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Old 04-02-2013
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Re: Sailboat perishes off Hatteras, USCG rescues crew

A little late to the party here, but imagine my surprise to see one of the guys in the article, and he looks incredibly familiar. Sure enough, we crossed paths in Annapolis this summer. I was singlehanding up from NC, doing a little Chesapeake tour, and he was the water taxi captain the day I sailed in. Nice guy, the first mate. I remember his commentary about being able to see the remnants of the old name of my vessel (I renamed her). He asked if I was superstitious -I'm not- but he did warn me about that. Well I just didn't want to grind a bunch of gelcoat off to make it disappear, and nor did/will I. The sun is handling it at a snails pace.

I'm in awe of their decisions. Running down the ICW there is gravy, more direct, and going south to boot. I think they just did not really understand the situation along this stretch of coastline. Is it possible that people can have lots of sailing experience but just not understand the stakes of this stretch of ocean and it's multiple taciturn inlets? Or was it just bad judgement, being a little cavalier about the horror that the Cape can be in even more moderate conditions, coupled with some mis-placed confidence in a heavy displacement cruiser? I'm not judging them, none of my business, but I simply can't fathom why they did it, unless they just really needed an adventure? A book deal?

I'm glad they did not try to get through some of those inlets. A grounding could have been tragic, with some hard ground under the washing machine that Oregon Inlet could have been. Too bad they did not have propulsion to get them to Cape Lookout. Cape Lookout is a great place to tuck behind there if winds were NE.

These aren't bad guys, but they most certainly lack(ed) respect for this stretch of water. While it is hard to understand, I hope newer sailors understand that there can be a lot of nuance to coastal sailing; information that is not printed on charts or programmed into your chartplotters. While a sound vessel with a skilled captain and crew can handle these situations, heaving to, running, sea anchors, etc, the stakes are incredibly high. If one thing goes wrong - like fuel pickup issue they had - your options are limited. What these guys did was dumb, I don't see how anyone could say otherwise, but we all do dumb stuff from time to time, just not enough to get in the newspaper for all to read about, and publicly comment on your judgement.
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