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Old 27-07-2013, 12:30   #31
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

So far, besides hearsay from one member of this forum, I haven't seen any published statements that allude to sabotage or a known engine problem. If the captain thought that whatever problem there was had been sufficiently fixed, then there was no bad judgement in getting underway. Also, to clarify what even was confusing me quite a bit from the reports, Astrid did NOT hit the Sovereign Islands. She ran aground NEAR the islands, on the mainland. That's a little harder to avoid when it's a lee shore. You can see a road and some cultivated fields in this photo. The Sovereign Islands don't have that.


As for using the video as a timeline, there are obvious cuts in it that could relate to long periods of time. So saying that the headsails were only up briefly is pure conjecture. We see the boat before they're set, and we see the boat as they're being doused. Who knows how long they were set before that? Also, they main seems to be quite effectively set, so it was not just the main stays'l that was effective. In those seas, most boats without steerage will end up beam to the seas very soon. Getting the bow or stern around takes speed. Obviously, they didn't get enough of that, or they most likely would have tried for what at least appears to be some sea room astern of them. They even tried using a small boat to get their head around (I've heard with a 90hp engine?), but that wasn't enough. That kind of shows how hard it is to come about in these kinds of seas with this vessel. On these vessels, jibs are not major driving sails, and act more for balance than anything. This is much different than most modern sailboats. A long, heavy steel boat does not turn on a dime like fin keel yachts, either.

I'm still wondering what "(very) bad judgement call" the skipper made? Getting underway in non-perfect seas in a flotilla, of which you are the largest boat? Having a crew that included 23 trainees (and fulfilling the mission of the boat)? POSSIBLY, getting underway IF there was actually a known engine problem that was known to not have been fixed. However, besides hearsay (and I'm not denying it as a possibility), I haven't heard any evidence of prior problems with the engine. Estarzinger has two points that I do agree with. This was an avoidable incident, at least when viewed with 20/20 hindsight (hey, if I know every time before I have a bad incident at sea, I'd just stay in port that day). Secondly, that discussing it is good to learn from and not repeat the mistake. I'm all for this, but at the same time, automatically placing blame on the captain who, though ultimately responsible (for the good and bad), is not always productive discussion. It is also not productive to sneer him for being on a sailboat and using the engine. I know of very few square riggers that sail without an engine, and they generally have a chase boat/tug standing by or escorting them. Using the tools available is not a bad thing at all. Would people scoff them for not being 'real sailors' because they use GPS, electric bilge pumps/alarm systems, VHF radio, or any other modern navigational tool?

Ultimately, I stand by my statement that the captain used good judgement. After an unforeseeable engine failure (even if they had had some difficulty with the engine, complete failure and the poor timing was probably not be predicted-if the captain did know of an engine problem and got underway before addressing it sufficiently, then I will change my opinion), he got underway with a number of other boats to make a relatively short journey. They attempted two different techniques (tow and sailing) to try and save the ship, but were unsuccessful. There was only about one hour from when they lost the engine to when they were aground. Yet, he was able to get everyone safely off of the boat without injuries (I read in one article that there were some who were given medical attention, but none that needed hospitalization-so at least nothing major). This shows good judgement by the captain. As anyone who has spent enough time at sea knows, sometimes accidents happen. It's easy to armchair quarterback every decision and think of ways that may have avoided disaster. However, it's the quick thinking when disaster does strike that matters. The boat, though historic, was insured. The people are more important. The captain had his priorities strait and did what was humanly possible.
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Old 27-07-2013, 14:43   #32
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

Just FYI . . . . here is the AIS track. I have added in the distance measurement. For some reason, their AIS appears to have stopped when the motor quit.

