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Old 05-04-2013, 11:50   #1
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Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

This is a long read but well worth it:


Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound


What is interesting beyond the highlights I listed below is the difference between this article and the one that circulated immediately post rescue that included tidbits like:

  • Boat sank within 15 minutes of rescue
  • Boat sank due to salvage attempts by rescue ship
  • Battery failure happened less than 48 hours out of port
But media spin is a different story

Highlights
  • Plenty of Med experience but no trans oceanic experience
  • Not a day of sea-trial except what was done pre-purchase
  • No redundancy for electrical nor navigation (only an ipad no handheld GPS)
  • Insufficient experience to deal with electrical issues (they mention inverter not charging batteries but alternator putting out power?)
  • Left Delaware in early Feb. - Delaware is 40° north!!!
  • Passage planning limited? Mention a “briefing” conducted pre-cruise
  • First time they vetted the charging system was 3-4 days into passage
  • Gas Solenoid electrically powered – insufficiently experienced, and likely unequipped, to bypass system
  • Shredded sail on furling system
  • Fading batteries on Ipad as final approach in heavy weather to Bermuda
This is a classic set of cascading failures, none of which would not have been addressable with only a modicum of preparation and experience.


The best thing I take out of this, as these lads are part of my yacht club, is the following quote:


“Throughout all this, Alan recalls that he never heard a voice raised in anger or frustration – he had shipmates to cherish. And that's what he did. He cherished them. Much and all as he'd had great hopes for his new boat, he decided that the risks to life and limb in trying to make the final rock-strewn miles to Bermuda were simply too great. It was a choice of putting his friends' lives at great risk, or abandoning ship. It was no contest. He activated the EPIRB at 1530 hours on Friday February 8th.”


A true skipper, regardless of skill level, is one who makes a call that decides that the risk of life has exceeded the risk of property and it is time to go…


They ended up on a cargo ship bound for Turkey and arrived about 10 days ago.
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Old 05-04-2013, 14:02   #2
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

This tale points to the problems of trying to meet deadlines. They set off as few cruisers would do - first passage (and a risky one at that for that time of year and with ice around) with only pre-purchase sea trials (who does this???). No time was taken to familiarise themselves with the boat's electrical systems. They were ill prepared (even with basic things like adequate food supply and spare batteries for the hand held GPS).

The skipper was portrayed as a risk taker in his business life. Exposing crew to the risks he was personally prepared to take does not indicate he "cherished them".

To me, it sounds like the the boat was a 'disposable' item. The decision to abandon ship may well have been different had this not been the case.

Needless waste of a beautiful boat!
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Old 06-04-2013, 23:23   #3
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

Having done a lot of deliveries, I dont consider taking off without a shakedown sail anything out of the ordinary. Going out at that time of year was probably unwise, but they were experienced sailors. Depending on an Iphone, or any other single piece of electronics was very unwise. Not having a way to bypass the solenoid on the propane tank was cruelty to the crew. As I have said on a number of threads "If you cant go out and live on your boat with the main battery switch turned off, then you dont have enough simple backups". I cant believe that a half million dollar boat could not afford a 99 dollar backup GPS, or that they didnt have a good old fashioned hand held RDF. The radio beacon on Bermuda can be picked up at 50 or more miles out, and an RDF fix and a depthsounder, and of course " paper charts", will get you near enough for a tow. Electronic goodies are wonderful UNTIL THEY GO WRONG!. Then you need the basics. All in all, I am glad no one was lost, but it hurts to see another beautiful boat abandoned, just for lack of the basics. Sorry to seem harsh.____Grant.
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Old 07-04-2013, 00:00   #4
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

But I heard that you can just use an ipad to sail around and that knowledge and actual use of paper and piloting are old hat.


lol
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Old 07-04-2013, 05:58   #5
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
But I heard that you can just use an ipad to sail around and that knowledge and actual use of paper and piloting are old hat.


lol
Is that a jab at the Bum's ? (Pat specifically)
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:22   #6
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

Quote:
But I heard that you can just use an ipad to sail around and that knowledge and actual use of paper and piloting are old hat.
Sometimes old hats come in handy.

Classic and very common case of hubris. I used to live in Newport and quite often we would see someone set off in the middle of the winter for Bermuda only to barely survive, or lose the boat, or lose their lives. Crossing the Gulf Stream from the mainland in the middle of the winter in a cruising sailboat is gambling. Those that make it think of themselves as very skilled, but they are really very lucky.
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:34   #7
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

We use an ipad all the time for primary navigation, along with a laptop with Maxsea, paper charts and a compass. Always three times redundancy even including the communications systems, including three vhf radios, SSB, EPIRB, and SAT phone if making a crossing. Notice how I didn't include cellphone on the list.

We would never intensionally put ourselves in the same conditions as the crew of the ill fated Swan. That said and it being easy to second guess a bad situation, if the crew was experienced, why didn't they heave to and wait for improving weather? It's not like they were taking on water. Sounds like they were more uncomfortable than anything else.
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Old 07-04-2013, 06:59   #8
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

I've read too many tales of winter transits to Bermuda as a preferred rout ot the Carib. I cna't think of any place I'd care less to be than the N Atlantic in winter and Bermuda has little to offer us but a notch on the nav station table. After considerable research, we will likely turn south from the St Lawrence and enjoy the sights along our seaboard & ICW. We will pick our windows to the Carib based on season and weather. I figure to south to at least Charleston although S Florida is a nice place. I am not risk averse but brazen disregard for it is not acceptable. Our Camper 58 is more than capable and we have multiple system back-ups but we plan to walk off together & have a hull to sell when we are no longer capable.

