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Old 23-12-2008, 14:24   #1
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If you head offshore in winter

lots of folks come on the board and ask what is the big deal about heading offshore in heavy weather, they are experienced and the boat is sound. Here is one example of a not too smart decision
Storm leaves sails, voyage to Puerto Rico in tatters | Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal

some pictures at

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=442002

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=441999

At least they saved the boat.
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Old 23-12-2008, 14:31   #2
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Letting a calendar dictate one's departure is a recipe for disaster. I always tell friends that want to hook up while cruising that they can pick a place, or a date, but not both.
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Old 23-12-2008, 16:30   #3
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Just sea sickness. The Main isn't ripped. The son should have chucked out a drogue, sea anchor, para anchor etc and waited till the wind dropped and sailed on or home.

Note the cutter and genoa are both ripped? One wonders why he would have both set if the crew was too sea sick to control it?

From the article:

"Linda Freedman said yesterday that her son, who has been sailing since he was 15, told her that the boat was never at risk. She said he told her that his father and their two sailing companions, a college friend and older friend of his friend, had gotten seasick.
“It was so rough, they didn’t have the strength to help him,” Linda Freedman said. "

More likely the son was sea sick too and hit the panic button when sea sickness gives you that wonderful feeling of preferring to be dead! LOL You just have to fight through it like a man


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Old 23-12-2008, 16:32   #4
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Looking at that tattered sail, i'll guess that they didn't set a storm Jib or a trisail.
I wonder what the engine problem will turn out to be..? Sediment in the fuel tank?
it's hard to hand steer and fix the engine...when your crew is sick.
He didn't have much choice but to call in the calvary.

Seasickness overcame two of the crew, that must have been mayhem for them.

That's a chilly sail...from there in Dec....
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Old 23-12-2008, 17:30   #5
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When the New England Governors advise all who don't have to go out to stay home, a major winter storm is predicted and some fool sails out of Narragansett Bay and has some difficulty, I say he should pay for the cost of his rescue. At the time the call came in they were within sight of land (appx. 6 miles) and certainly within sight of Block Island(appx. 2-3 miles) (were it not for the raging snow storm) and should have had sufficient sense to put into port or never go out in the first place. They were drifting south and west which would have put them on the shore of Long Island in a few hours. I can just imagine the conversation among the Coasties concerning the morons they were risking their lives to save.
It is also a shame that they can't be prosecuted for gross negligence for creating a potential disaster, but stupidity is not a punishable offense.
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Old 24-12-2008, 05:37   #6
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I can't imagine myself leaving Narragansett Bay in Dec. Let alone leaving with storm warnings.
The odds of a nor'easter slamming them in Dec. is probably greater than getting caught in a hurricane in September or October, if you hug the coast and track the weather.

With no engine or sails they had little chance of safely ducking into a Long Island inlet, which can be treacherous even in decent weather. I imagine that if the son was the only functioning crew member, he was in some stage of hypothermia.

Leaving in Dec. with storm warnings, carrying too much sail, engine problems, seasickness! Maybe, they were investment bankers from Lehman Bros. ????
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Old 24-12-2008, 06:23   #7
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Good one Tempest, they too got a publicly funded 'bailout' from the effects of their own incompetence. Of course, investment bankers would have never risked their own vessel.

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Old 24-12-2008, 07:59   #8
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Taking it apart

As usual, an event like this is not a single problem but a series of mistakes, failures, and misadventures. But maybe we should take this apart and list the series of issues we know led to being towed in.

Issues prior to departure:
  1. Navigational planning - cruise departure set far too late in the season, no planned stages for local climate.
  2. Failure to wait for a good weather window, favorable forecast.
  3. Failure to check current weather conditions on departure, or failure to heed warnings.
Issues at sea, mid-storm:
  1. Mechanical propulsion failure - although we do not have details, it seems likely tank sediment clogged the fuel filter. Failure to have tank cleaned, inability to change filter/bleed fuel system in extreme weather, lack of fuel filter redundancy systems.
  2. Furling sail system failure. Earlier images of the boat show only small portions of the staysails exposed, including several 'bubbles', indicating poor furling practice or furling system failure under load.
  3. Heavy weather tactics not apparent. I don't have evidence to compare, other than the speed at which the boat 'drifted' west which may indicate running off under bare poles. Other tactics, such as heaving-to, streaming a drogue or sea anchor, are clearly not indicated.
  4. Making assumptions here, but we see no evidence of an attempt to set a storm jib or trysail, possibly due to minimal crew not in gear able to withstand conditions (survival suit).
  5. There are no reports of VHF/SSB communications attempts, despite being in range via cell phone. The first hard communications appears to be the EPIRB.
Anyone got anything else?
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Old 24-12-2008, 08:31   #9
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I'm not going to speculate on the captain and crew's offshore skills, but looking at the high-rez versions of the photos in the links that Chuck posted, the boat itself "seemed" pretty well set up for cruising--solar panels, wind generator, mast climbing steps, lazy jacks for the main, roller furling genoa (the staysail is a hank-on), radar, "blipper" radar reflector, radar/chartplotter display at the helm, dodger and attached bimini. The sails definitely look old and stained. The two foresails are shredded, and the gennie was wrapped carelessly, but the main is furled and looks to be intact.

In the 30-40 kt winds that the Coast Guard reported, it would seem possible to sail the boat with a triple reef in the main, even with no headsails and most of the crew seasick.
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Old 24-12-2008, 09:56   #10
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WHAT'S not seaworthy?

“They are making plans to haul (the boat) out of the water Wednesday” she said. “It’s not seaworthy.”

It's alot more seaworthy then the fools who set sail into that gale. I hope they are charged for that rescue. Sailors must be held responsible for their actions. Do people take into account that they are risking others lives when they hit the panic button? News flash for the people who sail in New England: There are storms up there in winter!
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Old 24-12-2008, 10:18   #11
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Seems as though a lot of people on this board are quick to judge. If you were not there you have no way to know what happened or the reasons behind the decisions. Saying that this captain/crew had no planning or that they failed check weather conditions is (unless you were on the crew) condescending.
40 knots and 9 ft seas maybe horrible weather for some, but for others no so bad; it is all relative to your level of experience and the area that you sail in. For example, in Southern Calif. that would be lots of wind and big seas, but in Hawaii between islands its just another day.
For me personally, downwind in 40 is good sailing, you can cover a lot of ground, esp if the seas are only 9 ft. Of course that depends on the period 9 ft at less than 9 seconds… well, not as much fun; but 9 at 18 a sleigh ride.
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Old 24-12-2008, 10:26   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cptnandy View Post
Saying that this captain/crew had no planning or that they failed check weather conditions is (unless you were on the crew) condescending.
I get your point. Sorry if I offend, but I cruise, and I'm reasonably competent. How can you possibly explain being caught off guard 6 miles off New England in a gale in winter? What century is this?
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Old 24-12-2008, 10:40   #13
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::shrug:: As skipper aboard my boat it's my responsibility to make quick judgements, and to make them correctly.

I'm not trying to judge the people involved. I want to figure out what contributed to needing a tow in and damage to the vessel, in hopes that I can learn from it. I make stupid mistakes, far too often, so I need to learn how to avoid making future ones whenever possible.
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Old 24-12-2008, 10:50   #14
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Well I have no experience in or around New England. My 80K+ miles are mostly in the pacific and one trip from Florida to Hawaii.
The point is that you don’t know if they were caught off guard. Perhaps they were, perhaps not. Perhaps they just had a bad day, it does happen.
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Old 24-12-2008, 11:07   #15
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Well, we also know the weather service posted Storm warnings on Thursday, and they left on Friday.
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