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Old 25-11-2007, 16:22   #31
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What constitutes a "Captain"?

No offense but imho the issue at the heart of this matter has to do with what it means to be a "Captain". Simply buying or even 'commanding' the boat doesn't cut it...the new owner is or may not be qualified to be a "Captain" on elements having nothing to do with ownership of the boat, experience, or maritime skill. Imho it has to do with whether you can lead. Obviously, this fellow was unable to convince the crew to follow his instructions. When humans believe themselves to be in threat of imminent death, I don't care who signed what, what the maritime laws say, what patch of cloth indicating rank everyone happens to be wearing etc., what counts is whether they will believe they have a better chance of staying alive following you, or their own self preservation instincts. To pull that off, well, you have to be, in their minds, worthy of the ultimate trust. How you get there I'll leave to you.

seer

Ok, ok, a few things to consider;

First, how about 'earning' that trust as in :

1. Get competent. if you believe in you, others will too.
2. THINK!!! when things are at their worst, In any dangerous struggle, the one who thinks, lives.
3. Demonstrate to the crew, from the get go- that you care about each of them, that you deem each and every one of them individually important, and worthy of respect.
4.a. Now,This is a biggie- everyone has to know that when it comes to crunch time, its "your way" or the "sea way"....a ship is NOT a democracy, apologies to the poly-sci majors out there.

4b. Warning...you may very well find in your moment of crisis, that YOU are NOT the one best suited to making a life and death decision...remember #2 above...if you've done your homework, you'll know who is and if you know someone else on the boat is the "real" *go to* guy/girl/ leader, then pass the 'hat'...remember he/she who thinks, LIVES
...don't let macho ego or personal insecurities get everyone, including you, killed. History is full of examples.
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Old 25-11-2007, 16:46   #32
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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
Hi, 44'cruisingcat.

By "counterpoint", I meant that here we have an experienced skipper with a proven bluewater yacht embarking on a passage done by countless others (US to BVI in early November). The voyage was well-founded, but mistakes were made. Pfanner made an initial error in judgement by either not checking the Wx forecast, or if having seen it, perhaps decided that they could make Bermuda before Noel hit them. This error brought into play his second error--not having an at least somewhat seasoned crew onboard.

In contrast, Vann's plan pushes well past the limits of rationality on it's face.
How does a "proven bluewater yacht" become "proven"? At some stage someone must have taken it to sea "unproven"?

From the reports David Vann is a VERY experienced sailor. The boat is being purpose-designed by a naval architect. I would expect that the circumnavigation attempt will not be the first time he sails the boat. I am sure there will be sea trials beforehand although probably not as many as most would like.

I doubt if Mr Vann will sail a down reciprocal path straight into a well documented hurricane - I am sure he won't do so with a boat full of inexperienced passengers.
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Old 25-11-2007, 17:14   #33
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A very important aspect of skippering a yacht (and flying a plane) is task loading. Task loading is the addition of tasks to your workload requiring prioritization and the ability to multitask. Being "ahead" of the boat and the weather allows you to shed tasks or complete them ahead of worsening conditions. Delaying task completion can result in too many tasks needing completion in too little time - task overload.

This weekend we came back from Malaysia in a party of two. After a wonderful ride over in 15 knot winds the ride back the next day was predominantly under the iron genny.

The second boat, a club rental J24, was skippered by a relatively inexperienced skipper and his 15 Y/O son. He had full sails up and was also motoring with teh 4.5hp outboard. We were about 1km ahead and as we looked out we could tell we were going to have to penetrate a pretty good thunderstorm. We started clearing the decks closing hatches, getting our wets out and so on. We were also in a pretty narrow channel so we noted our Course To Steer (CTS) as we knew visibility would get pretty low.

I looked back and there was no activity going on on the J24. Long story short they penetrated the storm with full sail. They heeled well over and then let loose the sails and bore away. Bad idea as they were now headed for the shore. Visibility was dropping so we shot a heading and turned back. We were motoring with all the sails stowed. The wind came up to about 30 knots for a bit.

