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Old 18-05-2014, 13:58   #16
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Poiu,
Thanks for the further info...
This sheds some light on a murky situation....

See my comments/clarifications in red....


Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
...There were PLBs and they only transmit GPS via satellite and so no homing beacon was available to aid the aircraft on scene.
Understand that the 406mhz EPIRB and PLB signal is not a continuous signal (it's burst data), so it cannot be used as a "homing" signal...
All EPIRB's and most PLB's do have 121.5mhz homing beacons;

But the PLB's shorter battery life, and smaller less efficient antenna, combined with the fact that the user must be holding the damn thing up, out of, and above, the water in order for it to effective send either/both the 406mhz signal to the satellite AND the 121.5mhz signal to aircraft searching, means that a PLB is typically NOT an effective device for effecting a successful Search And Rescue....
(this has been covered in many forums, and beaten to death in many discussions....but the fact is, many just want to save some $$$ and ignore the facts...and the shame is that this will not be the last time this tragedy happens...)


Seems like they didn't have an EPIRB, which would have aided the finding of their location by the aircraft (due to the homing signal), but I don't get why the PLBs didn't provide accurate enough position information.
Further, understand that the "homing" signal is VERY VERY low powered....it is typically only 50mw (to 100mw on some EPIRB's), that's 1/20 of a watt, at VHF-AM....
Ever tried to talk to someone with your handheld marine VHF-FM, when floating in the water (I actually HAVE done this myself!), and with 5 watts a few inches off even flat water, it's not easy to do...
Yes, the aircraft have an advantage as they have a "line-of-sight" to a person/beacon in the water, but the 121.5mhz "homing" beacon is usually only used within a mile or two of the "known" or "prescribed" incident location....(typical range of this is < 5 miles, even to aircraft searching....and < 1/4 mile, a few hundred yards, for search vessels...)

To further compromise by using a PLB, with its smaller/less efficient antenna reduces this effective range....

And, that's assuming you can hold the damn thing up and out-of the water for a couple days straight!!!
Of course, that is NOT going to happen...
So, with the PLB in your hand, and/or stuck on your PFD, etc. its signal just isn't going to be very effective....both the 406mhz burst which contains the GPS location (assuming it can get a GPS fix in the attitude/position it's in), AND the 121.5mhz "homing" signal....

Not to mention the shorter battery life of a PLB, means that it might not (probably not) have any battery power left to actually be transmitting by the time SAR assets are within range of you....


The USCG guy talked of information of the area only being provided. I thought PLBs would give bang-on accuracy like all GPSs do now?
Yes, their GPS is as accurate as any other...
But, it must actually get a fix, which it cannot do if it's in a pocket underwater.....and it will be difficult for it to do so, unless it is held up above and out-of the water....

And, then understand that this fix is just transmitted in bursts to the COSPAS-SARSAT satellites, it is not continuous...
So, whatever GPS position data the USCG had from these PLB's might have been many hours or a day, or more old....




No life raft was seen, but the upturned yacht was seen by the container ship Maersk Kure.
The "stromforce" director mentioned that he assumed they were getting into a liferaft....but he did not specifically state that they DID have one on-board, nor whether it was recently serviced (I've read anecdotal reports that more than half of the rafts serviced after 5 years of non-service, FAIL to open!!)
The boat Cheeki Rafiki was a charter race boat and will have had a life raft to comply with the RORC and charter rules. Whilst looking up the boat details from stormforce.biz the charter operator I notice they have disabled the boat page. Not very helpful.




Just curious of how many of you have actually read the read I reference often, along with all the COSPAS-SARSAT links (and Cruising World links) there???

EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds

http://www.ssca.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15457

If you haven't read the above AND all the links there, you may be laboring under some dangerous false assumptions....
So, please have a look...



Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie


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Old 18-05-2014, 14:06   #17
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

The Canadian SAR system is a shambles, supported mainly by volunteers for land SAR. The Air Force is responsible for marine SAR but it is badly underfunded, undermanned and under equipped.
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Old 18-05-2014, 14:24   #18
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Phil,
You bring up an important point (and one that I've been talking/writing about for over a year now)....
Other boats (cruising boats) on passage, being aware of their surroundings (or rather their LACK of being aware, these days..)







Since Southbound II / Herb Hilgenberg's retirement, there has been no organized long-range communications net for cruising boats on Atlantic passages...
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I wonder if they gave a position report at their last contact with base.. if that went public any boats in the area could keep a look out.. there'll be boats heading E from Bermuda for the next few weeks..
Yes, there are east coast regional/coastal "cruising nets" (and the paid weather router, Chris Parker's, morning weather net), but there are NO long-range ocean crossing nets that vessels at sea can coordinate on/with, nor receive any shore-side info/updates/vessel-in-distress alerts...


Since most cruising boats are not equipped with INMARSAT-C, nor are registered with AMVER and so equipped for multiple-times-a-day updates (via INMARSAT, SITOR, or "always-on" e-mail/internet)....

The only way for the plethora of cruising boats out there to know what is happening around them, would be:
a) via a DSC-Distress call that they receive (unlikely since they'd need to leave their HF-DSC-SSB radio on 24/7....and the vessel is distress must also have an HF-DSC-SSB radio to send their Distress on)..
--or--
b) via a long-range HF-SSB radio net...

And, is this a surprise , I've been a longtime proponent of BOTH "a" and "b"...
(while my ramblings about DSC have probably been a nuisance for some....my proposal for the SSCA to sponsor a long-range HF Communications Net / Ocean Crossing Net, have been pretty much ignored....)


I first proposed it officially when Herb announced his retirement in mid-2013...(in a discussion of EPIRB's and the lack of cruisers knowing what's going on around them, when at sea, these days...)

"Be Aware of other vessels' Troubles or Distress / Render Assistance"


http://www.ssca.org/forum/viewtopic....ing+net#p77338

http://www.ssca.org/forum/viewtopic....ing+net#p77338











Yeah, this course took me by surprise, as well!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Cannot figure out why they were so far E on a SMX - UK run.. unless they were getting route advice for weather..
Even looking for better weather, doesn't make much sense here at all!!

Perhaps this "very experienced" [sic] 21-yr old captain, made a serious nav error???
Or was he mistakenly trying to pick-up some speed from the Gulf Stream?? (can't believe anyone would do that..)

Leaving from Antigua heading for the UK, and they ended up needing rescue 1000 miles east of Cape Cod???


Anyone got any ideas, how/why??





Fair winds..


John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 18-05-2014, 14:38   #19
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pirate Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

John.. always sail with the VHF on..
and... I'm sick to death of Fillipino Monkey...
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Old 18-05-2014, 14:40   #20
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Phil,

Me too!!
VHF-DSC is on 24/7....usually on "dual watch" monitoring 16 and 13...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 18-05-2014, 14:42   #21
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

I'm not sure if anyone outside of Canada can watch this video or not. The last 10 minutes or so deals with the North West Passage and the fact that SAR is at least 2 days away before they can even begin the SAR operation. Anyone planning to traverse the North West Passage or any arctic adventure in the Canadian Arctic should be aware of this.

They also mention that New Hampshire is billing for SAR operations (on land). One woman was billed $7,000. even though she had found her way and met the SAR team on their way in. Could this be the future of sea rescues as SAR organizations struggle with underfunding?

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Old 18-05-2014, 14:42   #22
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Fingers are crossed that someone finds them. If they had time to abandon maybe they had time to prepare the life raft with provisions. I would not give up hope until the 2 week point.

