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Old 31-05-2013, 07:03   #121
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
I and others have been following the thread of CaptGeos friend Jay and the boat 3/4 Time a 40 foot trimaran whose Epirb was found 34 miles northwest of Key West. Despite an "extensive" search by the Coast Guard and others the boat was never found until it washed up on the northern shores of Cuba with the sailor in the cockpit wearing a life jacket and tethered to the boat but, sadly deceased. What is a mystery to me, disturbing actually. Is that despite the search by the authorities following the activation of the EPIRB that no one spotted the boat for several weeks until it came ashore in Cuba. The waters the boat was sailing in were not actually off the beaten track either. I was in Marathon and heard the Pon Pon message from the Coast Guard about the missing boat all week. So the word was out. Certainly has me rethinking the chances of even near coast rescues is even less of a sure thing.

I'm also thinking that an AIS transponder which I have on my boat can also be useful as a backup to the EPIRB should that fall overboard as appears to be the case above. At least AIS would stay with the boat as long as there was power. If the EPIRB drifts off then all bet's are off if this tragic case is any indication.

The real problem as it seems to me is that the EPIRB did not stay with the boat and sailor. If they had been together they would have found Jay much sooner. The AIS might stay with the boat, but what if the sailor does not? Then it would not be much help either.
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Old 31-05-2013, 07:08   #122
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Maybe he wore his EPIRB at all times just for this type of occurrence.

What a terrible shame to happen like this.

I don't understand why so folks gild the lilly as to how he died. It's pretty obvious he went overboard. Even a fully for single hander has very little chance of getting back on board unless they have huge upper body strength, are uninjured, and are not held down by water etc.

I tether well in board.

Solo sailing does have its disadvantages.


Thoughts with the family and friends.

I do know a man whose tether saved his life, but he was at the mast. He had clipped the tether on, wrapped it around the mast and then clipped the other end to his vest while reefing his boat. He still got swept off the top of the mast. His body went through the lifelines to his waist, and then the tether pulled him back on to the boat.

Jay had about a year's experience sailing, do I have that right? He was clearly a bold and brave man, and now we know he had a good reason to live life to the fullest now. He died living his life rather than wondering what it might have been. We'll just have to wait for the medical report if the family chooses to share that information with us.
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Old 31-05-2013, 07:12   #123
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Sad news... but methinks the only lesson here is if your tethered you'll be found with the boat.
Not knowing his medical condition led to humorous speculation re the possibilities... was this info known by the searchers..?
The worrying thing for many will be.. as has been stated... the S&R off a busy coastline failing to find him and no one seeing/reporting an erratically sailing Tri..
As to what led to this we'll never know for sure.. except death comes to all sooner or later..
How one lived is more important than how one died..
one we can chose.. the others just a flick of the coin..
From a stranger...
Here's hoping he lived a good life..

That's my thought exactly. Clearly he faced some sort of medical crisis before this happened.

I did too, and my reaction was to learn to sail, something I'd always wanted to do, and then to always push myself to new experiences with it, always be stretching my skills. It could have been me, and it still could be me one day, but I would rather live my life and take my chances.

We may never know everything, but we do know that after a medical emergency he chose to live boldly rather than stay at home and focus on whatever happened medicaly. It may not be right for everyone, and it may not even be possible for everyone, but he chose to be bold and brave.
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Old 31-05-2013, 07:22   #124
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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.

SAR over a large area is an imperfect science, and I don't know that it's the CG's fault that they didn't find him. For instance, there's probably a complicated diplomateic tango that has to be done before searching Cuba's waters. We found the family and children because Cuba notified the US. We don't know what Cuba did and didn't allow as far as SAR. It would be a great excuse for aerial surveillance of their coast, and we've certainly done aerial spying on them before.

