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rebel heart 12-05-2014 18:53

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by boatman61 (Post 1539853)
You left from Mexico... I left from Panama.. now my E'lies were more from the SE... and to be honest until we were well W of the Galapagos there was hardly any wind of note.. but a shitty swell..
I am however still surprised that you were on a broad reach... why did you not take down the main and run under headsail alone..
That's what I did all the way to Vanuatu..

Tried that, both under yankee and staysail, but we weren't zipping along fast enough.

Plus, once I wanted to heave to I needed the main up.

downunder 12-05-2014 18:54

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by mbianka (Post 1539278)
I'm struck by the difference in outcome of Eric's ordeal and Ciro Stellges a sailor on Long Island Sound last week.
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...-125645-2.html
Rebel Heart 900 miles off the coast and MAC a sailboat just a few miles off the coast of Long Island within sight of homes on the bluffs. Coast Guard and other marine resources within a half hour and helicopter rescue literally minutes away but, very different outcomes. Eric hit the EPIRB and Stelleges used his cell phone.
Rebel Hearts VHF was working but, useless where they were and for some reason MAC's was not used or did not work though it probably would have been the better choice for a Mayday call in that location rather than the cell phone.
Another irony is that at Stellges cell phone worked while Eric's Sat Phone failed due to a change in corporate policy regarding the sim card. Though the "heads up" Eric was able to give the Coast Guard before the phone failed may have help expedite his families rescue. Having multiple backups in Rebel Hearts case lead to a successful outcome not having one in MAC's case tragedy.
Lesson Learned: I'm putting a personal EPIRB on my shopping list.

:thumb::thumb:

Yet there still many in your country decry carrying an EPIRB. :banghead:

In my country Australia it is mandatory and the two timely rescues of Queensland this last week reinforces this situation. One was for a flooded Lagoon Cat offshore and the other of a 5M single power boater who was picked up at night in the water somewhat hypothermic.

Cheers

Mycroft 12-05-2014 18:56

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
"Why didn't you do this, why didn't you do that." Perhaps Eric never encountered conditions like that? Perhaps he was concerned about his panicking family or his seriously ill toddler?

More constructive IMO would be something like "for future travelers, in the conditions you describe, I might recommend trying xxx or yyy."

I think Eric has learned a university degree from this excursion and I truly hope that he will be able to build on that knowledge in the future. The best he can do for us would be to pass down some of the things he knows for sure.

The primary lessong that I've taken from this situation is to spend a two or three weeks out in the great big blue before setting out on a very long passage. To give myself and my crew a chance to see how we handle long term underway conditions.

boatman61 12-05-2014 19:05

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rebel heart (Post 1539860)
Tried that, both under yankee and staysail, but we weren't zipping along fast enough.

Plus, once I wanted to heave to I needed the main up.

Yaayyyy... yer biting...:D:D:D
Its not how fast you get there... its you get there... mate.. don't make a plan..
Seriously.. and this could cost me work but sod'em... its just down to getting there.. how long it takes don't matter.
You matter,,, the rest of the world don't give a ****..:p
Sorry.. bit drunk right now..:whistling:

Mycroft 12-05-2014 19:09

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by boatman61 (Post 1539877)
Yaayyyy... yer biting...:D:D:D
Its not how fast you get there... its you get there... mate.. don't make a plan..

For most situations you're absolutely right Boaty. However, Eric's already said that he's pretty sure the boat would have arrived just fine. But with a sick toddler and no comms, it was time to push the button.

boatman61 12-05-2014 19:17

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mycroft (Post 1539883)
For most situations you're absolutely right Boaty. However, Eric's already said that he's pretty sure the boat would have arrived just fine. But with a sick toddler and no comms, it was time to push the button.

I've never argued against his decision.. in fact I've applauded it..:thumb:
Its just his seamanship I question.. not his decision.. which in my book was the best he could have made.:flowers:

Mambo 12-05-2014 19:30

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Interesting question. Eric kept some main up in order to maintain the ability to head up and heave-to. If you run under some headsail and decide later that you want / need to heave to because the the wind and sea state rise; is it reasonable to think that you can raise the main, head-up and heave-to?

This is a question I come back to over and over. Curious to hear from Phil, Eric and others.