The point being these were perfectly safe conditions. We were concerned about getting too close to shore so we parelleled up about 250 meters off, gave a horn blast and encouraged them to head up into the wind. At this point they had beam seas and winds and the son was at the helm while dad was on the foredeck trying to douse the sails. No one had a life vest on. The good news is the storm lasted only about 30 minutes and the seas were very slight.

Long story short, all ended well. They finally headed up and got the sails under control.

In talking to the skiper when we got back he described not knowing what to do first, next and so on. He was "surprised" by the storm even though we were tracking it for 30 minutes before we hit it. Wind shift, ripples on the water, virga, and then visible rain on the sea. We talked a lot about keeping your head out of the boat, being aware of changes and planning ahead.

It was also instinct to bear away when the boat heeled over but that was the wrong move and made the sail handling a lot more troublesome as everything ended up in the drink as it was lowered.

Dropping the genny on that boat at the first sign of the storm, especially short handed, would have been the right call. The J24 sails easily with just the main and with the outboard propelling you can always head up and bail on the main if you have to.

The great news is that it all worked out and the skipper has added a ton of experience to his arsenal.

Keep your head out of the boat, manage tasks early and in terms of task priorities, drove the boat first and don't run aground.
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Old 26-11-2007, 03:58   #34
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Dan,

I could NOT agree more! What you're describing, in a word, is EXPERIENCE (some of it earned the hard way, right?).
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Old 26-11-2007, 05:34   #35
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What would you have done differently?

Last year on 3 November I ran into trouble en route to Bermuda from Halifax resulting in the loss of my PDQ 36. My wife and I, the only two on board are both trained and experienced cruisers, and we were prepared for extreme conditions but the end result was still the loss of our boat. It is tragic that people lose life and ship at sea but unfair to sit home and speculate on what could have or would have been done. Since our loss we have been the subject of criticism from numerous "armchair admirals" who sit back and speculate on what we should have done differently. Some say we should not have gone out in such weather. The fact is we were downloading real time weather which showed us in 10 kt winds and 1 - 2 metre seas at a time when we were experiencing 58 kt winds and 10 metre seas. It was only after our rescue the weather reports and forcasters began to show a stationary, developing storm in our area. What would I have done different, you ask? If I had known we were going to be in a stationary storm I would have run off instead of heaving to, but the weather forcasters were all predicting fair conditions and we believed this storm would soon pass. Otherwise we would have made the same decisions. It is unfair to the sailors who run into trouble to sit back and speculate on what if anything they did wrong.
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Old 26-11-2007, 05:50   #36
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There's a big difference between getting caught out by an unforcast storm, and sailing hundreds of miles straight at a documented and named hurricane though.
We've been in a similar, but less severe situation to what you were in - being in a fairly severe local storm while the weather forecasts for your area are all clear.

In your situation what would I do differently? No idea, possibly nothing. But I doubt if either of us would sail South East for a hundred miles straight at a hurricane that was moving North West.
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Old 26-11-2007, 05:57   #37
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It is unfair to the sailors who run into trouble to sit back and speculate on what if anything they did wrong.
First, condolences on losing your boat--I can only imagine what a heart-wrenching experience that must have been for you and your wife.

I certainly understand your point about "arm chair sailors" passing judgement. Hindsight is always easier than foresight. And some of the comments and observations can seem a bit flip or condescending, expecially from those who have never experienced extreme conditions far from shore.

On the other hand, every incident such as Pfanner's can be viewed as a learning experience for those who choose to view it that way. If you read the comments and questions of "newbie" and "wannabe" offshore sailors on this Forum, it's clear that reading an account of a "trial by fire" can give them a valuable perspective on offshore passagemaking. Comments and analysis from experienced sailors can add to that learning. There will always be some gratuitous comments on an open forum like this, but there're some valuable nuggets in there, too.