With their experience there is still a chance they will be found and ok.
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Old 18-05-2014, 15:06   #23
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I wonder if they gave a position report at their last contact with base.. if that went public any boats in the area could keep a look out.. there'll be boats heading E from Bermuda for the next few weeks..
Cannot figure out why they were so far E on a SMX - UK run.. unless they were getting route advice for weather..
Regarding Maersk lifting the boat.. not so simple out there..
Just out of curiosity, what would generally be the most favorable SMX-UK route this time of year?
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Old 18-05-2014, 15:19   #24
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

I think the comments on PLB vs. EPIRB ignores some reasonable interpretation of what we've been told:

A signal was received from not one but two PLB's. It sounds like the PLB failed to get a GPS fix so location wasn't accurate. The lack of a fix may have been because a sudden capsize found the crew unexpectedly in the water and the GPS antenna was not correctly oriented.

But the PLB signal was enough to initiate a rescue and for the container ship to locate the vessel. The ship undoubtedly gave the CG an accurate fix then. Perhaps it was the wrong boat but that seems unlikely.

The container ship reported the yacht was capsized, so the crew probably did not have a chance to deploy a liferaft from the cabin. In the picture of the boat, there is no sign of a liferaft above deck. We also don't know they had survival suits. An RYA spokesman (not anyone associated with the boat) said liferafts "typically" are equipped with survival suits. That sounds like a misquote. Not many 40ft yachts travel with a full set of survival suits and they aren't stored in the liferaft. If they were aboard, they would likely have been left below with the liferaft at the capsize.

The water is too cold in that location for the crew to survive until the end of the search if not in a liferaft or a survival suit.

It would not take long to conduct a thorough air search for a liferaft in a small area centered on the location of the vessel provided by the container ship. Drift would be small and predictable.

If the above is true, the PLB did its job as well as an EPIRB. It got rescuers to the scene.

And in defense of PLB's, why do we think this yacht didn't have an EPIRB aboard? I think the odds are high that there was an EPIRB aboard. But like most yacht, the EPIRB was probably stored below. When the boat was capsized, the crew may not have been able to get to the EPIRB. If so, having crew members wear PLB's was a wise decision or no rescue would have been initiated

This is a tragedy but I think implying error on the part of the crew for using a PLB's is quite wrong.
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Old 18-05-2014, 15:30   #25
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exile View Post
Just out of curiosity, what would generally be the most favorable SMX-UK route this time of year?
I am planning next year to go SXM to Gibraltar. My basic plan is great circle route and going just a degree or two north. Missing the Azores altogether, my plot shows I am about 300 nms south of the Azores at the closest.

The winds will be lighter, no worries, and the wind will vary more with a fair bit close hauled or close reaching. None of that worries me. I will still be a quicker passage than those that stop in at Bermuda and/or the Azores. And no, i wont be loading up with diesel and motoring.


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Old 18-05-2014, 15:45   #26
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
I think the comments on PLB vs. EPIRB ignores some reasonable interpretation of what we've been told:

A signal was received from not one but two PLB's. It sounds like the PLB failed to get a GPS fix so location wasn't accurate. The lack of a fix may have been because a sudden capsize found the crew unexpectedly in the water and the GPS antenna was not correctly oriented.

But the PLB signal was enough to initiate a rescue and for the container ship to locate the vessel. The ship undoubtedly gave the CG an accurate fix then. Perhaps it was the wrong boat but that seems unlikely.

The container ship reported the yacht was capsized, so the crew probably did not have a chance to deploy a liferaft from the cabin. In the picture of the boat, there is no sign of a liferaft above deck. We also don't know they had survival suits. An RYA spokesman (not anyone associated with the boat) said liferafts "typically" are equipped with survival suits. That sounds like a misquote. Not many 40ft yachts travel with a full set of survival suits and they aren't stored in the liferaft. If they were aboard, they would likely have been left below with the liferaft at the capsize.

The water is too cold in that location for the crew to survive until the end of the search if not in a liferaft or a survival suit.

It would not take long to conduct a thorough air search for a liferaft in a small area centered on the location of the vessel provided by the container ship. Drift would be small and predictable.

If the above is true, the PLB did its job as well as an EPIRB. It got rescuers to the scene.

