I'm sure that others have similar stories but the one that still haunts me is a personal one ...
In the fall of 2005, we were getting set to leave Neah Bay, at the mouth of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, on the start of our voyage to Mexico
when another, older, captain
approached me and asked if he could 'follow you out' as he was starting his trip to Hawaii
In the conversation that followed I learned: he was solo, had an older smaller sailboat (about 30-32 feet), had no charts
of USA or Canada
(but did have a road map of Northern California
'just in case'), didn't have GPS
, had only a hand-held VHF
, no EPIRB
, no weather
reporting and no radar
(which is why he wanted to follow me out into the pea-soup thick fog).
Despite my advice
to the contrary he said it would all be OK and so, when I motored out of the harbour into the thick, heavy morning fog
, sure enough, there he was following me about 30 yards behind. Well, it took less than 15 minutes before we lost
sight of each other. I followed his course on my radar
for as long as I could and it looked like (for at least a little while) that he was somewhat headed in the right direction. The heavy fog
continued until mid-afternoon when we were well out into the Pacific. Two days later a storm front blew through in which another well-fitted sailboat was lost
(we managed to duck just in time into Coos Bay).
I always wondered what happened to him, whether this was his last sail into the sunset and what, if anything I should have done in the circumstances (I was a newby and this was our maiden voyage so I wasn't sure what to do)... even now I'm not so sure what I would do if faced with a similar situation where my protestations fell on deaf ears..... what would you have done ... or do?