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I am perfectly happy to agree to disagree with you on whether the skipper should have been prepared and able to sail out of this in a nice force 5 breeze.
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Old 27-07-2013, 15:24   #33
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

Thanks for the AIS track. I'll agree to disagree on whether he should have been able to sail out of there. Being prepared to sail out of this and being able are two very different matters. He was sailing a square rigger (not exactly known for their ability to point very high) with a primarily novice crew. Even with professional crews, many sailing vessels have been lost on lee shores, including that one. I believe that he sure tried his best, given the time he was given. To me, it appears that he didn't have the time or sea room to build up any momentum to get the brig through the swells to windward and fight the current. Force 5 is lovely sailing, but 4m swells sure slow things down a bit.

I am not trying to absolve the captain of any responsibility, and I can't wait until the official report (or even more information) comes out about this. I just don't think that jumping on the captain at this point is really justified, given the current information. Also, and I may be wrong on this point, I believe that the captain and his wife were owners of Astrid, purchasing her about 7 years ago. He definitely had more motivation than most to keep her off the rocks if it had been possible.
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Old 27-07-2013, 15:59   #34
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

Here are the winds at roughly the time of the incident:

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Most of these vessels today will not sail much above beam to the wind without their motors. "In the old days", before they had motors, they could do a little better, but the added prop drag limits their performance.

Given that . . . he was in a cul-de-sac . . . . and the most obvious practical/possible course of action when the motor died was:

#1 to immediately turn around using the remaining boat speed and momentum from the motor. There was room to make this turn if done immediately.
#2 hoist staysails and head sails, although given the wind direction/strength he could probably have made harbor even on bare poles
#3 prepare anchor
#4 sail back into Oysterhaven
#5 drop anchor under sail.

This skipper did get some sails up. but on a course that he simply could not make. He was in a cul-de-sac and did not respond to that basic fact. This was almost a perfect text book 'tall ship' exercise situation, requiring an immediate and correct decision, which did not come.

As a pilot I was closely instructed and practiced on dead engine landings. As a sailor, when I was young, I was equally instructed in 'having a plan' if/when the engine died (which usually includes having sail up even when motoring). Of course I can and have screwed up (frequently), but I know I have screwed up and should have done better. I still believe this skipper should have done better.
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Old 27-07-2013, 19:14   #35
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

Quote:
Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Here are the winds at roughly the time of the incident:

Attachment 64713

Most of these vessels today will not sail much above beam to the wind without their motors. "In the old days", before they had motors, they could do a little better, but the added prop drag limits their performance.

Given that . . . he was in a cul-de-sac . . . . and the most obvious practical/possible course of action when the motor died was:

#1 to immediately turn around using the remaining boat speed and momentum from the motor. There was room to make this turn if done immediately.
I believe that #1 would be to send a crew member down to the engine room to see what the problem was and if the engine could be restarted and if there were any other problems (fire, flooding, etc.)
#2 hoist staysails and head sails, although given the wind direction/strength he could probably have made harbor even on bare poles
I doubt that he could have made it under bare poles, as it would have been extremely difficult to control the boat without any sails set. That aside, with the current and wind setting him quickly on to the rocks, turning towards them with only fore-aft sails set would probably not be wise. I believe that he tried to come about by tacking and was not able to with the swells.
#3 prepare anchor
Moot point, as he was not able to get to an area to anchor. A loose anchor too early before anchoring can be a liability. #3-5 are great plans, and may have been part of the captain's desire, but he was not able to get clear of the shore in time.
#4 sail back into Oysterhaven
#5 drop anchor under sail.

This skipper did get some sails up. but on a course that he simply could not make. He was in a cul-de-sac and did not respond to that basic fact. This was almost a perfect text book 'tall ship' exercise situation, requiring an immediate and correct decision, which did not come.

I'd hazard to say that the captain knew his boat and her sailing abilities better than either of us. I'm commenting based on my experience on other tall ships (and many are unique, but I have at least sailed a brig and a coupe of larger steel boats). This is a "perfect 'tall ship' exercise situation," because it is very demanding and risky. Without having a detailed timeline, neither of us can really say whether immediate and/or correct decisions were made.