I've read some "lessons learned" post-mortems by sailors who did some things right and some things wrong in trying circumstances, and were good enough to share their insights with others, even though it opened them up to criticism. Very valuable!

All the best,
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Old 26-11-2007, 06:07   #38
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According to Dale Carnegie: ďAny fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do.Ē
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Old 26-11-2007, 08:16   #39
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Quote:

. The fact is we were downloading real time weather which showed us in 10 kt winds and 1 - 2 metre seas at a time when we were experiencing 58 kt winds and 10 metre seas. It was only after our rescue the weather reports and forcasters began to show a stationary, developing storm in our area. What would I have done different, you ask? If I had known we were going to be in a stationary storm I would have run off instead of heaving to, but the weather forcasters were all predicting fair conditions and we believed this storm would soon pass. Otherwise we would have made the same decisions. It is unfair to the sailors who run into trouble to sit back and speculate on what if anything they did wrong.[/quote]


I once brought a 54 foot sloop down from Seattle to San Pedro. Personally went into the NOAA offices to get the forecast..."sleighride" they said, 10 to 12 knot winds, 4 to 6 foot seas...bout as good as it gets on that trip...
within 24 hours 3 of the six crew were completely incapacitated, including the one professional sailor on board and we were running for our lives out into the north pacific in a storm that saw the known loss of ten boats, including one 100' foot plus fisherman, and 3 of those lost went down with all hands.

I accordingly commiserate with you on the bad intel you received. On the other hand, arm chair quarterbacking can be divided into two camps...those who unfairly criticize as you put it, and those who merely try to analyze to learn something from the experience of others.

In your instance, I would like to ask what caused the loss of the vessel? Did it break up? start taking on water? Was this a cat? and you said you were hove too? was it stress on the boat from heaving too that caused damage?
Not everyone survives the loss of a vessel at sea accordingly, .please forgive me for trying to use this opportunity to get some first hand information. If you'd rather not, I will understand.

sincerely,

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Old 26-11-2007, 12:10   #40
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We were riding out the weather on a sea anchor when at 2300 hrs a wave fell on the boat, totally engulfing us and damaging our rig. We have sailed tens of thousands of miles, much of it offshore, and have encountered our fair share of bad weather, but never have we had a wave fall on us like that! As we were mid way between Halifax and Bermuda , too far from help to survive in those conditions long enough for help to arrive if we were to sustain further damage,( 500 NM East of Cape Cod)I decided to request assistance and activated our EPIRB. A 195 metre tanker came to assist but we asked them to not take us alongside as we were totally incompatible ( 35' freeboard vs 4' freeboard)and we were stable although incapacitated. The next morning the tanker approached us from our bow despite our objections, hit us head on, and sunk us. I believe we would not have lost our boat had the collision not occurred, and would have recovered her.
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Old 26-11-2007, 12:21   #41
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...arm chair quarterbacking can be divided into two camps...those who unfairly criticize as you put it, and those who merely try to analyze to learn something from the experience of others...
Indeed.
An instructive criticism might result from an analytical review; however any judgement remains the opinion, learned or otherwise, of itís author.
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Old 26-11-2007, 12:34   #42
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We were riding out the weather on a sea anchor when at 2300 hrs a wave fell on the boat, totally engulfing us and damaging our rig. We have sailed tens of thousands of miles, much of it offshore, and have encountered our fair share of bad weather, but never have we had a wave fall on us like that! As we were mid way between Halifax and Bermuda , too far from help to survive in those conditions long enough for help to arrive if we were to sustain further damage,( 500 NM East of Cape Cod)I decided to request assistance and activated our EPIRB. A 195 metre tanker came to assist but we asked them to not take us alongside as we were totally incompatible ( 35' freeboard vs 4' freeboard)and we were stable although incapacitated. The next morning the tanker approached us from our bow despite our objections, hit us head on, and sunk us. I believe we would not have lost our boat had the collision not occurred, and would have recovered her.
I am so sorry to hear that.

