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Old 29-05-2013, 06:08   #16
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Originally Posted by H34 View Post

If I had only gone down below and retrieved my emergency rescue equipment and given it to Jay perhaps he would be alive today. Just a simple $200 device called SPOT.
As Phil said dont beat yourself up over it. You know he probably would have refused the SPOT if you had offered it.
Being a Solo Sailor often I get the third degree by people who are scared about what I am doing - and often from people for have much much less experience sailing than I do.... I am scared for them!

If a solo sailor doesn't know his boats capabilities or his own then there is nothing you can do.

AIS was the (an) answer in this situation... But remember the EPIRB was essential for him to carry otherwise the AIS would have looked all normal. But he must have dropped the EPIRB after setting it off... How do you try and pull yourself up onto deck while holding an EPIRB? Or it got ripped off his clothing.

Why there is such resistance to getting AIS, or so many Americans with privacy concerns about it.... It's such a great safety device, and in a mass market the price would come down a lot. Anyway, that's for the folks of the USA to decide their laws.

So we learn :
Wearable PLBs/EPIRBS
AIS
Short tethers
No matter how densely populated the area you are always a long way from help
One can still land a boat in Cuba without the US knowing about it!
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:09   #17
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Another question I have is about the EPIRB. Can all EPIRBS be manually activated or are some only activated once they are in the water? Which may explain why it was in the water and not found on the boat.
I have personally never seen a EPIRB that could not be manually activated. But he may have had an older unit I've not run into before.
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:27   #18
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

All EPIRB's I know can be activated out of the water. Some however are automatically activated if they are in water.
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:32   #19
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

My guess, he started feeling ill, got the EPIRB and kept it close to him. Had some major medical event, possibly died already at that point. EPIRB and him went rolling overboard. Boat kept sailing until it hit Cuba.

My take away, keep tethers short. Keep the SPOT on at all times tracking.
$35 a month for Sat phone is worth it (although it does not work all day long).

AIS transmitter might be worth adding to my boat.
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:36   #20
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

FWIW, Jay's EPIRB could be activated either manually or automatically. He typically brought it up to the cockpit when on a solo overnight.

Mark is correct in his assumption that the tether was too long; his body was found on the rocks inshore of the boat. His tether was tied into the cockpit, yet reached well past the bows. Why, I don't understand because Jay had jacklines rigged, and I know he had short tethers aboard for use with them.

Pure speculation here, but I suspect Jay suffered a medical issue causing him to lose consciousness and fall overboard while holding the EPIRB. The boat was under full sail, and was rigged for a broad reach (which makes sense considering his course and the winds at the time the EPIRB popped).

Considering the lack of a functioning autopilot, a man overboard, would be able to regain the deck, because the boat would fall off the wind rather quickly and lose way. Obviously Jay did not regain the deck, which is what makes me believe he was unconscious. The family does have a hereditary cardiac history.

The lesson I take from this is to tether the EPIRB unless in very deep water, have a second PLB attached to your person, use jacklines and short tethers, always carry a knife, and have thorough medical check-ups prior to cruising.
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:38   #21
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

Mikepmtl.... We're you looking over my shoulder while I was typing? LOL
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:38   #22
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Wow heck of a thread....

@ Jay- Rest In Peace....

@H34- don't beat yourself up. SPOTs have been known to fail. And it likely was not a factor in the outcome. For him to be tethered in and the EPIRB to be overboard is odd.

@MarkJ- I think your summary is very accurate. My next purchase is an AIS transponder.

@USCG- WTF happened? Seems odd that you couldn't find a tri off of Key West!?!?!????
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:40   #23
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Thanks for the post... Things are making sense....

For those of us "long in the tooth" heart attacks are always a possibility
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:44   #24
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

Snore I am with you. For whatever reason I just thought it would be easier to find any boat in that area.

Especially one so distinct as a Tri-Maran.

I am told there are satellites tracking us in case we decide to go to Cuba and so on. With drug-running, people-running and all that I always figured the coast guard pretty much knew of all boats crossing the Gulf Stream. I guess that is not the case.
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:52   #25
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Originally Posted by mikepmtl View Post
Snore I am with you. For whatever reason I just thought it would be easier to find any boat in that area.

Especially one so distinct as a Tri-Maran.