As a pilot I was closely instructed and practiced on dead engine landings. As a sailor, when I was young, I was equally instructed in 'having a plan' if/when the engine died (which usually includes having sail up even when motoring). Of course I can and have screwed up (frequently), but I know I have screwed up and should have done better. I still believe this skipper should have done better.
Having a plan if/when the engine dies is always a good idea (I was often drilled about that on Coast Guard cutters without sails). However, the execution of a plan might not bring out the desired results. It is important to remember that he had himself, 6 crew members (as we saw in the Bounty's inquiry, the level of training could vary widely) and 23 novice trainees. This means that probably one or two crew were assigned to crowd control, and that the deck was harder to move about on with the extra people in the way. The captain did have a plan. In fact, he had two plans (at least). Both passing a tow line and sailing failed. I don't know which one he tried first.
Based off of what I've seen/read so far, I believe I can figure out a probable approximation of what happened. Note, this is purely my conjecture based on what I've seen.

The engine died, captain called all hands and sent out a mayday. He may have tried turning around immediately, I'm not sure, but if he did it could have killed his speed and momentum with those seas very quickly. He was stuck beam to the seas, with a stiff breeze and current pushing him on to the lee shore. In his opinion, trying to tack was better than trying to wear ship (and likely being driven on shore anyway). He set the main stays'l and main to try and bring her head around. This might have been when they attempted to tow the bow around with a small boat. It failed because they just didn't have enough speed to turn the boat. They set heads'ls to keep the bow farther downwind to hopefully build up enough speed to tack, but ended up aground. It appears that the lower tops'l was ready to set, but on a starboard tack, while they were on a port tack. This would have given them a lot more power once they were on the starboard tack, but would have slowed them down and pushed them backwards and toward shore during the tack (if set on a port tack initially, of course).

I'm not saying that your plan would not have had a chance. I'm only saying that I believe that there is evidence that the captain made reasonable decisions to try and save his ship once the engine quit. When they proved ineffective, he looked towards the trainees and crew. I believe that this is good judgement and decision making during an emergency. Something else to remember about larger boats like this, is that nearly everything takes more time than on your average cruising sailboat. The boat turns slower, it builds up speed slower, the sails take longer to set/douse/maneuver with, etc. It was only about 1 hour from when the engine died to when he was on the rocks. I wish that this captain had done better, but I just don't see any conclusive evidence that what he did was wrong. Planes sometimes crash when their engines die, boats sometimes run aground when their engines die. There isn't always a solution. Just because this boat had sails (thus a second attempt at propulsion) doesn't mean that they automatically should have succeeded where a power only vessel would have had no chance.
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Old 27-07-2013, 19:44   #36
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I don't understand Evans comments. astrid went agound at Ballymacus point a headland north west of the sovereigns and just outside oysterhaven. There was a big swell and an onshore wind , the whole coast was a lee shore. Passing inside the Soverigns is common but it doesn't give one much searoom. Once his engine failed , short of a full tow to seaward , he was doomed , turning " around " would have done nothing

The only thing the captain could have done was not been out there at all.

The whole SW coast of Ireland suffers from this problem. That's why there's so many lifeboat stations down there What was interesting was the time line as I understand it

11:30 engine failed
12;00 RNLI launched AWB
12:30 arrived on scene but the boat was already on the rocks.

It seems only a RNLI inshore rib was there first ,( kinsale B class) because any of the AWBs could have towed her,

Was there a delay in the mayday ?

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Old 27-07-2013, 20:00   #37
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

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I don't understand Evans comments. Once his engine failed , short of a full tow to seaward , he was doomed , turning " around " would have done nothing
Dave, the red line is what I am suggesting. An immediate turn would have put the wind (nice f5-6) on the aft quarter and allowed them to sail back into harbor.



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Quote:
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I believe that #1 would be to send a crew member down to the engine room to see what the problem was and if the engine could be restarted and if there were any other problems (fire, flooding, etc.)
I would say that would be #2, or #1(a). Because once the engine died, the turn was time critical. It needed to be done immediately, while the vessel still had both speed thru the water and distance to the lee shore.

