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Old 07-04-2006, 08:20   #1
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Quite a Story, Lagoon Cat in French Polynesia

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/f...1c18wreck.html
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Old 07-04-2006, 12:21   #2
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Definitely a cautionary tale.
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Old 07-04-2006, 12:42   #3
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Link to part 2 is at top part of the page.

or even here
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Old 07-04-2006, 13:25   #4
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The article didn't mention that anybody was on watch. when the catamaran hit the reef?

This story can serve as another example of the dangers involved with sailing!!

Even with the most cold calculated planned out trips, could be the last one?

Every sailing skipper has to take that into consideration?
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Old 07-04-2006, 14:48   #5
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How SHOULD this accident have been avoided?????

Are these reefs noted on the charts for that area?

Would a watchstander have been able to see these reefs? and if so, would it have been in time to avoid them????

How should they have handled things differently AFTER running aground to better avoid injury and promote better survival?

I don't mean to sound like a teacher asking questions! I'm genuinely interested in how those of you with blue water Pacific experience would have avoided/handled this situation, so I can avoid/better handle things myself.
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Old 07-04-2006, 20:29   #6
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Wow! IMHO, this is just one of those things that happens. No matter how much planning and preparation you do, when something like this happens, it just happens. It does not sound like anyone failed to do what they should. It is sort of like driving down the road, and having a car come fro a side street and T-Bone you. There is just no way to avoid it. It would be easy to sit back and say he should have kept a more diligent watch, or should have relyed less on the accuracy of the charts, or maybe he should have had forward sounding sonar, and spent his time watching it, but the reality is, one person, can only watch so much at one time, and the life we choose is full of hazards. It really sounds like they have taken from this experience, some very positive life lessons. Sad as the whole thing is, they all got away with their lives. That is the best any of us can hope for. I would invite John to sail with me anytime.
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Old 08-04-2006, 08:50   #7
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Lightfin,
I've sailed thru the Tuamotus and can vouch that you cannot see an atoll's outer reef until you are on it. I had a close call myself, where I had to alter a course I "knew" was safe. A watch probably wouldn't have caught it unless there was some surf and some moon. When I'm close to land at night like that I plot my course every 20 minutes until I am certain I'm clear. Makes for long nights sometimes, but beats the alternative.

As to the suggestions the article makes that the reefs were not accurately marked, that was not my experience. The French charts are especially good, though I don't know what he was using. You don't scrimp on charts. As to his mistakes after hitting the reef, he had apparently dropped the main earlier and was motorsailing with the jib up. When the boat struck the reef, he should have freed the jib sheets immediately before going forward. It seems to me that he didn't, and that the jib then pulled the stick down upon him when he was forward. The sticks on the Lagoons are deck stepped, and I guess the jib filled and pulled the chain plates or the sheaves. Some of this is speculation on my part, but it seems the likely scenario.

Kai Nui's right on though, that John & his family have taken a disaster and taken something positive away from it.
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Old 08-04-2006, 12:07   #8
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Sounds like it falls in the category of "S--- Happens!"

My daughter was driving west on I-64 a couple of weeks ago when a front wheel came off of a 2000 Dodge Ram pickup driving EAST on the interstate highway. The wheel came across the median and slammed into the left front wheelwell of my daughter's car!! Thank God noone was hurt, but the car was totaled.

If she were just a few seconds earlier or later she would have missed it. A multi-million to one shot!
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Old 08-04-2006, 17:51   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightfin
How SHOULD this accident have been avoided?????

Are these reefs noted on the charts for that area?

Would a watchstander have been able to see these reefs? and if so, would it have been in time to avoid them????
I read this some time ago - and it was discussed on another forum. Quite a story. Although the reef wasn't necessarily visible, it was part of an inhabited atoll. It was noted in the story that he had that atoll in sight several hours preceding the grounding. He plotted a course that he felt would have passed a safe distance away. But he was using GPS and autopilot. Just speculation, but I would bet his GPS was not on the same datum as the chart. Many charts of remote islands in the Pacific don't actually have a defined datum, so their charted positions do not necessarily line up with WGS84 or whatever the GPS unit is set to.

He could have used a visual/radar fix to confirm GPS positioning. He could have used a parallel index on his radar to pass at a safe distance. He could have doubled the angle on the bow of the visible atoll to confirm his closest point of approach. Even if the atoll was not in the charted position, the reef was charted in relation to the visible part of the atoll. Any one of those techniques would have prevented this. Over-reliance on GPS has caused a lot of groundings, so knowing how to navigate by traditional means and doing so is prudent seamanship.
My 2 cents.