It is amazing that this fellow with considerable experience left safe harbor in a new-to-him boat with little in back-up, not even batteries for the hand-held or VHS.
Excellent points about schedules. They kill. We never let schedule dictate our fate.
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:00   #9
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pirate Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

Hmmmm... the fuel problem could easily have been overcome with a bit of thought and effort...
The gas problem however is something else... I hate those electric valves tied into an alarm system.. there's nothing you can do other than carry a spare... or do without as I discovered last year when knocked down and the gas locker flooded (it was in a deck recess on the stbd side of the pilot house)... we had no gas for 12 days until a new solenoid was fitted.. and because of an electrical fire in the engine room I did not want to chance running the generator so 3 days after the fire we were low on elec and running the engine in short bursts to maintain essentials like nav lights... radar/CP/fridge/freezer etc all off... had to do a major trip to the skip with spoiled food...
The only way I could have resolved the gas problem would have been to have an old fashioned regulator that screws direct onto the bottle and a pre-made hose and connection compatible with the fittings on the boat..
For the fuel... I'd have drained and strained it into the out board tank then connected the hose direct to the engine with a car in line filter fitted in the run (always carry a couple, small, cheap n light)... few pumps of the bulb to clear the air and away you go.. good enough for charging batteries.. I sailed from the Marquesas to Samoa with that set up...
Necessity is the Mother of Invention...
Glad they're okay.. shame about the boat...
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:09   #10
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

I don't even know where to start with this.... Others have it covered anyway... INSANE....
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:52   #11
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

By the way, it does sound like once again the reason for abandoning ship was not due to any immediate danger, but more to the crew being exhausted and just wanting to get off. I met a couple once that went through a similar experience just north of Bermuda on the edge of a hurricane. They finally had enough and called for help, but they said the rescue was the only time when they really feared for their lives. In huge seas the ship managed to drift down broadside on the sailboat, which I believe was instantly dismasted. The man managed to grab some cargo nets the ship's crew had put over the side and scrambled up to the deck, but when he looked back his wife was only part way up being smashed against the side of the ship and tangled in the netting. The deck crew and the man were able to physically haul the net up and onto the deck with the woman caught like a fish in it. They told me "never again" would they abandon ship until it was going down under the seas.
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Old 07-04-2013, 10:01   #12
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

The gas solenoid on my last boat was attached to the low pressure side of a conventional regulator , and was not tied into an alarm shut off system. It could be removed in about 5 minutes and replaced with a coupler that cost a few bucks. I dont see why the fittings to bypass a solenoid are not carried on all cruising boats. To be safe you would want to shut the tank valve off between cooking times, but that beats the hell out of cold food for a passage. I wonder if a crew feels safer with the automatic gas shutoff when they are eating cold beans out of a can. Trust electrons, and they will let you down sooner or later. You dont need a simple boat, you just need simple backups._______Grant.
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Old 07-04-2013, 10:05   #13
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
But I heard that you can just use an ipad to sail around and that knowledge and actual use of paper and piloting are old hat.
lol
Yep! I loved some of the recent discussion where someone was going to put all his instrumentation on his I Pad and did not want to hear any naysayers. Shake my head at the "all the eggs in one basket" sailors who will put their lives at risk while just relying on hundreds of twenty five cent electric components hidden behind an video screen of one device. Most of them pray to the "Nerd Jesus" Steve Jobs:
Bill Burr - Night of Too Many Stars 2012 - YouTube
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Old 07-04-2013, 12:02   #14
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Originally Posted by mbianka View Post

Yep! I loved some of the recent discussion where someone was going to put all his instrumentation on his I Pad and did not want to hear any naysayers. Shake my head at the "all the eggs in one basket" sailors who will put their lives at risk while just relying on hundreds of twenty five cent electric components hidden behind an video screen of one device. Most of them pray to the "Nerd Jesus" Steve Jobs:
Bill Burr - Night of Too Many Stars 2012 - YouTube
I'm sure someone has pulled that off, but I try to limit the amount of things onboard that aren't bulletproof. But if people stop navigating by chartplotter I'll run out of threads to be entertained by.
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Old 07-04-2013, 19:32   #15
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Re: Abandon Ship! The Rescue of the Crew of Wolfhound

Have not read the story yet but already I feel vindicated in my choice of kero for the cooker. I also have a little single burner camper unit as a backup.

VHF, SSB, Iridium.

Chart plotter, w/ spare (used it last summer), GPS in AIS, and Iridium, and iPad.

Radar, w/ spare radome.

If you NEED something, you need a back up.

The wife says I over do it, somehow I don't think so.

Having now read the story I guess I don't get why they let the boat go. Maybe someday, if I am unlucky, I'll have shared their experience and understand better the decisions.

I wonder if she will turn up somewhere.
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