsider if the battle to stay afloat looks bad.

I agree with Hellosailor that some of the postulated conditions are unnecessarily improbable in a well found boat for that area.
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Old 13-08-2008, 13:52   #12
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I wouldn't put the life raft out on a line. Remember the seas are havy enough to capsize and roll the boat, the life raft is likely to be blown/torn away immediately in those conditions.

Similarly, I wouldn't set off any flares. Take your oldest ones and set them off on the fourth of July or whatever your local fireworks hoiliday is. You may be surprised at how dinky most of them are, they really are ONLY meant as "I see you, can you see me now?" signals. You want to conserve those to get the attraction of rescuers.

If your buddy is alive in a survival suit, that's a "gumby suit". He's not swimming anyplace in anything except flat water, certainly not in this storm. If he needs a flare to see you and the boat--he can't possibly reach it, although he can exhaust himself trying.

Better to start a debris trail, hit the MOB button, hit the EPIRB, eyeball the hull for damage (and the buddy), and then start damage control. There's a funny thing about two-man incidents, long proven in SCUBA diving fatalities:

Diver #1 gets into trouble...Diver #2 assists, gets sucked in, and both drown. This has lead to some serious discussion about the great "Buddy System" being a killer, and at least one diving orgamization is now certifying "solo" diving. Attending to your own safety first (i.e. secure the vessel, or determine it doesn't need to be secured right now) may not be noble--but it tends to save more lives, on all sides, in the long run.

"Have a cuppa" A friend of mine had his boat break free from a mooring during a storm. Took punctures in both sides of the hull, got tossed quite a bit. But when we went out to see the damage--wouldn't you know, the gimbled kettle was still in place, ready to start up a nice pot of tea! Faithful kettle! Loyal gimble!
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Old 13-08-2008, 17:19   #13
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I wouldn't put the life raft out on a line. Remember the seas are havy enough to capsize and roll the boat, the life raft is likely to be blown/torn away immediately in those conditions.
Ah but my well found yacht has a Givens Life Raft that doesn’t blow away like those “yachtie” things most people buy…….

Seriously, it is the only liferaft I would ever buy and because of its water ballasting system and reinforced towing pendant it might be the only chance my mate would have to save himself.

I would do it!
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Old 13-08-2008, 17:53   #14
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At dusk, you decide to hove to (under trisail) as it is becoming more difficult to steer around the increasing number of breaking...

<snip>

...before getting the vessel snugged down, you are rolled though 360 degrees.

When the boat returns upright, you are aware of the following:

Washboards are missing from main companionway.
Mast is dragging along side the hull.
One main cabin window is smashed (on the leeward side).
Down below, water is knee deep but apparently not increasing.
All the on board electronics are shot except for a sealed handheld GPS and handheld VHF.
Solar panels and wind generator are gone.
Batteries are underwater.
AND YOU BEST MATE IS MISSING. You find the broken end of his (her) safety harness attached to a strong point in the cockpit.

There is no known shipping within a 1000 nm.

Now you do what?
1/ Check my security - I can't go overboard
2/ Inspect all around the boat for the missing mate
3/ Throw some floaties in the water
4/ Activate the GPS and hit MOB
5/ Activate the EPIRB - I may not need rescue but my mate does
6/ Evaluate the mast and rigging - cut away to avoid further boat damage
7/ Get a chute/sea anchor rigged on the bow - Need to be head to wind and head to swells
8/ Patch the window as best as possible - further rollover possible
9/ Find companionway boards and prepare for installation - secure against loss - don't need more water in boat - if no boards jury rig
10/ Evaluate cabin - no punctures or leaks - no further water rise
11/ Continue periodic search for mate throughout 3-10
12/ Think about getting water out of cabin - not a priority
13/ Unstow life raft - do not deploy
13/ Try to raise someone on the VHF periodically - conserve the battery

Evaluation:
The mate is gone and the sooner I deal with that the sooner I can help myself. Conduct a search but not to the detriment of self survival. Sounds cruel but it is a common factor in survival scenarios to focus on the futile

The water in the boat doesn't worry me. It's likely come in from the roll over and the boat is still floating. The extra weight might even help the boat's stability. Another roll-over will fill it up again anyway - why waste energy bailing?

I need the boat safe so I have to cut the mast and debris loose.

I want the boat head to swells so I reduce the chance of another rollover - no sails so a sea anchor off the bow will be a good chance.

I don't want more water in the boat so I need to patch all and any holes

It's dusk and by now likely dark - I settle in for the night, conserve strength, heat and energy - eat (hot meal if possible) and hydrate

In the morning evaluate jury rigged mast, engine, etc. for possible navigation of boat - We are 1,000 miles from any shipping so I assume a similar distance to shore.

That's a long haul with a jury rig and not doable under motor alone (fuel range), even if I get it fixed. If the engine is repairable use for lights and power and becalmed situations.

The lift raft preparation is precautionary - if the boat is holed or rolls repeatedly it may be a course of action - step up to the life raft. However I would stay as long as the boat floats. Better to be on a 42 foot liferaft than an 8 foot one.

After evaluation prepare to leave boat when/if rescue arrives.
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Old 13-08-2008, 19:13   #15
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I will keep this short as I am at work right now. I agree with the comments that a “well found” boat shouldn’t have a total electrical failure however part of the challenge is dealing with the unexpected. I could think of a few feasible scenarios that would allow for such a failure but as they are not central to situation, they would only be contributing further to the thread drift.

I will post more from home.

BTW, given your responses so far, I would be happy to have any of you aboard as crew mates but Ex-Calif leads the pack (IMHO)
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