You can send someone down to the engine room either during or just after the turn, but you need to make the turn then and there or you are not going to make it. You have to maneuver and plan for the contingency of not being able to restart the engine. If you do then later manage to restart it, its all gravy.

If he could have tacked thru, I agree it would have put them in an even better position. But trying to tack thru with no motor and no sails is risky. You might not make it and then you are screwed. The only reason wearing would not work is if you tell me that this vessel can't turn down (with a headwind helping) in a 400m radius (say 9 boat lengths). I would think she certainly could do that, but perhaps I am wrong.

My approach is actually not very crew intensive. What it is, is judgment intensive. You need to realize you are in a cul-de-sac immediately, and see the one way out, and take that action. If you wait, or try to fix the engine, or look for a tow, your option to sail out on your own closes.
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Old 27-07-2013, 20:22   #38
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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post

Dave, the red line is what I am suggesting. An immediate turn would have put the wind (nice f5-6) on the aft quarter and allowed them to sail back into harbor.

I would say that would be #2, or #1(a). Because once the engine died, the turn was time critical. It needed to be done immediately, while the vessel still had both speed thru the water and distance to the lee shore.

You can send someone down to the engine room either during or just after the turn, but you need to make the turn then and there or you are not going to make it. You have to maneuver and plan for the contingency of not being able to restart the engine. If you do then later manage to restart it, its all gravy.

If he could have tacked thru, I agree it would have put them in an even better position. But trying to tack thru with no motor and no sails is risky. You might not make it and then you are screwed.
But firstly this isn't a tack , he'd have to wear ship , then he'd need sails and speed , ie , otherwise hed just be set down anyway while all the while being set down on the shore. I don't know what searoom he needs to wear ship, but given he was about 400m off shore and being set down , very tricky and possibly not doable , even if doable , he'd end up damm close to the shore I suspect .

More then likely the engine just didnt die, probably lost power , spluttered etc , the immediate reaction would be to check it , given the swell and the wind on the bow , I d say she lost whatever speed she had awful fast. I think its very unreasonable to assume the turn was ever possible. , in a small yacht yes., this one hmmm ?

The trouble is historically without an engine that ship couldn't have attempted that trip in those conditions. The engine allowed the ship to do things ( and get into trouble ) beyond the ability of her sailing capabilities.


Given the sail configuration from the video , I wonder was he attempting it anyway , headsails set to get her to wear and then an attempt to get the main up for speed , he ran out of time and space. The towing attempt by the RNLI rib , was I suspect a last ditch effort after he failed to turn


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Old 27-07-2013, 20:42   #39
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

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But firstly this isn't a tack ,
I know it's not a tack. I never said it was.

he'd have to wear ship , then he'd need sails and speed , ie , otherwise hed just be set down anyway while all the while being set down on the shore. I don't know what searoom he needs to wear ship, but given he was about 400m off shore and being set down , very tricky and possibly not doable , even if doable , he'd end up damm close to the shore I suspect .

As I said above, a key question is whether this vessel could make a 180 degree turn down wind, with a f5-6 headwind helping, in a 400m (9 boat length) radius. I would think she could, but I don't know for sure. Does anyone here?

More then likely the engine just didnt die, probably lost power , spluttered etc , the immediate reaction would be to check it ,

I am suggesting that is exactly the wrong immediate reaction for a vessel like this in a cul-de-sac. It wastes time. Turn NOW, check/fix the engine later.

given the swell and the wind on the bow , I d say she lost whatever speed she had awful fast. I think its very unreasonable to assume the turn was ever possible. , in a small yacht yes., this one hmmm ?

The trouble is historically without an engine that ship couldn't have attempted that trip in those conditions. The engine allowed the ship to do things ( and get into trouble ) beyond the ability of her sailing capabilities.

Agreed. Without the motor she would never have left harbor in those conditions.


Given the sail configuration from the video , I wonder was he attempting it anyway , headsails set to get her to wear and then an attempt to get the main up for speed , he ran out of time and space. The towing attempt by the RNLI rib , was I suspect a last ditch effort after he failed to turn

We don't know much . . . . but my guess from the very little video we have is either (a) he was trying to build up enough speed under sail to tack thru, or (b) he thought sailing up would give him enough time (and space) to get a tow to pull the bow thru.