The CG did catch the man a couple of years ago who kidnapped his son and put him on a sailboat he had painted battleship gray for camoflage, but I'm thinking that a tri with full sails might be moving along pretty fast in those conditions. They found the next family who did that because Cuba didn't want them.
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Old 31-05-2013, 08:40   #125
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Definitions...
Inexperienced Noob... someone trying to become an experienced wrinkly...
We have all been inexperienced noobs. When I was one, I sailed a Mirror Dinghy (with the orange sails) on a little inland lake in Holland. When I needed to be saved, my dad came out to tow me back I told him to go to h@ll, jumped overboard and swam back pulling the Mirror. It flipped twice LOL and I practiced my seamanlike language a lot that day then I had to fix my broken gaff...

The problem is inexperienced noobs that go out into places that are unforgiving and require skilled seamanship. They think that needing skills and experience is just an opinion.

EDIT: let me make clear that I do not think Jay was a noob like I described. I did not know him but I know his kind all too well and I expect he had a medical situation or an accident, which, combined with solo sailing, lead to this incident. Skill and experience is never a guarantee that nothing bad will happen. Every solo sailor is aware of the extra risks and accepts them.
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Old 31-05-2013, 13:29   #126
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
We have all been inexperienced noobs. When I was one, I sailed a Mirror Dinghy (with the orange sails) on a little inland lake in Holland. When I needed to be saved, my dad came out to tow me back I told him to go to h@ll, jumped overboard and swam back pulling the Mirror. It flipped twice LOL and I practiced my seamanlike language a lot that day then I had to fix my broken gaff...

The problem is inexperienced noobs that go out into places that are unforgiving and require skilled seamanship. They think that needing skills and experience is just an opinion.

EDIT: let me make clear that I do not think Jay was a noob like I described. I did not know him but I know his kind all too well and I expect he had a medical situation or an accident, which, combined with solo sailing, lead to this incident. Skill and experience is never a guarantee that nothing bad will happen. Every solo sailor is aware of the extra risks and accepts them.
Glad you put the edit in because Ft.Myers to Key West in the Gulf of Mexico (one of the most benign bodies of water on the planet) with 20 kt N winds is an easy pleasure sail.
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Old 31-05-2013, 13:41   #127
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Glad you put the edit in because Ft.Myers to Key West in the Gulf of Mexico (one of the most benign bodies of water on the planet) with 20 kt N winds is an easy pleasure sail.


It can be, but I had a number of friends in the Key West race during that time, and they all (all of them) said it was pretty tough out there. That was when Jay would have been out there. One of the boats placed, but all the boats had minor injuries -- bruises, cuts, sprains.
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Old 31-05-2013, 14:04   #128
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

Its all dancing on the head of a pin. We are conditioned to think rescue is automatic in the day of the EPIRB. Keep one with you and it probably is. Lose it, don't have one, etc, and you are back in the old days of bobbing around for days on a disabled boat or liferaft and perhaps not making it.
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Old 31-05-2013, 17:44   #129
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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It can be, but I had a number of friends in the Key West race during that time, and they all (all of them) said it was pretty tough out there. That was when Jay would have been out there. One of the boats placed, but all the boats had minor injuries -- bruises, cuts, sprains.
Key word there is race.

Not a cruise........downwind.
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Old 31-05-2013, 18:08   #130
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

The EPIRB in this case worked exactly as it should. That it detached from the vessel was another unfortunate matter that serves as a good point to others. Expect the unexpected.

Had the EPIRB been located with the vessel the Coast guard and others would have been saved much angst and cost.
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Old 31-05-2013, 18:09   #131
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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Key word there is race.

Not a cruise........downwind.

Yes, you're right, of course. If you're not racing, you can adapt a more comfortable point of sail. Up to a point. Jay was destination sailing.

However -- given Jay's destination -- wasn't it Ft. Meyers? The wind, if I recall correctly, was first from the north, and then from the east, neither of them favorable for a trimaran.