Happy to have you back Eric. Great interview - very informative -- nice choice.

boatman61 12-05-2014 19:43

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mambo (Post 1539901)
Interesting question. Eric kept some main up in order to maintain the ability to head up and heave-to. If you run under some headsail and decide later that you want / need to heave to because the the wind and sea state rise; is it reasonable to think that you can raise the main, head-up and heave-to?

This is a question I come back to over and over. Curious to hear from Phil, Eric and others.

Happy to have you back Eric. Great interview - very informative -- nice choice.

Why raise the main.. sheet in and set the genoa to match.. wind going up.. WTF do you want more main..
Max reef.. centre main.. find favourable jib set.. go below.. make coffee and break out the plain chocolate digestives..:thumb:

Terra Nova 12-05-2014 19:44

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Snore (Post 1539649)
The logical question is.... What is the proper damage control for a partial deck-hull joint failure? What should a reasonably well outfitted vessel have on-board to address this?

Plumber's putty and/or some rags driven in with a putty knife. This is where you innovate using materials you have at hand.

Mambo 12-05-2014 19:51

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by boatman61 (Post 1539920)
Why raise the main.. sheet in and set the genoa to match.. wind going up.. WTF do you want more main..
Max reef.. centre main.. find favourable jib set.. go below.. make coffee and break out the plain chocolate digestives..:thumb:

I get the "how to heave-to". I am following up on Eric's thoughts on why he had main up . . . he wanted to maintain the ability to heave to. But you suggested you'd have been running under headsail alone. So, if you [Phil] have dropped all main and are running under headsail alone, have you given up the ability to heave to? Or, would you re-raise (obviously double / triple reefed) main in order to be able to head up and heave to?

Andrew Troup 12-05-2014 22:46

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Most people seem to be assuming a single or localised major leak.

Unless it was hidden behind joinerwork, it seems more likely to me that it was a bunch of minor leaks. It doesn't take much to amount to a gallon or two an hour, when things on deck are sloshy. I think we can assume that if it was easily discovered and fixed, Eric would have done that.

Even on a well built boat, the water from minor leaks can travel considerable distances and emerge from strange places*, and once the bilge is continually partly full, you lose some ability to diagnose additional sources low down, like a leaking shaft log or thru-hull (a pipe or two might have taken a whack when the boat was laying over)

Minor deck leaks can be extremely difficult to cure, even on a boat you can haul out and take back to your workshop.

* One failsafe way to encourage the water to emerge in a specific location is to put an irreplaceable, not-backed-up-'yet' laptop there, and leave it open.

I have spent more thousands of miles sailing on leaking boats than I ever want to repeat, and it's almost number one on my list of things which get me down at sea.
A very short list, I might add.

A friend and I took a sailboat completely apart (deck off the hull) and put it back together properly. Including NO through-fastenings on the side-decks. It was easier than tracking down and successfully staunching all the weeping fasteners, as we'd been attempting to do for years.

It cost us a whole year's sailing, but it was worth it. From then on, it was one of the few fibreglass boats I've known which had permanently dusty bilges.

Andrew Troup 12-05-2014 22:47

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
If there's plenty of wind, many if not most boats will heave to fine with just the jib (a staysail is even better)

JPA Cate 12-05-2014 23:56

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
What we seem to be discussing now is "how to complete a delivery"--one without a medical emergency.

I agree with boatie mostly about sailing stuff, but here I will say how you actually address conditions depends on experience and on your rig. But Boatie's advice is certainly a good place to start.

We used to have a foresail driven boat (the first Insatiable we had) and now we have a mains'l driven boat with a fractional rig. In rough conditions, we're more likely to be down to a 3 reefed main than a heads'l. Sailing under headsail alone I think works beautifully for many boats; our boat feels "happier" (sorry, Boatie) with the main than just a heads'l. So, to me, it's a bit of horses for courses, but Boatie's generally absolutely correct, in that whatever you can do to take strain off the boat is the best thing to do.

Something that has not yet been mentioned here, but to me is part of the picture, is that weather condiditons change, wind, cloud, and current all change. Storms or squalls pass by. Sometimes, one just has to be patient. If you stay in one place, the weather will pass you by, and change.