And in defense of PLB's, why do we think this yacht didn't have an EPIRB aboard? I think the odds are high that there was an EPIRB aboard. But like most yacht, the EPIRB was probably stored below. When the boat was capsized, the crew may not have been able to get to the EPIRB. If so, having crew members wear PLB's was a wise decision or no rescue would have been initiated

This is a tragedy but I think implying error on the part of the crew for using a PLB's is quite wrong.
I'm wondering if the ship actually identified the boat they found over turned as the Cheeki Rafiki and not the one left over from the successful rescue earlier in the week:
Here we go again! Another rescue..
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Old 18-05-2014, 15:57   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exile View Post
Just out of curiosity, what would generally be the most favorable SMX-UK route this time of year?
My trips have been direct to the Azores from SMX.. this however is not a straight line as the combination of E'lies and the Gulf stream push you W as you head NE.. finally shake the Stream around 500mile SSE of Bermuda and then pick up S'lies to run before.. then they gradually go SW and W as you close the Azores... around 2400nm in all.. fastest was 23 days in a 331.. but I sail with the main reefed down and my Genoa for power
You'll maybe experience 2-3days of light/calms on this leg..
I have gone direct from there to the UK once.. but the High created about 10 days of calms on that trip.. bit frustrating when you don't have the fuel to motor.. since then I've opted for a run to Baiona in Spain.. spent a few days chilling before hitching a ride across the Biscay on a SW'ly..
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Old 18-05-2014, 15:59   #28
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Yeah, this course took me by surprise, as well!!
Even looking for better weather, doesn't make much sense here at all!!

Perhaps this "very experienced" [sic] 21-yr old captain, made a serious nav error???
Or was he mistakenly trying to pick-up some speed from the Gulf Stream?? (can't believe anyone would do that..)

Leaving from Antigua heading for the UK, and they ended up needing rescue 1000 miles east of Cape Cod???

Anyone got any ideas, how/why??

Fair winds..


John
s/v Annie Laurie



They don't seem too far north of the great circle route by my measurements. About 100 to 150 miles and 5 degrees or so. Could have been looking for exciting sailing and strong winds. Who knows.

Bottom line here is there is a good chance four men are floating in a life raft in the miserably cold north Atlantic with no-one looking for them. Pretty damn awful really.
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Old 18-05-2014, 15:59   #29
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
I wonder if the Maersk ship took a proper look and pulled alongside? They could have hoisted it on board, after all what is there at risk if the crew are going to be abandoned anyway?
In 50 knots, and 20' seas ??? Seriously ???

In those conditions, it would take an extraordinary feat of shiphandling to maneuver a 1,040-foot container ship alongside a capsized 40' yacht. Even if they somehow managed to hook it up, how would they lift it?

Not to mention, where would they put it?

The MAERSK KURE:


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Old 18-05-2014, 16:12   #30
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Re: UK yacht Cheeki Rafiki missing in mid-Atlantic

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
I'm not sure if anyone outside of Canada can watch this video or not. The last 10 minutes or so deals with the North West Passage and the fact that SAR is at least 2 days away before they can even begin the SAR operation. Anyone planning to traverse the North West Passage or any arctic adventure in the Canadian Arctic should be aware of this.

They also mention that New Hampshire is billing for SAR operations (on land). One woman was billed $7,000. even though she had found her way and met the SAR team on their way in. Could this be the future of sea rescues as SAR organizations struggle with underfunding?

DEBUT: To The Rescue - Doc Zone
I nearly got a bill for the SAR coming out. Happened in a plane. Due to a storm I diverted and landed in a remote closed up airfield. I got distracted and didn't notify the authorities promptly. I did it eventually and was told the helicopter had been crewed up and was about to take off to look for me. I was told there would have been a big bill to pay had they taken off. Actually I wouldn't mind paying a contribution. It's not fair to command such a huge rescue resource that requires navy ships, multiple aircraft, helicopters and to get it all for free. Insurance could cover the risk if the bill was to be horrendous. If these rescues become more frequent Joe Public is going to get pretty teed off with us otherwise.
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