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Old 26-11-2007, 20:13   #46
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1 Cool Cat, thank you for sharing your experience. I find this kind of first-hand experience invaluable, especially when it comes from experienced sailor like yourself. To me, your experience shows:
1. every vessel can get caught in a storm/bad weather, be prepared
2. sea anchors work
3. boats are often tougher than their crew

I am sorry for your loss and thanks again for sharing your experience. It is something we can learn from.
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Old 18-04-2008, 12:34   #47
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According to the Royal Gazzette, a Bermuda newspaper, the U.S. Coast Guard has published a report on the loss of the Valiant 42, Albatross.

The Royal Gazette
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Old 18-04-2008, 15:37   #48
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This has been a very good review of survival issues when faced with the “pros and cons” of abandoning your yacht by…. transferring to a freighter in a storm…… or riding it out till the weather improves and/or it sinks under you and you have to abandon.

I particularly want to complement the sage advice of Maxingout (post#29) and Ex-Calif (#33) for pointing out that being proactive and prepared for survival by giving your crew psychological support and firm guidance in this kind of panic situation, is critical to remaining in command of the situation. For example, the investment in survival suits would have probably calmed the panicked crew of Albatross to wait until daylight before attempting a transfer.

Now to a critique of what I feel is at the heart of these tragedies and as 1 Cool Cat contributed in (#40) … it is the competency of the Master of the rescuing Freighter to affect a safe rescue!

Imagine how this scenario would unfold from a psychological viewpoint:

The skipper/crew of a troubled yacht in a storm, has for prudence reasons alerted some RCC to find out if there are any vessels in the area that might be able to come to their assistance because of storm conditions.

An event is recorded; rescue agencies decide to task a commercial ship to detour towards the yacht in case of an actual mayday situation.

Remember!...The master of the commercial ship, while obliged to help both morally and legally, knows that this is going to cost the company money and part of his employee mindset is to minimize delays and avoid any loss or damage to company equipment or ship’s cargo.

The yacht skipper starts to feel that events are overtaking him and while he has faith in his boat and himself, because “professionals” are arriving on the scene, there is a psychological weakness to feel obliged to follow instructions. (Or else they might leave!)

This is where things can start to go bad!

A Deep sea master generally has limited ship handling practice (Pilots and tugs dock the ship). Will be very concerned about being hove to in rough conditions because of cargo shifting, structural stresses and causing strain on machinery, filters etc… He will be pressing to get this done as quickly as possible, so he can get underway.

He will have a tendency to dictate to the yacht skipper what he wants to do and may actually start to do it without his permission. (As 1 Cool Cat said trying to come alongside bow on to seas or where Albatross had crew crushed between the ship sides in the dark)

This is where the yacht skipper MUST assert command and strongly demand that the rescue ship “Stands By” until it is safe to do a transfer, or to determine if no assistance is needed as conditions improve.

Be very specific in your request and ask the master to confirm that. “Under no circumstances will he try and come alongside in these conditions!”

The Basic solution is to avoid hard contact while controlling transfer:

1. If the situation is severe and the yacht is foundering then the skipper should have already prepared a long floating line (poly) with red pick up float to attach to his own life raft once he decides to deploy and abandon his yacht. Get in the life raft, cut loose from the yacht and stretch out the pick up line once clear.

2. If the yacht has no life raft then request that the Master deploy his own life raft or suitable “soft” floating device on a very long floating painter and that he slowly tows it across the path of the yacht so that the crew can transfer and get free of the yacht. Let him know that you will reimburse his company for the cost of deploying the Life raft! (Biggest challenge here is not to foul the tow rope under the yacht, if so, be prepared to cut and use your own pick up line as in 1)

After that, make sure that each of your crew is tied on to a safety line, before climbing up the boarding net and take things slow and easy with the freighter crew as they can be rough!

The key point I am making in the above is that as the skipper, even though you are being rescued, you have both the legal and moral obligation to control how that rescue is being carried out keeping in mind the limitations of your boat and crew and the limitations of your rescuer.

Go thru that worst case scenario with your crew. Check your equipment and be prepared to survive a rescue attempt by a freighter during a storm.
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Old 18-04-2008, 15:44   #49
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The key point I am making in the above is that as the skipper, even though you are being rescued, you have both the legal and moral obligation to control how that rescue is being carried out keeping in mind the limitations of your boat and crew and the limitations of your rescuer.

Go thru that worst case scenario with your crew. Check your equipment and be prepared to survive a rescue attempt by a freighter during a storm.
Pelagic,

Great post! You've made a key point, indeed!
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Old 18-04-2008, 15:59   #50
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"Now to a critique of what I feel is at the heart of these tragedies and as 1 Cool Cat contributed in (#40) … it is the competency of the Master of the rescuing Freighter to affect a safe rescue!"