Eric: one time I was on watch, squall came. Down pole. Pause. Up Pole on the other side. Down Pole. Reach. Close hauled. Close hauled on other tack. Reaching. Pole up again. My track on the GPS looked like this: _O_ I knew it happened, but doing it and all the work involved, made me understand squalls better. Oh, yes, and Jim's strategies, which meant living with it and not changing much and getting on with life after it was over. Had I changed course, rather than trying to stay exactly on course, I might have overall made more progress in the desired direction. You see Ann's learning process and Jim's superior wisdom.

Eric, I'm so very glad you guys are back here on CF.

Ann

JPA Cate 13-05-2014 00:18

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Stuff we all have that can help stuff up leaks:
Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags (perhaps); towels; clothing

Stuff we have that can cover open places in hull: sails not in use. The submariner had to do everything from inside, but we can slide a sail down to cover a hole, using lines to control and secure it. We're not talking pretty here, we're talking gaining time. Slow down a leak, and you're partly there to a temporary repair.

Stuff we can mix with sealants and place in cracks: any fabrics.

Splash zone is good. Carrying underwater epoxy is prudent.

Call all the Catamaran guys over, 'cause here's a story for you. Seawind 12+. Sat on a rock, busted theZ-drive motor right up, taking on LOTS of water--extremely scary. Got off rock. Put toweling around opening, pushed motor back down, motor heavy enough to make some seal, admiral pumped almost 12 hrs., saved themselves.

So, partly, people do whatever they can to save the boat, but the reality is (see the closed thread on the NINA) sometimes folks don't make it. I need to say this, because if here are newbies reading this thread, I would not want to mislead them to think this cruising is risk-free. A good MacGuiver or Heath Robinson mentality has a better chance of survival. . Because we never know when the *s--t* will happen.

Ann

Andrew Troup 13-05-2014 00:36

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Hard to keep modern synthetic sails in place, on the outside of a slippery keeler, except right at the bow. Might be easier with lots of small barnacles...

In the sailing ship days, when they 'fothered' a damaged section of hull with a canvas sail, they would first apply lots of oakum (frayed manila or cotton rope, ?) all over the 'dressing' area, like mad Scotswomen in a tapestry contest.

And having multiple corners (on squaresails) and reefing grommets everywhere, plus the ability to go overboard with a hammer and nails, made it a more fruitful exercise, I would imagine.

Plywood patches and self tapping screws, applied from the inside, preferably smothered in goo after 'dry' fitting, are widely held to be about the best bet for staunching major leaks on a modern glass or wooden hull (possibly even alu) but you'll need either a hand-cranked drill gun or a very expensive underwater drill motor.

(they even make hydraulic ones, for the 'boat with everything -- Ingersoll Rand, kaa - - ching !)

JPA Cate 13-05-2014 01:06

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Actually Andrew, you're right in that 4 corners on a sail offer better securing possibilites.

And FWIW, friends of ours claimed they made "goop" to block a steelie's hole obtained in the Red Sea with a mix of tallow and Portland cement. They said the patch got the owners to England, where a proper repair was made. They said they thought the sea water gradually dispersed the tallow, wetting the cement, which expanded and hardened.

It's such a wonderful story it's hard to know if it's even possible.

I'd try Splash Zone, myself.

Ann

goboatingnow 13-05-2014 02:53

Call for Help/ This American Life
 
Carry some peat moss, good stuff for stopping leaks, in between, use it to grow lettuce !!!

Why all this fascination with heaving to, a lot of boats will run very easily on headsail alone , a very uncomplicated setup and easy to red in squalls. I see to making " book articles " suggesting " I'd hove to and went below to amazing calm" , mostly that's nonsense

Equally in squalls, thunder, I just sail to the wind , even if I end up doing 360s. All this stuff passes quickly. I mean your crossing oceans , not racing round the cans.

I agree with Phil, at all costs , keep the boat safe, ease it strains wherever possible , dampen motion etc, time and course have little consequence crossing oceans !!

Dave


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

sailorboy1 13-05-2014 04:00

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
I'm wondering how many people making "suggestions" have ever been out in the open with a boat taking on water from a crack they couldn't get to.

Then lets toss in the rest of the story, like a sick child.

anotherT34C 13-05-2014 04:42

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
I'm amazed at how many members have found themselves in similar situations, and are offering up their 'experience' :whistling: (excepting the two or three who probably do)

I suspect 'fish stories' aren't just for fishermen. :viking:

Sorry you lost her, Eric. You guys are young and capable, you'll be just fine.

goboatingnow 13-05-2014 04:45

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sailorboy1 (Post 1540092)
I'm wondering how many people making "suggestions" have ever been out in the open with a boat taking on water from a crack they couldn't get to.

