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Old 09-03-2013, 21:52   #16
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Quite a bit of difference, and about 100nm, between Santa Barbara Island and San Clemente Island. The weather us usually completely different. Boring and flat (usually) out near San Clemente with prevailing north westerlies, all kinds of funky junk at Santa Barbara near Point Conception.

Any word on how the guy died? It wouldn't take more than a slip or a good bonk on the head and you can imagine there was a lot of that going on during that time from abandoning ship to being in the chopper.

Weird that a local asset couldn't have come out from San Clemente to assist. The place is a Navy base with plenty of aircraft and vessels parked around.
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Old 09-03-2013, 21:59   #17
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Quite a bit of difference, and about 100nm, between Santa Barbara Island and San Clemente Island. The weather us usually completely different. Boring and flat (usually) out near San Clemente with prevailing north westerlies, all kinds of funky junk at Santa Barbara near Point Conception.
Very true in normal conditions, but last night's storm was pretty powerful. All the models were showing it filling in uniformly north-south. Guys I spoke with today who were out there said they saw peaks in the mid 30's, but mostly upper 20's. We were getting mid-upper 30's at our house in Pt. Loma from about 10:00 on last night.

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Any word on how the guy died? It wouldn't take more than a slip or a good bonk on the head and you can imagine there was a lot of that going on during that time from abandoning ship to being in the chopper.
They haven't said. Like you say they had to swim/wade/smash through rocks to get to shore most likely. The air and water temps were in the 50's, so hypothermia could have been the culprit.
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Old 09-03-2013, 22:05   #18
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Very true in normal conditions, but last night's storm was pretty powerful. All the models were showing it filling in uniformly north-south. Guys I spoke with today who were out there said they saw peaks in the mid 30's, but mostly upper 20's. We were getting mid-upper 30's at our house in Pt. Loma from about 10:00 on last night.

They haven't said. Like you say they had to swim/wade/smash through rocks to get to shore most likely. The air and water temps were in the 50's, so hypothermia could have been the culprit.
Ah jeez didn't realize there was one of of those damn late season storms. The only thing they are good for is getting a nice southerly wind to ride up to the islands from San Diego. Yeah if there was a storm, all bets are off. Thing probably jibed all over the place once they dropped the rudder.
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Old 09-03-2013, 22:13   #19
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

Racing usually means making everything as light as possible until it's at the edge of breaking but doesn't break. It's impossible to find that line sometimes until something breaks.
I'm sorry for the family.
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Old 10-03-2013, 01:05   #20
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

A moment of silence for a life lost at sea,,,,
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:33   #21
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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... I was always trained in the 'don't unless you have to step up into the life raft' school. But it's become obvious that's too simple and not a thoughtful enough rule.
Indeed; as with most adages, this maxim is so simple as to be simple-minded.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:54   #22
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pirate Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

From my viewpoint based on what little I know I reckon the skipper took the only option open to him..
1/Jump in the liferaft... for what... get thrown about and weakened more than on the boat... get blown onshore quicker and getting out in the breaking waves would have led to more fatalities..
2/Wait for help... from the description of conditions likely help would not be there in time... and as it only took (alledgedly) one hour to hit shore unlikely to get there and effect rescues in time.. again more fatalities.. a head is exceeding hard to spot in seas..
3/ Stay with the boat and use what little fuel the boat carries in an attempt to control direction and drift to a less dangerous point of land..
Hats of to the skipper.. he lost one man on shore through bad luck.. not bad judgement..
My condolences to the family and friends... for those who stay behind on shore our playtime is often a heavy cross to bear
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:51   #23
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Looks like they waved off assistance at the start of their problems. Can't imagine they had a dead crew member at that point.

From lat38

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One crewmember of James Gilmore's San Diego-based Columbia Carbon 32 Uncontrollable Urge perished early this morning when the brand-new boat dragged anchor into the surf at San Clemente Island during the Newport-to-San Diego Island Race. Around 9:30 p.m., the crew issued a mayday and reported rudder failure, but declined assistance from the Coast Guard and their fellow racers, saying they were waiting for commercial assistance. Unfortunately, conditions —8- to 10-ft swells and 30 knots of wind —prevented the tow company from launching. The crew attempted to set their anchor but it dragged. As the boat broke apart in the surf, the six crew abandoned ship.

