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Old 01-06-2013, 07:14   #151
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

Even when the Coast Guard and everyone knows exactly where you are coastal sailing there is usually more than enough time to drown before anyone can get there. I have been involved in several rescue situations and it can be frustrating because you know that people's lives are in danger but there is only so fast you can go to get there. Things like helicopters are often limited in availability or location. One time a tugboat was sinking in Albemarle Sound, not many miles from the huge CG air station in Elizabeth City. The tugboat operator made his VHF MayDay call which was received by me (the closest boat), the CG, and others. Within minutes of the first call he made his final call and said he was going into the water. We were all racing towards his position, but my ETA on a catamaran motorsailing full tilt was at least an hour. Someone else in a power boat got there within 20 minutes, but the guy was swimming at that point and the tug was completely under. Now imagine if he had been 34 miles out in the ocean, with wind and waves, and likely nobody around for many miles? It isn't like the movies--assets don't always arrive on scene in the nick of time. You can have all the gizmos in the world and they won't necessarily make one bit of difference if you have bad luck.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:19   #152
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Every place is different as far as current and rescuers base their searches on the local currents.

Here in Florida, unless your in the Gulf Stream, you are not going to drift very fast, but sailing away from the EPIRB at speed will screw up the search no matter where you are.
Bear in mind 3/4 Time had no functioning autopilot. She normally is a 7kt boat, and falls off the wind rather fast without constant rudder input. I would suspect that she drifted at ~2kt, bow to the wind until hard over the rudder bit with the sternway, turning her beam to, then repeated countless times. Depending on the route to her resting place, that figure bears out; about 10nm/24hrs to get from 34nm N of KW to 44nm east of Havana
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:21   #153
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An EPIRB keeps sending so that SAR gets updates of whereabouts. Assuming the EPIRB goes where the emergency situation is. Also, AIS range to SAR aircraft is at least a hundred miles as is a handheld VHF. Then there is AIS satellite monitoring.

Every modern electronic distress device (and that includes AIS since years) allows SAR services to quickly track and find you. It is not helpful to say they can't or it's of limited use just for the heck of it.

It just works.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:52   #154
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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I have found my AIS Class B transmits about 8-12 miles in optimal conditions from the top of my 63 foot mast, but degrades rapidly in heavy seas, due to the swing of the antenna at the top of the mast.
Do not compare "normal" AIS activity with what happens during SAR. AIS distance depends on the height of both receive and transmit antenna just like VHF radio. An AIS receiver in a helo can receive the signal for dozens of miles. A container or war ship with a very high AIS receive antenna can pick up your signal over a much longer distance than a recreational boat. In a SAR situation AIS can be a huge help in locating the vessel in distress. It can work at least 100kM more.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:17   #155
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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He was advised to delay because he had already been 48+ hours without decent sleep, and it is much more predictable to sail behind a front than before it. He survived the front's passing, as the photos of the boat on the shore of Cuba showed the sails rigged for a beam reach (the trades blow out of the east and he was heading more or less south). It would be reasonable to assume he made it through the front without issue, and re-rigged for the trades for the rest of the run south. Additionally there are items on deck that would have blown away had there been any significant wind.

Weather was not a factor in this case.
We sailed from Isla Mujeres last month, arriving at Charlotte Harbor on May 20 at about 1800 hours. For those that do not know the area it is about 30 nm miles north of Fort Myers.

Just before we entered the Boca Grande Channel I saw a large squall heading off shore from the harbor and turned and headed for sea.

We were run over like road kill, with winds sustained at 50 Knots and gusting to 62 Knots for over 45 minutes with rain so heavy I could barely see beyond the bow rail.

I checked my SIRUS weather display and saw the squall eventually stretched at least 80 miles miles off shore before it lost its intensity.