I am told there are satellites tracking us in case we decide to go to Cuba and so on. With drug-running, people-running and all that I always figured the coast guard pretty much knew of all boats crossing the Gulf Stream. I guess that is not the case.
Recently, a couple kidnapped their children from the custody of a grandparent, set off from a marina near St Petersburg, and sailed coastwise down the west coast, across FL Bay, passed through the Keys, and crossed the Stream to Cuba.... All under a huge manhunt THAT KNEW THE DESTINATION!

My take from these events is that big brother can't track small boats as well as they'd like you to believe!
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Old 29-05-2013, 06:53   #26
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pirate Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

Just because its in the movies don't mean its true...
I mean... I used to walk on water... till some Buga holed my feet...
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Old 29-05-2013, 07:45   #27
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

For those who can't understand how the USCG could fail to find the boat, I suggest you try to arrange a ride-along on a training mission some time. The ocean is huge. Even just between the Keys and Cuba, when you're up in an airplane, it looks like solid blue for miles and miles.

Then, too, you have to balance altitude against searchable area. That is, the higher you are, the farther you can see, but the harder it is to pick out things on the water. Get too low, and you can't see far enough. Get too high and you can't see a small boat on the ocean (and, face it, unless you're in a cruise ship or a destroyer, your boat looks SMALL out there!). So this is the balancing act that searchers are always trying to perform.

Really, I think if you had flown out across the ocean at a couple of thousand feet, trying to see what was down below you, you would understand just how very easy it is to NOT see one of our little boats bobbing along. Cut the SAR guys a little slack. They do the best that they possibly can, and are extremely aware, on every single mission, that lives are at stake.
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Old 29-05-2013, 08:04   #28
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I have every respect for the front line SAR folk...
I count a few former and current RNLI volunteers among my friends...
Its the 'Techie Propaganda Bull' that so many folk cling to with false hope of rescue...
When disaster strikes its 50/50 and the odds deteriorate with every hour... no magic eye in the sky... unless its Air Force 1...
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Old 29-05-2013, 08:39   #29
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Originally Posted by mikepmtl View Post
Snore I am with you. For whatever reason I just thought it would be easier to find any boat in that area.

Especially one so distinct as a Tri-Maran.

I am told there are satellites tracking us in case we decide to go to Cuba and so on. With drug-running, people-running and all that I always figured the coast guard pretty much knew of all boats crossing the Gulf Stream. I guess that is not the case.
I think they (GOV.) have the ability to moniter any and all people ,cars boats etc. in real time all of the time! (just my thoughts)
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Old 29-05-2013, 08:40   #30
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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For those who can't understand how the USCG could fail to find the boat, I suggest you try to arrange a ride-along on a training mission some time. The ocean is huge. Even just between the Keys and Cuba, when you're up in an airplane, it looks like solid blue for miles and miles.

Then, too, you have to balance altitude against searchable area. That is, the higher you are, the farther you can see, but the harder it is to pick out things on the water. Get too low, and you can't see far enough. Get too high and you can't see a small boat on the ocean (and, face it, unless you're in a cruise ship or a destroyer, your boat looks SMALL out there!). So this is the balancing act that searchers are always trying to perform.

Really, I think if you had flown out across the ocean at a couple of thousand feet, trying to see what was down below you, you would understand just how very easy it is to NOT see one of our little boats bobbing along. Cut the SAR guys a little slack. They do the best that they possibly can, and are extremely aware, on every single mission, that lives are at stake.
I think everyone here has a lot of respect for those involved in the SAR. The eye opener here is how in these waters with a dedicated search by the Coast Guard plus a lot of normal patrols by authorities for drugs, illegal immigration taken place in the area. Plus all kinds of ships and boats from cargo to Cruise ships and sport and commercail fishermen transiting the area. They all missed a forty foot tri maran sailing toward Cuba from U.S. waters. Granted it is a big Ocean but, I still find it amazing the the boat traveled over a hundred and twenty miles toward Cuba without being scene by anybody.
Yeah I could see how flying thousands of feet up some of the trained SAR rescue could miss it despite their training due to the creeping boredom of seeing mile after mile of blank ocean.

Seems to me that the Coast Guard really need to get some SAR drones that could fly 24/7 and can pick out and highlight targets to be further investigated by manned aircraft. Instead of always having manned crews do the all the searching. Fuel savings could be substantial and wider areas could be searched around the clock using these drones. The incident earlier this year of the parents sailing with their kids to Cuba and Jay's unfortunate circumstances points out some major flaws in security and our ability to monitor U.S. coastal waters. These two incidents are wakeup calls for a lot of reasons IMO.
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