Then lets toss in the rest of the story, like a sick child.


I think everyone would answer , press the button. And I don't think a single person has criticised that particular decision. Other aspects however have been

Dave

colemj 13-05-2014 06:34

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Rebel Heart wrote: "I tried using 4200 but the area was so wet I couldn't get it to adhere. I had the leftovers of 5200 but that didn't seem to work too well. What was really needed would have been something almost like tar. Super thick, super gross, adheres to a seawater wet surface, and cures in moisture. A few quarts of that and I suppose I could have just put a huge hunk of goo over everything. No idea if it would have worked, but that's what I wanted.

Also, I could see the area the water was going down (crack between the gunwale and the deck), but a simple caulking failure like that wouldn't cause water intrusion so I felt like I would have needed to pull up the teak boards to fix the issue
."

He also described it as a flexing opening of unknown length.

I believe his assessment. Do you really think that some goop soaked spare underwear and a 4" tube of epoxy putty is going to help the situation he describes?

I agree that for holes and other types of leaks, there are ways to mitigate them easily with stuff on board. But in this case he would have to do some major carpentry just to access the area, then deal with a continually wet, large, flexing gap. And require "quarts" worth of solution. I carry three 12" sticks of underwater epoxy, many tubes of different sealants, and am very ready to sacrifice my underwear.

None of that would help or be enough in the situation described. That problem requires a repair, or at least longer term complete access to the area while it is dry and not flexing - which is very difficult at sea.

So I am not saying that repairing or mitigating leaks is impossible using the techniques that some of you describe, I am saying you haven't been reading Eric's account of the issue very closely.

Mark

mrm 13-05-2014 06:57

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by fryewe (Post 1539700)
Been thinking about this since RH's post on the topic...

[...]

All things I carry on board.

Any other ideas?

Well... yes.. sort of..
I was wondering if having a large can or two of a polyurethane foam could be beneficial in such cases? This stuff adheres to wet surfaces, expands like crazy, cures with moisture and does not take much storage space on board. Maybe.. when the actual leaking place is hard/impossible to reach, an alternative way could be to fill the whole space with pu foam using any tiny access? Is this idea totally off the chart?

Stu Jackson 13-05-2014 07:00

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by funjohnson (Post 1539599)

Also, with our fin keel, we use no jib and just the third reef to heave-to, but we also set our preventer as we need to hold the boom out and down for it to work.

Matt

Matt, sounds more like fore reaching than heave to, to me.

w32honu 13-05-2014 07:01

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rebel heart (Post 1538141)
We got broached and a subsequent larger breaking wave hit us while we were still beam to, I know the boom went in the water but I highly doubt the mast did.

We were broad reaching and our boom was 19' long, with maybe 12' of beam, so it was decently out there.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I547 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app



Rebel Heart,

Welcome back man!! Both myself and my wife are former Coast Guard. We have followed your story with interest. We are so glad with the outcome and that you and your family are safe. And we fully support your dreams, desires, and decisions to pursue a cruising life………especially with a family. Kudos to you mate!!! :thumb:

Wanted to ask you about the time honored tactic of heaving to……...

Is this a tactic you have used in the past? If so ….how effective was it for you on that particular boat??

colemj 13-05-2014 07:10

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by mrm (Post 1540190)
Well... yes.. sort of..
I was wondering if having a large can or two of a polyurethane foam could be beneficial in such cases? This stuff adheres to wet surfaces, expands like crazy, cures with moisture and does not take much storage space on board. Maybe.. when the actual leaking place is hard/impossible to reach, an alternative way could be to fill the whole space with pu foam using any tiny access? Is this idea totally off the chart?

Not a bad idea at all. My experiences with those cans is that they go bad in a few months and don't work. However, one can pick up new ones almost anywhere.

Mark

colemj 13-05-2014 07:13

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrew Troup (Post 1539994)
Most people seem to be assuming a single or localised major leak.

Eric himself said that it was a single localized major leak (along with an unknown, smaller leak).