The crew were airlifted off the island by a USCG helo in a nighttime rescue after midnight and taken to a local hospital, where Craig Williams, 36, of San Diego was pronounced dead. The remaining five crew were all reported to have sustained injuries. We'll have more on this tragedy in Monday's 'Lectronic Latitude.
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:59   #24
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

anchoring??? they WERE anchored and it drug.

liferaft in those conditions--hell no--certain death for all in life raft. is very cold and very windy--stay in big boat and try to make it work.

exactly what boatman said.....

refusing help?? prolly because he thought he had it under control. mebbe didnt want to involve anyone else in his problem-- he knew was a bad one.

sad.

west coast is a difficult place to anchor much less sail.
no one should think this is an easy coast to sail or anchor.
water is frigid, and winds and currents are tough. the storms are merciless. cyclonic and cold. big winds. lots of rocky shores.
very unforgiving.
rip.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:21   #25
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Most race boats that I have sailed on carried only a small lightweight anchor. Usually a small Fortress. The only way to keep from piling up on a lee shore without a rudder is an anchor that grabs and holds.
I sailed back from the Bahamas once with a crewmember who had tens of thousands of miles on race boats. The first night we anchored, he wanted to watch, because he had never done it before.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:41   #26
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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refusing help?? prolly because he thought he had it under control. mebbe didnt want to involve anyone else in his problem-- he knew was a bad one.
My suspicion for waving off the USCG and waiting for SeaTow is because the USCG would get the people off and leave the boat, as where SeaTow will pull the boat back in.

If that's the case, the captain indirectly caused the circumstances that caused the death of a crewman. The boat ended up lost anyway, and now there's a widow and some fatherless kids.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:46   #27
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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If one rudder broke, I'd continue, using the other rudder. As an experiment, I've tried sailing with one rudder. It's OK, but there's much more weather helm, neccessitating either reducing or dropping the mainsail.

If BOTH rudders broke, or the steering failed some other way, I'd use differential drive from the motors to steer. I've done this before, when I've been in very shallow water with both the rudders raised, and while it's not easy, its doable. I generally set one engine at a mid-range RPM and steer by varying the other one.

If losing both rudders happened near a lee shore, having just the mainsail up would actually make the boat point away from it, so then motoring clear would be easier.

????? Don't know what you think a Columbia Carbon 32 looks like. Small sailboat, one rudder, single retractable drive, very light go-fast boat. 3500# on the hook.

The Columbia 32


I suspect the anchor was racer-small to save weight. It would be interesting to know what ground tackle they carried. Tiny fin is hard to manage if you were to try steering by the sails alone, especially in lumpy stuff.

We lost our rudder racing a Heritage One-Ton years ago in Lake Erie. 5" dia SS shaft snapped at the bottom of the bearing so no leaks. We had a couple hours to try sailing by trim befor the CG reached us to tow.

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Old 10-03-2013, 09:11   #28
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

In the area where they came ashore it shoals from 125 to 20 feet over the course of about 1/2 mile. With a big anchor and good rode . .. and no kelp complications . . . it might have held. I don't know where the surf break was . . . in weather like that it might have been well off.

The red X in the OCPN capture below is my estimate based on a Yellowbrick track I saw elsewhere online. Still, just a guess and not a solid lat/long . . . Probably close but not to be repeated as fact. . . .
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ID:	56579  

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Old 10-03-2013, 09:54   #29
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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Vince Valdes, President of Columbia, was one of the crew who survived, so I'm sure he'll be taking a close look at what happened.

My condolences to the entire crew, .

Mr. Valdes' assessment should be very interesting.
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:33   #30
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Re: Rudder fails near a rocky island: What do you do?

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My suspicion for waving off the USCG and waiting for SeaTow is because the USCG would get the people off and leave the boat, as where SeaTow will pull the boat back in.

If that's the case, the captain indirectly caused the circumstances that caused the death of a crewman. The boat ended up lost anyway, and now there's a widow and some fatherless kids.
Reb-- I'll bet $10 this is the case. The policy in the 11th District is to pick up the crews and leave the boat to its fate. That was a new multi-hundred thousand dollar carbon fiber racing yacht and I suspect the owner had no interest in abandoning it thinking a SeaTow/TowBoatUS boat was on its way. I'm guessing he also had no idea how fast the current was moving around that island or how sharply the bottom comes up. (We've been in 25 fathoms within 100 yards of the rock walls in very settled weather). In the conditions there was little chance of the tow boat making it out to that island very quickly.

This is another case illustrating the merit of an independent emergency rudder with pre-positioned brackets. And, likely, another case illustrating the fragility of carbon fiber rudder posts (unless they hit a UFO).

What a useless tragedy...
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