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Old 08-04-2006, 18:06   #10
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I think that Lightfin is correct in categorizing this disaster. Life is full of risks and if you never take any you'll never live. A terrible stroke of bad luck and particularly unfortunately in the middle of what seemed like an ideal family adventure.

I have friends who recently returned from the Society Islands and they reported that the charts and GPS deviate substantially. So while the charts are fairly good, you need to use piloting skills to fix yourself not GPS. I also second the watch requirement and I am partial to staying in known waters or open ocean at night. None of these items are knocks in any way, I'm sure this family knew what they were doing (you have to interpret the reporting) and everyone draws their own line in the sand and chooses to break their own rules out of convenience sometimes.

Too bad the papers rarely report the stories of the 100s of happy world travelers sailing out there. I grow weary explaining my pursuit to folks biased by media hype and sensationalism.
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Old 08-04-2006, 21:17   #11
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Latitudes are more accurate. Right?

I don't have experience with this but have read that latitudes are more accurate than Longitude so when going to a desolate isalnd one should approach it on its latitude rather than the longitude. I think that traditional navigation or a combo of traditional and radar would've helped. On the other hand I've been there and the currents among the atolls can be quite severe. Most accidents happen when errors are compounded and having to meet a schedule doesn't help. Besides you are never supposed to leave on a journey on Friday.

What can we learn from this?

1) Time passages through channels so that you can do make them in the day time.

2) Use redundant navigation methods whenever possible.

3) Prepare an emergency bag that you can access quickly.

Any other ideas?


S#@t happensbut navigators need to keep that to a minimum.

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Old 08-04-2006, 21:59   #12
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Charlie's right on with the strong currents in the area. Two and three knot drifts are not uncommon, and coupled with wind the effect can be magnified. As to the deviation between GPS position and chart, I can't really comment except to say that you have to be pretty damn good to mark your position on a larger scale chart with enough accuracy to critique the chart's identification of the mark's position. I'm using some older Magellans (which I will throw overboard and replace with anything other than Mag or Garmin when the units fail), and they are not WAAS enabled, so I err on the wide side when I try a passage at night. I just this week purchased a Sitex Navmate 5.7 from Jason (a good guy--fellow blowboater) at C-Map, and also bought the Max C-Map charts for the area. It's my understanding that the new charts--brought out in Feb--have overlaid the existing charts with satellite imagery and that the accuracy of the charts are much improved. Will share what I find out, as I still use paper and am interested to compare the plotter with the paper charts.

Just to second what Charlie, Lightfin & Randy observed, this event was an anomaly, which is what makes it remarkable. The vast majority of cruising is uneventful, but we are a community and as such have common concerns as to safety and maximizing a wonderful experience. Events like this one, unfortunate as they are, at least serve to make one think about what he would do if faced with a similar disaster. That makes them worth revisiting, though the worry they cause our loved ones when read is a problem. (Linda has informed me that she officially will not be sleeping well until she knows that I am clear of the area--I'm leaving on roughly the same course in about two weeks.)

A sidenote as to charts when inshore in SP waters--they do NOT show coral heads, so the only time to cruise "inside" is the middle of the day when the sun is high and you can birddog the coral. Trying to navigate inside the outer reef by chart is lunacy and asking for trouble. Most of the charter companies in the area require the boats take a mooring by 4:00 (so they're up for grabs after 4:00!)
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Old 27-06-2006, 20:31   #13
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I think that this accident could have been avoided. Firstly, it seems no one was on watch. Would a watch have prevented the grounding? Who knows. They could have also set the depth alarm. I don't know what the depth was in the general area, but the depth alarm could have helped. Or, the person on watch could have noticed the depth changing quickly.
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Old 28-06-2006, 01:31   #14
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Very Good writing! I was impressed.
I agree with jzk in a technical sense but understand how you can get a little comfortable... complacent. The depth alarm would have been a good idea. 7 miles isn't that far off land in coral country
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Old 28-06-2006, 08:50   #15
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Addtionally, having someone on watch right there might have been able to notice the changes in depth as they approached.

And even more importantly, the watch person might have been able to take more immediate action - a quick change of course, release of a sheet, or whatever.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the same thing couldn't happen to me. But I guess that we should all try to learn as much as possible from these kinds of reports.
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