Dave
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Old 27-07-2013, 21:21   #40
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

Not having been aboard but only reading the account of the tragedy, my hat is off to the skipper for getting his crew and passengers off safely which is his primary responsibility. Those who try and pass judgement on his actions are doing so from not only using 20/20 hindsight but in all probability have never been faced with making the decisions he had to under such extreme circumstances. Until one has been there, they have no business being critical of his actions. Feel better for getting this off my chest! Phil
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Old 27-07-2013, 23:20   #41
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

These ships nowadays are as much engine driven vessels as any other similiar sized vessels - the way this sort of sailing was done pre-engine times was to wait - sometimes for weeks - for favourable winds - just to get in or out of harbour. these boats are not capable of sailing against the weather in tight confines - all credit to the capt and crew in this instance for doing their best, but under the circumstances only a bloody good sized tug could have saved them - maybe.
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Old 28-07-2013, 01:47   #42
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

One other possibility is that the Astrid could have fouled prop and or rudder on lobster pots. The whole area between Oysterhaven and the Sovereigns is littered with them.
While I was over there, lifeboats assisted at least two yachts which had lost steering due to fouling the rudder.
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Old 28-07-2013, 03:04   #43
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders



In this video, one of the crew of the Courtmacsherry lifeboat reports that the wind was from the SE with a strong ebb tide running. In those conditions, I think that would have made getting back in to Oysterhaven quite difficult
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Old 28-07-2013, 09:04   #44
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

I guess I am a in the minority one who feels this way . . . . but I just simply don't consider losing a sailing vessel to engine failure, on a relative nice day, and (apparently) without a cascade of other failures, shows 'excellent skipper judgment'.

Stepping back a level, either:

1. There was a way to sail out of the situation, and I have suggested one (note to Nigel - with a force 5-6, she certainly has sufficient breeze to sail back in against an ebb)

Or if there was no sailing option, then:

2. The course taken coming out of the harbor should have given them more room - going further from shore, in order to give them a sailing option

Or if there was no possibility of a route which gave them enough room for a sailing option:

3. The skipper should have organized an escort vessel that could have towed them (or at least held them) long enough. That's what tugs and escorts do. That's what skippers of motor dependent vessels do. They were in sort of rally or parade, would that not have made sense and not been too difficult to organize.

Or, if there was absolutely no tug or escort option then:

4. They simply should have stayed in harbor. It would show 'excellent judgment' to avoid putting your vessel one failure away from catastrophe. It would have shown excellent judgment to have considered what would happen if the engine failed and had an escape plan.

We all make mistakes. That's simply to be human. But a mistake was made here and I strongly disagree with the comments of 'excellent judgment' and 'did everything he could do' This was avoidable, but it was not avoided.

And yes, I have been in such situations. Sometimes I did well and sometimes I did not. I am just as human as this skipper and have made similar (and worse) mistakes.
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Old 28-07-2013, 10:30   #45
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Re: Another Lovely Old Girl Founders

Have any of you set the sails on a squarerig? Tacked a squarerig? Worked one to weather? I'd be glad to go thru the process, if anyone is interested. I can name a very famous ship that that won't tack at all, unless under power.

We should all know that squarerigs are not very good at going to weather, and especially not from a dead halt. They were designed for long runs before the wind. Raising any of those squaresails would have taken crew time from other more essential tasks, destabilized the ship, and probably carried them onto the rocks much quicker.

That left the fore-and-aft sails to get them accelerated and out of trouble. That is what Astrid tried to do, but unfortunately it didn't work.

Thanks, Pyrate for clarifying the situation that Astrid was in. We can debate how she found hereself on a lee shore without power, though as soon as the facts come in we won't need to debate even that. Once in this situation, Astrid's outcome was pretty much determined. They tried what they could. They were successful in getting everyone off the ship safely, and that's all they could do.
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