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Old 01-07-2017, 10:57   #1
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San Diego Beer Can Race Adventure

Every Wednesday evening, between about six P.M. to about seven or so, a number of sailboats gather to chase each other around on the bay, celebrating the middle of the week and other pleasures. In the old days we used to use it to drink beer underway and hurl water balloons at each other, calling the event "Wet Wednesday", until balloons became listed as terrorist weaponry and were banished.

This week, as I was sitting in the yacht club bar, we heard that ominous pattern of deep-toned whistle blast, five in a row, signaling that something big was concerned about someone else's seamanship. A few minutes later we saw the enormous bulk of a car carrier, slowly steaming past Shelter Island. There was no more drama, so we figured it was all a demonstration of a concerned pilot for all those little boats in the vessel's path. It was actually something more ominous.

One sailboat, under spinnaker, was blissfully passaging down the middle of the deep water channel, oblivious to the rights of the larger vessel constrained by draft and the laws of physics regarding inertia. Then things got dicey. Someone on the sailboat, reportedly the skipper, fell off the boat after the horn blasts. The ship made an emergency turn to starboard, goosing its engines to swing the stern and avoid collision. In the meantime, the crew of the sailboat was able to recover its crewmember and evade the hull of the car carrier.

The ramifications are forthcoming. Reportedly, the racer has been barred from competing for a year. The Coasties are investigating for further possible penalties, and the skipper may be held responsible for the cleaning costs of the underwear of the car carriers bridge crew. Good thing no was carrying water balloons.
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Old 01-07-2017, 12:52   #2
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Re: San Diego Beer Can Race Adventure

I REALLY hate it when a racing boat does that. As aside from being stupid, & incredibly dangerous for all ships/parties involved, it gives (all) racers a really bad name. Along with reinforcing the "bad attitude", "I'm too cool for rules", stereotype about racers.

Though, yes, more than a few of us have done stupid things, albeit without hazarding lives, boats, or careers. But it's especially silly to do it during the Beer Can Series, as it's one of the most fun "regattas" of the year, much of that owing to it being low key, & as much about having fun as it is about chasing trophies.

Perhaps calls to the skipper's insurers are in order; boat, home, car, etc. I'm sure they'd be interested in what happened, & would "leave an impression on him" via his wallet, & their contacting other insurers. Not that he should be flailed to death. But had someone been injured or killed, or had the ship run aground, the skipper & bridge crew on the cargo carrier certainly would have recieved the "Joe Hazelwood treatment" (Exxon Valdiz's skipper). And as it is, all of those (above) personel will be forever under the microscope so long as they go to sea in professional capacities. So something severe in terms of punishment for the sailboat's skipper certainly is warranted.

EDIT: If the skipper was drunk, this is one of those (rare) times when I feel that the full extent of BWI laws should be applied to things. Well, that & several protracted sessions with thumb screws.

Also, Bravo (Zulu) to the crew of the cargo carrier. Such is a nightmare scenario to/for anyone who's driven large ships. And probably more than a few commercial skippers' & mates might not be able to refrain from administering a little "rough justice". Regardless of the offical findings, & aftermath.
It ain't PC (nor legal), but sometimes it's surely justified.
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