Mark

w32honu 13-05-2014 07:32

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by goboatingnow (Post 1540070)
Why all this fascination with heaving to, a lot of boats will run very easily on headsail alone , a very uncomplicated setup and easy to red in squalls. I see to making " book articles " suggesting " I'd hove to and went below to amazing calm" , mostly that's nonsense


Dave


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk



Running off is not always an option. Besides the point of heaving to is to stop the boat and reduce or eliminate the huge amount of energy that a large boat can produce when surfing or sailing hard. Any boat can trip on it's keel and broach or pitch pole. That kinetic energy transferred to hull, rig, and on rushing water is what causes the damage.

Lots of good advice here with regard to gooping the damage and leaks once they occur. Another possibility is that this boat could have had problems that the owner wasn't aware of and could not have known. If I am not mistaken the HC-36 is a balsa core from the waterline to the gunwale. We all know the affects of water intrusion on a balsa cored hull. The integrity and strength of that laminate would have gone south………big time. Especially on an older boat.

So it is possible to be sailing in strong conditions and experience a knock down……..something a good strong boat can handle. But unknown to the operator the hull is compromised and damage could occur. No bad seamanship. No bad decisions with regard to the electronics someone purchased. Just one of those things………..***** happens.

This is all hypothetical of course…..

smackdaddy 13-05-2014 08:39

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rebel heart (Post 1539860)
Tried that, both under yankee and staysail, but we weren't zipping along fast enough.

Plus, once I wanted to heave to I needed the main up.

You're going slow ("too slow") with a stable (and safer) headsail configuration...then decide raising the main, heaving-to with a prevented boom, and leaving the helm in the middle of squalls with serious wind-shifts and confused seas is the better option? I assume you were just tired and needed some rest - and just got caught.

For clarity, do you consider what happened to you a "broach" or a "knockdown". The reason I'm asking is Charlotte's description of the waves slamming into the boat - and the extent of the resulting damage. It's an important distinction in discussing what role the sail configuration might have played in all this (i.e. - whether it was wave or wind that put you down).

Also, do you think a chainplate let go causing the damage at the deck?

Azul 13-05-2014 09:01

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
I read the transcript of the interview this morning and the comments on this thread last night. Opinions have been expressed as to the captain’s seamanship, storm tactics, the nature of the damage, whether it is possible for a hull deck joint on a Union 36 to be impaired by a knockdown, etcetera. Little has been discussed about the foremost cause for the call for help, the child’s sickness.

For those that want a brief synopsis of the interview, the following are points that caught my attention.