What my friends, from several boats, said, was that it was quite rough. While most of the time the Gulf of Mexico is an easy sail, even with my more limited experience I have been out there on a small boat with a 5' following sea, and we really had our hands full. It was nothing resembling an easy or pleasant sail. There were other factors involved in my situation, but when I described the acquaintance who survived a near knockdown because of a short tether, he was off the coast of Venice, caught in a sudden, and unpredicted, violent thunderstorm. I happened to be on land near the shore in Venice that day. It was a fierce storm. He lived only because he clipped on his tether, wrapped it around the mast, and then clipped it to himself again. His legs went through the lifelines to his waist before the tether pulled him back. Don't know if it was a full body harness or just a chest harness.

Anyone who *counts* on easy sailing on the Gulf instead of taking the weather into consideration is sailing foolishly -- I would say that's true anywhere. Much of the Gulf of Mexico is not terribly deep, and it can form pretty big waves.

I'm not going to call Jay any names. i didn't know him personally, but it's my understanding that he was relatively inexperienced, and trimarans can be tricky things in waves and wind.

I think Jay was in the fix that racers are -- determined to go in a certain direction whether or not that direction was favorable for sailing his boat.

Even if he was going downwind, he might still have really had his hands full managing the boat. Conditions that you might consider well within normal might be quite difficult for a newer sailor.

What is just an easy day's sail for someone who has sailed for 30 years can be a trial for someone who has sailed only one or two. That's just the nature of the sport.
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Old 31-05-2013, 18:27   #132
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

I think it was the other way round, Ft Myers South to Key West.

That's about 170 miles. A long jaunt for a single hander.

It can be exhausting, made all the worse by medical conditions.

I haven't heard exhaustion discussed yet here, in my book it's a biggie. I have done some solo sailing and while I generally do pretty well with short naps, even for days, at about 4am I'm just not worth a damn. I can get pretty stone stupid for an hour or two.

So far I've been lucky, and perhaps that's all it is, luck.

Also, I don't have a clue how his boat would feel in those conditions. They are pretty benign for our boats, andthere is a significant difference between them, heavier is softer. But a light tri? I imagine it could be quite jarring, no?

I could easily imagine being bounced around badly, if not right out of the cockpit.
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Old 31-05-2013, 18:59   #133
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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I think it was the other way round, Ft Myers South to Key West.

That's about 170 miles. A long jaunt for a single hander.

It can be exhausting, made all the worse by medical conditions.

I haven't heard exhaustion discussed yet here, in my book it's a biggie. I have done some solo sailing and while I generally do pretty well with short naps, even for days, at about 4am I'm just not worth a damn. I can get pretty stone stupid for an hour or two.

So far I've been lucky, and perhaps that's all it is, luck.

Also, I don't have a clue how his boat would feel in those conditions. They are pretty benign for our boats, andthere is a significant difference between them, heavier is softer. But a light tri? I imagine it could be quite jarring, no?

I could easily imagine being bounced around badly, if not right out of the cockpit.
For me at least, fatigue is toward the top of the list of factors making myself - or anyone who voyages alone - vulnerable to making mistakes. It affects our interpretation of what we see and can lead to poor judgement calls. Are those lights leading lights or a tug? How many times have we nodded off while hand steering with the iron jenny only to be awakened by a sudden lurch or sound of a wave smacking the hull? Going the wrong way.

Our reflexes are slower and we are called to sleep when we cannot. All of this can affect our equilibrium leading to a stumble or fall... The rougher the conditions, the worse it is.

My long distance voyaging may be coming to an end because my tolerance level for the deprivations endured as a solo sailor has waned. I am lucky to have not met the fate of too many solo sailors, some I have personally known. Going overboard is usually a sudden, unexpected event, so unless you are wearing an EPIRB, immersion suit and or are fortunate to regain the boat your odds are simply against survival.