Sorry, but I just gotta disagree with the basic premise of this argument. If I understand correctly what Pelagic is saying, he's attributing the success or failure of the endeavor to the master of the ship coming to the rescue. This seems to me to be placing responsibility -- and potential blame -- in exactly the wrong place.

If a small vessel in distress calls for assistance and a large commercial ship volunteers or is directed to try to help, it seems to me the onus is still on the master of the distressed vessel to do everything possible to ensure a safe rescue. It's true enough that ship masters are usually not experienced in deep sea rescues of small boat sailors in distress, and it's true that they have schedules to meet, but the fact of their responding to the classic call of a mariner in distress should be enough to demonstrate their good will. After all, their action is costing the company many thousands of dollars under even the most favorable conditions. They are not professional SAR personnel, nor are they salvagers.

A Valiant 42 is by design an extremely seaworthy vessel. Under the conditions cited, it should never have been abandoned....and certainly not by jumping willy nilly into the sea in storm conditions. The "crew" was clearly out of control and, tragically, it resulted in two needless deaths.

Assuming the captain of the V42 was in radio contact with the rescue ship, what could he have been thinking, allowing the ship to get so close and attempt a "jump into the boarding nets" transfer????

This situation was not like the case of Satori, the Tahiti ketch in the "Perfect Storm". In that scenario, the USCG was on scene, in charge, and ordered the entire crew off the boat due to very extreme conditions....far beyond those experienced by the Albatross. Yet, the boat did just fine, and turned up some weeks later on the Outer Banks in NC.

That said, I believe the steps outlined by Pelagic to be very good ones, and illuminate the kind of thinking the captain of the rescued vessel should be doing.

Bill




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Old 18-04-2008, 16:15   #51
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yeah, good post. Thought provoking..........

I can see how it may come as a very tempting relief in certain circumstances to surrender authority over decisions to others in the belief (hope?) that they do know what is best........especially when this comes from an authority figure (real or perceived)......and especially when the folk involved are tired / scared for themselves or for others and are unsure of the alternatives.

I guess being Skipper means exerting command over both boat and crew - and if unsure whether you would be able to retain command over certain crew members (or numbers?) if things take a turn for the worse, then perhaps best not to take them? Panic can be contagious and not helped by losing faith in the leader / Skipper.........yourself?..........

FWIW, I think a good crew briefing goes a long way to providing advance warning of what to expect / can happen and what the Crew will be required to do (and not do) and what the Skipper will be doing, including for if (when!) things go wrong. And explaining in advance that sometimes this will involve the Crew simply doing what they are told (without a group discussion) - even if that is only to go down below and lie in a bunk safely out of harms way! (Out of the Skipper's hair?!).

I was once crewing down to Spain, lost confidence in the Skipper's navigational abilities early on (wanted to go accross land cos' the GPS said to. and you could see the land ), but no worries as he was quite happy for me to take over. But I nonetheless gradually lost more and more confidence in the Skipper's Judgement as the trip wore on - nothing major, more a gradual erosion of confidence. Near trips end we had an encounter with a Ferry at night - to this day I really think it was more luck than Skippers judgement (but he swore otherwise)........but I did defer to his position as Skipper. Just.

I think being with good Skippers (or even of being a good Skipper yourself) can lull you into a false sense of security......from assuming a bit too much of the Skipper you are under.
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Old 18-04-2008, 18:06   #52
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Sorry, but I just gotta disagree with the basic premise of this argument. If I understand correctly what Pelagic is saying, he's attributing the success or failure of the endeavor to the master of the ship coming to the rescue. This seems to me to be placing responsibility -- and potential blame -- in exactly the wrong place.
Hi Bill,

I think you have completely misunderstood my point and in fact we seem to agree that it remains the responsibility of the skipper to be aware of the dangers of rescue by a freighter, if he were to choose that option.

Good will and intention has nothing to do with the reality that many foreign flagged ship captains have no training in a delicate recue operation and will barge in for a quick grab not realizing that this is the wrong method.

Add language differences and you can see why I advocate being prepared and proactive in training yourself and crew for a better way to do it, if you had no other choice.

The other point I want to emphasise is to slow down that process in the hopes that it may not be necessary…… by remembering and recognising your rights to hold that standby rescue vessel nearby till you deem it is absolutely necessary to transfer.

