Originally Posted by rognvald
This is not about a "mistake." It is about multiple mistakes that apparently led to this disaster. I thought that was abundantly clear from my above response. If the captain/ helmsman kept a safe distance from the shore, maintained a proper lookout, had his sails properly trimmed or if motoring had them ready to hoist and knew exactly where he was by a plotted position(not a picture on a screen), he would have had ample time to free the halyard wrapped on his prop while underway or, in a worst case scenario, sail the vessel to a safe anchorage and remove it there. For those of you who have sailed the Virgins on a charter or your own vessel, you know what a circus the passages and anchorages
become on a regular basis. There are few places in the Caribbean
that regularly host so many novice/unqualified captains and crews. We all make errors on occasion but they only become critical when safe practices of seamanship are not practiced. No one who has sailed any distance, on this Forum, can say they have never made mistakes but it is the gravity of the mistake that separates those who practice safe seamanship and those who do not. Good luck and safe sailing.
I'm not sure if you have actually sailed in that specific area. While without doubt a mistake was made, they were not in open water
or sailing past an island on passage
. That reef is inside the larger south bay of St. John and forms the south corner of the entrance to a smaller bay full of moorings and anchored boats. While the rocks in the picture look large and easy to see, the reef itself extends quite a long way out below the water
. Surprisingly long.
When the winds and seas are from the right direction and the right strength, this is quite a rough place. One can easily misjudge that reef and think one is clear to turn into the anchorage. In fact, it would be much worse in that specific area to be relying on a plotted position than on a chartplotter
. You couldn't plot positions fast enough and the error would be too large for the position to be meaningful (the charts
are excellent in this area). If anything, the exact opposite of your suggestion is true - they should have had their head
buried deeper in their chartplotter
Likewise, there is not a lot of room for staying "abundantly clear of shore", as it is an entrance to an anchorage that lies inside a bay. They should have definitely stayed off the reef, but there is not "abundantly clear of shore" as you imply there to be.
Proper trim of sails or having the sails ready to raise doesn't even make sense in this instance because one would not have any time to do anything at all once the reef was hit and the boat was out of control.
It is ludicrous to think that someone in that specific area and in those conditions would have any time at all to clear a line wrapped around a prop.
Crap happens to everyone - and it can happen faster to those who don't regularly ply those waters, may not have a lot of big sea experience and are on a strange boat.
There are many, many good seamen throughout the ages, in modern times, and on this forum who have lost
boats due to mistakes. To believe that "safe practices of seamanship" will always separate the "real" yachtsman from the "wannabe's" is just silly. Enough so that it suggests lack of real experience, or at least hubris.
Crap sometimes happens.
I, too, am disappointed with armchair pedantics heaping scorn on this incident. It was unfortunate, it was an error, it could happen to many, and it is fully insured by the charter company. Before anyone goes off on insurance
, please understand that the charter insurance
has nothing to do, and no bearing on, personal yacht insurance. Not any more than Microsoft's liability insurance effects your liability insurance.