Tethers present trip hazards an typically require momentarily holding on with one hand while you detach the caribiner moving forward to the next attachment point. They are not guaranteed to save you from dying. Nothing we carry aboard guarantees we will be rescued, only improve the odds.

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Old 31-05-2013, 19:00   #134
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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I think it was the other way round, Ft Myers South to Key West.

That's about 170 miles. A long jaunt for a single hander.

It can be exhausting, made all the worse by medical conditions.

I haven't heard exhaustion discussed yet here, in my book it's a biggie. I have done some solo sailing and while I generally do pretty well with short naps, even for days, at about 4am I'm just not worth a damn. I can get pretty stone stupid for an hour or two.

So far I've been lucky, and perhaps that's all it is, luck.

Also, I don't have a clue how his boat would feel in those conditions. They are pretty benign for our boats, andthere is a significant difference between them, heavier is softer. But a light tri? I imagine it could be quite jarring, no?

I could easily imagine being bounced around badly, if not right out of the cockpit.

if he was going from Fort Meyers to Key West, then he was sailing generally in the same direction as the racers, and as I said, some of them were slammed around pretty good. None of them were single-handing, so they didn't have to deal with the mental fatigue that can come from having to spend hours at the helm.

I don't think we had to really mention fatigue, but newer sailors might not be aware of its debilitating effects. There's a lot that goes into being an "experienced" sailors, much to learn and much to do. I call myself an "intermediate" sailor, a place I expect to be at for some time. I probably know just enough to get myself into a peck of trouble some day.

But I wanted to sail all my life, and now I do. I've actively sought the "fast track" to learn as fast as I can. I started at age 62 and I'm 67 now. Something could happen tomorrow that could end the adventure just because of my age. Maybe Jay lived with the same personal knowledge for other reasons, and I understand his going for it with gusto, but a lot can go wrong when you're by yourself.
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Old 31-05-2013, 19:08   #135
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Re: Missing Boat found in Cuba: Lessons Learned

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For me at least, fatigue is toward the top of the list of factors making myself - or anyone who voyages alone - vulnerable to making mistakes. It affects our interpretation of what we see and can lead to poor judgement calls. Are those lights leading lights or a tug? How many times have we nodded off while hand steering with the iron jenny only to be awakened by a sudden lurch or sound of a wave smacking the hull? Going the wrong way.

Our reflexes are slower and we are called to sleep when we cannot. All of this can affect our equilibrium leading to a stumble or fall... The rougher the conditions, the worse it is.

My long distance voyaging may be coming to an end because my tolerance level for the deprivations endured as a solo sailor has waned. I am lucky to have not met the fate of too many solo sailors, some I have personally known. Going overboard is usually a sudden, unexpected event, so unless you are wearing an EPIRB, immersion suit and or are fortunate to regain the boat your odds are simply against survival.

Tethers present trip hazards an typically require momentarily holding on with one hand while you detach the caribiner moving forward to the next attachment point. They are not guaranteed to save you from dying. Nothing we carry aboard guarantees we will be rescued, only improve the odds.

armido

Both because of the trip hazard and the need to keep the tether short, my jackline goes down both sides of the center of the boat. I learned from my neighbor's use of his tether.

I think the issue of having to move the clip from time to time can be dealt with via timing. Don't move it just a a disoriented wave is about to break abeam of your boat and all that.

But then I think about things like having the boat round up and tend toward broaching. A short tether might prevent you from doing whatever needed to be done, especially if you were by yourself. I was in that situation once because my boat had a crap-ass reefing system and I was so raw and new I didn't realize how dangerous it could be to set it until I had to make that decision. When my sailing partner "declined" to spill the mainsail, I had to move from my position to do it for her (needless to say she hasn't sailed on my boat again).

He may have had to make hundreds of small decisions to keep his boat under control, who knows why, and we never will because we weren't there. If he was very fatigued it all might have been too much. But I will never blame him for trying it, because I understand the drive to push forward quickly on the lerning curve.
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