Weather in Florida is ALWAYS a factor this time of year!
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:21   #156
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Weather in Florida is ALWAYS a factor this time of year!
Indeed. We also had fog so thick I could not see the bow and this was right at Key West while they reported sunny and clear conditions there. It was true, it was like going through a wall and it was clear behind it.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:40   #157
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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He was advised to delay because he had already been 48+ hours without decent sleep, and it is much more predictable to sail behind a front than before it. He survived the front's passing, as the photos of the boat on the shore of Cuba showed the sails rigged for a beam reach (the trades blow out of the east and he was heading more or less south). It would be reasonable to assume he made it through the front without issue, and re-rigged for the trades for the rest of the run south. Additionally there are items on deck that would have blown away had there been any significant wind.

Weather was not a factor in this case.

Then I think we will find that he had some sort of medical crisis. My first husband had epilepsy that was not well controlled by medication when he was a teen, but he still went to summer camp, and he still sailed small one-person sailboats -- my guess would be something like sunfish or Opti-prams, but I knew nothing at all about sailing when he told me this story. Anyway, one day he had a seizure and fell IN the boat, so he survived. But if he had been hiked out, he would have fallen in the water and drowned.

A sudden medical crisis at the wrong time could have dropped Jay into the water.

*For myself,* if I were to suddenly have a heart attack or stroke and die, I would much rather be on my boat than, say, at a job. i know that something is going to take me some day and it's my intent to live as fully as possible until that moment. I hope that's how it was for Jay.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:53   #158
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Definitely would not have happened had their been crew. Lets mandate no
One can sail without having at least 3 people on board. That would cover most crew physical failures with a a margin of safety. Also the mandatory flare law should be updated. For the cost of flare replacement other gear could have better value although I think mandated anything should be tossed out the door. The wrecks I have seen have been alcohol induced poor judgment and stupidity. Iq test should be mandatory.that we we know your brilliant and will make good choices
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:01   #159
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Definitely would not have happened had their been crew. Lets mandate no
One can sail without having at least 3 people on board. That would cover most crew physical failures with a a margin of safety. Also the mandatory flare law should be updated. For the cost of flare replacement other gear could have better value although I think mandated anything should be tossed out the door. The wrecks I have seen have been alcohol induced poor judgment and stupidity. Iq test should be mandatory.that we we know your brilliant and will make good choices
I know that there are insurance companies that require a minimum crew so at some point many will be forced that way or go without insurance (which many already do)
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:03   #160
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Definitely would not have happened had their been crew. Lets mandate no
One can sail without having at least 3 people on board. That would cover most crew physical failures with a a margin of safety. Also the mandatory flare law should be updated. For the cost of flare replacement other gear could have better value although I think mandated anything should be tossed out the door. The wrecks I have seen have been alcohol induced poor judgment and stupidity. Iq test should be mandatory.that we we know your brilliant and will make good choices

That's a great idea. So now people will go sailing with three other people to meet the letter of the law, only one of whom they really get along with. The third person has never been on a sailboat before, and the fourth is a 24 hour/7 day a week drunk who was in the navy and therefore believes he knows everything there is not know about all boats everywhere.

The newbie will fall overboard while the drunk is on watch, and he won't hear the splash. The two skilled sailors will be asleep. The rest of them will get in a fight over what should be done, and they'll all end up murdering each other.

Then we can require that all boats have cleverly designed breathylizers connected to EPIRBS. Everyone has to test themselves every four hours, and if anyone doesn't pass, the EPIRB will go off and SAR will come and look for them. They'll arrest the person whose blood alcohol was .11. Now there are only three people to sail the boat, and that number is too low, but the SAR boat isn't equipped for towing, so the three sober crewmemebers will also have to leave the boat.

The SAR team will go aboar the boat and open all the seacocks so the boat sinks.

6 months later, a diving team will go down to explore the wreck, and one will get tangled in the rigging. She will drown before her companion can save her, but we're all safer.

Jay was all grown up, and he made his choices. Apparently he had advice from other sailors, but looked at his goals and decided to go for it. He could have died skiing down hill, or rock climbing, or some other thing he loved to do -- or crossing the street, but he was living his life as he wanted to.