-the sick child had been given a clean bill of health after salmonella exposure before the trip and the trip was delayed while the child was improving.
-during the first seven days the child was apparently well.
-on day seven a rash occurred, the child's ears smelled like cheese and diarrhea restarted (implied it was an element of the previous illness.) The mother noted the child was becoming "lethargic," (which when used as a medical term has a specific meaning and is a true pediatric life threatening emergency especially in a child under two years of age and has the implication of possible sepsis or meningitis requiring immediate intravenous treatment to prevent mortality.)
-the satellite phone was used to call the child's pediatrician. Whatever information was conveyed to him is not known, but the doctor advised them to start the child on amoxicillin. (Snarky comment caused by poor sleep contemplating this incident: this is one of those medical situations where it would be good not to have a doctor on the other end of the line that cannot deal with uncertainty, as obviously all of the facts could not be known to the doctor ie the true appearance of the rash, the child’s state of hydration, the clinical appearance of the ears, how "sick" the child would look to an emergency physician etc.)
-according to the mother, the child was still sick after two days on oral antibiotics. Not described as worse, just still sick. (Bacterial meningitis and sepsis are now ruled out as the child would probably be dead after two days without treatment, amoxil does not penetrate into the CNS to treat meningitis for example. Meningitis used to be a large factor in childhood death and disability before the widespread and liberal use of antibiotics to treat otitis media. It should be noted that bilateral "cheesy smelling ears" would be more likely to be swimmer's ear from a damp environment and/or complication from treatment with an antibiotic for salmonella. Previously on their blog it was described that the salmonella diagnosis was made by a blood test which just shows prior exposure, whereas typically a stool culture is used to diagnose an active infection.) The mother expresses the child "should have been better within 24 hours on an antibiotic." Pediatricians do not expect an infection to get better with antibiotic treatment in 24 hours, it would be typical to wait three days before changing treatment unless the child is worsening. Typically they do not treat an unknown source of infection with an antibiotic, especially when a rash and diarrhea is present ie "first do no harm..." What if the diarrhea was not from an ear infection or recurrent salmonella but from antibiotic associated diarrhea ie clostridium difficile which would be worsened by amoxil and is also potentially fatal especially in this age group, the most common symptom is diarrhea. Clearly the doctor was not given information that would lead him to think the child was in danger, dehydrated, septic, or lethargic or he would be negligent to not recommend immediate rescue, or perhaps he was just incompetent.
-during the two days the child was becoming sick was when the broach, roll, knockdown or knockdowns (or whatever) occurred as the sea states were getting rougher according to Eric. Charlotte stated there were "several knockdowns." When the damage occurred, Charlotte stated Eric was on the side deck wearing a harness, Eric stated he was in the companionway not wearing a harness then clipped in and went out to inspect the damage. (Confusing conflict of key detail, and certainly noteworthy in that the couple were not standing watches at the helm.)
-at this point the satellite phone was used to call the Coast Guard to advise them of Rebel Heart's status. The CG stated they would discuss the situation with their doctor and call back. Further communication did not occur as the satellite phone stopped working due to the SIM card. (This has happened to me with my airplane satellite phone used to get XM weather when the carrier turned off the phone by accident thinking the bill wasn't paid when I changed credit cards and told them so.)
-Eric stated the leak which was allowing "maybe 70 gallons per day" to enter was on the starboard side near the stern. For two days the leak allowed the radio equipment and batteries to be "bathed slowly but surely in a nice coating of sea water." There was no reported attempt to protect the equipment from salt water. Eric clearly identified the hull-deck joint as the major source of the leak. (Confusing, as Minaret has stated this is impossible for all practical purposes, and even the sailboat that had a whale do a belly flop on it didn't sink or suffer hull-deck joint damage.)
-at this point the "long range radio" was used to send a pan-pan. Eric did not know if the radio was working or there was just no response. It is not clear if he knew the correct frequency to use for an emergency response.
-a heart to heart discussion ensued between the parents and use of the Epirb was contemplated. Charlotte discusses in detail that she didn’t think she could deal with the situation (after having Eric “do the math”) for another three weeks.
-on day 16 (nine days after the child was perceived to be ill) the Epirb was activated
-as of the date of the interview, no specific diagnosis was made as to the nature of the illness.

There is no "study" designed to ascertain the safety of taking children under two out of the reach of timely medical help, but clearly there is some element of risk in doing so and I believe this is a topic which should be thoroughly discussed. To his credit, Eric's best preparation while cruising offshore with children was having both a satellite phone and an Epirb on board.

Matt Johnson 13-05-2014 09:01

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Stu Jackson (Post 1540193)
Matt, sounds more like fore reaching than heave to, to me.


Nope. Typically I can set to drift right down wind.

rebel heart 13-05-2014 09:08

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
I think some of you guys are trying to over-simplify here a bit.

We're talking about multiple days, hundreds of miles, moving between the eastern trades, entering the equatorial counter current, and the squalls of the itcz. Trying to say "this is how you should sail in those conditions" is fairly nuts, the conditions changed a lot, especially when you're talking about multi-directional swell, breaking seas, and squalls which double the wind speed and steepen/crumble the waves.

I could sit there with a helicopter flying over your boat, analyzing every twenty minutes and saying "well you know what you should be doing right now is...".

But a reality for me is that you're not, on a multi-week sail, going to change out your sail configuration every half hour. And what works in:

- 15 knots NE
- primary 4m swell east
- secondary 3m swell north east

doesn't necassarily work as well in:

- primary 4m swell east
- secondary 3m swell north east

I'm not saying that I was carrying the ideal and perfect sail combination and trim for every second of my passage. I fully acknowledge that for the most part broaches are generally a fault of bad helmsmanship, exacerbated (but not always) by an off balanced rig.

What I would say, and I'm not looking for agreement or offering this as a defense, is that in a mixed up sea state that lasts for multiple days it's not reasonable to assume you'll be carrying the ideal trim, balance, and rudder all the time like we're sailing in a test tube.

Furthermore, eventually those doubled-up big monster swells that you tend to see off in the distance for a few seconds that then dissipate will eventually find their way over to you. You're just out there long enough that you increase your exposure.