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Old 26-11-2007, 13:41   #43
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We were riding out the weather on a sea anchor when at 2300 hrs a wave fell on the boat, totally engulfing us and damaging our rig. We have sailed tens of thousands of miles, much of it offshore, and have encountered our fair share of bad weather, but never have we had a wave fall on us like that! As we were mid way between Halifax and Bermuda , too far from help to survive in those conditions long enough for help to arrive if we were to sustain further damage,( 500 NM East of Cape Cod)I decided to request assistance and activated our EPIRB. A 195 metre tanker came to assist but we asked them to not take us alongside as we were totally incompatible ( 35' freeboard vs 4' freeboard)and we were stable although incapacitated. The next morning the tanker approached us from our bow despite our objections, hit us head on, and sunk us. I believe we would not have lost our boat had the collision not occurred, and would have recovered her.
It sounds like you were just very, very, unlucky. With the forecast, with the wave, and with the rescue. That can happen to anyone.

In no way does that compare to deliberately sailing straight into the path of a hurricane with a boat load of novices.
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Old 26-11-2007, 17:09   #44
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CoolCat - Many sympathies on your loss. However I hope you can see the differences in the stories. This is the internet and we come here to sit around the campfire and share experiences. Yours reinforces my opinion. The rescue will happen after the rig is damaged and the storm is abating. In other words often the worst of it is over and in a few hours you could cut away rig, make repairs and limp your way to port. Your loss doesn't sound like a sailing loss. It's a collision loss.

Staying with the boat until it sinks seems to be the right call although I am sure there are instances that are the exception.

I recently finished, "Left For Dead' about the '79 Fastnet race. The crew was completely experienced and the quote that sticks with me was something like, "No matter how much sailing you have done, nothing could prepare you for the storm that night."

I think most sailors will be like that. You have to pack away all this knowledge and hope when the time comes to apply it, that it works as advertised.

He also said staying with the boat as long as it float is probably the right call.

I have been in 10 foot seas and 40 knot winds. Childs play for most of the guys here. I am stepping forward cautiously and gathering knowledge as I go along. Next year I am arranging to crew on some delivery passages. This will really help me gain hands on real world ocean experience with some of our regions most experienced guys.
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Old 26-11-2007, 19:36   #45
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We left the Bay heading to St Thomas Oct 29 and missed Noel
was not hard to do..
C Nut Trip from The Cheasapeak Bay to the Islands

Also for the Don't leave the vessel until you have to step up rule.... I would have rescued these two guys if they stayed with the broken down jet ski..
They got the boat name wrong it is C NUT not Sea Knot..I sailed out of san juan that morning on the same path the jet ski was on and found it...they never found the two guys..
NEVER EVER EVER LEAVE THE BOAT!!
CG Searches for 2 in Aguadilla Bay

AND
ONCE YOU REQUEST HELP YOU GET IT!!..
Don't set off an EPRIB or put out a mayday unless someone is getting off the boat for life or death reasons... once a ship responds they can't leave you and it costs them thousands to divert and rescue you and by law they can't leave. So be ready to abandon ship if you send out that distress call unless one person is having a medical emergency. The CG will sometimes hang around just in case but a commercial vessel is probably going to pick you up wether you like the way they do it or not

And for can the Coast Guard find you on the ocean?
This guy feel off that cruise ship right in front of us..and two sport fisherman, one large adn one small freighter and 3 other sailboats and we watched the cruise ship he fell off turn around to look for him too. We all searched along with 2 CCG helicopters...He was never found either..some peole won't sail with me anymore after that trip... 2 incidents 2 weeks apart in the same trip with people lost at sea..I wear my safety harness religously now
Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing N.C. Man :: WRAL.com
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