I guess it is fair to say that we have all done things that are foolish. I certainly have. And hopefully, we all learn something from others' mistakes
, let alone our own. But that did not make those actions seamanlike, trivial, or excusable. I feel sympathy for the crew and am glad they survived. I feel even more sympathy for the owner, the charter
company, and all those who have chartered that boat for their coming Christmas
and New Year's vacations, now spoiled. All that said, however, that reef is very apparent on a chartplotter
, well marked on a chart, and well noted and warned about in the various cruising guides
. It IS a lee shore in these conditions, but there are decent anchoring
spots inside. But, is it too much to ask a "very experienced" crew, particularly one unfamiliar with the waters, to do their "due diligence" and look at their chart and read their cruising guide BEFORE getting into this fix, and then to keep an eye on their chartplotter
since they would have been forewarned? And, in such conditions, to be checking their boat for dangerous situations like lines overboard
? Particularly if they were either leaving or entering a tight entrance? Are we not supposed to be thinking ahead? It was extremely rough that day, and for the days thereafter. It had been well forecast
, so no surprises here. They were entrusted with someone's 45 foot yacht. It is true that disasters usually involve many components, any one of which is not by itself fatal, but in this case I think it is pretty obvious that the crew committed quite a number, all by themselves. I think hubris is a good word to use in this incident, but wonder if it more aptly pertains to the crew than to any of the commentators.
I may seem a bit cynical here, but I instruct and skipper
a crewed charter
yacht in the BVI, and what I have seen from allegedly experienced crew beggars the imagination. I will never forget personally pointing out the reef in the middle of Trellis Bay to a charter crew, having them confirm they saw it, and then seeing them raising anchor
and sailing right onto it. I happened to be in a night spot later that day when some of the members of that crew were discussing their day with friends. They said they just touched the bottom and it was no consequence....NOT! Later, I found that the keel
had almost come off and had to be dropped and the supporting structure completely reglassed.
When the trades and seas are up, even the most experienced need to pay close attention, check out things in advance, and keep the stuff aboard that should be aboard. And, if it is a much bigger and more powerful boat than the charterers are used to normally sailing (which is usually the case), all this goes double. They rented the boat, they didn't buy it, and that implies all sorts of obligations.