I don't know anything specific to this case, but we are going through a very rough and windy patch, here in the Virgins and NE Caribbean
. The boat was almost certainly motoring or motorsailing right into the teeth of the wind
and waves. There is a formidable shoal, Eagle Shoal if my memory serves, right at the entrance of Coral
Bay, but it is not that obvious unless you are checking your charts
or plotter. There is (or was) a fully crewed Aurora, but it's a big Irwin
, not a 47 foot Island Packet. The Island Packet fleet is based in Red Hook.
Based on these facts and the first report, I am guessing it was a bareboat full of folks heading for the BVI for their Thanksgiving charter. They probably did not realize that the south side of St. John would be much rougher than the north, in these conditions. Most likely they were either heading for Coral Bay, itself, or were cutting the corner on their way to the BVI. Probably didn't look at the chart, didn't quite know where they were, or forgot there was a hazard. Probably didn't like the looks of getting into the dinghy, either. But, this is all wild speculation on my part
Which brings to mind a bareboat that lost
a man overboard
a couple of days ago between Norman Island and Tortola (same rough conditions). They called a Mayday. The USCG asked if they had a dinghy. The bareboaters said yes. The USCG said, "why don't you get in it and pick up your POB?" The bareboaters said "Oh!" And I suppose they did exactly that.
In my crewed charter business, I am continually amazed at the disregard guests pay to the weather
. It's as if they have planned an exact itinerary for months before, and then are determined to follow it, regardless. You don't want to know what I have seen or been asked to do.
Reminds me of the old axim: "Sail the wind
you have, not the wind you thought you would get, nor the wind you wished for, nor the wind you think you deserve. Sail the wind you have!" Another good one: "If it was too rough three days ago, and nothing has changed, it's still too rough!" But people violate both of these, all the time. And put infinite trust in their ability to motor
I hope the woman recovers, and that they get the boat back, but in these conditions it is probably challenging.