Most accidents happen in the home. Maybe we should all be forced to return to living in caves.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:31   #161
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Well at least we agree about the iq test good to hear that mandatory insurance is making me less likely to be scrutinized by CF and have a loss that they would pay for.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:47   #162
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Well at least we agree about the iq test good to hear that mandatory insurance is making me less likely to be scrutinized by CF and have a loss that they would pay for.

Oh i agreed with you.


You just didn't go far enough.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:02   #163
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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A sudden medical crisis at the wrong time could have dropped Jay into the water.

How? I just dont see it.

How does a heart attack, or anything make someone want to jump overboard? It doesnt. How does it propell them overboard? It doesnt.
It makes you want to lie down, or throw up.
The only possible way a medical condition could do it is if someone went to the side of the boat to throw up and fell in. But most people when sick and on the deck, head over the side.... or below.

If one wants to take an average of all possablities he would have gone overboard doing what most others do when they go overboard: working on the foredeck, moving fore or aft, or piddling over the side. And few experienced solo sailors would piddle over the side these days.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:13   #164
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

I had a good friend who built himself several small cats and tris and did numerous trans-Atlantic runs on them with no muss and no fuss, and no lifelines, safety harnesses, GPS, VHF, or electronics of any sort other than a radio receiver for his time signals. He didn't believe in having lifelines on the boat--said they were in the way. I do think he sometimes tied a bowline around his waist when going forward in heavy weather to change a jib or something (no roller furling either). In any case, he died of a series of strokes, not falling overboard or drowning. He only piddled over the side (no head either), even in harbor! My point being that it is not the gear, it is a combination of skill, experience, and luck. Gear can help in certain circumstances, but don't believe that it will save you.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:18   #165
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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How? I just dont see it.

How does a heart attack, or anything make someone want to jump overboard? It doesnt. How does it propell them overboard? It doesnt.
It makes you want to lie down, or throw up.
The only possible way a medical condition could do it is if someone went to the side of the boat to throw up and fell in. But most people when sick and on the deck, head over the side.... or below.

If one wants to take an average of all possablities he would have gone overboard doing what most others do when they go overboard: working on the foredeck, moving fore or aft, or piddling over the side. And few experienced solo sailors would piddle over the side these days.
Sometimes these events are so sudden and so intense that you can't pull yourself back from the side. I gave the example of my first husband. Strokes and heart attacks can hit just as hard and fast.

So you have just listed things he could be doing that would leave him vulnerable to going over even WITHOUT a medical emergency. If he needed to be clipped in because he was doing something risky and passed out, he could go over. An autopsy will tell the answer, and I'm sure that will happen once he has been returned to the US.

FEW experienced sailors piddle over the side? Virtually every male sailor I know does it. I TELL male sailors to use the head on my boat, and they grumble and complain. They whine that I know how to come back and get them, and I say "Yeah, but now that I've asked you nicely to use the head, if you still do it and fall in, I might not WANT to come back and get you ... "

I have even had one female sailor insist that this is what women should do also and that she could teach me how.

In addition, an impending heart attack can make you vomit.

We'll just have to wait and see, but I doubt he just jumped into the water to go for a swim with his harness on while the boat was sailing, and people seem convinced that he could keep the boat under control given the weather and sailing point he was on, so the possibilities start to shrink.

We may never know. We'll be dependent on his family's willingness to let us know what the final determination is, but there are many ways to fall overboard. That's why we have things like tethers and harnesses, and in my case, a looped drag line (and a knife tethered to my pants).

And yes, I realize that if I went over on a tether it's unlikely I would even reach the drag line. I would probably cut the tether and try to grab the drag line. I wouldn't remain being dragged by a tether alongside a moving boat. I would TRY to keep the tether short, but I can picture situations where a short tether might make doing what needs to be done pretty hard.
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