Nick
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Old 18-04-2008, 19:11   #53
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A Valiant 42 is by design an extremely seaworthy vessel. Under the conditions cited, it should never have been abandoned....and certainly not by jumping willy nilly into the sea in storm conditions. The "crew" was clearly out of control and, tragically, it resulted in two needless deaths.


I think in cases like this, it is purely a psychological issue. If you've been out in rough stuff (talking in general, not to you, btrayfors), you know what I mean. The thing you want most in live at that moment is to get the f*&( off that boat! It is only the logic and rational thought of the trained crew that knows the boat is going to stay afloat, even if they are incapacitated. If the crew isn't well trained and doesn't remember this little tidbit of info, they will do almost anything to get off that wild ride.

I'd guess maybe this could have had something to do with them abandoning ship.

PS: I'm not a "you did this or that wrong" type of armchair analyzer. I am the type who likes to discuss this stuff to picture it happening and be prepared since so few of us (luckily) are ever in the situation.
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Old 06-08-2010, 17:42   #54
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He had a great sea boat, sorry they did not stay with her. Likely their only problem would have been sea-sickness. Understand she was found dry with only the mast above the second spreader broken. Likely she could have easily completed her voyage without assistance.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:28   #55
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Thanks for that info, olegunny. Do you know if the boat was salvaged?
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Old 07-08-2010, 07:28   #56
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Yet another sobering story. Having been caught in a storm with 30ft swell, and winds 40kn gusting 60 whilst on board a 32ft yacht, I cannot appreciate why anyone would prefer to be in the water rather than on the boat - if it's still floating!!

This incident - and all others along this vein - are sobering. And I truly appreciate the words of advice from Pelagic and others, which give us food for thought, and will hopefully help us to be better prepared if ever faced with a similar scenario.
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Old 07-08-2010, 07:45   #57
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.....I cannot appreciate why anyone would prefer to be in the water rather than on the boat - if it's still floating!!
If you're on land and you have any form of vehicular breakdown, the advice is to stay with the vehicle. It seems to be good advice for boats too.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:49   #58
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Albatross

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Thanks for that info, olegunny. Do you know if the boat was salvaged?
I think so. I will ask Rich or Randy Worstell this coming week.
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:56   #59
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This is a great thread, even for some of us with 1000's of miles under our keels. I can always learn something of value. One question regarding the apparent weather misunderstanding/misinformation... are weather routers available on the eastern and southern seaboards? On almost all of my west coast deliveries, from Alaska to Costa Rica, I have used a weather router to give me not only real time but forecast sea conditions, wind speed/direction and sea buoy data out several hundreds of miles off the coast. This info is in addition to VHF weather reports, weatherfax data, etc I get routinely on my own. These folks are very reasonable cost wise in my opinion and surprisingly accurate. Tragedies like the one related here underline the heavy responsibility that a skipper assumes when he takes a vessel and passengers to sea. My heartfelt condolences to all who have lost friends and loved ones out there... Capt Phil
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Old 31-08-2010, 06:16   #60
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Good will and intention has nothing to do with the reality that many foreign flagged ship captains have no training in a delicate recue operation and will barge in for a quick grab not realizing that this is the wrong method.
Thats a rather unfair assessment of "foreign" captains.

Pelagic, I put your methods to a commercial capitan, He does not agree.

Firstly no ship will approach the yacht per say. WHat they do is provide a lee and if the yacht has power then it approaches. Only if the yacht is dead in the water does the ship approach.

The transfer, as already stated, is the most difficult, and in practice you will have to accept that your yacht may be trashed in the process.

Its worth noting that in the 2009 ARC, there where two transfer to ships,one at night , both where completed succesfully ( both were foreign). In one the yacht life raft was used , but it was regarded as a very hair raising process, that alomost resulted in the loss of the person.

The commercial capitan said that deploying ships liferafts is a complete no no as they are not designed to be retrieved by the ship, and in most cases are bigger then the yacht.

Often using scrambling nets is the only option and usually that results in damage to the yacht, usually the rigging comes down.

There is no safe way. the yacht liferaft is frought with dangers and was regarded by the yachts skipper as a desperate last resort as they needed to maintain a sea worthy yacht. The ARC transfer took over two hours to actually complete!.

The best method is that the ship lowers a RIB or boat and does the pickup, but lots of commercial ships dont have thoses faclities or the conditions prevent deployment.

In practice in a complete abandonement will more then likely result in severe damage to the yacht alongside.

As to who controls the rescue, actually under GMDSS rules , the control of a rescue is handled to the "on scene commander" and in practice and in the absence of specific rescue personell, that will be the commercial ships master, not you the rescurer. You as the yachts skipper can obviously request help be provided in a particular way , but untilmately the rescuer controls the rescue.

Dave
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