There was a video a guy made of sailing (I think) from Panama to Hawaii and he talked about being in a rather happy sea state and then bam, knocked on his side by some random ass wave. Not a "rogue wave" by the technical definition, at all.

I think something I learned, that's really not that spectacular or unique is that you can easily end up:

+ being out of trim
+ encountering a rather bigger wave than normal
-----------------------
= that one is going to hurt a little bit


Again, just to put this whole thing in context, the reason we left our boat was a medical emergency. The damage to the boat although significant was in and of itself not enough for us to abandon ship.

Lojanica 13-05-2014 09:43

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
What about just having the wife and kids fly to the other end of a 3-4 week passage? Cheaper and maybe saner than 100k boat loss and megadrama? Hindsight is great but I am thinking that perhaps someone in a similar situation would maybe consider that as an alternative over a possible repeat of this family's ordeal.

Not second guessing anyone at all just saying that it seems the wildcard was the young crew and that without the young crew Eric may have prevailed.

goboatingnow 13-05-2014 09:59

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Running off is not always an option. Besides the point of heaving to is to stop the boat and reduce or eliminate the huge amount of energy that a large boat can produce when surfing or sailing hard. Any boat can trip on it's keel and broach or pitch pole. That kinetic energy transferred to hull, rig, and on rushing water is what causes the damage.
This is not really the thread for this, but of course in running off, you may have to drag warps or drogues to slow the boat etc.

No-one is saying there is a panacea, the solutions is a combination of lots of things. Personally I don't see in modern boats heaving to as a good survival storm tactic, because few modern boats can reliably heave-to so as to be left for several hours unattended, with things like the Pardys suggested. ( which I don't like at all) .

But I don't think heaving to was the issue in RH anyway.


dave

s/v Moondancer 13-05-2014 11:16

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
First I think that Eric's decision to call for help was 100% correct and while he obviously got into a situation beyond his experience level I have done that too.

The Navy and rescue people showed how exceptional they are and I do not begrudge the money spent.

However, Azul's point about taking small children off-shore is worth addressing.

The decision to take a small child trans-oceanic is obviously a parental decision and I think that it does not reach the level of governmental intervention. However, I personally, as a pediatric intensive care doctor and a sailor, do not think that the medical risk is acceptable.

If we take a serious but usually non-lethal pediatric problem like febrile seizures it is possible to fairly accurately calculate an estimate of the probability of a child between the age of newborn and 5 years having a seizure that will result in unconsciousness. One study I have used followed 18,500 newborns for 5 years. (University of California, Berkeley).

The risk of a febrile seizure in any one month period for a child in the first 5 years of life is approximately 1 in 3000. Eric had two children in that age group so his chances of that problem were 1 in 1500. There are other studies that suggest the risk may be almost twice as high as the study I quote. And febrile seizures is just one of dozens of diseases a child can develop.

After 25 year of practicing high risk pediatric medicine and sailing, taking care of a pediatric seizure on a short handed boat in bad weather is more excitement than I would care to experience.

ps Eric you should give the donated money to a pediatric charity or to the Coast Guard benevolent fund. I for one certainly thought the money was being donated to a charity.

Captain Bill 13-05-2014 11:24

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
First let me say that I fully support Eric's decision to push the button. Given the totality of the circumstances it was absolutely the right thing to do. I'm not going to get into the discussion on his sail configuration decision. As a cat sailor if I have my boom in the water I've got much more serious problems than Eric had. What I have noticed is a lit of speculation about whether his knockdown/broach could have cracked his hull/deck joint. I'm not familiar with the details of the hull deck joint on an HC so I'll simply ask some questions and hope to get some feedback from those who do. It sounded to me from Eric's description that the crack was beneath the teak decking and the edge of the inside of the toe rail. Am I misinterpreting what he said? In my boat this is not the hull/deck joint. In mine the hull deck joint is at least a foot to a foot and a half below this where the top and bottoms two molded halves of the boat come together. In my boat this joint is hidden under the rub rail and is through bolted every 6 inches and glassed on the inside. If HC's are built in two halves like most fiberglass boats inside the toe rail would seem to be an odd place for a hull/deck joint, but like I said I don't know HCs. Am I getting this all wrong? If in fact it was a crack under the teak inside of the toe rail rather than at the mold joint could this explain so of the differences in opinion stated about the strength of the "hull/deck joint expressed here. Is the toe rail molded into the upper mold in an HC or is an after the fact add on? If it's molded in and there is a 90 degree or near 90 degree molded corner where the fiberglass deck meets the toe rail it can produce a "hard" spot which is subject to fatigue failure from hull flexing over many years. The Knockdown/broach could have just been the straw that broke the camel's back. I had such a failure in my deck as the result of a hard gybe. The builder had seen fit to embed an aluminum plate in the layup where my lower shroud bolted to the deck. Over the years the deck flexing had weakened the fiberglass up against the molded in cabin joint. When the gybe happened that joint cracked about 18 inches through at least 3/4 of an inch of glass. Now on my cat this is 6 feet above the water line so I didn't have the problem Eric had, but it did leak in the rain until I had it fixed. From the description I heard from Eric's interview it certainly sounded like he described the crack as being under the teak, and that it was opening up between the hull (toe rail?) and the teak decking. Clearly this area is difficult to inspect and it does not seem that Eric pulled up his decking to inspect this area before he left. This last statement is not meant to be critical and it may be that without fancy test equipment one could not tell if there was any danger of an imminent failure. It was not obvious on my boat which was not covered in teak decking. If this is what happened it may be a lesson learned about a place to inspect more closely on a vintage fiberglass boat before venturing on ocean crossings. Not that I know how one would go about doing that.

MarkJ 13-05-2014 11:30

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer (Post 1540337)

After 25 year of practicing high risk pediatric medicine and sailing, taking care of a pediatric seizure on a short handed boat in bad weather is more excitement than I would care to experience.

There is no perfect time to take brats sailing. I advocate selling them along with the house.
Yes, the early years, as you point out, have higher medical possabilities... but then 5 to 10YO and the kids miss those first few and very important schoolyears and socialising with children of that age. 10 to 15 is hell as the children cement life long friendships, go through puberty where they need their peers. Teens need teens, not adults. And finally 15 to 18 the most importnat time of education but also when boys start kicking against authority, girls want to go out by themselves and home life is hell.

So when are parents meant to take children???????????????

I think Eric and Charlotte's early age idea is best, even though medical risk is higher.


***Disclaimer: I don't have children but I saw a post card of one once.


Mark

Mycroft 13-05-2014 11:33

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer (Post 1540337)
ps Eric you should give the donated money to a pediatric charity or to the Coast Guard benevolent fund. I for one certainly thought the money was being donated to a charity.

Why did you think that? They were very clear that they appreciated any donations to their personal account, but that they recommended donations be made directly to the charities. IMO, money sent to the personal fund that was set up should go to help them get back on their sea legs.

oslokid 13-05-2014 11:51

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Eric...hats off to you. You got your family to safety and you are young and able to give it another shot.

My apologies if you already covered this topic but I was wondering if you (or others) could comment on speed/how much ground you were covering. If you were 900 miles out on day 15 did you feel you weren't making enough speed? At the rate you were going how long would it have taken you to get to destination in South Pacific? Would you get the same boat / same size next time? Or something else?

jangann 13-05-2014 11:52

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
One thing I think they should be commended for is calling the CG way before things were really bad. Lots of people wouldn't do that. Getting on the Sat phone, calling and appraising the CG of what was going on, probably quickened the response to their EPRIB signal greatly, as the CG already knew they were on the edge of trouble. A lesson for us all.

Long live the cruising family.

smackdaddy 13-05-2014 12:43

re: Call for Help/ This American Life (Merged)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rebel heart (Post 1540258)
I'm not saying that I was carrying the ideal and perfect sail combination and trim for every second of my passage. I fully acknowledge that for the most part broaches are generally a fault of bad helmsmanship, exacerbated (but not always) by an off balanced rig.

What I would say, and I'm not looking for agreement or offering this as a defense, is that in a mixed up sea state that lasts for multiple days it's not reasonable to assume you'll be carrying the ideal trim, balance, and rudder all the time like we're sailing in a test tube.

I don't think anyone is expecting perfection here. I know I'm not. In fact, it's not really about you per se.

I'm just interested in that single moment when things broke. What you did in the days before that is not that important - at least to me.

What could be done to avoid that moment for future sailors is very important. That includes sail configuration, steerage, heading, conditions, all of it - that led up to that damage in that moment. The details matter in this regard.


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